Vintage Pulp Feb 18 2024
MANILA HEAT
Caffaro knows how to Handle her business.


Why do we spend our valuable time watching exploitation movies? Well, because we watch all pulp related genres of movies, from film noir to horror. So why discriminate? We also watch such movies (which is a set we figure includes sexploitation, blaxploitation, women-in-prison, and more) because owing to their sexual, racial, and political aspects, their like will probably never be made again. Last month we completed our look at Cheri Caffaro's infamous Ginger McAllister sexploitation-spy trilogy. Now we're moving on to her later work in Too Hot To Handle, which premiered today in 1977.

Set in and around Manila, Caffaro plays an experienced and wealthy assassin named Samantha Fox who takes on a difficult triple-contract. In order to succeed she'll need all her skills of disguise, deception, and sexuality. Meanwhile the cops are on her trail. When one of the investigators gets close—real close—Caffaro takes a liking to him and, passing herself off as her alter ego Melinda Burroughs, tries to navigate sleeping with the enemy while fulfilling her murderous obligations.

All Caffaro movies are low budget, and all are bad. This one is poorly written and acted, and as usual there's a touch of the kinky, both in front of the camera, as well as behind, as Caffaro's husband Don Schain directs her getting her squeezebox fondled by hairy co-star Aharon Ipalé. That's called commitment to the product and your art—or alternatively, finding a way to monetize your spouse-sharing fantasies. It didn't improve the movie.

The only surprise here was that former top European star Corinne Calvet somehow got suckered into playing a brothel owner named Madame Ruanda, later dying as one of Caffaro's targets. Alas, Corinne—sexploitation is a welcoming mistress for those desperate to pay bills, but next time we recommend a loan shark. The vig is a bitch but at least you get to hang onto your dignity. But even if Too Hot To Handle was too bad for Calvet to be in, it isn't too bad for you to watch. Caffaro is weirdly great. In the sexploitation realm nobody did more with less.
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Vintage Pulp Mar 14 2022
SPICY GINGER
She's an acquired taste.


A while back we stumbled upon a low budget action-sexploitation flick called Girls Are for Loving starring Cheri Caffaro. It was part of a trilogy, the first of which was Ginger, for which you see a promo poster above. The movie premiered this month in 1971, and also starred Caffaro, who was one of the bolder actresses of ’70s sexploitation cinema. She plays a New York City socialite recruited to bust a New Jersey drug ring. She's given a few tools to help in her mission, but her main advantage is of course her slinky bod, which she uses at every turn. This is a really bad movie, the type of production where the dialogue is so stilted you'll think time has begun to flow backward, while the equally clunky action moves so slowly it might as well be stop-motion.

But we'll admit that the movie has an underdog quality, as less-than-talented writers, less-than-experienced technical personnel, a far less-than-competent director, and a less-than-conventionally beautiful lead actress strive to put together a gritty erotic action epic. You almost root for them, particularly the supporting cast who are asked to do incredible things, such as Casey Donovan, who gets tied spread eagled to a bed with his junk in full view for an extended scene. Clearly the idea is that if there's a male gaze at work in the movie, let females gaze too, and we applaud that.

Donovan, even with his dick in the wind and his hairy crack on display, doesn't have the hardest job here. That would be Herbert Kerr as a pimp and Herndon Ely as a heroin addicted prostitute, who are asked to act out an interracial hate fuck that might kill your sex drive for months. Later Caffaro drops n-bombs and many variations while relating a tale to Kerr about her rape by black men at age sixteen. Subsequently Caffaro is hogtied and taken against her will by a white guy. By the time Girls Are for Loving arrives Caffaro has the hots for her black partner Timothy Brown, so this franchise is equal opportunity sleaze all the way.

If Ginger sounds out there, trust us, you don't know the half of it. But somehow from this mess came two sequels, which we still can't wrap our heads around. Well, scratch that—we get it. All the hate and craziness in Ginger is woven amid five or six sex scenes that deliver what any fan of erotic cinema seeks—and more. We wouldn't go so far as to say these scenes are realistic, but the amount of genitalia on display is high, so no wonder fans made the film a financial success. But the value of Ginger is not artistic or erotic—it's historic. With its in-your-face nudity and harsh racial language it's a type of movie that may never, ever be made again.

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Vintage Pulp May 25 2021
A TASTE OF CHERI
It's pie for everyone in Girls Are for Loving.


Above you see a poster for Girls Are for Loving, which is a spy movie in which a sexy operative for hire is tapped by the CIA to foil a set of international baddies that want to disrupt Asia-U.S. trade negotiations. The movie is third in a series after 1971's Ginger and 1972's The Abductors, with Cheri Caffaro in the lead role of Ginger MacCallister, while Sheila Leighton is the head villain and Timothy Brown is the CIA's man on the spot. It's an action-sexploitation flick, but the international trade aspect, mid-level budget, and shooting locations in St. Thomas elevate it above what you'd expect.
 
But it isn't that elevated. Caffaro does some lingerie karate, some bikini karate, some hot pants karate, and some topless karate, while her backup Brown always shows up too late to help. Inevitably she's captured, and just as inevitably, she's stripped and molested. But you can't keep a good international spy down, even with ropes and the weight of a hairy, slobbering villain. In the end Caffaro gets the better of her foes, and she and sidekick Brown head off into the sunset smiling. 
 
As sexploitation goes, this one is raunchier than most, and the fact that Caffaro was married to director Don Schain makes it even more eyebrow raising that he directed another man getting touchy feely with his wife's cherry pie. But on the other hand, you have to admire these spouses' commitment to art. We can imagine Schain's direction: "Suck her nipples. No, suck them. Really get them in your mouth. Great. Cheri, act like you enjoy it. Good. That's uh... actually quite convincing." As ’70s action goes Girls Are for Loving isn't great, but as ’70s sexploitation it's muff-see entertainment. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1973.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
April 18
1923—Yankee Stadium Opens
In New York City, Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, opens with the Yankees beating their eternal rivals the Boston Red Sox 4 to 1. The stadium, which is nicknamed The House that Ruth Built, sees the Yankees become the most successful franchise in baseball history. It is eventually replaced by a new Yankee Stadium and closes in September 2008.
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