Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Six Pack Annie (1975)

Directed by John C Broderick
Starring Lyndsay Bloom, Richard Kennedy, Doodles Weaver
Rated R
Buy this bitchin' poster!

"Where'd all these fucking cows come from?"

Even in this internet-gorged world where cinematic truffles no longer really exist, Six Pack Annie remains an obscurity, a barely-released, often-whispered-about-but-rarely-seen mid 70's cornpone wonder, a bottom-feeding glob of not so titillating hillbilly junk tossed at southern drive-ins and then abandoned. Even garbage-movie obsessives like yours cruelly have been forced to just sit there and ponder what delights it holds for years on end, unable to actually see the thing. I had the wonderfully lowbrow poster on my wall for years before I actually had a copy of the film (courtesy my venerable partner Paul, who snatched it from a rare cable TV airing), and even now, half a decade after my first screening and 33-ish years after it's initial theatrical run, Six Pack Annie shows little signs of actually seeing a home-video release of any kind.

I can see why, really. It's an aggressively anti-intellectual film, dumb as a recently-clobbered tom turkey, filled with awful shitkicker C&W and barely-written backwoods characters that even Hershel Gordon Lewis would be embarrassed to have in his moonshine maniacs films. But then again, it's got Lyndsay Bloom in hotpants, so how bad can it be, really?

Really bad, brother. Starting with Tim Hayfield's banjo pickin' theme song.
"Step right up and join the crowd," sings Hayfield, as Annie pops the top on a can of Coors and takes off in her beat-up truck, "You'll lose your pride when Annie starts shakin'/don't be surprised if it's hot enough to fry your bacon."


Clip: Opening theme

Annie (Lyndsay Bloom) and Marylou (Janna Ballen) race to work at Aunt Tess's diner, but they are cut off at the pass by Bustis (Larry Mahan), a local good ol' boy obsessed with hard drinkin', fast livin' Annie.
"I'll race you to the diner," Bustis says. "Dollar says I beat the pants off ya."
"Haha," Annie chortles. " Who says I'm wearing any pants?"
They race as more banjo music plays. Annie cheats by cutting through a field full of cows, knocking down fences as she goes, which rattles sheriff Waters (Joe Higgins, RIP, who played the fat, dumb redneck lawman in dozens of films), who tries to give chase, but is out of gas. So is the film, quite clearly, and we're only five minutes in.

At the diner, two old coots (Doodles Weaver, RIP, and Ronald Elliot), play checkers and tell cringe-worthy jokes. The film cuts to them half a dozen times over its not-so-brief 88 minutes so they may deliver side-splitters like this:
"Hank, I bought my wife a car yesterday."
"About twice a week."

After pushing his car down the dirt road for a few miles, Sheriff Waters finally gets to the diner. He stomps inside, and immediately slips on a banana peel. A banana peel?!

Anyway, the plot. Marylou and Annie are apparently sisters, and they work at the diner for their Aunt Tess (Danna Hansen). Tess owes the bank $5000 in mortgage for the diner, and if she doesn't make the payments in five days, she'll lose it. They live in a town called Titwillow, by the way. So, Annie tells Tess not to worry, she'll get the money. Then she goes skinnydipping in the dark with Bruce Boxleitner. You'd think this would at least provide us with some decent naked Annie footage, but their midnight swim is so dark it's impossible to see anything. So that's frustrating.

Sheriff Waters shows up and demands they get out of the water.
"What's the matter, boy, catfish got your tootsie roll?" He says to Boxleitner. Then he takes them to jail. For whatever reason, the chubby lawman has a fridge full of Dr. Pepper back at the police station, which he keeps chained up. It is not the first time Dr. Pepper will be prominently displayed in the film. Some of the publicity stills even featured bottles of the stuff.

Clearly, the admen behind the then-fledgling soft drink were trying to make in-roads in the deep south, and thought heavy product placement in a low-rent hicksploitation flick would do the trick.

Next day, back at the diner, Annie and Marylou brainstorm about how to come up with the five grand to save the diner. The diner, by the way, is such a dreary, bare-bones place that it looks like it should have dirt floors. Hardly seems worth saving.
"Who's the richest man in town?" Annie asks.
"Hmm," Marylou ponders. "This town's too poor, it ain't got no rich man. Probably the richest person in town is Flora, and she lives in Miami, and she ain't even a man."
Flora is their uppity older sister, who has moved to the big city and occasionally sends postcards, bragging about her high-falutin' new lifestyle.
"Well, we'll go to Miami and talk to Flora," decides Annie.
"I'm sure she'll give us the money, her being rich n' all. Wow, that'll solve all our problems. Now we can go to the dance!"
Then she and Marylou drink Dr. Pepper.

And so, to the dance, although it is not a dance at all, just a particularly drunken evening at the diner. Annie sits down at the piano (I don't know how to spell it the hillbilly way...pianah?) and plunks out an old-timey rhythm while Marylou sings a song that goes "I'm so glad the peanut man made me his wife/because now I'm full of nuts for the rest of my life". While this happens, the camera cuts to non-reaction shots from confused elderly people. It is at this point when my wife said, "That's it!" and left the room. I do not blame her. It's the sort of thing that will definitely make you question whether you're wasting your life watching grubby ancient junk like this. The answer, of course, is no - what else are you going to do, climb a mountain? - but the question will nag you, nonetheless.

On the way to Miami, the girls pass a white van with a license plate that reads "9 Inches".
"Must be that damn Long John," notes Annie.

A little further down the road, they pick up a couple of swishy hitchhikers in cut-off shorts. Assuming, against overwhelming physical evidence, that they'll make suitable sexual partners, they let the two jump into the truckbed. Not surprisingly, the two men immediately start making out with each other. Freaked, Annie slams on the brakes and screams that their truck is on fire, causing the hitchers to scatter.
"They musta had some Yankee blood in 'em, because I cain't imagine any southern boys carrying on that way," says Annie.
You can just imagine a drive-in full of southern boys honking their horns over that one, right?

The girls get to Miami and Marylou tells Annie to pull over. She does, and they ponder a sign in front of a construction site. The sign says "Erection Site".
"I don't know about Miami," Marylou muses, "But back home, the boys don't need a special place. They can have an erection anywhere."
Another car-honking moment, surely.

The girls visit Flora (the ever-bubbly Lousia Moritz, naked under a see-through dressing gown) who, contrary to her boastful letters to home, is not living a lavish lifestyle. She's actually a poor-but-busy prostitute.
"I'm sort of between sugar daddies," she confesses.
Since she doesn't have the money to lend the girls, she suggests they whore themselves out for it. Seems drastic to me, but whatever. She sends them to Fredericks of Hollywood to buy sexier, less bumpkin-ish clothes.

Annie picks out a bright red minidress and tries on some white knee-high boots to go with. While she's trying them on, the old woman sitting next to her pets the sleepy cat on her lap.
"Nice pussy," she coos. "Nice pussy."
"You're telling me, lady!" Says the shoe salesman, sneaking a peek up Annie's dress.

Annie's first appointment as a newly-minted Miami whore is with a Frenchman who dresses up like Napolean. This freaks Annie out so badly that she bails. Annie doesn't dig foreigners in weird costumes, man.

In a scene that's embarrassing for everyone involved, including me, Flora attempts to entertain a nervous trick but is interrupted by an angry Annie. She stuffs her John in a trunk and mentions to him that she farts when she's nervous. Annie storms in, complaining about the Frenchie, while Flora, desperately trying to keep the flailing idiot in the box, squeaks out gas for five minutes.

Annie and Marylou head back out for more whoring adventures, but stop at a local bar first for a quick six pack. Marylou gets friendly with the bartender, Carmello (crazed Latin character actor Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, RIP), who gives her a job as a waitress. She has to a wear a rat costume. Meanwhile, Annie chats up a drunken Texan (Richard Kennedy), who slurps booze out of a coconut and rattles off a bunch of jokes that sound like they were ripped right out of a 1967 issue of Playboy.

"My marriage has gotten a lot better since we got twin beds," Tex tells Annie.
"Twin beds? How's that help?"
"Well, hers is in Dallas, and mine's in Miami Beach."
Some of these drunken asshole's jokes I don't even get, like when he pulls a bullet out of his pocket and says, "You know what that is, darlin'? It's a genuine Russian birth control pill."

So anyway, the Texan gives Annie a necklace, and it turns out to be worth $7000. So she gives it to the bank. The end. Well, almost the end. Just when you think it's over, just when you think the endless stream of goofy sight-gags have finally and mercifully dried up, tiny-man Billy Barty, dressed up like a fry cook, shows up to have a banana cream pie fight with the sheriff.

Despite a cast full of veteran character actors seriously going for it, Six Pack Annie is a trying watch, so unfunny it's almost depressing, and frustratingly demure in the T&A department. Director Broderick clearly enjoyed toiling in lowbrow cinema - he also directed the altogether racier moonshine-runner flick Bad Georgia Road (1977), and produced both Jocks (1987) and Howling IV (1991) - but Six Pack Annie plays more like an old episode of Hee Haw than a boob-centric, southern-fried drive-in flick. Admittedly, Lyndsay Bloom's breathless beauty is hard to resist, and had she not starred in the mind-frying T&A classic H.O.T.S. just a couple years later, than Six Pack Annie would probably be the best place to ogle her ample physical charms at their vine-ripe peak. But H.O.T.S. very thankfully does exist, which means you can happily skip this lame glob of hillbilly pandering.

Oh, and here's your Bloom-boobs:

Now you really don't have to bother.

Availability: Not available. And that's probably ok.

-Ken McIntyre

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