Hixploitation lite. M-G-M's own M.O.D. (manufactured on demand) service, the M-G-M Limited Edition Collection, providing movie hounds like me lots of hard-to-find library and cult titles, has released Sixpack Annie, the 1975 American International southern-fried drive-in programmer starring stacked Lindsay Bloom and a host of embarrassed costars including Ray Danton, Sid Melton, Joe Higgins, Doodles Weaver, Louisa Moritz, Richard Kennedy, and Stubby Kaye. Now you know I love this kind of crap, and Sixpack Annie does have its (very) minor charms...but it could have been a whole mess better. No extras for this good-looking widescreen transfer.
Good god in the morning does "Sixpack" Annie Bodine (Lindsay Bloom) like tight-fittin' clothes, horny hands a'grabbin' and a'clutchin' at her, and of course a six-pack of Blatz® on ice, ya lightweight Yankee pussies. Ass-back in the woods and sand patches of rural Florida, 'taint much to do but git yoreself all likkered up and tear-ass 'round in yore truck...lessen you might cotton to some midnite skinnydippin' with a good-lookin' boy, like Bobby Jo (Bruce Boxleitner). Workin' in yore Aunt Tess' (Danna Hansen) fly-specked diner shore ain't no fun, 'specially when you rekkin she's about finished with it, anyhow, seein' as how the bank's jerk-off Mr. Piker (Donald Elson) ain't gonna hold over the $5600-and-change note anymor'n. What's a busty, sexy, stupid whore to do? Whaaaaal...she could pull double harness with slobby goof-ball Sheriff Waters (Joe Higgins), who's achin' to dig his fat sausage fingers into Annie's ample pulchritude. Or she could pull up stakes along with her sex-crazed friend, Mary Lou (Jana Bellan) and swing down to Miami, where Annie's sister, even more stacked Flora (Louisa Moritz) is a'workin' as a hooker―she's shore to have the money.
Like I wrote at the top, you just have to pull up my list of movies reviewed to see I love garbage like Sixpack Annie. Anything that reminds me of those long-gone days at the drive-in―here god intended man to see a movie―usually gets the nod from me. No one could have been more excited on the DVDTalk panel than I when I saw Sixpack Annie suddenly listed in my review qeue―for my money, M-G-M Limited Edition Collection should concentrate solely on their AIP titles and get those wonders out for prosperity before they release anything else. And from the emails I get whenever I review these kinds of titles, I know I'm not the only one who covets these drive-in exploiters from that golden-hued past.
So...it is with a heart not quite as heavy as Lindsay Bloom's décolletage that I must declare Sixpack Annie a marginal effort, at best. Now, don't get all ornery with me; I'm not gittin' uppity about efforts like these. I'm not judging it by yore high, elevated "movie classic" standards like Smokey and the Bandit (all parts), anything with Joe Don Baker or Christopher Mitchum starring, or anything directed by Charles B. Pierce. I'm takin' it fore what it is. And it is...just okay (cripes I wanted it to be more than that). Going to the drive-in back in the early-to-mid '70s was fun because companies like AIP released fare specifically designed to overcome the limits of the theatrical presentation. If a too-dark image, god-awful food, tinny, scratchy sound, screaming kids running up and down the aisles, and the hurried, tummy-turning groans of someone humping not more than two feet away from you in the rusted-out Toronado parked too close to you before your father screamed, "Roll 'em up!" and peeled out to another spot (in your Pumpkin Yellow with Optional Simulated Wood Side Panels 9-passenger Pontiac Bonneville Estate Wagon with a 455hp engine)―if all of that made it less than optimal to catch the mise-en-scene nuances of say, The Godfather Part II, on the Jesse James Drive-In screen, well...then some brightly-lit tits-n-ass shots dropped in among a fill-in-the-blank horror/blaxploitation/sex comedy/biker flick would keep you in your bucket seats, that's for sure.
Sixpack Annie, however, is just too...nice to be exploitive, too clean to be disturbingly raunchy, and too tame to be drive-in approved naughty. Sassy Sue or Country Hooker it ain't (biggest mistake: why the hell didn't it stay in the backwoods―that's where a backwoods comedy belongs, isn't it?) If the word "fuck" wasn't thrown out several times during the course of Sixpack Annie, it would be hard-pressed to merit a "PG-13" today, let alone the "R" it sported then and now. Check out that poster art. Read the ad lines. Now...what do you want Sixpack Annie to be about? I know what I want it to be: Sixpack Annie playing grab-ass with every two-bit horny yokel that crosses her path, while running through the cypress and scrub, her clothes magically coming off like an FDS commercial gone berserk, before she tries to hook her legs over her truck's gun rack as she entertains the Seventh Fleet. That's exaggerated, but it makes my point: that poster and that concept demand exploitative fun. Fun that exploits. Not something sweet. Or light. And if it's going to be funny...it better be comedy that exploits (you guessed it). Comedy that's raw and raucous, not sniggeringly puerile, like the censored blooper reel from The Dean Martin Show Meets Hee Haw wrap party. I want Sixpack Annie to be nasty, goddammit!
But it just ain't. Joe Higgins, whom 70s TV viewers will remember from what seemed like hundreds of generic commercials featuring his comically rednecked sheriff, is actually quite funny when he takes an expertly-executed pratfall. And Richard Kennedy, of Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS infamy (among many other drive-in classics), is amusing as a leather-lunged good 'ol boy getting drunk at Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez's (Rio Bravo, The Love Bug) bar. One-time up-and-comer-now-seedy-fellow-exploitation-director Ray Danton approximates George Hamilton's surface-of-the-sun tan while embarrassing himself with his five-minute cameo. Bruce Boxleitner shows his ass at the beginning of the movie (my wife simply said, "8 ½ ") before he inexplicably disappears for good. Sid Melton gets farted on (jesus what a low point for this good comedian). Granted, it's dealt by Louisa Moritz (Verna LaVerne!), whose just past it-but-still-stunning figure is barely glimpsed in a see-through nightie (another cheat for the viewers). Doodles Weaver glumly channels Archie Campbell with some faux-dirty wheezes that a 5th-grader back in 1975 would have yawned at. Stubby Kaye comes over okay (at least he looks game). Billy Barty shows up (he'd do anything back then...). And American Graffiti's Jana Bellan promises a lot with that rack...only to do nothing with it (why is she even in the picture?).
As for Lindsay Bloom...the shame of it is you can just tell she'd be okay with a better director (apparently one-shot Graydon F. David, under an alias) and a better script (mostly from David Kidd, of The Swinging Cheerleaders fame). For 1975 (and today, frankly), her body is phenomenal (today, outrageously, she'd be labeled overweight). So...that's half the battle. As for her line readings, she has an agreeably raucous growl and a petulant, even mean little frown (think Reese Witherspoon without that billboard forehead) that I found both funny and sexy...whenever David reminded her to use it. She's fine when she's ad-libbing her outraged/angered reactions to whatever is going on around her, but you can also tell she needed help with the scripted one-liners (probably nobody could have helped with most of them)―help she didn't get. Too bad, too: she looks great, and she had potential...but it was wasted in this good-natured but ultimately dopey drive-in mess.
The anamorphically-enhanced, 1.85:1 widescreen transfer for Sixpack Annie looks amazingly good (considering who the hell was watching over this forgotten movie for 37 years?). Colors are a bit soft (I'll bet that's the original look), but the image is bright and sharp, and no compression issues to speak of here. Especially nice for this kind of drive-in programmer.
The Dolby Digital English split mono audio track is okay, with a little bit of hiss (not really noticeable) and clean dialogue. No subtitles or closed-captions.
No extras for Sixpack Annie (would have liked to see the trailer).
"Cute" ain't "exploitation." That poster art got me a'hankerin' for some nasty backwoods barnyard fun...but instead, Sixpack Annie plays it sweet and safe and comes up with a Li'l Abner Meets an R-rated Love, American Style episode. Pity, too, because with some work, built-like-a-brick-shithouse Lindsay Bloom could have made a memorable debut. A rental for AIP and drive-in completists.
Paul Mavis is an internationally published movie and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.