Monday, September 03, 2007

Tomorrow's Sexiest Comedy Today

You may not believe it, but grownup men and women actually used to go to a movie theater and pay to see silly softcore adaptations of childhood fairy tales. Setting the pace was 1976's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, a raunchy musical comedy version of Lewis Carroll's classic novel, which was available in both "soft" R-rated and hardcore X-rated cuts. I have the X-rated ALICE with a few extra minutes of bizarre "hard" inserts that must be seen to be believed. Actually, there are at least three different versions of ALICE, because B-Fest once ran a print that eliminated some hardcore sex scenes (with gag "Scene Missing" cards), but not all of them, which probably came as quite a shock to the dad and his two preteen sons sitting in front of us.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND made a ton of money for its producer, Bill Osco, who earlier tread similar ground with FLESH GORDON, an X-rated spoof of Alex Raymond's legendary comic strip FLASH GORDON. Seeing box office gold, rival producers decided to rush out their own sexy fairy tales to market. One of them was Sam Sherman, the president of Independent-International Pictures, who set to work on what would eventually be titled CINDERELLA 2000. Director Al Adamson, a more likely nominee for World's Worst Director than even Ed Wood, was Sherman's I-I partner and made CINDERELLA 2000 in Los Angeles on a very frugal budget. Not only was it a musical comedy, but it was also a science fiction movie, an angle that Sherman concedes (in his DVD commentary) was created to set his movie apart in the marketplace from other ripoffs released at the same time.

Being as CINDERELLA 2000 is an Adamson movie, it stinks on ice (VIDEO WATCHDOG's John Charles calls it Adamson's worst film, which is saying a lot). Catherine Erhardt, then known for her leading roles in classy porno productions (when there were such a thing) like THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, nails the title role and is actually fairly good. As Cindy, she is tormented by her perpetually horny stepmother (Renee Harmon) and bitchy stepsisters, one white (Adina Ross) and one black (Buri Cowans).

However, Adamson's sci-fi take is set in a futuristic society where sex has been outlawed by The Controller (Erwin Fuller). Anyone caught doing the dirty is wrapped in bubble wrap and shrunk to the size of a Barbie doll (just one of several inept visual effects accomplished by MGM's Titles & Opticals department). When Tom Prince (Vaughn Armstrong, still working in TV thirty years later) convinces The Controller to throw a masquerade ball and allow free love to occur, Cindy, with the help of her Brit-accented fairy godfather (Jay B. Larson), shows up.

As great as a softcore sex sci-fi musical version of CINDERELLA sounds (one...two...three...), Adamson's film is neither sex nor funny. On the bright side, Erhardt, as previously mentioned, is quite a fetching lead, and a few of the songs, particularly one that plays over Bob LeBar's entertaining animated titles, are toe-tappers. On the other hand, once you've seen Roscoe, one of cinema's lamest robots, singing and dancing or a field full of actors in bunny costumes simulating sex, you'll wish you could forget it.

The same year, Charles Band produced CINDERELLA, another (slightly better) musical sex comedy with drive-in queen Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith (and her "snapping pussy") in the lead. Band also produced the similarly R-rated FAIRY TALES in 1979.

A far throw from futuristic musical sex movies is 1954's SERPENT ISLAND, only known today as the first screen credit for editor/cinematographer Bert I. Gordon, who went on to become a prolific director of science fiction movies like THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE and KING DINOSAUR. It takes exactly half of this 62-minute color cheapie to reach the titular isle, which is inhabited by exactly one stock footage snake. Sonny Tufts is the lead, and the fact that Tufts is in it tells you exactly the kind of movie it is.

The barrel-chested Tufts also narrates as Paul Mason, a boozy sailor hired by Scranton secretary Ricki (Mary Munday) to join a sailboat crew headed for Haiti, where she hopes to find treasure hidden by her great-grandfather 150 years ago. The captain is Kirk Ellis (Tom Monroe), Mason's archenemy, and the first half-hour is a triple-hander showing the two men jostling for position as Ricki's favorite. Stock footage and story cliches inhabit this mundane melodrama, which was also the film debut of writer/director Tom Gries, who graduated to television work and eventually major Hollywood features such as WILL PENNY and BREAKHEART PASS.

1 comment:

rob! said...

>>The same year, Charles Band produced CINDERELLA, another (slightly better) musical sex comedy with drive-in queen Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith (and her "snapping pussy") in the lead<<

this was the first adult film of any sort that i saw growing up. for that reason, i'll always have a slight crush on Cheryl Smith. :)