B&W, 1965, 64 mins. 34 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman
Starring Gigi Darlene, George La Rocque, Darlene Bennett, Marlene Starr
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Image Entertainment (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)

B&W, 1967, 71 mins. 21 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman
Starring Sharon Kent, Michael Alaimo, Trom Little, Jackie Richards
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Image Entertainment (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)

B&W, 1967, 71 mins. 55 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman
Starring Michael Alaimo, Darlene Bennett, Layla Peters, Buck Starr, Peggy Steffans
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 SD)

B&W, 1966, 70 mins. 50 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman
Starring Barbi Kemp, Mary O'Hara, Tony Gregory, Darlene Bennett, Bob Oran, Sam Stewart
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0HD), Image Entertainment (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)

B&W, 1966, 70 mins. 30 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman
Starring June Roberts, Sam Stewart, Bob Oran, Darlene Bennett, Joni Roberts
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0HD), Image Entertainment (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)

B&W, 1969, 51 mins. 46 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman & Stelios Jackson
Starring Pano Katteri, Katerina Helmi, Mbeka Yiouranti, Dora Mbarnia
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 SD)

B&W, 1965, 66 mins. 21 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman
Starring Anna Karol, Alan Feinstein, Darlene Bennett, Bob Oran, Pamela Fields
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

B&W, 1966, 75 mins. 21 secs.
Directed by Sokrates Kapsaskis and Doris Wishman
Starring Petros Fyssoun, Giannis Fertis, Minas Christidis
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

B&W, 1968, 71 mins. 39 secs.
Directed by Doris Wishman
Starring Buck Starr, Sharon Kent, Jackie Richards, Sam Stewart, Darlene Bennett
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 SD)

Hot on the heels of its Bad Girls Go to Hellmind-boggling The Films of Doris Wishman: The Twilight Years, Something Bad Girls Go to HellWeird and AGFA jump back to the second major period in the career of exploitation cinema's legendary auteur with her flurry of black-and-white sexploitation films cranked out between 1965 and 1968. Shot in her familiar stomping grounds of New York City (including extensive use of Wishman's own distinctive apartment), these nine films comprise The Films of Doris Wishman: The Moonlight Years, all more or less falling under the roughie category that skirted censorship restrictions of the time by blending comparatively mild nudity and sex with a mean violent streak. Other filmmakers like Michael Findlay, Russ Meyer, Joe Sarno, Joseph P. Mawra, Herschell Gordon Lewis, William Rotsler, and David F. Friedman had dipped their toes in the roughie pool as well, but Wishman and regular cinematographer C. Davis Smith gave it their own spin with fragmented images and outrageous plotlines where reality itself seems about to tip over on its head at any moment. Wishman would hearken back to the roughie later in the color era with her incredible Love Toy, while more explicit adult films would keep it going in various permutations to the end of the '70s. However, if you want to see the roughie in all its pure glory, get ready to be smacked across the face here by Wishman in her prime.

First up is one of the greatest titles in exploitation history, 1965's Bad Girls Go to Hell, which is actually more sympathetic to its young fallen housewife protagonist than you might expect. Left to her own devices for the day when her husband Ted (future TV soap opera staple Feinstein as "Alan Yorke") heads off to work, Meg Bad Girls Go to Hell(White Slaves of Chinatown's Darlene) has her life turned upside down when she's repeatedly badgered and ultimately Bad Girls Go to Hellraped by her apartment building's skeevy superintendent. She ends up killing him with an ashtray in self defense and flees to the anonymity of the big city, a hotbed where seedy guys are just looking to put the moves on an innocent target like her. Apart from dealing with guys wearing the ugliest boxer shorts known to man, our heroine must preserve her sanity at all costs and winds up befriending another older woman whose son turns out to be, alas, a cop hot on her trail. What's a girl to do?

A compelling presence on screen despite the fact that she was almost always dubbed, Darlene (who abruptly left the exploitation film world in 1967 when she got married and hightailed it to Vegas) is the main attraction here along with Wishman's trademark garish furniture. It's a great way to open the set with a nonstop parade of the director's quirks like cutaways to feet, looped dialogue, and a breakneck plot that careens to a twist ending Wishman apparently loved so much she'd revisit it again later in her career. Something Weird kept this one in circulation on VHS and as a 2004 DVD double feature through Image Entertainment with Another Day, Another Man (more on that below), featuring a good transfer at the time with extras including three cartoon promos for drive-in etiquette, a sex ed book pitch, snack bar and intermission ditties, and a ton of Wishman trailers (Indecent Desires, Bad Girls Go to Hell, A Taste of Flesh, Another Day, Another Man, My Brother's Wife, and Too Much Too Often), plus an Easter egg trailer for Wishman's stunning anti-masterpiece, The Amazing Transplant. However, the AGFA/SW Blu-ray zooms way past it with a stunning new 2K restoration from the 35mm camera negative that looks infinitely better than fans could have ever expected. It looks pristine here with gorgeous detail and better contrast, at times almost looking like a Jean-Luc Godard film if you have the volume turned off. The DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track sounds great (as with the other titles in the set), making the most out of those catchy, jazzy stock music tracks and featuring optional English SDH subtitles.

Indecent DesiresAlso on disc one is the craziest of all the Wishman roughies, Indecent Desires1967's Indecent Desires, which plays the closest to a horror movie and also from a sparkling new 2K restoration. Loner Manhattan weirdo Zeb (Alaimo, another future mainstream TV figure) thinks he's found the answer to his perverse prayers when he finds a magic ring in a trash can and a blonde doll that reminds him of the object of his one-sided affections: Ann (Kent), an office worker who has a stable existence with her boyfriend (Little) and best friend Babs (Richards). As it turns out, anything Zeb does to the doll can be felt by Ann, who thinks she's losing her mind and quickly escalates to a state of pure hysteria that threatens her very existence.

Filled with sleazy tangents, Indecent Desires packs a potent punch here with its voodoo-style premise standing in for a cracked study of the urban stalker mentality. Wishman's penchant for dark, twisted endings works especially well here as we spend much of the film in poor Ann's shoes, losing her mind as random physical sensations tear her psyche apart. A brief fixture on the exploitation scene, Kent doesn't even have to be much of a thespian here as Wishman's eccentric style does Indecent Desiresmost of the heavy lifting here with some gonzo shots so vivid they ended up being incorporated prominently Indecent Desiresin Something Weird's sizzle reel that opened up its DVD releases for years. This one also hit DVD from Image (paired up with My Brother's Wife), with extras including "The Doris Wishman Trailer Show" (Indecent Desires, My Brother's Wife, The Amazing Transplant, Another Day, Another Man, Bad Girls Go to Hell, Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, Deadly Weapons, Double Agent 73, Gentlemen Prefer Nature Girls, Hot Month of August, The Immoral Three, Nude on the Moon, The Sex Perils of Paulette, A Taste of Flesh, and Too Much Too Often), a Wishman gallery of exploitation art, and two Barry Mahon nudie shorts, "The Room Mates" (9m25s) and "Music to Strip By" (8m40s). The AGFA/SW release adds significant value with an epic new commentary by the legendary Frank Henenlotter for Bad Girls Go to Hell (his very articulate love for Wishman is familiar by now and he knocks it out of the park as always pointing out familiar players, locations, and visual tropes), and another by film historian Liz Purchell for Indecent Desires focusing more on a knowledgeable survey of the general straight and gay exploitation scene of the era and how the films A Taste of Fleshwere distributed and marketed. Also included are trailers for all three films, with the Indecent Desires one in a fresh new HD scan.

This is also technically a triple feature disc (as are the others) thanks to the addition of 1967's A Taste of A Taste of FleshFlesh, presented here from the S-VHS Something Weird master since film elements no longer exist. Here we get a five-character take on the old "assassins hold innocent folks hostage to pull off a political hit" idea (most famously used in the Frank Sinatra vehicle Suddenly). However, this time the claustrophobic action gets a sexploitation twist as Hannah ("Cleo Nova," actually Peggy Steffens or more famously Peggy Sarno) goes to stay with lesbian pals Carol (sleaze favorite Bennett) and Bobi (Peters). Alas, their fun is interrupted when Nick (Alaimo again) and Frankie (uber-scuzzy Starr) crash the pad to use it as the home base to take out a visiting dignitary. As usual you get looped voices, catchy stock music, and a fun twist ending you might not see coming. Quality is confined by the source, but in lieu of anything better ever turning up, this will have to suffice.

Another Day, Another ManFor another walk on the Another Day, Another Mansordid side, let's continue to disc two and take a gander at Another Day, Another Man, in which lady of the evening Tess (O'Hara) tries to explain to her prudish friend Ann (Kemp) why being a hooker ain't so bad after all. Naturally financial disaster forces Ann to take up hooking for Tess' employer, Bert (Stewart), just to make ends meet, and it all leads where such things must - disaster! Sex doesn't pay, at least in Wishman's world, but it's so darn fun on the road to ruin that few will care about the message. That also means women in lingerie, trashy and all-too-catchy jazz music including the unforgettable "The Hellraisers" by Syd Dale later adopted as the Something Weird theme song, and shaky camerawork that looks more accidental than cinema verite. It also features starring roles for Wishman's trademark checkered couch (which features prominently throughout this set), the usual improvised go-go home routines, and a surprising lack of actual nudity given the target audience. Another Day, Another ManIf you love Wishman's tendency towards cinematic distraction though, it's a goldmine. As mentioned above, this one premiered on DVD from Image back in the day with Bad Girls Go to Hell and looks immeasurably better here Another Day, Another Manwith a spotless, jaw-dropping restoration from the camera negative. Hopefully Doris herself would be proud.

Following that one on disc two is another familiar one from the DVD days and the onetime co-feature to Indecent Desires, My Brother's Wife (or as the grammatically confusing and accidentally kinky title card puts it, My Brothers Wife). Once again confined to an apartment with an itty bitty cast, with the titular wife, Mary (The Sin Syndicate's Roberts), less than thrilled with the lackluster marriage she's stuck in with portly Bob (Oran). All that gets thrown in the air when Bob's swarthy brother, Frankie (Stewart again), cruises into town and puts the moves on Mary while also enjoying action on the side with the trashy Zena (Bennett). Of course, there are ulterior motives at work here as everyone ends up a lot less satisfied than where they started. Trashy and noir-infused, this is another fun one with a pack of peak Wishman players doing what they do best. This one features an equally top-notch restoration job that blows away anything we've had before, plus a great new audio commentary by long-running Wishman biographer Michael Bowen Passion Feverwho manages to point out every bit of minutae you could want about the director, her oft-filmed living Passion Feverquarters, her working relationship with Smith, all of the actors, and tons more.

Also included are trailers for both films, with the My Brother's Wife one freshly remastered in HD. Again this is really a triple feature since you get the S-VHS transfer of 1969's Passion Fever, a Wishman-flavored recut of a Greek film by Stelios Jackson now infused with her familiar credit style and insert footage to spice things up. The legend goes that a translation for this film's script either got lost or was never supplied which results in the usual roster of voice actors (including Wishman herself) reeling off a fabricated batch of dialogue very much in her style. The result (which runs for well under an hour) is pretty incoherent but fascinating as it feels like someone trying to imitate her style but without the level of sheer insanity. The quality here is pretty much VHS-y with the old Something Weird The Sex Perils of Paulettewatermark stuck in the corner, so just The Sex Perils of Pauletteconsider this one a curious bonus feature.

Finally on disc three we get a trio of titles that never got a pressed DVD release anywhere, starting with the fascinating The Sex Perils of Paulette from 1965. Both that one and Bad Girls Go to Hell were her transition films from her color nudist camp cycle, and for some reason this one is far lesser seen despite having all the usual trademarks already in place.

While strolling in the park with boyfriend Alan (a young Tony Lo Bianco way before God Told Me To and The Honeymoon Killers), the Band-Aid-wearing Paulette (Karol) confesses it's too late for them to get married since she's been permanently damaged by her experiences after moving from Ohio to Manhattan. In flashback we see how her ambitions to be a great actress hit the skids when her apartment hunting leads to a failed gig as a waitress and a life of prostitution and debauched The Sex Perils of Pauletteapartment dance parties. Paulette's narration manages to more or less hold it all together (even slathered The Sex Perils of Pauletteover the "dialogue" scenes), and the end result is 100% pure Wishman nuttiness with staple Darlene Bennett turning up here as the corrupting roommate Tracy, a model and part-time hooker who has horrible taste in undergarments and worse taste in theatrical agents. This one looks far better here than the ancient SWV master we've had floating around for years, and even better, this is a whopping 10 minutes longer than that 56-minute version with a greatly improved scan from the original negative. Alas, you don't get any bonus footage of that cute Central Park squirrel who nearly steals the opening scene. It also sounds great, though the original sound mix features some weird, abrupt edits in the narration that have always been there.

Next comes the other film in Wishman's odd pairing of Greek-imported cinematic surgical jobs, The Hot Month of August, which is presented here in a fresh 2K restoration as The Hot Month of Augustopposed to Passion Fever. Here we follow down on his luck Jason (Fertis), a "defeated man," heading home on an expensive cruise after failing to strike it rich in Athens. In transit he reconnects with old friend Hope and her mother, so he The Hot Month of Augustdecides to ingratiate himself as a potential son-in-law for some easy living. He also crosses paths at a bar with slick gigolo Kostas (Fyssoun), who knows how to ply his trade with older women. In between new sexploitation insert shots with the actors' faces covered, we follow Jason's temporary shift into prostitution and his journey back home where he ends up entangled with his new friends in an insidious murder plot. Wonderfully pulpy and engaging throughout, this one has been seamlessly tailored for the American sleaze market and even features a quick early appearance by Marie Liljedahl, who would later star in classics like Eugenie... The Story of Her Journey into Perversion and Grimm's Fairy Tales for Adults.

Finally as a bonus we get a watermarked S-VHS master tossed in for Too Much Too Often, which feels like a dry run for Jacqueline Susann's trash spectaculars as we experience the downfall of arrogant gigolo, perpetual narcissist, and experienced switch-hitting gigolo Mike (Starr), who spends as much time grooming himself as pleasing his clients. Determined to be "up on top" on Too Much Too OftenPark Avenue, he barges his way into an ad agency office where he proceeds to screw and smack his way through everyone in sight. However, Mike's seedy past might catch up with him thanks to a little too much blackmail and a cop sniffing around his current antics. The title definitely applies here for an Too Much Too Oftenunusual Wishman film whose focus on a fallen man instead of a woman gets surprisingly frank at times, including an early reference to Mike's tendency to take incriminating photos of his subservient male clients. Of course you also get the usual Wishman condiments here like big hairdos, silly dubbing, and questionable decor, which means it's a great time all around. Disc three then wraps up with trailers for all three films, two of them newly scanned in HD; amusingly, the one for Paulette is textless which makes some of the voiceover completely confusing! The set also comes with an insert booklet featuring "Blonde Wigs and Ashtrays," a handy and appreciative overview of Wishman's roughie cycle by Something Weird's Lisa Petrucci, and "A Certain Satisfaction," a lively print interview with Wishman by Mike Watt that clarifies some significant misunderstandings about her attitude toward her work.

Reviewed on August 28, 2022