Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kiss Me Quick (1964)

Directed by Bethel Buckalew
Starring Jackie DeWitt, Claudia Banks, Althea Currier

"I have to shoot my sex bombs to the pool before they explode."

Kiss Me Quick! is often cited as the greatest nudie-cutie film ever made, but that's not saying a whole lot, considering the mind-sapping nature of this curious micro-genre. The nudie-cutie's heyday was the 1950's to the mid-60's. At the time, nudity on film was still taboo (although a thriving underground porn-loop business certainly existed), so to skirt the issue, crafty bastards like David F Friedman presented the public with "Naturist" movies, quasi-documentaries that could, if you squinted, serve as educational exposes on the nudist lifestyle. Doris Wishman was the reigning queen of naturist movies, having cranked out piles of 'em, in rapid succession: Hideout in the Sun (1960), Diary of a Nudist (1961), Gentlemen Prefer Nature Girls (1962), etc. The first nudie film to break away from the naturist angle was Russ Meyer's Immoral Mister Teas. Despite being as slow as molasses, the idea of peeping on naked women for no other reason than, you know, it's fun, was such a revelation that Teas caused a veritable avalanche of similarly themed lightweight teasers. Being benign little enterprises, the "Nudie-Cutie" title soon caught on.

By the mid 1960's, the nudie-movie morphed with the exploitation film and a wave of 'roughies' hit the grindhouses. Winking burlesque girls were no match for murder, rape, drug abuse and general mayhem, so the nudie-cuties days were numbered, but not before a last-gasp clutch of 'monster-nudies' hit the screens, cleverly mixing the era's obsession with spookshows and creature features with good ol' fashioned T&A in fun, sloppy flicks like Ed Wood's Orgy of the Dead (1965), House on Bare Mountain (1962), and of course, Kiss Me Quick!.

One thing you'll notice right away about Kiss Me Quick! - it looks terrific. Seriously cheap, but terrific. Bright, vivid colors, creative camera angles, crystal clear photography. Amazingly enough, it's the work of Lazlo Kovacs (RIP), who would later go on to shoot everything from counter-culture classics like Easy Rider (1969) and Hells Angels on Wheels (1967) to Ghost Busters (1984). But at this point in his career, well, a buck's a buck. The director, Bethel Buckalew (?), had an amazing 20 year run of directing grimy sexploitation like Country Cuzzins (1970) and A Scream in the Streets (1973), capped off with the hallucinatory non-action girl-biker flock Cycle Vixens (1978), which is amazing for all the wrong reasons. It was produced by sexploitation legend Harry Novak, and the swinging, clarinet-driven surf-punk/beatnikjazz ditties were composed by The Gallstones. So, an all-star line-up behind the camera. And in front? Well, some of the finest topless magazine models the 60's had to offer. So we got that going for us, too.

In one of the more inventive cost-cutting measures I can think of, Kiss Me Quick! eschews with on-screen opening credits, instead utilizing a sexy monster-girl to purr the names of the players: Hotti Totti, Gigi String, Gertie Tassle, etc. Pretty awesome.

As with most nudie-cuties, the plot is negligible-bordering-on-non-existent. Basically a fat Stan Laurel goober with a pasta strainer on his head named Sterilox (Frank Coe) beams down from the Planet Buttless to find a perfect female specimen for the Buttless men to breed with. Naturally, he materializes in the kooky castle of one Dr. Breedlove (Max Gardens), a wise-cracking groovy-ghoul who has developed a special sex machine - or sex bombs, or sex something. Breedlove is (very) loosely based on Dr Strangelove, but he's mostly an unhinged FM radio DJ with a non-stop patter of bad puns ("You couldn't find Jayne Mansfield in Boys Town!") spat out in a pseudo-Lugosi accent.

And that's pretty much it. The bulk of the 70-minute movie is a series of pretty incredible stripteases, which will have the average full-blooded hetero-male banging on the table and howling and smacking himself in the head with a mallet like the wolf in Red Hot Riding Hood.

Kissme (Jackie DeWitt) is our first bump n' grind star. She's strapped to Breedlove's Sex Machine, which causes her to undulate suggestively while seriously low-rent mad scientist props bubble and smoke behind her.

Breedlove shows up and worries that she'll break his machine, so her sets her loose and tells her to hand a fizzing beaker to Boob-ara (Natasha), who seizes the opportunity to do a burlesque/contortionist bit. Then two other girls show up with their own beakers, and everybody shakes their tits around.

And then, sorta crazily, Frankenstein shows up.

Breedlove explains to his chubby alien friend that Frank was originally a girl, but he fouled up the experiment. That might explain why Frank joins the girls in the furious frugging.

Sterilox asks for a tour around the joint. Since the budget did not allow for more than one set, he is instead encouraged to peep through a portal, where he gets an eyeful of girls working out on primitive 60's exercise equipment, including one of those crazy vibrating belts. By the way, ass does not look good on those things, regardless of what condition said ass is in. Believe me.

Then Breedlove gets a visit from his old pal Dracula (he looks like some creaky vaudeville comedian on an off-day), who shows up to bite Sterilox's neck, but ends up breaking a tooth. Turns out our cosmic visitor is "mostly metal". Then the mummy shows up. She's Breedlove's chauffeur, apparently. By the way, all these monsters are slathered in hilariously dimestore make-up. Whenever Breedlove turns to the side, you can see where the make-up girl just gave up on him. It's pretty incredible.

Oh, I almost forgot - there's a super-hot striptease with a busty chick in a sweater, too. But still, Sterilox is not swayed. And then he sees it, behind yet another gyrating nubile: "The Instant Butler." It's actually a piece of cardboard taped to the wall, but it's supposed to be a machine that will do you every bidding. Sterilox falls instantly in love with it, and asks Breedlove if he can have it. The kindly doctor agrees, but knowing that the blundering Sterilox is going to be in hot water if he returns home without a female, Breelove insists that Kissme go with him, so that she can maintain the complicated machine. So, off they fuckin' go.

You'd figure this might make Breedlove a little sad - Kissme was his Girl Friday - but then he gets a whole new shipment of girls to experiment on. They arrive on his ass-first on his conveyor belt. He tags them with stickers, like cuts of meat. The end.

Sexist? Sure, but 1964 sexist. They didn't know any better back then, man. Funny? Yep. Breedlove's gag-heavy monologues are endlessly quotable, and Coe's nutty Stan Laurel routine is pretty dead-on. Sexy? Way sexy. Boner City USA. The girls are all drop-dead gorgeous in that ethereal 60's-sex-goddess way, all crazy-curves and easy smiles. Of course, an hour's worth of hip-shaking and booby-twirling might be a bit much for modern bird-watchers, but for fans of tease n' tickle, this is top-notch stuff, and the monster angle makes it a compelling and really sorta-wonderful time capsule. The world this was made in - a world of cigarette smoking, whiskey gulping, red meat eating cads and lady-killers - is long gone, but this is a great way to live the Manly Life vicariously for a good 70 minutes. They most definitely do not make them like this anymore.

Availability: Kiss Me Quick! is available from Something Weird Video.

- Ken McIntyre

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