Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dance, My Little Sex Bombs!

1964's KISS ME QUICK was the first film produced by Harry Novak, who founded Boxoffice International Pictures and flooded drive-ins and grindhouses with so-called “nudie-cuties” (light-hearted sex romps that often reached the rim of hard-X pornography without going over the edge) and “roughies” (which mixed harsh violence with sex). The cinematographer was the great Laszlo Kovacs, who went on to shoot EASY RIDER, SHAMPOO, and GHOSTBUSTERS, and KISS ME QUICK is probably the best-looking color nudie film ever made (not a high bar, admittedly). The story is dumb, but it achieves its goal of creating a passable reason to put dancing naked girls on-screen, and it’s surprisingly funny and clever (and probably written by director Peter Perry).

The (fake) credits are read by an unseen female narrator. A stacked blonde lies on a table and takes forever to get undressed. She’s under the influence of a sex machine built by the mad scientist Dr. Breedlove (Max Gardens), who looks like Peter Sellers in DR. STRANGELOVE and talks like Bela Lugosi. He orders three strippers to dance (I’m partial to the second blonde, but Perry’s favorite is Natasha, the brunette with the giant wig and ponytail).

The plot, such as it is, finally gets underway with the arrival of Sterilox (Frank Coe, inexplicably performing as Stan Laurel, but why not?), who transports from the Buttless Galaxy at the command of The Grand Glom to kidnap the perfect Earth woman and bring her back for breeding. The Frankenstein Monster, a female mummy (in a rubber mask), and Count Dracula appear in (awful) makeup that somehow eluded Universal’s lawyers. Occasionally, a skull turns to the camera and makes a non sequitur wisecrack in a Peter Lorre voice. The dialogue seems inspired by MAD, and Gardens, a Los Angeles burlesque theater owner who co-produced with Novak, delivers his with a real gleam in his eye.

The script for KISS ME QUICK must have looked more like a pamphlet, because the film is primarily devoted to various bump-and-grind sequences (“Dance! Dance, my little sex bombs!”), sometimes to soft piano music and sometimes to wild garage rock credited to a band called The Gallstones. My patience for nudie-cuties is pretty short, but KISS ME QUICK held my attention, thanks to Kovacs’ colorful photography and inventive angles and the thick layer of jokes (groaners they may be) spread over the dancing scenes.

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