Friday, September 25, 2009
Blogorium Review: Exploit-o-Rama Double Feature
Tonight we watched a double bill of infamous exploitation flicks: Boss Ni- well, you get the idea, and Teenage Mother, along with a host of other trailers for various genre-ploitation. Neither movie was what I expected, and at least one has a wildly misleading trailer.
Let's start with Fred "The Hammer" Williamson's Boss. Yeah, Boss will suffice. That's not the title of the movie, or the song in the movie, or even what anyone calls Williamson in the movie, but I just don't feel like getting banned for writing the whole title out. I think you can guess what the rest of it is, and that is actually the title of the film.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the "n" word is uttered at least 150 times by pretty much every character in the film. In theory, Boss is some kind of redemptive blaxploitation film, where the empowered black men take it to whitey, but the reality is far from it. "Boss" (Williamson) and his partner Amos (D'Urville Martin) are bounty hunters in the old west who, by increasingly ridiculous circumstances, come to be the Sheriff and Deputy of a small town.
Normally I'd expect a "stick it to the man" attitude, and while there's some of that, Williamson (who wrote the script) unfortunately makes the protagonists exceedingly sketchy. Boss and Amos arrest people for the sole intention of fleecing them for money, and by the end of the film they're indirectly responsible for ruining the town right before they leave. All to catch Jed Clayton (William Smith), which they sorta kinda do.
Of course, this is the same movie that has two Mexican characters named Margarita and Pancho. It also features one of the worst performances from Vampirella's Barbara Leigh, and is offensive in pretty much every possible way. Boss is, at least, exactly what it advertises itself as, with the exception of being the rare blaxploitation film that makes people look worse.
Teenage Mother, on the other hand, is nothing like the trailer leads you to believe. In fact, I'd say 70% of the footage of Arlene Sue in the trailer is nowhere to be found in the movie, including the pictures of her all knocked up. Arlene Sue is a total prude in the movie, and spends most of her time nagging her boyfriend about paying attention to her. The ad misrepresents the "a little bit pregnant" scene to the point where it implies the exact opposite of what happens in the film.
Most of Teenage Mother's 69-minute running time is devoted to padding: there's a really long dance scene, a really long drag racing scene, lots of people wandering around in school hallways, and a subplot that eats up most of the movie. There is no turning "brother against brother", since Arlene Sue's boyfriend doesn't like Mr. Butt-Chin in the first place. Instead, Butt-Chin tries selling drugs to students, hangs out in an auto scrap yard with some random guy, and tries to rape his Swedish sex-ed teacher while his girlfriend gets high in their truck.
Here's what makes the failed "rape" scene so incredibly sketchy: the sex-ed teacher, upon being rescued, pretends nothing even happened. Of course, nothing in that plot thread (about the teacher's "radical" sex-ed program) makes any sense as it stands, but that particular scene just strikes a sour note. It's not like she pretends to enjoy having her shirt ripped open, but when Coach Fred Willard arrives to help she says "nothing happened. I tripped and fell, that's all", even though she's in the Boiler Room for no reason.
Meanwhile, Arlene Sue sneaks off with the truck driver because she's "running away", even though she then runs into Butt-Chin at the truck stop and goes to the drive-in with the gang. What exactly the gang "got even" for is up to speculation, but all that really happens is Butt-Chin and Arlene Sue's boyfriend fight again.
What I will say Teenage Mother has going for it are extras who clearly don't know what to do on camera. The Ginger Kid in the sex-ed class and the Scrawny Gay Dude at the dance club keep looking into the camera of talking to people in the crew, and it's kind of hilarious.
Alas, Fred Willard doesn't have much to do. Mostly he stands around and wears a suit or a red sweatsuit. It's a waste of comic genius, if you ask me...
And then there's the actual reason Teenage Mother is designed for "select audiences". Let me just say this: an actual birth scene would be one thing. An instructional video on using newly developed forceps to pull the baby out by its head is something entirely different. We were all simultaneously disgusted and yet couldn't turn away. Okay, that's a lie. Many of us turned away at various points. For the first time ever, I'm glad I don't have a larger TV screen...
So yeah, I don't think we're ever going to look at Teenage Mother again the same way, and those of us who saw Boss are... not going to talk about it. Yeah, that's about right. Exploitative, misleading, and clinical. That covers it. I wouldn't say I regret seeing either of them, but boy howdy was it not what I was expecting.