Wednesday, August 19, 2009

House on Bare Mountain (1962)

Directed by Lee Frost
Starring Bob Cresse, Angela Webster, Anne Myers, Fran Sinatra

In 1962, America was balls-deep in Monster Mania, so a nudie-monster mash-up like this must have seemed like an obvious move. Consider just how monster-y the era was: The Munsters, Addams Family, The Monster Mash, Zacherle, Famous Monsters, Aurora monster model kits, on and on. The whole country was bananas for Frankenstein and mummies and all that bullshit. Throw a pile of boobs into the mix, and how can you miss, really? Released two years before the vastly superior Kiss Me Quick, Bare Mountain can, at least, claim to be the first "Monster Nudie" flick, although even then, it's less monster-y than you'd hope.

It was directed by exploitation legend Lee Frost (RIP), who has a long and impressive resume that includes nudie-cuties, mondo movies, and mouth-watering array of 70's drive-in junk, including Chain Gang Women (1971), The Thing with Two Heads (1972), The Black Gestapo (1975), and Dixie Dynamite (1976). Frost clearly got sleazier as he rolled through the decades, and is responsible for one of the roughest hardcore films of the Seventies, "Climax of Blue Power" (1975). Bare Mountain, however, is Frost at his sugary beginnings. It stars - in drag - Bob Cresse, ironically credited as "Lovable Bob Cresse" here. The irony being that he was considered one of the sleaziest, most opportunistic bastards in the business. Cresse (also RIP), is probably most well-known for his role as the porcine Commandant in 1969's Love Camp 7, the early Nazisploitation roughie often cited as the inspiration for Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. He acted in/produced many of Frost's films, and, from all reports, did a lot of Frost's dirty work to get them all made. Like, for example, performing in a dress for no good reason.

Cresse opens this one up in a very odd fashion as Granny Goode, a lil' old lady (Cresse looks exactly like Jonathan Winters in drag) currently locked up in the local hoosegow. Why? Well, she's gonna fuckin' tell you why.
"It's a horrible, terrifying story," she explains. "You see, I had a little girls' school. 'GGSFGG'. Granny Goode's School for Good Girls..."

Cut to what Granny describes is 'vine-covered little cottage', but what is actually an imposing, Hammer horror-esque mansion on a blustery, dark hill. Granny is in her office, splayed out on the floor, sucking down gin, when she gets a call from her secretary, telling her that Mr. and Mrs Bumgartner have arrived. She quickly hides the half a dozen empty bottles of hootch littering her office and invites them in. They're trying to get their daughter, Prudence, enrolled in Granny's exclusive school, and while she interviews them, bombs keep going off outside, causing them to fall off their chairs and land on the floor.

And then Honey (Angela Webster), a topless girl in white panties, walks in to tell Granny she's finished her paper on nuclear physics. Granny hands her a dictionary and tells her to memorize it. This jarring display of bared flesh shock the Bumgartners, but Granny assures them that there's no cause for alarm.
"We have very few discipline problems here," she says. And then she pulls out a bull whip.

Convinced that they've made the right choice, they call Prudence (Laura Eden) into the office. Granny tells them she's going to get her new roommate so that they can get acquainted, but as soon as she splits, the Bumgartner's start frantically searching through Granny's office. What sort of treachery is this?

Later that evening, the various students of Granny's school get ready for bed. Prudence wants to leave her window open for some air, but Sally (Ann Meyers) warns her against it. She says that all the girls leave their windows closed, for fear of 'something' that may or may not lurk in the garden at night. Prudence thinks this is silly, but goes along with it anyway. Then she takes her shirt off. Everybody takes their shirt off. And then they all take showers.

That night, Prudence is woken by the howl of wolves. Sally and the girls, smart enough to keep the goddamn windows closed, snooze soundly.

The next morning, Granny stomps down to the basement, where she confronts Krakow (William Engesser, who also played Bigfoot on an episode of Isis!), her 'handyman'. He's actually a werewolf who is so tall that Granny has to climb a ladder to see him eye to eye. She tells him to stop bugging the girls at night, or she'll release him back in the wild. Apparently, she's got him running a moonshine still down there. Why not? The exploding bottles explain the bombs, at least.

After yelling at the wolfman, Granny takes the girls outside for their daily exercise. She tells them to do the "Sag, Straddle, Hop", which sounds fantastic. One of the girls complains that it's too hot outside, so Granny tells them to take off their shirts. And so they do.

After some rigorous exercise (jump rope, jumping jacks, really anything that makes the boobs bounce), the girls have a topless outdoor drawing class (Granny in some sort of clown suit serves as the model), and then they have an hour of recess. Most prefer to spend their hour sunbathing. Topless.

Then they go for a jog, but Granny gets winded, and makes the girls carry him/her home.

So that was a pretty eventful day. Then, all the girls take another shower and get ready for their annual costume party/dance/prom/whatever it is. One by one, the girls all sneak off to the phone in the hall and tell their boyfriends or whoever to sneak in a bottle of booze with them. Clearly, they are unaware of the boooze still blasting away in the basement.

At first, everybody's pretty depressed at the party. Not even the girl with the giant tits can liven it up.

Meanwhile Prudence - who it turns out is really a cop - sneaks up to her room and pulls out a walkie talkie. She calls up the chief to report on the sinister goings-on at the school.

Meanwhile, Dracula pours a bottle of vodka into the punch to get things going at the party. That doesn't quite do the trick, so Frankenstein pours some whiskey into the mix.
So then Prudence goes snooping down in the basement. She runs into the werewolf while she's down there, which causes her to pass out.

Upstairs, Granny tosses some hooch in the punch as well, unaware that it's already a toxic brew, thanks to Dracula and Frankenstein. Then everybody dances. Frankenstein even dances with Granny.

So then the fuzz shows up to bust Granny. She convinces the cops that it's not booze at all down in the basement, but "elderberry wine", and to prove it, she gives them all a cupful. They gulp it down and promptly pass out.

And then some girl with an amazing beehive hairdo does a crazy topless dance. Granny, meanwhile, gathers all her booze up in a couple of suitcases and tries sneaking out the backdoor, but is stopped by some guy in a hat, who she assumes is another cop. He's actually from the Werewolf Union, come to bust her for paying Krakow a shameful 13 cents a day. So they take her away.

At this point, the party has devolved into debauched mayhem.

And that, in a nutshell, is how Granny ended up behind bars. Or did she?

House on Bare Mountain has much more plot and dialogue that you'd expect (or want) from a nudie-cutie flick, and it's really only got one monster, since Drac and Frank are just dudes in masks. Also, in comparison to its closest cousin, Kiss Me Quick, the girls aren't as pretty or as well proportioned (save for that one un-credited brunette Britney Spears doppelganger showing off her whiskey-soaked, softball-sized spongecakes towards the end - her, you could waste the afternoon over, easy).

Still, the climactic party looks like the most fun ever, the nudity is wall to wall, the soundtrack (by Pierre Martel), is awesome, and Something Weird's print is sharp and vivid. So it's pretty impossible not to like. In fact, I may spend a good portion of my next ten years trying to recreate that last half hour on a semi-regular basis in the comfort of my own home. I've already got weirdo friends with monster masks. All I need is a dozen or so topless girls. Likely candidates are encouraged to email us. Please include a recent picture and your preference for toxic fruit punch combinations.

House on Bare Mountain is available from Something Weird Video.

- Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. I thought that was a good movie and was actually better than Kiss Me Quick. The fact that it has a plot (though simple) and dialogues add more life to the heart of the matter (the tits) when compared to empty nudist camp flicks..

    Kiss me Quick had hot chicks but the setting was too over-the-top sci-fi-esque (albeit 5 cent sci-fi) to be involving. House on Bare Mountain happens in a girl school, fact which in itself is kinda titillating.


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