Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ginger (1971)

Directed by Don Schain. If this movie was as cool as its opening sequence -- which features Cheri Caffaro as Ginger driving the New Jersey Turnpike in a gold corvette, with her huge sunglasses, a big jazz score pumping, the eponymous title big as life on the screen -- this would be a fun movie. But it just can't sustain that kind of energy with these shit actors and a plot with no ideas in it.

Ginger is an undercover agent busting a drug ring run by a character played by an actor who holds the distinction of being the worst I've ever seen in a movie of this approximate budget. And that's saying something.

This is an exploitation film, made on a small budget for small distribution to drive-ins and privately owned theaters. This was a crazy time for independent film-making, when it was not a highbrow artistic movement but a strict moneymaking proposition. A movie company with no stars under contract found a theme to exploit: sex, race, violence, extreme horror -- some sort of promise was made to the audience that they would see something that they would not see in typical star-driven fare at the conventional movie houses. If you could make a movie for $200,000, turn $300,000 around on it, and crank out six or more films per year, you had a great business.

As an exploitation film, "Ginger" suffers from some limitations of its low budget. The bad acting is so bad I have no doubt it adds at least ten minutes to its run time. The lighting is so bad you sometimes can not see what is going on. Though as a time capsule of its era, "Ginger" is a good one. It's exploitation aspects are decent examples of what worked on audiences in the movie's time, from comparatively tame but sexy nightclub dancing and and beach catfights, to fully nude hetero and lesbian sexual encounters. Beware that there is one rape, and I wouldn't say that it's handled delicately.

But the real shocking scene happens when Ginger tortures the evil drug dealer by tying down his every limb, and I do mean every, to a bed in a seedy motel. In a scene that Quentin Tarantino has clearly rewound and replayed over and over, Ginger explains to the poor schlub that she is recreating a method of torture used in Japan during World War II, strangling his penis by arousing him. She then does a sexy dance, etc.

Aside from the rape, which could be a bit of a dealbreaker, I'd love to say you should pick up a used copy of this on Amazon, have a few friends over and laugh yourself silly over this.

No comments:

Post a Comment