Thursday, March 08, 2012

Perfect Plant Food

PLEASE DON’T EAT MY MOTHER! falls into that odd strictly-Seventies category of sex film that’s too graphic for an R rating, but, lacking penetration shots, is not quite dirty enough to qualify as pornography. Executive producer Harry Novak (THE BOOBY TRAP) put it out through his Boxoffice International without an MPAA rating (which would unquestionably been an X). It’s an amazingly blatant softcore ripoff of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. Perhaps Roger Corman ripped off so many people himself that he thought it would be hypocritical to go after Novak and writer/director Carl Monson (A SCREAM IN THE STREETS).

It’s always weird to see mainstream actors popping up in obscure sex films. Getting top billing is Buck Kartalian, a Mel Brooks lookalike and busy Hollywood actor in classics like PLANET OF THE APES and COOL HAND LUKE, as well as many television shows. Kartalian usually used a pseudonym in his perv movies for Novak and Monson, but didn’t try to hide his identity this time (many of MOTHER’s tech credits are pseudonymous, probably union workers fearing fines for working on this non-union production). He’s onscreen almost all the time, so it’s likely the biggest film role the character actor ever had. His performance is pretty good and sympathetic, considering. I think he looks a bit tickled at times.

Thankfully, we’re spared the sight of the hirsute Kartalian participating in any sex scenes. He plays Harry Fudd, a pervy half-Jewish virgin who spends his lunch hours watching couples have sex in a park. He shares a house with his overbearing mother (Lynn Lundgren), and his bedroom walls are plastered with nude centerfolds.

One day, Harry purchases a talking plant from a flaming gay proprietor (Art Hedberg) for a dollar. He becomes enamored with its female voice and personality and brings home flies and frogs for it to eat. As the plant grows taller and taller, it demands more sophisticated sustenance—such as dogs and, eventually, people. First goes mom (no surprise there), then a fat slob cop named O’Columbus, played by director Monson doing a terrible Peter Falk impression.

This is a very cheap production. Kartalian wears the same damn clothes in every scene, even though the movie takes place over a series of weeks. The hastily constructed plant looks ludicrous, though that can be overlooked in a comedy. Monson shoots the cardboard sets quickly from a paucity of camera angles. You can even see the grip truck parked on the front lawn of the house Monson used as the location for Harry’s place.

None of this mattered much to Novak, of course, and, if you’re watching a movie called PLEASE DON’T EAT MY MOTHER!, it probably won’t to you either. Monson’s film is witless and juvenile, even if there is some novelty value in a sex film about the relationship between a middle-aged virgin and a seven-foot plant. Novak also released it as THE HUNGRY PETS, SEXPOT SWINGERS, and probably more titles. Kartalian played a creepier version of Henry—wearing the same shirt and sweater—in a Novak short called THE VOYEUR.


Anonymous said...

nicely done . + following.

hobbyfan said...

Kartalian is better known in my circles for his work on the '76 kiddie show Monster Squad. Like, who knew he did this sort of thing in the first place? Certainly not I.