Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Weekend with the Babysitter (1970)

Directed by Don Henderson
Starring Susan Romen, George Carey, Luanne Roberts, Annik Borel
Rated R
USA

"I've been reborn. Look, my apricot fag shoes!"

Tom "Billy Jack" Laughlin, under the nom de plume Don Henderson, directed three films in rapid succession from 1969-1970. Two of them were about teenage babysitters who seduce a rich, wrinkly codger. Although the girls were different in the two movies, the codger was not: George Carey, who coincidentally wrote and produced both films, handled the love-making duties. The first, The Babysitter (1969), was shot in black and white and starred Patricia Wymer as "Candy Wilson". Weekend With the Babysitter, on the other hand, was in color, and starred Susan Romen as "Candy Wilson". Who was this mysterious Candy Wilson? Was she a real-life teen temptress that vexed both Carey and Laughlin enough that they were forced to exorcise their inner demons on film? Or did they both just enjoy the same masturbatory fantasy? And why make the same film twice?

I don't know what any of this means, and perhaps I never will. So let's just roll the film and see what happens.

It's a tale of ordinary suburban madness. Jim Carlton (George Carey, RIP) is a frustrated film director with a neglectful, pill-popping wife named Mona (Luanne Roberts, The Psycho Lover, Female Fever), who he can no longer connect with. One night their foxy go-to babysitter Candy (Susan Romen) shows up on the wrong night. Jim tries use this opportunity to take his wife out to dinner, but she insists on going to visit her mother and splits with the kid. Jim plans on paying Candy for her trouble and sending her off, but then she starts reading one of his scripts - a film about turned-on teens - and goofs on the lame dialogue. She offers to show him what the 'kids today' are really like, and after popping a couple martinis, they head out the local bar to hang out with Candy's groovy friends.

Meanwhile, Mona drops the kid off at mom's and heads over to her dealer, an ascot-wearing putz named Rich (former cowboy star James Almanzar, RIP). She hands him $10,000 - which probably would have bought all the heroin in California in 1970 - and waits patiently for her fix.

He splits for a couple hours and makes her sweat it out, and then tells her she's not getting the stuff unless she gives him Jim's boat. What a dick this Rich is.

As the weekend rolls on, Mona gets mired in a Mexican drug smuggling ring while her husband falls head over heels for the teenage babysitter. He smokes weed for the first time, she takes him out to some moto-cross races, and they make sweet 70's love by a crackling fire. He even flies her in his private plane to his cabin in the snowy mountains.

While Jim and Candy drink milk in bed and wrestle, Mona finds herself slipping into a far darker sort of lost weekend. After scoring a big pile of heroin from some shifty Mexican dealers, she shoots up to take the edge off.

Rich comes by lookin' for action, but when she attempts to rebuff him, he forces her into a girl-girl tryst with his girlfriend Doris (French beauty Annik Borel, Blood Orgy of the She Devils).

Doris snorts coke while receiving oral favors from Mona. Good times!

After showering off their love juices and flying back to reality, Jim and Candy say their goodbyes. No big deal, daddy-o. "Hey man, we swung," shrugs Candy. At least they vow to stay friends.

Jim goes to work and finds Smitty, the guy from the marina, waiting for him. Smitty tells Jim the coast guard was sniffing around his yacht - and that his wife is still out there on it, somewhere. Jim and Smitty pile back into Jim's plane and buzz around looking for the missing boat.

Meanwhile, a bloody mutiny sparks up in the yacht. Mona is forced to commander the craft and drive the smugglers to the pier. They scramble to get away, but Jim's called in Candy's motocross gang to head them off at the pass. It all ends in a Hawaii 5-0-esgue dust-up between the clean-living bikers and the dirty drug dealers while an acid-fried brass-rock band wails away relentlessly on the soundtrack.

And what about Jim? Does he choose his nubile hippy babysitter, or his beat-up, money-grubbing junkie wife?

Which would you choose? Well, Jim goes the other way.

Although Weekend With the Babysitter is surprisingly sedate, given it's sleazeball predecessor, it still hits all the right 70's b-flick notes: wonky acting, misguided 'drug abuse' scenes, phony psychedelic tunes, casual racism, a skinny heroine with teacup boobs, a few splashes of blood, and a last-minute stab at redemption. Don Henderson apparently worked out his seductive babysitter fetish with this one, because he followed it up with the Satanic horror-romp The Touch of Satan.

Susan Romen, whose frequent line-flubs and faraway eyes were perfect for this drowsy role, disappeared immediately after. It's a shame, because she could have carved out an amazing career as a go-to heavy-lidded, frequently topless hippy goddess. Which she might actually have done, just not in the movies.

Drop us a line, Miss Romen. Let us know what's, you know, up.

- Ken McIntyre

2 comments:

  1. I am guessing that they made the movie again because, if you are George Carey, hey -- why wouldn't you want to act out this story as often as you could? --Roel

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  2. According to a guy on IMDB it's a differnt Don Henderson-Not Tom Laughlin who made these films.I don't know if this is the straight dope, but.....( Heres the post from imdb) :IMDb is completely screwed up with the basic credits. Like Wikipedia they foolishly (and misleadingly) credit these films to Tom Laughlin, he of Billy Jack fame. Tom used the pseudonym in the '60s of Donald Henderson and IMDb and some Wikipedia moron matched that to the completely separate individual Don Henderson who made these films. I researched this matter, and the distinction was already published in 1976 by the American Film Institute in its useful 1961-1970 catalog of all the films released (in the U.S.) during that decade. I even had IMDb fix these credits and attribute them to a SEPARATE Don Henderson, but months later someone has gone in and messed up the credits again. So what's the point -IMDb and its "every slob is an expert" approach is impossible to deal with intelligently. ------------- Anyway what do you think?

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