WILD WOMEN

"Wild, wild women, I must confess / I wanna tame one to make love my way! - Lyric: ' Wild, Wild Women ' by rockabilly singer Johnny Carroll (1957)

WILDWOMEN -Dir: Norman Dawn Cast: Dana Wilson, Charleen Hawkes, Zona Siggins, Leah Wakefield. CHEEZECAKE manifests itself in productions running the quality gamut from top-rung right down to rock bottom. WILDWOMEN assuredly fits into the lattermost category.

A dramatic-sounding narrator establishes the location as "Africa" - though a clearly glimpsed bull moose is one shot pinpoints the geography as rather more close to home. Borrowed wildlife, scenery and anthropological footage (including brief aboriginal nudity) pad out the slim running time to still-short second feature length (less than 70 minutes).

Titles resemble those of a road show attraction from the '30s. Music and camerawork are also antiquated to say the least. The tinny dialogue track and score seem to have been re corded on outdated audio equipment left over from the early sound era.

The man relates a flashback tale (just an excuse to recycle still more stock footageof a motley expedition of white hunters (totaling 2) and their overworked native bearers (all teaming 3 of 'em) trek into "Darkest Africa", allegedly hunting gorillas (i.e.: one ratty-assed hand-me down apesuit and a few comical zoo inserts of an the bush, who rambles incoherently about the fabled Ulama - "The Legendary White Sirens Of Africa".

Silent '30s era mondo documentary footage. The incoherently hunting the lost Ulama warrior women ("She was a vision of womanly loveliness...the most gorgeous creature I'd ever seen!"

Too much voice-over half heartedly strives to link all the disparate bits of celluloid into a cohesive whole, but this is priceless stuff indeedy. When their trio of superstitious bearers skidaddle, our three intrepid backyard adventurers slog onward, ascending to the Ulama's "inaccessible" mountain plateau in all of thirly seconds. They are swiftly ambushed by statuesque Ulama mamas showing loads of wobbly buttock in custom ripped leopard and tigerskin bikinis (tigers? in Africa?).

Things segue into a "sexy" mass dance off with tom-tom accompaniment that makes similar scenes in the awe-inspiring SHE DEMONS (1958) seem choreographed by Busby Berkeley "Komali-assay-bonga!" commands the high priestess (whose laughable performance makes that of chieftess Doris Merrick in seem positively restrained).

Other linguistically dubious dialogue includes "oonga-oonga" and the evocative "hoya-hoya humba" (the later forms the chorus accompanying our dancers' spastic writhing). A throwaway line of dialogue connects these light-skinned tribe vixens with migrating Goth and Vandal hordes of early Europe. But, such token explanation registers about as convincingly as the Druidic origins of the UNTAMED WOMEN (1952), the interplanetary Roman ancestry of the FIREMAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE (1956) and the pre-Colombian warrior babes of LOVE SLAVES OF THE AMAZONS (1957).

Whatever the culture roots, these hot tempered gals slap us puny men folk around, catfight at the drop of a hatchet, and explode into uncoordinated aerobics at a moment's notice. The Ulama range from positively anorexic to...well, on the hefty side. Their tribal "husbands", as in that barrel bottom battle-of-the-sexes. THE WILD WOMEN OF WONGO (1958), are subservient, menial wimps.

The High Priestess gloats over the fate of men who are not "strong" (i.e. can't get it up). Weaklings are sacrificed to the unseen "Fire God". Despite his assertion that "in our country, men don 't fight women! " to test his manhood our main hero must come to grips with a brawny Ulama wrestling woman.

Some rival warrior sisters soon decide that enough is enough already, and rebel against the greedy High Priestess, who's been hoarding all the prime-grade male meat for herself.

A few exploding fire-crackers send these macho spear chuckin' chicks scurrying for cover. For the conclusion, blonde Ulama renegade Ordoona (Ms. Hawkes) disowns her tribe and skips off with the heroes like a trained chimp.

This film must have been perfect Grindhouse fare for ' 50s-era groin jockeys to salivate over, as most of the "actresses" were obviously moonlighting burlesque performers. Along with PREHISTORIC WOMEN (1950), and the following UNTAMED WOMEN , WILD WOMEN exemplifies the lowest ebb of the primordial 1950s "girls in gangs" sub-genre.

CAT GIRL -Dir: Alfred Shaughness 1957 UK
Cast: Barbara Shelley, Kal Callard, Lilly Carr
Prior to her roles in Hammer films; like THE GORGON (1964), Babs Shelley was seen in this minor Brit congromeration of themes from THE CAT PEOPLE and THE LEOPARD MAN .

Leonora Shelley is a new bride who learns dark secret from her sinister uncle (prompting memories of both SHE WOLF and DAUGHTER OF DR JEKYL . At uncle's old dark house, a leopard prowls the grounds. She learns she is to inherit the family legacy - "The Curse Of The Bramlts"

The concept of female as predatory, man-eating feline has been a recurrent horror motif, but CAT GIRL emerges as an atmospheric, engaging rehash of the familiar formula. Shelley is suffiently catlike in the title role, alternating between kittenish vulnerability and snarling wildcat fury.

She bares her razor sharp claws when another female dares intrude upon her territory At one juncture, she pulls a Sylvester routine on her girlfriend's pet canary: game over, Tweety-Bird. While under observation in a mental institution, she undergoes a transformation into a long-taloned, furry-pawed cat monsteress.

The Most erotic scene has Shelley kicking off her high heels to stalk Kay Callard barefoot down a dark street, dressed in a kinky wet-look black vinyl raincoat, The ending is abrupt and ambiguous. It by no means possesses the psychosexual onion layers of Lewton's more famous film - in spite of outright plagiarisms from the same - but CAT GIRL is class pussy nonetheless. Purrrrrrrrrr....

NB: Shelley seriously jeopardized her career as a gorgeous glamour-puss with THE CAMP ON BLOOD ISLAND (aka THE SECRET OF BLOOD ISLAND, 1956), an embarrassing Hammer WW2 drama set in a Japanese POW camp. In it, she played a British spy who must disguise herself as a man - with very unflattering results - in order to remain incognito from the sadistic prison commandant.

COBRA WOMAN -Dir: Robert Siodmak -1943
Cast: Maria Montez, Jon Hall, Sabu, Mary Nash, Lon Chaney Jr....the positions of the woman with the snakes were of the most indecent description and left no doubt that the cobra was regarded as the phallus" - Excerpt from the book "Serpent Worship" (Tutor Press) ULTRA-KITSCH UNIVERSAL PICTURES ' Technicolor fantasy.

Just hours before her wedding to Ranu (Jon Hall), wouldn't ya know it beautiful Tollea (Montez) is abducted and carried off tothe isle of the Cobra People ("No drug-soaked brain could dream up the horrors of cobra island!'). First-born Tollea is rightful High Priestess of the island's sacred cobra cult - a position currently filled by an identical (because both roles are played by Ms. Montez) but EVIL twin sister, Naja.

Montez's earnest double performance is often jeopardized by a guacamole thick Latin accent that at times makes her sound like a female version of Desi Arnaz, but her voluptuous looks overshadow all other criticisms. Thwarted bride-groom Ramu and ethnicomic sidekick Sabu quickly set sail for Cobra Island in a bid to rescue Tollea. Understandably, Ramu mistakes nasty Naja for his proposed bride, her look-a-like Tollca.

"The eyes of love are sharp, but they can be deceived... the lips, never!" says Naja in all seriousness. Ramu commits a faux pas when he joins "Tollea" (i.e.: Naja) for a smooch and swim in the "Sacred Pool" (herein, Maria gives her aquatic impression of movie mermaid Esther Williams).

Later Ramu attempts to rescue Tollca before Naja can have her rival twin sis put to death. Evil Naja rules Cobra Island with an iron hand, sucking the local peasantry dry via exorbitant gold taxes, and indiscriminately sacrificing vestal virgins to appease the island's simmering volcano.

A chintzy ritual soon follows, with Naja overseeing an undulating chorusline of Cobra cheerleaders. Decked out in a contour-conforming silver evening gown, she does a sinuous, sensuous shimmy shake for the great cobra god's amusement (our amusement is also guaranteed, as this "deadly snake" strongly resembles someone's forearm shoved inside a green rubber glove). During her snakey dance number, Naja selects shrieking virgins to become instant volcano kindling.

To maximize use of the expensive Technicolor process, costume designs are outrageously lurid. Though, in order to meet strict 40's censorship requirements, slave girls show tanned expanses of bare midriff, but no navels; and wear condom-tight tube tops that reveal lots of buoyant curve but little real cleavage.

One of the handmaidens, Veeda, is played by lissome Lois Collier, who also appeared as a heroine in the Republic cliffhanger, JUNGLE QUEEN (1945). The use of Technicolor is - to quote my Editor - "unsurpassed". Director Siodmak's bro Curt would helm Universal's later pagan potboiler, LOVE SLAVES OF THE AMAZONS (1957).

CULT OF THE COBRA- Dir: Francis D. Lyon -1955 USA
Cast: Faith Domergle, Marshall Thompson, Richard Long, Jack Kelly More universal cheeze-kitsch, this time with a pronounced - if tame - "horror" angle. A bunch a American servicemen stationed in the Middle East and led by Marshall Thompson spy upon a sacred ceremony of the snake-worshipping cult of "Lamians".

When discovered, the Yankee infidels are cursed to suffer the wrath of the shape shifting serpent sect. After one of their comrades is struck down by what appears to be a deadly cobra, the rest return Stateside to civilian life following the war (WW2).

In New York, Thompson meets his new neighbor, a mysterious, sultry woman (Howard Hughes protégé Faith Domergue, best known for her leading lady turn in THIS ISLAND EARTH the same year), with whom he quickly be comes infatuated, despite her initial cold aloofness.

She remains distant and anxious about allowing a romance to develop - and for good reason. More murders of his ex-Army buddies follow (including future HARRY 0 (David Janssen), and it is soon revealed that faith is responsible: being able to revert to cobra form in order to fulfill her destny as harbinger of the Lamians' lingering vengeance.

Like CAT GIRL, CULT OF THE COBRA is largely a quickie redo of Lewton's CAT PEOPLE, with the sexually-repressed anti heroine changing into a vengeful animal whenever she dares heed the feminine urges throbbing within her loins; although this fermenting erotic undertow is decidedly down played so as not to offend pre McCarthyist Middle America.

However, Domergue's smoldering presence and a frantic native dancing girl in condom-snug "snakeskin" leotards provide the requisite helping of cheezecake. As with other '50s "animal girl" entries (e.g. Susan Cabot's THE WASP WOMAN and Coleen Gray's LEECH WOMAN, Faith's bestial inclinations eventually prove to be her undoing.

FLAME OF THE ISLANDS -Dir: Edward Ludwig -1955 USA Cast: Yvonne de Carlo, Howard Duff; Zachary Scoft, Barhara O'Neil When wealthy businessman Carlton Hammond dies, his secretary Rosalind Dean (Yvonne de Carlo) is approached by his widow, who despite her physical handicap, is verily a matriarch after SHE's heart: "She's the power in the Hammond household; the iron fist in the velvet glove!".

Presumed to be a longtime mistress of the late businessman, opportunistic Roz is "bought off" by Mrs. Hammond to the tune of a hundred grand, and off she goes to play cabaret singer in Shangri-La, a high society Caribbean getaway resort. Roz soon finds herself attracted to Rand (Scott), a nautical adventurer with the longest tuna-fishing pole in the islands.

Roz wraps her manicured lily white hands around his rod, and, amidst an ocean of phallic innuendo they haul aboard a fully erect 150-pound sword fish. Back on shore, Roz soon swoons for studly Doug (Duff), another bronzed action man who brags he's handled much bigger fish than that, but some how doesn't remember that Roz is his ex-gal, Linda D'Arcy (Roz's alias).

Despite Doug's lousy memory, Roz/Linda determines to rekindle their old flame. Roz quickly finds herself inundated by amorous male flesh at every turn, including odorous confidence trickster, Cyril Mace. Barely even rating as a true melodrama, FLAME OF THE ISLANDS amounts to a succession of heads talking romantic soap opera cliches, but most of the cast couldn't act its way out of a soggy plantain skin.

Flaccid gangster versus coastguard shenanigans take over for the not-so-grand finale. Smokey De Carlo wears scarlet slacks and stilettos while reeling in every "sucker" who snaps at her bait.

A cheezy highpoint is her barefoot white girl calypso number, "Bahama Mama" (great title!), during which she threatens to capsize the island with every earthquake shake of those strappin' child-bearing hips.

"Take It Or Leave It" further showcases De Carlo's horrendous singing voice and spectacular stack. Regardless of De Carlo's statuesque presence, FLAME OF THE ISLANDS doesn't really ignite (director Ludwig fared much better with his giant bug classic, THE BLACK SCORPION, (1957). If they'da had Yvonne jigglin' through the jungle in a skintight sarong shootin off a tommygun, now that might have struck a few sparks... Definitely for Yvonne de Carlo completists only. Cast: Doris Merrick, Mikel Conrad.

"Well, thirteen women And me the only man around..."
- Lyric: ' Thirteen Women by Bill Hailey the Comets (1954)

UNTAMED WOMEN -Dir: W. Merle Connell-1952

Q: WHADDAYA DO IF YOU find yourself stranded on a tropical island with a whole tribe of pagan babes in the ginchiest of animat-hide swim suits?
A: You pitch your teepee and stick around for as long as possible, that's what!

That said, UNTAMED WOMEN is the absolute worst, BEST cavechick adventure ever. Period. A downed B-l 7 crew paddle their rubber dinghy to an uncharted Pacific isle literally teeming with frustrated post-adolescent cave-chicks. Also infesting the island are hordes of "dinosaurs" (i.e.: terrarium footage pilfered from Hal Roach's 1940 ONE MILLION BC.

When they're not lounging around suntanning and showing their Thighmaster-toned gams, these paganettes - allegedly descended from the Druids of ancient Britain -spend much of their remaining free time doing the hippy-hippy shake to primal bongo rhythms (shades of Richard Cunha's fabulous SHE DEMONS (1958).

"Oooo, 'tis sweet as HONEY!" exclaims one Druidette as she nibbles on a serviceman's ooey gooey chocolate bar. Another airman teaches an adoring airhead the fine art of cow-milking; udder like, she wanks enthusiasticatly on the fly boy's inverted thumbs. "Shoot anything with HAIR on it that moves!" orders leader Mike Conrad in another immortal dialogue humdinger.

LOVE SLAVES OF THE AMAZONS -Dir: Curt Siodmak -USA 1957
Cast: Gianna Segale, Don Taylor, Eduardo Cianelli, Anna Marie Nabuco
Dialogue: "Ow! She bit me!"The Amazons" theme is warbled from behind the credits by a green-faced lady known as Jara Lex, not the least of this outrageous film's fetishistic slants. Vivid Eastmancolor and authentic Brazilian locations (as with CURUCU, BEAST OF THE AMAZON ) boost this fan.

The propeller jockeys spend an inordinate amount of time frantically rubbing their handguns as they contemplate the large disproportion between genders - roughly three girls to every boy. Hubba-hubba- The she-Druids are of mind to employ the American men as sex studs in their island harem (for more men-in-bondage, see also LOVE SLAVES OF THE AMAZONS (1957). Consult your travel agent today.

Besides aforementioned monsters, the only threat to the flyboys' amorous bliss are the uncouth "Hairy Men" hirsute, chauvinistic cave-creeps from a nearby isle who wish to domesticate the untamed girls as breeding stock. The obligatory active volcano blows its stack in time for the fiery finale, and Druidettes, Hairies, dinosaurs and most of the USAAF dudes are swallowed up by the Great Earth Mother's grumbling belly. Burp Cover Page Index


Share on Myspace Digg del.icio.us Facebook Google Bookmarks Blogplay Fark Identi.ca LinkedIn Live Reddit RSS Slashdot StumbleUpon Yahoo! Buzz