Color, 1969, 75m.
Directed by David W. Hanson
Starring David Haller, Sandy O'Hara, George Mead, Judith Lowe, Lee Sherry
THE NIGHT HUSTLERS
Color, 1968, 57m.
Directed by Bobby O'Donald
Starring Marcel Delage, James Neal, China Valles, Carol Baillie, Andrea Barr, Joe Varo
Vinegar Syndrome (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)
Two color sexy crime films with barely enough plot between them to fill out a commercial for CSI are the focus of this pairing from Vinegar Syndrome, both extremely obscure and wildly entertaining. First up is Judy, which pads out its first eight minutes with a dialogue-free interracial lesbian love scene before the title even appears. Suddenly we cut to a suburban neighborhood where a young girl named Regina (Sherry) takes a walk out into the woods to go drawing by a creek, only to wind up topless and beaten nearly to death by the water thanks to an unseen assailant.
That means it's time for her dad to call in a rough, tough crime-fighting palooka named Mr. Sloan (Halley), an ex-cop with a reputation for "bringing a man in any way you can." The victim (who still has enough energy to disrobe in front of her mirror) can only describe her attacker as "mean and ugly," so it's off to find the perpetrator (after a quick roll in the hay between Sloan and his secretary), who's now escalated to gagging women with pink scarves and strangling them. His main source for information is a combative, fiery-haired stripper named Velvet Harris (O'Hara), who wants to settle down with Sloan if he can get his act together. However, the killer seems to be one step ahead of him, and it's going to take every weapon in Sloan's arsenal to stop the parade of naked women getting throttled to stock lounge music.
If you loved the stilted dialogue scenes in Blood Feast, you'll be in sheer nirvana with this, the only other directorial effort for director David W. Hanson (Night of the Bloody Transplant). Every scene is both sordid and gaudy, with eye-punishing colors and wood paneling galore framing actors mouthing off one acid-laced but wooden line after another. Exactly who Judy is remains a key to the mystery, of course, and it all "thrilling" finale featuring one of the greatest budget-conscious "killer falls out of the window" gags ever committed to film. Culled from the 16mm A-B rolls according to Vinegar Syndrome's packaging, the full frame transfer looks fine with just some occasional element damage in what is otherwise a ridiculously vivid, crisp presentation of a pulp curio you have to see to believe.
However, that ain't nothin' compared to our second feature (if 57 minutes really qualifies as a feature), The Night Hustlers. Apparently written and assembled by complete lunatics, this plays like what happened when a bunch of guys were sitting around watching episodes of the TV show Naked City and decided to make their own version, except with wall-to-wall breasts. On top of that, everyone is dubbed with absurd accents ranging from Southern to Mexican to French for no good reason, and an ear-shredding theme song ("She's a chick, she's a fascinating chick, she's my pick") gets blasted in your ears. The framing story involves a couple of vice squad officers invited to the home of a ridiculous rich French novelist and his bespectacled secretary. After telling a joke about an elephant shoving garden vegetables in rude places, the cops happily share stories about the "night hustlers," the human flotsam who exploit innocents (mostly women) for their own gain. A topless woman calling herself "little kitten" calls on the phone and rolls around on her bed for no reason. We get a story about a beatnik artist who uses his pad as a haven for wild orgies until the cops show up and blood flies. Another topless woman calls from her bathtub. Another story involves underground "smoking entertainment" in which a bleach blonde exotic dancer prances around and gyrates on a futon while a couple of guys in their underwear punch each other and swing around on a pole like Elizabeth Berkley. Yet another naked woman interrupts with a phone call, and then it's time for the film's absolute highlight in which a crooner (Varo) sings a catchy song while four women in masks straight out of Sin in the Suburbs dance their hearts out in the middle of a restaurant. And so it goes until the film slams into an abrupt non-ending with a narrator trying to wrap everything up.
This film is simply beyond description. No one would ever rank it as one of the label's "best" titles, but it's guaranteed to stick in your head for a long time and make you optimistic that other little crazy nuggets like this are still lying around out there waiting to be explored. Like the first title, this has never been on home video in any format, and the 35mm source is in mostly fine shape (just some ragged credits and a couple of bumpy reel changes). Unlike Judy, this one is presented in anamorphic widescreen at 1.78:1, which looks about right apart from some tightly framed opening titles. No extras, but considering what you get here anyway, you can't beat the value. Just be prepared to hang on to your sanity when it's all over.
Reviewed on January 1, 2013.