Another DVD, Another Wishman
Though this DVD is billed as a “Something Weird Video Drive-In Double Feature” of Bad Girls Go To Hell/Another Day Another Man, in the mid-Sixties, films like these were more likely to be shown in seedy grindhouses than drive-ins.
This was an era of experimentation in exploitation pictures. Audiences were tired of the light and colorful “Nudie-Cutie” pictures that had flooded the adult market. Now, they were after cheap thrills with a harder edge. And so, the “Roughies” were born, gritty black & white features that sold themselves on titillation and shock, much like vintage carnival sideshows. Elements were thrown into plots just to see what kind of “daring” material they could get away with, trying all kinds of kinky stunts to shock the audience. As a result, the films are entertaining for their sleaze quotient more than any actual sexual excitement, with jazzy soundtracks and lots of shots of girls undressing in dirty apartments.
Doris Wishman was a Florida housewife who inherited her husband’s film distribution business. Checking out some of the nudist camp films making the rounds at the time, she was convinced she could do better. Thus began the career of one of cinema’s most bizarre exploitation filmmakers.
Wishman’s films are instantly recognizable, beginning with the fake credits that barely disguised the fact she was doing almost everything herself. She’s famous for her odd editing, with the camera often wandering away from her actors to shots of animals, feet, and random objects. This is partially because Wishman shot her films without sound, and she had to use a bag of tricks to disguise the sometimes un-synchable dubbing. She dubbed them at Peter Fernandez’ New York studio (often using her own voice), so the films sometimes sound like perverse Speed Racer episodes.
Bad Girls Go to Hell is about an innocent’s adventures through the dangers of modern life. In a way, it’s like a twisted fairy tale. It’s also, tangentially, a horror film — sort of.
In a Boston suburb, sex hungry blonde nymphet Meg (Gigi Darlene) nags hubby Ted (George La Rocque), who has to work Saturday. Venturing outside to empty the garbage, she’s molested by a creepy janitor.
He’s frightened off, but later slips a note under her door “Come to my apartment or I’ll tell your husband what happened”. And what — get arrested? But fearing scandal (I guess), she goes, and is attacked by her horny nemesis. Before he can complete the act, Meg clobbers him with a big ugly ashtray, killing him. There was always a big ugly ashtray handy in the ’60s.
Meg is perhaps the dopiest heroine in movie history. Or perhaps she’s merely the product of an age that often blamed crimes of passion on the victim. Instead of calling the police, she runs away, taking a bus to New York City. Once there, she goes home with Al Baines (Sam Stewart), the first stranger she meets. Al seems like a nice lug — he gives her a place to stay with no questions asked. She attempts to repay his kindness the only way she knows how, by doing some housework and making some clumsy attempts at seduction (which he rejects). Turns out Al’s struggling with alcoholism. When Meg makes the mistake of pouring a drink, Al chugs the bottle, and becomes a violent fiend that beats her.
And so, Meg hits the pavement again. She’s picked up by Grace, who introduces her to her cousin Della (Darlene Bennett), a predatory lesbian looking for a roommate. Meg moves in, and she and Della pass the time by dancing and doing acrobatics in their lingerie. They find themselves irresistibly drawn to one another — and so, Meg has to leave.
She takes a room with an annoying couple. But the husband has more than $20 a week rent on his mind. Next, she becomes a live-in companion for crippled Mrs. Thornton. But the woman’s son turns out to be the detective assigned to the janitor’s murder!
Continued in next post…