Sunday, November 8, 2009

Please Don't Eat My Mother (1973)

AKA Glump, Hungry Pets, Please Not My Mother, Please Release My Mother,
Sexpot Swingers
Rated X

"You hate your mother?"
"No, I love her."
"That's very unusual."

Carl Monson (RIP) was a low-rent grindhouse auteur who wrote, produced, directed, and acted in a fistful of memorable trash-films in the early 70's, many of them, including this one, for slime-cinema legend Harry Novak's company, Box Office International. His most productive year was clearly 1973; besides producing, directing, and acting in Please Don't Eat My Mother, he also produced A Scream in the Streets and The Booby Trap, two ultra-violent and very strange crime flicks, the very same year. Monson's trademarks were bright, vivid colors, ugly actors and uglier production design, and awkward sex scenes randomly crowbarred in whenever possible. All of those are in ample evidence in Please Don't Eat My Mother, an absurd soft-core reworking of Roger Corman's infamous three-day wonder Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Henry Fudd (Buck Kartalian) is a creepy middle-aged schlub who lives with his overbearing mother, works at some unknown menial job, and spends his lunchtime ogling women. Not a bad cat, really, but clearly an underchiever.

A word, before we continue, about the great Buck Kartalian. Buck was born in Detroit, in 1922. He grew up in New York City and was drafted into the Navy during World War II, where he served on a Destroyer in the Pacific. After the war, Buck became a bodybuilder. He won the Mr. New York contest, and was a Mr America runner-up. Later on he became a professional wrestler, and was a fan favorite on the regional circuit. One day, he tagged along with some actor friends he knew at the gym and blundered into a blind audition. He got the role, and was quickly bitten by the acting bug. Although he is well-known for his low-budget exploitation films, it should be known that Buck has appeared in many high-profile and well-loved films and TV series, including Cool Hand Luke (1967), Myra Breckinridge (1970), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), and 70's Saturday morning kid-classic The Monster Squad (1976). Buck is still active in his late 80's, appearing most recently in How I Met Your Mother (2005) and National Lampoon's Cattle Call (2006). Regardless of the budget or artistic merit of the role, Buck always delivers an honest and believable performance, including his portrayal of Henry Fudd. The great thing about Buck's performance here is that he often plays it like straight drama. You actually felt for the guy, and you believed that Buck was Henry, despite the fact that Buck-the-actor is a much more accomplished human being than Henry could ever hope to be.

So, there's our man Henry, content to wile away his afternoons watching an amorous couple have fumbling car-sex while chomping on a ham sandwich. One day, he passes by an odd flower shop. It appears to be built into a construction site, and they've only actually got one plant for sale. It's a very special plant, however - it talks. Sure, the flouncing florist doesn't hear it, but Henry does. He takes his new friend home and dutifully feeds it plant food. It responds well, and starts to grow. His meddling mother suspects that Henry's up to something, and so when he heads off to work, she snoops around his room. At this point, however, there isn't much to see, except for an exceptionally ugly plant.

Eventually the plant starts talking to Henry in a seductive voice. She tells him she wants to eat some flies. So he catches some, and she starts growing even larger. And then she wants to eat a frog. So, you see where this is going. Henry is just happy to have some female attention, even if it is just with a plant. He complies with her wishes, even though they get more complicated, and even though his affair with the plant is beginning to cause a rift between him and his mother.

The plant soon graduates to dogs. Henry gets a job at the pound to accommodate her, bringing home strays to feed to her. She, naturally, grows bigger with each meal. Their relationship continues to develop as well, in bizarre and uncomfortable ways. For example, at one point, they have a very awkward discussion about Henry's late-night boners.

This ugly little scenario goes on and on until, finally, mom and the plant have a stand-off.
Guess what? Despite the polite request offered by the film's title, the plant eats Henry's mom. He is slightly upset, but not, you know, devastated or anything. By the way, you can hear that stupid dog he fed to the plant earlier barking through that entire scene.

Henry thinks he might have gotten away with the sorta-on-purpose murder of his mom until a detective, Officer O'Columbus (director Monson) shows up and starts asking questions.
A neighbor reported Henry's mom as missing, so he came by to get to the bottom of things. While he interrogates a panicked Henry, the plant starts yapping. Assuming that it's actually mom, O'Columbus goes into the bedroom to investigate, and the plant eats him. The paper mache monster is really starting to fall apart at this point,which adds some unintentional yucks to the proceedings. After the plant eats the cop, her relationship with Henry ceases being a partnership, and turns predatory. When Henry protests and threatens not to feed her anymore, the plant spits out the cop's gun and badge. If Henry wants to play rough, the plant is quite willing to do so. After all, who would they arrest? Henry or a plant?

The plant decides she doesn't like the taste of men, so she wants Henry to go find her some girls to eat. Since he's a loser, he doesn't know any, so he has to hire a hooker. When said hooker shows up, she insults Henry, which makes it easier for him to feed her to the plant. By the way, it should be noted that every woman in this movie, including Henry's mom but excluding the hot blonde hippy chick, are all redheads. It's not a plot point or anything, but I just thought you should know. Anyway, after writhing on the bed for awhile, the hooker gets chomped. The plant likes the taste, and demands that Henry gets s0me more. He hits the streets to look for more girls, but it causes him many problems, and most of the time, his requests are met with punches in the stomach.

And then, Henry tries to fuck the plant. Why not, at this point? She tells him it's not going to work out, and sends him back to the gay florist to get another plant like her, so she can breed. Amazingly, the florist has one. Also amazingly, he's male. He's also homophobic and an avid TV watcher.

The man-plant settles in, and the girl-plant shows him the ropes. Henry, of course, is forced to bring back more live girls for them to eat. And then we go back to the fucking couple. Throughout this ordeal, there's been a couple having hippy sex in the woods. Henry would often stop by to watch. This time he pulls a gun and makes them go back to his place to feed the plant. The blonde, as previously mentioned, is seriously hot. There's a lot of penis involved in the scene, though.

And then the plants fuck while Henry tries to shoot himself in the head. Then he goes out and spies on a neighbor couple (70's porn star Rene Bond and her boyfriend and frequent co-star Rick Lutze) while they have sex. They just got home from watching a porn flick, and they're feeling quite amorous. Things go south after the love making, however, and then they go berserk. At one point, the guy says, "You're no surprise package yourself, you know."
She pulls out a gun on the guy and she shoots him. You shouldn't call a girl "Stupid broad" when she's got a gun aimed at you.

Henry, who watched then entire drama unfold from the bedroom window, makes a deal with her to take the body. For some reason, it turns the chick on to watch her boyfriend get eaten by the plant. And so, finally, Henry gets laid.

Or does he? Please don't eat the busty redhead!
By the way, you get a serious shot of Buck's erection in that scene.

Clearly not for everyone, Please Don't Eat My Mother is an acid-gobbling piece of no-fi sexploitation junk that stands out both for the shabbiness of its monster and for its oddly affecting protagonist, a teeth-gnashing, chronically masturbating man-child fleshed out into a living, breathing hunk of sweaty desperation by Buck Kartalian, one of exploitation's most sadly unsung character actors. Boner-seekers will be out of luck, since the sex scenes are ineptly staged and boring to watch, but the sniveling characters, eye-scorching sets and inept creature construction are just too bizarre to miss. High weirdness awaits you in perhaps the most ill-planned porn remake this side of Edward Penishands.

Please Don't Eat My Mother is available from Something Weird Video.

- Ken McIntyre

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