Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hot Times (1974)

Directed by Jim McBride
Starring Henry Cory, Gail Lorber, Amy Farber, Steve Curry
Rated R
Shop for this poster!

"Hey Ma, he's making a milkshake all over the sheets."

There is no plot to this film, only a simple premise: Archie needs to get laid for the first time. Archie, you say? Yes, this is yet another raunchy sex comedy that borrows heavily from the world of Archie Andrews. That is, in fact, our protagonist's name, and he even wears a bowtie. He's much shabbier than the comic book version, though - picture Ben Stiller on a Thunderbird and cigarettes diet - and his version of Riverdale looks suspiciously like the Bronx. But he does have a gal-pal named Betty, and another one named Ronnie, as well as frien-emy called Reggie and a BFF named...well, Mughead, but close enough.

And that's really as clever as it gets. The entire script plays like a Borscsht Belt stand-up comedy routine from 1952, and rarely, if ever, lets up with the onslaught of tired gags. Stuff like this:

"Hey Arch, I got a new Polack joke for ya."
"Sure, Reg, but remember, Mughead is Polish."
"Ok, I'll say it slowly, then."

The production values are sub-porn; the whole film appears to have been shot with natural light and the boom mike is visible in half of the scenes. The girls are constantly peeling their clothes off, though, and every skin-on-skin scene looks like it could easily devolve into hardcore porn at any moment. So, even through the murk and sloppy editing, Hot Times keeps you on your toes. You'll have to squint, but there's a boner around every corner.

As stated, there's no story, just a loosely connected series of events. After yet another strike-out evening on the phone with Betty (Amy Farber), pleading with her for sex, good ol' Arch sets his sights on the much looser Ronnie (hot, bosomy, all-natural, gum-snapper Gail Lorber), a dismissive cheerleader who thinks he's a nerd. But who knows what she'll do if she's bored enough?

During a high school basketball game, Archie sees one of the cheerleaders pulling out a wedgie, and gets a boner. The coach, of course, wants to put him in the game at exactly that moment. He feigns a sore ankle to avoid embarrassment ("I had a case of Petrus Erectus", he tells Mughead) and limps off the court.

Somehow or another, he and Mughead end up in the girl's locker room.
Suddenly, the cheerleaders come bounding in, so the fellas jump into garbage cans. Through the slit in the can, the boys watch as the girls spray their vaginas with feminine deodorant spray. Archie gets caught and the girls drag him into the grubbiest shower this side of a Saw movie. And that's it. Fade out.

There's a weird scene under a bridge where Archie and Reggie run into a dude named Jesus who offers them a look at his sister's naked body. They pay him a dollar and she flashes for them. Reggie needs more interaction, so he pays an extra buck to feel her up, and she says, "You can touch, but you can't have my cherry, meester. I'm saving that until I'm sixteen."
Archie is understandably creeped out by the whole set-up, so he splits. As he's leaving, Reggie says, "Hey Arch, you know the cure for blue balls? Scratch 'em until they turn red."

Later on Archie runs into Ronnie, who is in a phone-booth, making a call. He jumps in with her and tries to molest her.
"Get offa me, Archie," Ronnie says. "You are so uncool."
They take a cab ride and Archie spends the whole time trying to jam his head between Ronnie's legs. Eventually, they end up in a motel room. Turns out Ronnie's been doing porn on the side, and she shoots a scene with a dude wearing a Groucho Marx disguise. But the guy starts crying halfway through. Apparently, he's just discovered he's gay.

Naturally, Archie is recruited to bang Ronnie, but before he can slip it in, the hotel manager starts banging on the door and they have to make a quick escape.
Out on the balcony, rock-hard erection in hand, Archie begs Ronnie for relief.
"Oh Archie," she laughs. "You are such a nerd."

It should be noted that, although Hot Times is lousy with boobs and bush, all the curse words are bleeped out. Apparently, this is for comic effect, ala South Park, but it's utilized so often it becomes positively grating. Almost as grating as the cartoon "Boing!" that's played every time one of the characters gets an erection.

For whatever reason, Archie decides to spy on his sister as she takes a shower and shaves her armpits. She catches him and screams for her parents, and when his dad barges into the bathroom, he is momentarily struck numb by the sight of his daughter's tits. It is unclear whether it is the actor or the character that is enamored with her admittedly well-ripened melons, but it's a very odd moment nonetheless. Is incest a big part of the Andrews tradition? Anyway, dad chases him around the yard as music lifted from a Looney Tunes cartoon is played on the soundtrack.

And so on. Eventually, Archie wanders into Times Square on New Year's Eve where he meets "The Protein Queen." She finally straightens him out.

Listen, if you'd like to go blind trying to see mid 70's bush or the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve in 1973, you are very much in luck, because you'll get that here. If you want to see awkwardly edited shots of scuzzy local NYC businesses that may or may not have loaned McBride some dough to get this thing made, than bingo!

Also, if you miss the days when comedy was not funny ("Got a match?" "Yeah, your face and a buffalo fart!"), once again, this is the movie for you. Every one else should probably seek their thrills elsewhere. Interestingly, Jim McBride eventually learned to make movies for real. He directed both The Big Easy (1987) and Great Balls of Fire (1989), before settling in as a TV director. It should also be noted that he scored an earlier cult hit with David Holzman's Dairy (1967), which I was forced to watch once, about 20 years ago. To be honest, I'd rather see this one again. At least it had vaginas. Bushy vaginas, but vaginas, nonetheless.

Archie and his gang did not continue on in the acting field, although I would not be surprised if Gail Lorber really did shoot a few XXX loops on the weekends. I woulda bought some. She was a natural.

Availability: Hot Times is available on VHS.
Buy Hot Times at Amazon.
-Ken McIntyre

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