By scrutinizing each entry separately, we will uncover the pragmatism behind the perversion and the lameness beneath the lingerie. Let's start with:
Rating: Standard Skin Fare
Plot: Desperate for some dollars and with no discernable employment skills, Babette relies on her tantric talents to pay her bills.
Seeing an ad placed by some seedy snapper named Ramon (or as our heroine butchers it, "Ray-moan"), our gal decides that a return to proto-porn is the only way to bag some decent bread. After an overlong session involving the taking of far too many photos, Babette meets the shutterbug's immigrant paramour, and before you know it, gal-on-gal gladhanding is in full effect. As the pair views some of Ramon's stag reels, Babette regales us with all manner of baroque descriptions of diddling. Soon, she's off servicing a pair of swingers, engaging in a mindless mΓ©nage with some old dude and his bosomy bride. After a couple of additional shame inspiring scenarios, our love selling lady ends up in a lesbian orgy where "female fun and games" means lots of naked naughtiness and feigned homosexuality. In the end, all we really learn is that sex sells, perverts always pay, and for Babette, life is one big "overflowing reservoir of lust".
It's hard to say what's more shocking about Babette β how utterly boring it all is, or how the queen of sleaze Robeta Findlay could have been involved in such lame lewdness.
Rumored to be the person behind the nonsensical nom de plum "Peter Woodcock (it could also have been her husband, Michael, or frequent collaborator John Amero), Roberta robs this potential passion play of all its arousal by using a mediocre moviemaking approach that grows genuinely grating after a while, Unlike the similarly styled Daughters of Lesbos, which used its lack of dialogue and single source voice over narration to deal with a quartet of gals getting even with the men who made their life miserable, it is the title character and her endless chatter that make us unhappy and dejected here. Whether or not it is star Linda Boyce speaking (and the timber doesn't match her ditzy performance persona at all) is not really the point. The material, so extravagant and over the top that it frequently feels like a poorly written romance novel, ("the charged scent of sex filled the air"...ew!) begins to drive one crazy with its repetitive ridiculousness. Add in a soundtrack that features garage band recreations of famed hits of the era ("Time Has Come Today" by The Chamber Brothers, "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees) playing over and over again, and a compositional and framing style that leaves very little to the imagination, and you've got a clear cross-purposes production. On the one hand, Babette wants to stir your sentiments. But thanks to all the aggravation, it barely contravenes your cravings.
Monique, My Love
Rating; Not So Nudie or Cutie
Plot: Monique wants to be a star. Unfortunately, the only training she's had is in the drawers dropping department.
Luckily, she meets up with a sleazy film producer who prepares her for a life in subpar stag reels. Naturally, our heroine hops at the chance, and it's not long before she's watching gals watusi in the buff and filming sequences for her own slutty smokers. One short in particular has her being tied up by a novice nutjob, while another has her showering with a doughy dude with zero stud appeal. All of this errant eros makes Monique's randy roomie hot, and she spends inordinately large amounts of time documenting her bunkmate's life for a book she plans on writing called Monique, My Love. You see, all these endless descriptions of various vile monkey business lead the pair to perform some last act lesbianism on one another, as if to prove that endless yakking about sex will actually modify your personal orientation. Too bad it does nothing for the voyeur assigned to witness their wantonness β namely, the audience.
Here's a clear corporeal caveat.
One should not watch Babette and Monique, My Love back to back. Doing so threatens to destroy your limited libido once and for all. So similar in sound and style that you find yourself frequently questioning whether this is really just some added footage from the first film refashioned into a sequel ala Bad Girls Go To Hell/Another Day, Another Man, this tale of a talent-free thespian and her body-selling journey to nookie nowhere is like a hollowed out version of our first film. Everything barely watchable in Babette is rendered repulsive here β from the portly pig who gives lead actress Gerri Miller a less than sensual soaping in the bath, to the almost comic scene where Monique is tied up with what looks like used phone chords. In between, we get more of that patented Linda Boyce patter, overdone language threatening to sedate us once and for all. There's also a series of strange sequences where a girl grinds go-go style to some mysterious rhythm in her head (her hoary Hullabaloo movements don't match the songs being played). Toss in a masturbation sequence involving a bottle of Coke (just for sipping, not for...you know) and an ending that spends way too much time in a girl/girl groove that Miller is obviously not interested in (she is practically repulsed when Boyce gropes her) and the result is something stupefyingly inert. Monique, My Love makes Babette look like the greatest raincoat crowdpleaser since Uschi Digart went dirty. This reaults in a double dose of commonplace carnality.
The A/V Club
Black and white never looks better than when it's given a good preservationist's polish by the wizards at Something Weird. Thanks to the availability of original negatives, clean stock elements and direct contact with the people responsible, Mike Vraney and his crackerjack staff can deliver amazing 1.33:1 full frame transfers like these. Since they were made at approximately the same time by the same technical crew, both Babette and Monique, My Love look terrific. Nothing captures the suggested sleaze of these ersatz sex films better than a masterful monochrome image, and SWV delivers a desirable pair of prints. As for the Dolby Digital Mono mix, there is nothing new or novel about its flat and featureless elements. It is worth mentioning that copycat soundtrack loaded with crappy cover versions. Here's a little diversion you can attempt while suffering through these films. Download a copy of the individual lyric sheets, and sing along with the songs. It will help pass the time during these tepid excuses for grindhouse goodness.
Rating: Nice and Sleazy
As they usually do, Something Weird steps up and delivers a delightful set of bonus features for this release, and in many cases, the added content is better than the movies being offered. The best material arrives in the form of vintage bra and girdle commercials from the '60s and '70s. These hilarious Madison Avenue attempts to get women bound and beautiful are something to behold. Equally enjoyable is the collection of trailers, including come-ons for In Hot Blood, Fluctuations, and Submission. In addition, there are four vintage archival shorts β one involving spanking ("Paddle Battle"), another featuring a local lesbian clubs interpretation of an ancient empire's private practices ("A Roman Holiday"), a pure pre-World War dominatrix diversion ("Real or Knot") and a wacky educational film centering on possible jobs for otherwise unemployable females ("Careers for Girls"). Interestingly enough, none of the occupations pursued by Babette or Monique are featured among the potential workforce facets.
Grindhouse Grade: Not So Nudie or Cutie (Rent It)
Maybe it's exploitation overload. Perhaps it has something to do with the no longer novel notion of seeing Peace era performers shaking their skin sacks. It could be part of a bigger product picture β the realization that Something Weird Video is finally foisting the bottom of the booty barrel on an unsuspecting flesh feast fanbase. Or maybe these movies are just dull and ordinary. Whatever the case may be, 2006's SWV season ends with a Rent It. People pleased by the sight of endless nakedness accented by noxious narration will have no choice but to spend their less than disposable income on this commonplace offering. Others would be better served by giving this title a test try first. If Babette makes you breath heavy and Monique manages a few self-satisfying moans, you'll be in a prized position for a purchase. Otherwise, you'll more than likely forget you ever spent the evening with these brazen bimbos, and wonder aloud what the perversion preservationists have in store for us in 2007. It has to be more fun than this lifeless lewdness.
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