Friday, July 28, 2006

It Came From Netflix! Decoys (2003)

Every once in a while I watch a horror or sci-fi movie that makes me wonder why a picture with even moderately entertaining qualities so often seems surprisingly superior to much of its (especially) DTV brethren. Decoys is a film like that. On it’s own, it’s a decent, technically sound timewaster with the nice moment here and there. Even with such modest attributes, however, it’s still quite a bit better than a lot of such stuff I’ve seen. Something’s terribly wrong when a film that should be a C+ (which is fine, as sometimes that’s what your in the mood for) is more like a straight B when you grade on a scale.

Sort of a horror/comic knock-off of Species (about ten years too late), Decoys is the story of Canadian college student Luke. He considers himself quite lucky when two gorgeous fellow students, cousins Lilly and Constance, appear in the dorm laundry and hang all over him. However, when he ends up hiding in their closet (don’t ask), Luke learns that he’s maybe not so lucky after all. He’s more than a little nonplussed when one of the hotties sprouts a bunch of tentacles out of her chest.

Among the film’s good points is that this all occurs maybe ten minutes in. When you watch these sorts of things, you generally know what the movie’s about before you pop it into your DVD player. Therefore there’s usually little point in dragging out the ‘mystery’ portion of the film. (Of course, it’s a venerable tradition. Back in the ‘50s, we often waited half an hour to ‘learn’ that, say, the menace of The Deadly Mantis was a giant Mantis.)

So they don’t waste our time. There’s a prologue about a student finding some flash frozen corpses, but again, once we get to Luke the main points are established pretty quickly. The girls are aliens, they dig extreme cold (hence Canada), etc.

Things were looking grim, I admit, as we then moved into a highly cliché-ridden section of the film. Luke can’t convince his friends of what he saw. Luke has a beautiful ‘tomboy’ friend who he thinks of as one of the guys but who is not exactly secretly in love with him. Luke’s best friend and roommate is a virgin desperately trying to get laid (although this is ultimately handled better than you’d expect).

Most tiresomely—we all have those certain clichés that set our teeth on edge—there’s the boneheaded police detective (played by The Sentinal’s Robert Burgi) who wants to nail Luke for the deaths. That’s a plot thread I always find extremely wearisome, especially when it depends on the cops being morons. Sure enough, in this case the cop apparently fails to follow up several obvious leads while focusing on Luke.

Luckily, though. things pick up a bit after all this. While there’s nothing new under the sun, the filmmakers do manage to throw in a nice couple of turns here and there. For instance, the aliens are not only “sympathetic” (i.e., killing at least for a reason rather than just general orneryness), but they eventually become actually likeable. And I found it funny how human they are, to the extent that Constance even has a bit of a “Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!” jealously sort of thing going on with Lilly. And when they rush a sorority, it seems less like an attempt at human camouflage than because, you know, they want to join a sorority.

The thing that struck me the most is that everyone in the film can act. I mean, they aren’t going to be handing out any Oscars here, but the level of acting is at least as good as your average episode of a WB teen drama. This again raises the question of why competent to good acting throughout an entire cast is so often a rarity in these things. Look at the casts in the majority of those Sci-Fi Channel Premiere movies. They’re awful. Certainly these guys here couldn’t have had that much more time or money to work with.

Then there’s the main premise. While a total cliché, it’s hard to say aliens beguiling horny partying college students with the promise of hot sex isn’t a workable plan. Not everything the film tries works, but when there are so many movies where nothing works—and I’m not even talking about the sort of dreck Scott Foy specializes in these days, but films that actually hit theaters, like the recent and quite dismal When a Stranger Calls remake—you take what you can get. The acting is good, some of the jokes are actually funny, some of the plot twists actually are sort of surprising, the special effects are at worse serviceable, etc.

If one thing keeps this movie from getting good reviews from many (check out the IMDB comments), it’s in failing to satisfy those hoping for a T&A and gore fest. Indeed, the film’s pretty mild. There’s a little nudity, if not much, and no gore to speak of. So if you’re looking for a Species knock-off with all the sex and violence of Species, look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for a film to add to your weekend stack of five for five dollars rental movies, you could certainly do worse.

Unsurprisingly, a sequel seems to be in production. Chances are that one will be far worse.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It Came from Netflix! The Intruder (Forgotten Terrors!)

WARNING! FOR THE LAST TIME, IGNORE THE DECEPTIVE DVD BOX COVER ART!!

This is the third feature found on Retromedia’s recent “Forgotten Terrors” DVD. As with the first two features, The Intruder isn’t a horror movie, but rather a murder thriller. We open with a passenger liner bobbing on a stormy sea (portrayed with a model shot that, as is often the case from this era, somehow both cheesy and impressive at the same time). On board, a brutal murder has occurred, and a bag of diamonds—also the MacGuffin in the disc’s first movie, Tangled Destinies—is missing.

The plot gimmick here is that the ship sinks—I really didn’t get why—and the passengers and crew end up stranded on a nearby island. (It wasn’t until I saw the lifeboat that I figured out The Intruder was actually the name of the ship they were on.) The cast includes the normal array of stereotypes, including the blithe hero, the sweet heroine, the sassy dame, the comic drunk, the detective, the stalwart captain, etc.

The detective—none too bright, as is often the case in these things—suspects the wrong man, of course, and another murder or two occurs as things progress. Meanwhile, the island has a hairy, maddened castaway on it, along with a wandering gorilla. (!!) Several fully-articulated skeletons are also stumbled across, because, you know, that’s all spooky and stuff.

As silly as you’d expect, this is a typical programmer, but certainly watchable, at least for fans of old movies. If you are such, you're sure to recognize actor Arthur Housman—even if not you don’t know his name—who made a career out of playing the exact sort of humorous drunk he portrays here.

Housman got to play zillions of drunks because after he established himself as Hollywood's go-to inebriate because he generally only appeared in a scene or two. The star of the movie would enter a bar and bam, there was a blurry-eyed Arthur Housman. Aside from features, Mr. Housman also appeared in lots of short subjects, including some Laurel & Hardy comedies.

It is fun to look at his IMDB credits, though, and see "Drunk" appear about fifty times. After flirting with such roles as "First Communist" in 1938's Youth Takes a Fling, Mr. Housman came into his own the next year, appearing as, variously, "Drunk next to Grandma"; "The drunk"; "The Drunk"; "Jonathon, a drunk"; "Drunk in Barroom"; "Drunk on Train"; and, mostly tellingly, "Drunk".

Busy character actor Mischa Auer, meanwhile, plays the castaway, and actor William B. Davidson, who appeared in over two hundred movies (!), plays the detective.

None of it makes much sense, but hey, it moves, and at about 60 minutes there isn’t much time for it become boring. The sound quality is worse than the other movies on the disc, however, so you’ll probably have to really up the volume to make much of the dialogue out.

Thanks to Retromedia for putting out such obscure fare, and at a bargain price, with the four movie set widely available on the Web for under $15. Let’s hope sales justify further such collections.

[Note: Assuming anyone is keeping track (or even reading these reviews), they will note that this is the third movie of four in the Forgotten Terrors collection. I sent it back at that point, because the last feature is Dead Men Walk, a George Zucco vampire film. The print on the Forgotten Terrors DVD looked typically lame, and I own the old Roan DVD, which presumably offers a far better presentation. So I'll probably give it a look, but from that source.]

Coming to a DVD shelf near you...

Warners has announced the fourth annual Looney Tunes Golden Collection, due out in November. No word yet on what ‘toons will be featured. Hopefully Foghorn Leghorn will finally, I say finally, get his due. His due, son. Are you listening, boy?

Schlock sequel fans will be pleased to hear that Beyond the Poseidon Adventure will be available on 8/22.

The loooong awaited Police Squad: The Complete Series (what, all six episodes?!) will street in November. The show was a dozen times better than the movies, the first of which was pretty good. (Although all the good gags were stolen from the show.) Plus, no wince-inducing O.J.! Whew! Seriously, this is an essential buy, and you could do worse for Christmas than to buy a dozen sets and just hand them out to everybody you know.

BCI has began and will continue to unleash a slue of Saturday morning (mostly) cartoon fare. Needless to say, the most interesting stuff is the worst. (You know you live in strange times when there’s going to be an Ark II Complete Series set.) Dig this:

Already released: The Best of She-Ra: Princess of Power, Flash Gordon: The Complete Series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season Two, Volume One, Prince Valiant: The Complete Series - Volume One and Ultraman: Series One, Volume One.

Coming over the next year or so: Blackstar: The Complete Series and Space Sentinels & The Freedom Force: The Complete Series (both 8/22), Defenders of the Earth: Volume One (10/10), Groovie Goolies: The Saturday "Mourning" Collection, A Snow White Christmas and Journey Back to OZ: Special Edition (10/24), She-Ra: Princess of Power - Season One, Volume One, Ark II: The Complete Series, Ghost Busters: The Animated Series - Volume One and Dungeons & Dragons: The Complete Series (11/7), Mission Magic: The Complete Series and The New Adventures of He-Man: Volume One (late 2006), Space Academy: The Complete Series, The Cat Pack: Waldo Kitty & Fraidy Cat - Volume One, Prince Valiant: The Complete Series - Volume Two, She-Ra: Princess of Power - Season One, Volume Two, Defenders of the Earth: Volume Two, Zorro & The Lone Ranger: Volume One and The Legend of Bravestarr: Special Edition (early 2007), Ghost Busters: The Animated Series - Volume Two, Snow White: Happily Ever After - Special Edition, The New Adventures of He-Man: Volume Two and Jason of Star Command: The Complete Series (Spring 2007) and She-Ra: Princess of Power - Season Two, Hero High: The Complete Series, The Legend of Bravestarr: The Series - Volume One, The Ghost Busters: The Complete Series (live action), Zorro & The Lone Ranger: Volume Two, Fabulous Funnies: The Complete Series, The Legend of Bravestarr: The Series - Volume Two and The Secrets of Isis: The Complete Series (Summer 2007).

Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein sounds intriguing…until you see that “Directed by Jesus Franco.” In any case, it’s out next week.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It Came from Netflix! The Phantom (Forgotten Terrors)

Warning Again! Continue to ignore highly deceptive DVD box art!!

The second movie found on Retromedia’s “Forgotten Terrrors” DVD is another Old Dark House thriller called The Phantom. The film opens with a criminal mastermind called the Phantom escaping from prison just before he was due to be executed.* As with the collection’s first film, Tangled Destinies (see below), things then move pretty much solely onto obvious sets, although this movie sports more of them than that one did.

[*How does he escape? He jumps from a position atop the prison wall—what the hell was he doing there?—onto the roof of a train passing right next to the prison (!), whereupon he is then picked up by a airplane. This is clearly stuff taken from another movie, probably an older, silent one.]

The Phantom threatens the District Attorney*, whose daughter is Ruth, a society page reporter who unknown to everyone else is in a relationship with wannabe newshawk Dick, while Ruth is in turn loved by her boss at the newspaper, Crandall. Will Crandall bow to her wishes and give Dick a job, so that they can marry, or will he attempt to sabotage the couple. Will he prove to be the Phantom, or working for him, or merely a red herring?

[*For no reason, they bother to establish that the current DA is not even the one that sent The Phantom away, but still the Phantom is out to get him. Huh?]

The police send some cops to watch over the DA’s house, but a man breaks in anyway. After way too much rigmarole, this proves not the Phantom, but Dick, who is a typical quipping, callow smartass like many of the heroes in these things. Ruth, however, is atypically a bit of a shrinking violet. Surprisingly, the heroines in a lot of these skid row cheapies were surprisingly feisty.

Not Ruth, though. It’s hard to take her seriously when she at one point has the killer at pointblank gun range and fails to shoot him purely because he’s putatively so terrifying. (He being a cackling hunchback dressed in a black cape and wide brimmed fedora, like the Shadow, thus obscuring his face. He, needless to say, maneuvers through a series of hidden passages, giving a variety of characters the willies when they see a wall panel swinging slooooowly open.) The killer actually escapes being shot this way by yet another character, and later the heroine faints completely upon being again confronted by him.

The trail somehow leads—tight scripting isn’t the hallmark of these things—to a mysterious sanitarium run by a mysterious doctor. The latter provides the sole note of actual ‘horror’ here, since he proves to be, if not a fully mad scientist, then certainly a quite irritated one. Naturally, he thinks Ruth the perfect subject for his next experiment. Eventually, of course, the Phantom is unmasked, Dick ends up with his job, and he and Ruth end up in each others’ arms.

There’s a lot more going on here than in Tangled Destinies, but the film is crippled by the most painful Odious Comic Relief character I’ve seen in some time. (And I just saw Bobby Van in The Navy vs. the Night Monsters.) This is Lucy, Ruth’s maid, who is of the ‘Comically’ Cowardly Servant school, and who basically spends the entire movie sniveling and starting and shrieking and shying at the smallest thing. Worse, she has a high-pitched, quivering voice that positively drove me up the wall, acting and sounding like a Betty Boop who had spent the last ten years being tortured by that guy from Saw in a basement somewhere.

Lucy gets a horrendously large amount of screentime, and adding insult to injury, proves the girlfriend of Shorty the chauffer, who is similarly given to the vapors. He’s the other character, by the way, who at one point has a gun stuck right in the mystery killer’s face and yet is too terrified to pull the trigger. Still, as annoying as Shorty is, he lacks that hideous voice that Lucy has, and so one wishes him merely killed, instead of horribly and painfully killed. Add to that list a ‘comic’ craaazy patient at the Sanitarium, who ‘hilariously’ sports a comic opera Swedish accent.

As you’d expect from an obscurity of this vintage, the image and sound are both soft and scratchy. Still, the fact that it still survives at all is a bit of an wonder.

Coming soon to DVD...

Warners has been farting around with this title for a few years, now, but has finally officially announced the long-awaited special edition of Forbidden Planet. Two of them, actually. The cheaper of the two (which should easily run under $20 at vender prices) is an eye-popping bargain, the sort of package that allows you to replace the old, barebones disc--as I will--without getting too irate about it. I mean, damn, an entire obscure Robbie the Robot movie is included as an extra!

The Forbidden Planet: 50th Anniversary 2-Disc Special Edition (SRP $26.99) features anamorphic widescreen video (mastered from newly restored film elements) and newly-remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include additional scenes and rare "lost" footage (known in select circles as “The Saucer Footage"), excerpts from The MGM Parade TV series, a pair of later programs that feature Robbie the Robot (the 1958 MGM feature film The Invisible Boy and the Robot Client episode of MGM's The Thin Man TV series), 3 documentaries on the making of the film (including TCM's original Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us, and the all-new Amazing! Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet and Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon), and a gallery of Sci-Fi film theatrical trailers.

The more expensive Ultimate Collector's Edition, meanwhile, will include the 2-disc SE DVD release in a tin case, along with a collectible Robby the Robot replica with moveable limbs, a reproduction lobby art card portfolio for Forbidden Planet and The Invisible Boy, and a Forbidden Planet original theatrical poster mail-in offer. The MSRP for this one is $60, so figure to pay $40-45.

The details for the 8-disc The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection are out, with a promised street date of 11/28 (aimed at Christmas, obviously) and a MSRP of $80. Four of the discs are dedicated to the first movie, with two discs for each of the subsequent ones. (Including, yes, Superman 4: The Quest for Peace.) Moreover, all 17 of the classic theatrical Fleisher Superman cartoons are included as part of the four-disc part, remastered and supposedly looking better than ever.

The Superman 4 set includes a screenwriter's commentary. It will be interested to see how candid he is about the film's awfulness, especially since much of it must be laid on Christopher Reeve himself. Does anyone want to say anything bad about this guy, even if its true? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited and never seen Richard Donner cut of Superman II (he was fired and director Richard Lester brought in) will be released *separately.*

For full details on the zillions of documentaries and other stuff in the set, check out the appropriate link at the invaluable Digitalbits.com.

In less rarified news, a company named Code Red has announced the previously unavailable (in this country) uncut version of the '70s Italian Exorcist/Omen/Rosemary's Baby knock-off Beyond the Door. The disc is scheduled for some time in 2007.

Meanwhile, the good folks at Dark Sky continue to impress, announcing a remastered, drastically ungraded disc of The Devil's Rain, featuruing a director's commentary, and a double bill DVD of two obscure Brit films, Blood of the Vampire and The Hellfire Club.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New on DVD this week (07/25/06)...

Tons of TV sets out this week. I’ll take a flier and say the two most essential are the first seasons of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain. Both of those were really terrific shows, and I’ll never forget this exchange from the PatB pilot, which saw them working undercover as elves in Santa’s workshop:

Pinky: Brain, the reindeer are inviting elves to join them for a party at Donner's house.
Brain: Hmm, somehow the idea of joining
the Donner party is unappealing.

Other new TV sets include All Creatures Great & Small S6; Bill Cosby Show S1; Boondocks S1; Bridezillas S1 & S2; Invisible Man S2; JAG S1; Le Femme Nikita S4; Laguna Beach S2; Miami Vice S1 & S2; The Prisoner Complete Series (Re-release); Punky Brewster S3; Rawhide S1; Seven Swordsmen Complete; Tales From the Crypt S4; Three’s Company S7

[Scary thought: The release of the seventh season of Three’s Company indicates that thousands of people bought the first six seasons.]


On to movies. A possible Brave New World is presaged in a couple of DVDs being released this week. Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman is a DVD version of the old paperback kids books where you are invited to make decisions and events branch off depending on your choices.

More ambitious (albeit striking even further at the idea of a movie as a set piece of work) is the DVD for Final Destination 3, which includes a feature allowing you to basically drive events in the way the Choose Your Own Adventures stories do. You pick what the film’s characters do, and apparently in some cases thus decide if they live or die, or perhaps merely decide how gruesome their deaths are.

Frankly, this sort of thing is usually hashed out first in porn films. And maybe it has been. If not, a Choose Your Own Porn Adventure series seems a natural.

Other items of possible interest:

Dark Sky Films, which has quickly established itself as a name to be reckoned with in the cult movie field, releases three British horror movies today, including the gruesome ghost movie And Now the Screaming Starts, the anthology film Asylum, and the assuming werewolf/ten little Indians combo The Beast Must Die. The discs include commentaries and other sweetmeats.

Anatomy of a Psycho is an early ‘70s Brit psychokiller flick.

The Bogie & Bacall Signature Collection offers classic film buffs special editions of The Big Sleep, The Dark Passage, Key Largo and To Have and Have Not.

Covert One: The Hades Factor See if you can figure out what’s wrong with the following description: "Stephen Dorff and Mira Sorvino are part of a secret agency sent on missions for President Angelica Huston."


Dogs is a Day of the Animals knock-off with predacious pooches. David McCallum stars.

Two-disc special editions are now available for the horribly lame Halloween 4 and the downright atrocious Halloween 5. Different strokes, I guess.

Halloween: 25 Years Later is a two-disc set of documentaries and other extras on the series.

Hammer the Film Noir Collection offers six dark, black & white crime films from the period before the studio basically decided to focus on horror movies.

Komodo vs. Cobra Run, Scott Foy, run!

Scorpius Gigantus Keep running, Scott!

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace / The Speckled Band is a cheapie DVD offering up Chris Lee’s German Holmes movie, along with a very old Holmes feature with Raymond Massey as the Great Detective.

Succubus is a Jess Franco movie. You’ve been warned.

Super Chiller Blood o Rama is a collection from Image featuring Claw of Terror (psycho killer with a hook for a hand; an idea recycled in Night Game), Black Mamba, Movie House Massacre and The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (Christopher Lee).

War Gods of Babylon/War Goddess is another Image double bill of Italian Sword & Sandal films.

The Will Rodgers Collection brings together the films of a guy who was once the country’s biggest, most beloved star.

It Came from Netflix! Tangled Destinies (Forgotten Terrors)

WARNING! BOX ART IS *HIGHLY* MISLEADING!

Fred Olen Rey’s Retromedia DVD brand has recently released “Forgotten Terrors,” a single-disc collection of four extremely obscure (well, one of the titles is only pretty obscure) films from the early ‘30s.

The first of the movies, all of which last about an hour, with two flicks on each side of the disc, is 1932’s Tangled Destinies. This indicates that Retromedia is guilty of pulling a bit of a fast one--again, check out the box art--as neither Tangled Destinies, nor two of the other three movies, are in fact horror films. They are rather (more or less) Old Dark House murder thrillers.

In our first feature, thirteen (bum bum bum) passengers and crew members of a commercial air flight—this must have seemed like a fairly novel plot devise back then—are forced to land in the middle of nowhere by a violent storm. They seek refuge in a nearby deserted house and make themselves at home. Here we meet the broad collection of types that will make up our cast: The sassy actress, the professor, the minister, the amiable lowbrow mug (a boxer, who’s main line is “Can I help?”, which he says at about a dozen junctures), the pretty young heiress, the sharpie, the stalwart pilot, the lawyer, the rigidly polite yet inscrutable Chinese fellow, etc. The main character, it turns out, is a feisty old woman.

Anyway hoping for a carnage-laden Ten Little Indians sort of affair will be severely disappointed, as in the end there’s but one murder. The McGuffin is a bag of diamonds, and soon one character reveals that he’s a detective. Meanwhile, the cast moves around the three rooms they spend most of the film in, making soup in the kitchen, repeatedly going down into the basement to change fuses whenever the lights go out (which happens quite often), etc.

The latter is part of how pronouncedly cheap the film is, with its paucity of sets, awkward blocking and frequent blackout scenes. (In fact, they don’t even play music under the opening title cards, but instead dub in and loop some plane engine noises!) No doubt this was shot in less than a week, and it shows.

One certainly can’t say much for the mystery or suspense elements—let me put it this way; I saw the film like two days ago, and had to really think in order to remember who the killer was—much less the typically limp comic relief material. And, as is usual in this sort of things, nobody at any point much acts like a real human being. Even so, I thought the movie a genial way to waste an hour.

The characters are the usual collection of clichés. Per tradition, the official detectives are markedly ineffective at their jobs. Instead, it's the old woman* and, in a bit modern viewers will appreciate, the automatically ‘suspicious’ Chinese guy, who actually do more to solve the crime.

[The 'old woman' is clearly actually played by a much younger woman—or maybe a man, with a dubbed voice—in makeup and a gray wig. This was so apparent that it was distracting, since you were wondering if that would prove true of her character, too, and 'she’d' prove to be the killer.]

Even at under an hour, this movie is slowly paced and talky, and one’s tolerance for cheapie films from that period will dictate whether you find it pleasing or insufferable. The presentation is pretty mediocre, especially in the outside nighttime scenes that open the film, when the characters’ faces are surrounded by a hazy white halo. This is probably because they used overly bright klieg lights to light the scene.

Still, for viewers of a certain age, such as myself, this is how we remember such fare looking back in the day when we watched stuff like this on our 20-inch black & white TV sets. Again, though, these sorts of movies are definitely an acquired taste. Even so, for the sort of people who would be interested in watching material like this, the fact that the movies are even available is enough to satisfy.

Monday, July 24, 2006

It Came from Netflix! Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt (1964)

Folks familiar with my reviews might recall that I consider bad comedies to be generally unwatchable. If the definition of a ‘bad’ movie is one that fails at what’s it trying to do, the reason why becomes clear. Bad horror movies try to scare you, and fail. That’s funny. Bad dramas try to tug at your heart, and fail. That’s funny. Bad comedies try to make you laugh…and fail. That’s not funny. Probably the most widely adopted ‘bad movie’ phrase to emanate from the Web is Dr. Freex’s coinage of Odious Comic Relief. Again, monster suit with visible zipper, bad and funny. Unsuccessful stabs at comedy…. not so much.

Still, if there’s one era (at least for me) that produced bad comedies whose failings remain somewhat amusing, it’s the ‘60s. I speak in particular of the last gasp of the vaudevillian style of purported ‘wacky’, anything-goes comedy. Films like The Fat Spy and Arch Hall Jr.’s The Nasty Rabbit attempt to sell a brand of shtick that even at the time was woefully antiquated. Because of this, the sheer flop sweat freneticism of their antics can, if one is in the right mood, provide a form of entertainment, if few belly laughs.

3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt falls directly into that category. The film stars Tommy Noonan (playing a nerdy character named Tommy Noonan) as an unemployed actor in Hollywood. At the state unemployment office—the site of the film’s first really lame gags—he meets successful stripper Saxie Symbol (ha ha!), as played by Mamie Van Doren. It should be noted that while Doren doesn’t come anywhere near good here, neither does she appear to have completely given up on acting in the way she does in her final movies like Navy vs. the Night Monsters and Women of the Prehistoric Planet .

[The gag that reveals where the movie is going takes place at the unemployment office. A seated woman is being told by a supercilious caseworker that she has run out of unemployment. She asks about worker’s comp. He replies that her condition doesn’t warrant it. She stands up, and naturally proves to be heavily pregnant. “Why not?” she retorts. “It happened on the job!” What sells it, though, is the jump cut to an extreme close-up of the caseworker, who has assumed a desperately unfunny ‘Oh, no, Mr. Bill!’ expression.]

Saxie takes Peter back to her ludicrously palatial house, which she shares with two male housemates, Joe and Bruce. After several supposedly farcical scenes in which Peter thinks they want to hire him for sexual shenanigans, he learns that they instead want to hire him to see a prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Myra Von, for them.

They can’t afford her rates (despite living in a palace) separately, so the idea is that Peter will use his acting skills to impersonate them in turn, splitting up his hour appointments into thirds and presenting each of their various problems and symptoms to Von. As you can imagine, extremely lame wackiness ensues. For the record, Saxie hates men. Handsome male model Bruce hates women, who are always trying to paw him, and steals from them. Joe, an alcoholic car salesman, just hates people in general. They are, in case you failed to ‘get’ it, the “3 Nuts” of the title.

Tommy accepts the job, because otherwise there wouldn’t be a movie, and hilarity ensues—well, not really—as the housemates keep him up all night relating their various backstories and such. The next day, Tommy sees Dr. Von, proceeds to act out (with accents and all) his employers’ personalities. Von and her bald mincing male secretary are delighted, thinking Tommy is a split personality that they can ride to professional stardom.

The film is probably best remembered today because of the accompanying Playboy photo shoot featuring Ms. Doren’s assets. (Returning the favor, a Playboy magazine is featured as a prop in a key scene.) Weirdly, the main film is in black and white, while ‘sexy’ inserts, mostly involving rather unrevealing (and sadly ‘musical’) strip acts by Van Doren, along with one bath scene where she does give the audience what they presumably came to see, are presented in color. Presumably these were made so boldly separate so they could be easily removed when the film played non-adult theaters.

Anyhoo, Tommy’s performances end up being telecast on TV—don’t ask—and become a public sensation. However, he becomes increasing uncomfortable with the fraud he’s committing. Take it from there.

For what it’s worth, the film doesn’t have high regard for psychiatrists. Von is mostly taken with the opportunities for professional prominence Tommy seems to provide. Her secretary listens in on the sessions (so as to provide an opportunity for some of the most jaw-dropping mugging facial expressions I’ve seen in while). Von is later blackmailed by another shrink, who further misdiagnoses the ‘nuts’. Luckily, two of the roomies are cured by Tommy himself, who is the only one who figures out that stripper Saxie is (Guh-huh!) a virgin who “just needs a man,” and that male model Bruce just needs a woman who he’ll have to chase after, rather than the other way around. (Joe? I guess he’s just screwed.)

The weird, semi-obscure cast is of interest to the sorts of people interested in weird, semi-obscure casts. Let’s put it this way: The film features a purportedly exciting ‘star’ cameo by actor Anthony Eisley (Dracula vs. Frankenstein, The Mighty Gorga and a zillion more) as himself. He grimaces in the foreground as Noonan and Van Doren carry on the scene behind him, and seems most likely in the film because he lost a bet of some sort.

Van Doren probably needs no introduction. Noonan, meanwhile, proves basically a taller, 10% more macho version of character actor Joe Flynn, of TV’s McHale’s Navy and Disney’s The Boatniks. He played Marilyn Monroe’s nebbish of a boyfriend in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and rode that bus for a while, playing similar roles against manqué Monroes like Von Doran and, inevitably, Jayne Mansfield. The latter film was Promises! Promises!, also available on DVD via VCI.

Alvy Moore, later famous as Mr. Kimble from TV’s Green Acres, pops up eventually as a lawyer. He is given a special ‘introducing’ credit despite having already appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows! Meanwhile, if I’m not mistaken, the TV technician with the Playboy magazine is ‘Little’ Jackie Little, a small fat comic of the sort who appeared at strip clubs and in nudie shorts. Dr. Von, meanwhile, is played by Ziva Rodann, best remembered as the obscure villainess Queen Nefertiti, sidekick to Victor Buono’s King Tut, on a two-part episode of the Adam West Batman show.