Troma, not know for their prospecting ways when it comes to cinema, have actually unearthed a few hidden gems during their years in the distribution game. They rescued Australian filmmaker Philippe Mora's wonderful Mad Dog Morgan from obscurity and brought the surreal South African dark comedy Pure Blood to the attention of American audiences. Now they can add Seduction of a Nerd to their list of overlooked delights. This time capsule trinket of the flabbergastingly freakish 60s/70s is a gas, like looking into a pervert's private picture book.
Mother owns one of the biggest toy companies in the world, but she has a problem. Sales are down and she's looking for new inspiration. She finds it in Clyde King, a mild mannered dweeb who works in the kid's store across the street. She is intrigued by the way he relates to and handles children, and she demands he join her staff. When he refuses, she sends son Lyle "Skippy" Ferns out to get the deal done. Lyle learns Clyde's secret - he is obsessed with women - and tries to use said gals against him. But it will take more than lovely, luscious ladies to get Clyde to sign on the dotted line. He has issues from the past mucking up his present, and Mother and son will have a hard time succeeding with their planned Seduction of a Nerd.
Known by many other names - Mother, Up Your Teddy Bear, The Toy Grabbers - and also available in a slightly altered version from Something Weird Video, Seduction of a Nerd is a delirious demented treat. It stars three of the biggest names in 60s entertainment - Julie Newmar (Batman), Victor Buono (ditto) and Wally Cox (Underdog, The Hollywood Squares) - and was crafted and created wholly by one Don Joslyn, whose anemic acting career boasts three entire titles: Heroes Die Young, Hoodlum Priest and Childish Things. Seduction of a Nerd is his one and only time behind the camera, and after seeing its insanity as sex comedy confines, it's no wonder the man never helmed another movie. In between the fabulously fetching females and Love, American Style silliness, Joslyn gives us a barely dressed Newmar (it's one VA-VA-VA-VOOM moment when she shows up in a scintillating string bikini), Cox doing some of his patented tremulous yodeling (it's as odd as it sounds - literally) and Buono as the most obese drag hooker in the history of the second oldest profession.
Indeed, in something like Seduction of a Nerd, eccentricity rules. Our three main characters - Mother (Newmar), her son/assistant Lyle "Skippy" Ferns (Buono) and the object of her occupational desire, one toy titan Clyde King (a decidedly drunk Cox) - are like the Three T&A Stooges, using broad slapstick comedy to make fun of a socially stunted mensch and the well-endowed business woman who wants his amusement expertise. The set up is incredibly simple, allowing the vignette style scenarios plenty of room to breathe and be bawdy. When Mother demands a signed contract, Lyle uses various wily women to woo the mild mannered miscreant. One hooker complains of King's odor, then regales him with a litany of slanderous epithets ("child molester"). Another blond babe gets him all the way into the sack before Clyde does a runner. After he loses another gal in the surf, Buono decides to kill the little creep, and we begin a whole other cycle of attempted murders and their usually hilarious misfires.
In addition to the almost omnipresent girl watching - you have honestly never seen so many examples of seductive female fortitude in all your born days as there are in this naughty Nerd - Clyde has a slightly psycho set of mother issues, meaning that every time he sees Newmar, he has a flashback to moments from his maternally misguided childhood. Julie plays the pulchritudinous parent, and her scenes with a juvenile Cox (Wally wears a bib, a dandy boy uniform, and a cowboy outfit during these dizzying dream sequences) make for some surrealistic fun. Yet Buono steals the entire film as the overweight lackey with an unnatural thing for his familial "boss". If sweat were a part of the Method acting manifesto, Vic would be as De Niro as they get. He literally perspires when he THINKS. Decked out in some of the most ridiculous costumes you have ever seen on a human slab of suet, Buono actually bounces off the walls, flops around on the floor, and squeezes his ample assiness into a compact car that makes the Cooper Mini seem luxuriant. While some may argue that this is the same old "make fun of the fat guy" routine, Buono elevates it into an art form, making Lyle's lamentable ineptitude a direct reflection of his frightfully flawed character.
This does not mean that Newmar is just oh-so-pleasing carnal eye candy. Far from it. Given the part of the mean, conniving corporate boss who will stop at nothing to get the man of her merchandising dreams, Julie is just right as the strong woman of power. Certainly Joslyn gets her to show off her truly defining assets - let's face it, the gal is SMOKIN' - but it's her performance that is far more potent than her slinky feminine wiles. Add in the charmingly hep musical score by Quincy Jones (so indicative of the late 60s sound it should come with a free loving spoonful of whipping cream and other delights) and the fabulous finale with Buono trying to out-frug Cox in an attempt to woo him away from a cocktail waitress and you have one of those terrific treasures from a bygone - and way out! - era. No matter what name it's known by Seduction of a Nerd is a lecherous, loony classic.
Presented in a 1.33:1 full frame image and fairly decent for a low end offering from 35 years ago, Seduction of a Nerd looks good in this Troma transfer. The Something Weird DVD-R version (under the Up Your Teddy Bear title) is a little more colorful, and there are some obvious age issues with either release, but overall, Troma treats this film right.
As stated before, the Big Bad Q himself, Quincy Jones, jives up the amazing musical score with the hip meets happening sonic sunshine on this distinctly California soundtrack. Though Troma's DVD presentation is all faux Dolby Digital Stereo (this is two channel Mono all the way, baby) the aural elements do indeed swing like a psychedelic pendulum do. All the dialogue is easily discernable (though some of it appears dubbed in later) and most importantly, Cox's bewildering yelp-yodel is fully preserved for future generations to study and be shocked by.
The only viable bit of added content here is a recent interview with the still fetching female star of this show, the incomparable Julie Newmar. Though she's no spring chicken (the past prime pin-up is in her 70s as we speak) she is very genial, and more than happy to talk about her role as Mother. She loves this film and ladles on the praise for all involved. Aside from the usual accompaniment of Tromatic merchandising, company chief Lloyd Kaufman is back to his old introduction tricks, using the set of his recent film Poultrygeist (which looks like a hoot, by the way) to offer up glowing recommendations of the movie. He supposedly speaks to Roger Ebert (not really) and French film master Claude Rohmer (???...not!) in defense of the film, and while decidedly odd, the whole thing is very jokey and jovial.
Fans of Julie Newmar, the incomparable Victor Buono and wistful Wally Cox will absolutely scream with sheer delight at how demented and dopey Seduction of a Nerd is. But this is not just a title for retro-loving devotees of old fashioned sex farces. Similar to something David Lynch would concoct while trying to mimic a far more randy Ritz brothers comedy, this perverted piece of peace and love is a true hidden gem. Thanks to Troma and their tireless efforts, this DVD is highly recommended.