Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cool It Carol! (1970)

AKA The Dirtiest Girl I Ever Met
Directed by Pete Walker
Starring Janet Lynn, Robin Askwith
Rated X

"C'mon, Carol...just what kind of party did you think this was?"

Director Pete Walker is best known for his pitch-black, gut-bucket, 70's sex/horror flicks: Die Screaming Marianne (1971), The Flesh and Blood Show (1972), House of Whipcord (1974), and Frightmare (1974). All four films are raw, mean-spirited stabs of unhappiness, color-soaked nightmares of beautiful people doing ugly things and ugly people doing...well, even uglier things. Peter Walker was/is a pisser, that's for sure.

Significantly, Walker also made his share of sexploitation flicks, including the 3D Four Dimensions of Greta and spy spoof Tiffany Jones (both 1973), but even those were surprisingly mirthless. Cool It Carol! is also, theoretically, a softcore film, possibly even a sex comedy. It does, after all, contain all the necessary elements - kicky dollybird, fumbling boyfriend, greasy pervs with weird mustaches - but much like the horror flicks Walker would soon direct, Cool It Carol! is glum, gray, and depressive. You won't know whether to pop a boner or gulp down some hemlock.

Things start out cheery enough, at least. Carol (heartbreaking Janet Lynn, one of the most adorable 70's Brit actors you'll ever lay eyes on) and her slacker sometimes-boyfriend Joe (Robin Askwith, the chimp-faced denim-demon from the Confessions of... series) leave their tiny Midlands town to try and make something of themselves in swinging London. Carol wants to be a model; Joe just doesn't want to work very hard. On the train ride into the city, the two old friends have sex together for the first time. Carol's not thrilled with Joe's performance, but realizes she may have an exhibitionist streak.

This comes in handy when she gets to town and starts auditioning for modeling gigs. Since she has no photographs to give away, she merely strips down in front of agents.

When this fails to snag her any work, she does a nude shoot with a pin-up photographer. He promises to try and sell the pictures to Playboy. In the meantime, Carol and Joe are starving, and Joe' s attempts to find work have come up empty. Joe contemplates robbing a bank; to keep her idiot friend out of jail, Carol offers to try our prostitution instead.

This goes surprisingly smooth, at first. Carol racks up some regulars, and Joe acts as her ineffectual but loyal pimp. One night, in desperation, Carol and Joe agree to shoot a porn flick together, while a bunch of sweaty old weirdos in bowler hats watch.

That scene is meant to be funny, by the way, but it's mostly just depressing.

Anyway, once the film gets around, Carol becomes an in-demand nude model, porn star, and big-ticket escort.

So, a happy ending, then?

Sort of. Not really. Nobody's ever really happy in a Pete Walker movie.

Slow and deliberate - a Walker trademark - but still compulsively watchable, Cool It Carol! turns the way-out 60's London mod scene squarely on its perfectly coiffed head. Leave it to mean ol' Pete to turn the grooviest era of the world's grooviest city into a drab and heartless hive of casual villainy.

PS: Sadly, besides a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss-her cameos in the incredible Twins of Evil and not quite as incredible Satan's Playthings (both 1971), this is Janet Lynn's only substantial role. A shame, because not only was she a convincing actress, she was an absolute doll.

- Ken McIntyre

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