It's the same old story – you can't make crap on purpose. Come to think about it, said statement does need a wee bit of modifying. Yes, you can go out and intentionally create an incredibly awful motion picture experience. You can mess with the narrative, screw up the editing, hire members of your inebriated and inbred family as actors, and generally disregard the very basics of the cinematic language. The results will be atrocious, the kind of disconnected garbage that has no real link to the real world of film. No, what we are really talking about here is the deliberate attempt to make a premeditated cult, camp, kitsch or exploitation epic. You may be able to recapture some of the spirit, but to fully realize the specific genre designs of this manner of surreal schlock is near impossible. Take Pervert! for example. This well meaning sex farce wants desperately to be Far Beyond the Valley of the Psycho-Ultravixens. Even with all the pitfalls facing it, this goofy gratuity almost succeeds.
Returning to his father's desert farm after a semester in college, poor James has a problem. He was so desperate for a date – and a little post-dinner diddling – while doing the University thang that he visited a witch doctor and had a spell placed upon his person. The upside? He's now irresistible to women. The downside? Well, there was a curse involved, and it frequently has a...mind of its own. Anyway, back at Daddy's pad, James discovers that his Pops has blown a gasket. He's shacked up with a stripper from Vegas, and likes to make lifelike human sculptures out of meat. Of course, once exotic eye candy Cheryl sees sonny boy, she makes a beeline for his batch. It's not long before they're sharking up a storm behind the unwitting old man's clueless carcass. One day, Cheryl goes missing. Pops grabs himself another paid paramour – and then she too disappears. James thinks Pops is doing in his pay for play honeys. He even goes so far as to hire a nurse to keep an eye on the old coot. But soon, she's also being plagued by the unbridled terror of James' Haitian hocus pocus. It turns out that the real Pervert! is yet another "member" of the family.
Pervert! misses being a masterpiece by the slimmest of miscreant margins. It starts out like gratuitous gangbusters, recalling classic exploitation faves like Sweet Georgia, Supervixens, and any number of Jennie: Wife/Child country cornpone corporeality. Its view of sex is silly and slapstick, it's desire to showoff and celebrate the female bosom immeasurable and quite irresistible. With a central star like Mary Carey, a gal unafraid of dropping her top when the spirit so moves (and the scene so dictates), and a dead-on performance by actor Darrell Sandeen channeling a near flawless Stuart Lancaster circa 1979, it's hard to imagine this film falling apart. Indeed, just like his breast-obsessed inspiration – one Russ Meyer – director Jonathan Yudis (most noted for working on Spike TV's Adult Party revamp of Nickelodeon faves Ren and Stimpy) realizes full well that hooter histrionics must be counteracted by comic camp value, less the entire enterprise turn radioactively ridiculous and more or less implode. And for a good 40 minutes, he does just that. We find ourselves busting both a gut and a nut to this twisted take on old codgers, tasty young tale, and the lumbering oafs who occasionally stumble into the sack with both. There's even a little Texas Hack Saw hokum tossed in to keep the otherwise "occupied" gorehounds good and lubricated.
And then...well, to be honest, the movie kind of falls apart. Oh sure, it maintains most of its insane idjit integrity, staying true to the bizarre-o storyline it started. We get more blood, more boobies, and more baffling last minute narrative shifts. But something is clearly missing, an element of unbridled fun that helped CAREY us along throughout most of the opening material. Yep, for some stupid reason, Yudis has our Ms. Mary disappear at about the 39:59 minute mark, and from then on, Pervert! can only tread water. It's not that the one time Gubernatorial candidate for the State of California is a stellar performance presence. No, the sad fact is that Ms. Carey is a voluptuous void in the thespian department. Even with gallons of enticing honey covering her sweetly overstuffed lady lumps, she's the onscreen equivalent of a glossy girlie mag. But she is also packed with kinetic carnality, the kind of electrifying erotic energy that fuels every sequence she appears in. Whether it's driving a pick-up truck topless (and seemingly ambivalent to same state) or working a corncob to within an inch of its vegetable life, she's the main reason to give Pervert! a D-cup of legitimizing leeway. Once she exits (and there'll be no spoiling the reason why) Yudis leaves the rest of his risqué business in less than capable hands.
Indeed, as replacements, the slutty Sally Jean (playing the pain in the ass Latina Alisha) and the plump Juliette Clark (as a decidedly non-wet nurse named Patty) just can't match Mary's air-headed humanity. They just aren't in tune with the era or genre being explored. Similarly, the reveal of what the voodoo witch doctor did to our hero is a tad anticlimactic. It makes for an initially hilarious visual gag, but when it suddenly hogs the whole last act, it grows redundant very quickly. With only a couple of clear moments of aggressive arterial spray, and an epilogue that makes little or no sense, Pervert! definitely tests our post-modern proto-porn tolerances. In fact, many just won't cotton to its Laugh-In meets Pigkeeper's Daughter-esque dimensions. Yudis has a decent style behind the lens, using a quasi-comic book conceit (and lots of '60s inspired bare bodkin montages) to accentuate our already eager beavering. Yet as much as any exploitation obsessive will want to champion and cheer this intrepid T&A throwback, Pervert! will always pale in comparison to the real thing. As valuable as she is to this production, Mary Carey is no Pat Barrington. Neither is she Uschi Digart, Uta Erickson or Darlene Bennett. While she may be able to match figures with these famous grindhouse femmes, they remain the raincoat crowd standard.
Presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, the image for Pervert! is pert near flawless. The colors are bright and vibrant, the details (like the contours of Ms. Carey's frequently exposed rack) clear and consistent. Even with the use of some last act stop motion animation, the visual element of this film is terrific. There will be those who carp about the obvious digital to film fallacy inherent in the mastering, but all in all, this movie looks damn good.
On the sound side, director Yudis utilizes a pop punk rockabilly score to keep the action motorized and moving, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix does an excellent job of channeling said vigor. In addition, the dialogue is always discernible and the Troma-like sound effects (lots of "boings!" and "splaaaats!" here) retain their clearness and crispness.
TLA Releasing does a bang up job with the added content section of this release. There are three separate trailers for the film (labeled "Sex", "Death" and "Freedom" in order to illustrate their contextual angle), a rockin' music video, a collection of your standard onset bloopers, a look at some deleted scenes, and an extended lesbian workout between Mary Carey and Juliette Clarke. There is even a fascinating Behind the Scenes featurette, offering backstage intrigue and interviews with many in the cast and crew. But the best bonus feature by far is the pair of audio commentaries. The first features director Yudis and screenwriter Mike Cross. The second contains Yudis with crew members Guy Livneh (cinematography), Michael T. "Fitz" Fitzgerald (editor) and Timothy Johnson (special effects and stop motion animation supervisor). Both are loaded with humorous anecdotes, crazy asides, bizarre factoids and an overall spirit of fun clearly inspired by the film itself. Like the loony lung fest that is the main movie, this collection of extras is a real treat.
Okay, so Pervert! doesn't get everything right. The minute Ms. Carey's considerable "talents" leave the narrative, the film more or less goes flaccid. In addition, the over-reliance on the visual gag that dominates the finale may have more than a few viewers scratching their...heads in disconcerted confusion. But overall, this is a successful recreation of a certain style of film, a jokey genre revamp that wants to do very little except entertain and entice. Easily earning a Highly Recommended rating, Jonathan Yudis and his cast of crazies deserve a lot of credit. It's indeed very rare when a deliberate attempt to manufacture mediocrity actually works. While those exploitation aces of the '50s through '70s would argue that they were simply doing the best they could with the talent and time available, they still managed to forge something that was simultaneously flawed and unforgettable. Pervert! can claim some of the same hilarious heritage. It's not perfect, but there's a great deal of fun in its flaws.
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