Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Woman Hunt

Director Eddie Romero and producer/star John Ashley had just plundered H.G. Wells’ ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU for an uncredited remake (titled THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE), so why not do the same with Richard Connell’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME? And make it sleazier, of course.

Jack Hill, who wrote and directed his fair share of quickie Filipino productions for executive producer Roger Corman (including THE BIG DOLL HOUSE and THE BIG BIRD CAGE), is credited with contributing the story for THE WOMAN HUNT, along with screenplay writer David Hoover (this may be a pseudonym). In theaters just seven months after beginning production, THE WOMAN HUNT drops four women—McGee (PETTICOAT JUNCTION’s Pat Woodell, also in Hill’s THE BIG DOLL HOUSE), Lori (Laurie Rose), Billie (Charlene Jones), and Rita (Liza Belmonte)—into the cruel arms of Spiros (Eddie Garcia), a wealthy sadist who sends his henchman to kidnap beautiful women to serve as sex slaves for his decadent houseguests.

With his latest party, however, Spiros ups the stakes, turning it into a fox hunt with his foxy captives as prey. His right-hand man Tony (“You’ve always been like a son to me.”) has a weird change of heart—kidnapping and rape is totally cool, but he draws the line at stalking and murder—and leads the four girls on a jailbreak through the jungle with Spiros and his guests, armed with machine guns, not far behind.

Ashley, whose company was footing the bill for THE WOMEN HUNT, plays Tony, but Hoover didn’t give him (or anybody else, really) a character to play. Ken Metcalfe tries to create one, wearing a ludicrous red wig as Karp, another henchman. He’s unsuccessful, but HEE HAW honey Lisa Todd cuts a striking figure all in black as Spiros’ lesbian madam Magda, and Sid Haig (BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA) charges through what he knew was a bad film on sheer force of personality, providing most of the humor.

New World pushed the woman-hunting aspect of THE WOMAN HUNT in its marketing, but the action doesn’t really get started until the third act. Romero ensures each of the actresses has a topless scene, and their breasts are just about the only way to tell them apart, since none displays a distinctive personality (to be fair, neither do the men, outside of Haig). Nudity, bloody squibs, shoddy day-for-night photography, poor dubbing, and a brief 75-minute running time are the most prominent details of Romero’s film.

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