If there's one thing in life that's true, it's that girls are trouble! At least that's the theme that Something Weird Video is running with for this latest double feature, pairing up an H. G. Lewis oddity and a lesser scene roughie
Marie Barker (Julia Ames who had worked with Lewis a year before on Blast-Off Girls) seems safe enough on the outside, but as we all know, appearances can be deceiving. This seemingly innocent little cutie soon develops a taste for carnal adventures when, by chance, she walks in on her parents (Amy Heath credited as Jean Lamme and 'Jacques Sette') while they're doing what mommies and daddies tend to do during their alone time. Having had her eyes opened to a whole new world of pleasures of the flesh, Marie decides to experiment with some of what she saw all on her own. Her first guinea pig arrives in the form of a hunky teenage boy named Phil (Steve White also of Blast Off Girls) who just so happens to be her third cousin. One thing leads to another and before you know it they're cutting class pretty much every day to go do the deed in a seedy hotel room away from prying eyes and those who would do away with their incestuous love.
Back at home, however, Marie is starting to see how infidelity can ruin a happy family as the after effects of her dad's fling with his sultry secretary result in mom's decision to go cruising for man meat at a local watering hole. Mom's hunt proves fruitful and she soon begins an affair of her own with a drunk, and when Marie discovers who and what she's been doing behind daddy's back, she decides to try out the goods for herself. Soon enough, Marie's promiscuity catches up to her and she finds herself great with child. She opts for an abortion, which gives her a shot at putting the moves on the doctor who helps her out when it all goes bad, but it's obvious at this point that Marie's fragile young mind has been warped by all of this free love she's so keen on, and it looks like the damage that's been done is of a permanent nature.
Shot fast and cheap by Lewis under the pseudonym of Armand Parys and using French sounding names for most of the cast and crew members to provide the illusion that this was in fact a foreign film, Alley Tramp is an entertaining and sexy soap opera of sleaze. It's trashy as trashy can be working incest and mother-daughter partner sharing into the storyline as well as toying with taboo subjects like abortion. The dialogue is as sharp as you'd expect from a film of this ilk though Lewis' camerawork is relatively uninteresting and the whole thing looks a little flat.
Though it's not a classic on par with some of the director's other, better known films it is at least an interesting footnote in his career. In terms of what it delivers, most of the charm comes from the dialogue and from Ames' hammy over the top performance. There's some nudity here and there but nothing too explicit (despite the fact that the film was apparently shown with a self-imposed X-rating during it's theatrical run). Not the best place to start if you're new to the H. G. Lewis ouvre, but for seasoned fans who want to see everything or fans of trashy sexploitative soap opera movies, this one is perfectly enjoyable.
Over 18... And Ready!:
Lyn (lovely Mary McRae) has aspirations of making it big in pictures and she grows more and more tired of her job as a secretary as each day passes. Thankfully, he boss, Barney, is a movie producer and she sees him as her ticket – unfortunately, his specialty is skin flicks. This doesn't seem to phase her too much and she gets assertive enough with him that he decides to give her a chance if she's willing to prove to him that she wants the part bad enough. As if sending him a portfolio of nicely shot nudes wasn't enough! It seems that Barney wants to test out the merchandise for himself before putting her up there on the big screen for all the world to see. She seems game, but there's more to this than meets the eye when Barney's rather manly lesbian wife, Billie, decide she wants a test drive herself. Lyn soon gets her shot at stardom but, naïve little thing that she is, doesn't realize just what exactly it's going to take to get things right. Imagine her surprise when the cameras start rolling and the leather whip comes into play...
One of a few 'girl wants to be a star and gets messed up in smut movies' to be made around this time, Over 18... And Ready! has some fantastic dialogue and some decent over-acting but fails to deliver anything of much merit in spite of these qualities. Theirs is a decent amount of skin on display and while the kinky elements that are introduced later on in the picture provide some mild cheap thrills, it's too little too late and ultimately the film is a little on the dull side primarily because we know where it's all going. Mary McRae is fun to look at least, so it has that working in its favor. All in all, however, this one is a little too uninteresting despite some nice naked girls and a few stand out moments. It's not a horrible film and trash movie fans will find enough to like about it that it's worth a look, but this is hardly an undiscovered classic.
Each of the two black and white movies in this set were shot fullframe and that's exactly how they're presented on this double feature DVD. While the bit rate isn't through the roof with two films crammed on here, this pairing looks surprisingly good. Contrast levels are set nicely and the prints used for the transfer appear to have been in pretty decent shape as, although there is some mild print damage here and there, the picture is quite clean considering these were shot fast and cheap way back when. Mpeg compression artifacts are pretty much a non-issue and while there are a few instances of edge enhancement and line shimmering, there aren't a whole lot of digital conversion problems to report though the print damage is definitely more obvious on Over 18 than it is on Alley Tramp (which looks very nice).
The Dolby Digital Mono sound mix is pretty clear considering the low budget origins of the two older exploitation films presented on this DVD. While the limitations of the technology used to capture the audio shine through and the material does show its age with some mild hiss and the odd pop here and there, you aren't going to have any problems following the dialogue and some of the swanky background music used throughout the two films adds some much needed fun to the features.
It wouldn't be a proper Something Weird release if there weren't oodles of semi-related trailers to dig on so it's no surprise that the extra features start off with a trailer vault section that includes spots for Alley Tramp, The All American Girl, Girl In Trouble, Lola's Mistake, Monique My Love, A Sweet Sickness, Teenage Tramp, and finally Teaser. Plenty of twisted thrills to be had here, kids.
Something Weird has also included a few short films on here as well, which thankfully seems to be the norm with a lot of their more recent releases. Things start off nicely with a quick little nudie movie called Smoke Rings (where two bad girls lounge around and smoke), and from there we move on to Toward Emotional Maturity (a ten minute film that preaches to students about keeping it in their pants) and Teenage Diary (a lengthy half hour piece that was obviously intended to get folks to church), two cautionary tales obviously designed to keep the youth of America on the up and up and out of trouble. All three of these shorts are a lot of fun, particularly the last two as they just have not aged well at all and turn out to be far funnier than they are effective.
H. G. Lewis fans already know they want this but what about the casual exploitation buff? Any way you want to slice it Something Weird Video's Alley Tramp/Over 18... And Ready! double feature comes recommended. Decent audio and video and some really fun extras compliment the two completely enjoyable if unremarkable trash films that receive top billing on this one.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.