Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"The Lotion Puts Her in Motion"


Keith Barron and Kenneth Cope - sporting a very 70's handlebar moustache - create BK142, a potent potion that drives women - and dogs - sex mad. Released Stateside as THE PASSION POTION, SHE'LL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE unsurprisingly has only brief nudity and no titillation, but was still given an X certificate by the BBFC.

1971 was a good year in British sex cinema if you wanted to watch films that featured products driving woman insatiable. In Kenneth Turner's THE LOVE PILL, sugar balls can convert even the most of frigid of women into nymphomaniacs - as well as acting as a stringent contraceptive - and David C. Rea's SHE'LL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE sees two research chemists stumble upon pink compound BK142, a scent that makes females sex mad then produces amnesia. Alan Simpson (Keith Barron) and Mike Carter (Kenneth Cope) discover the potion while working for Parker's Perfumes, but soon set-up their own laboratory in an old military barracks in Effingham. Carter tests the effectiveness of BK142 by covering himself in the formula and being chased around Piccadilly Circus by a Bunny Girl, an episode which becomes front page news when the pursuit ends up in a car sale showroom (run by Bob Todd). As part of the chemical process, the aroma makes the woman think they are having relations with glamorous stars such as Mick Jagger, Hugh Hefner, George Best and Englebert Humperdinck; cheekier encounters feature a German dominatrix who imagines Adolf Hitler, and an Old English Sheepdog sniffs Alan and imagines him as an Afghan Hound.

The film's denouement - after complications in producing a second batch of BK142, Carter suddenly makes advances on Simpson - is as laboured as the jokes; opening the picture, a psychiatrist states "the final question in our survey on sex in Britain today was answered by 8345 adult males and 6320 females. To the question "What do you do immediately following the sex act?", 2% said they did it again, 4% said they had something to eat and drink, 5% said they lit a cigarette, 7% said they went to sleep, and 82% said they got up and went home." But Barron and Cope make for loveable rogues rather than the usual loathsome oafs in British sex film circles, even though they are cheating on their wives and exploiting young girls. Of the supporting roles Richard Vernon is typically supercilious as Parker's Perfumes supremo Andrew Coombes, and SHE'LL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE holds the distinction of being the first - and so far only - appearance of HRH Prince Philip in a British sex comedy, here the fantasy man of Coombes' secretary Miss Crawford (Penny Brahms). An impressive dramatis personae also includes Sandra Bryant as a lab assistant, and the Collinson Twins, Andrea Allan and Me Me Lay as sexual conquests.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Prehistoric Pap

"Enter an age of unknown terrors, pagan worship and virgin sacrifice..." The "gigantic spectacle" of WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH.

AFTER the world-wide success of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., Hammer's first cash-in was actually completed while the Raquel Welch extravaganza was still in post-production: PREHISTORIC WOMEN. Even though the studio flirted with forgotten lands in 1967's THE LOST CONTINENT - whose monsters acted more as a prelude to Amicus' lost world pictures of the 70's - Hammer's follow-up to ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. proper didn't appear until late 1970. Developed into a screenplay by director Val Guest from a treatment by novelist J.G.Ballard, WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH begins with Kingsor (Patrick Allen) sacrificing blonde virgin Sanna (auburn-haired Victoria Vetri, sporting a blonde wig). She is saved when winds sweep her over a cliff and into the arms of Tara (Robin Hawdon), a man from a fishing tribe. Tara welcomes Sanna into his clan and they fall in love, much to the annoyance of Ayak (Imogen Hassall). When the moon appears in the sky for the first time the tribe panics, with Ayak accusing Sanna of witchcraft. The outsider flees into the jungle where she is forced to survive amid prehistoric beasts, which includes being accepted by a mother dinosaur as one of her own hatchlings.

The real curse of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. was that Hammer found itself unable to afford the star attraction of Welch, or control the runaway success of its stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen was engaged with THE VALLEY OF GWANGI, and suggested Ohio-born SPFX creator Jim Danforth to lead Hammer's visual effects department on the picture. Danforth would eventually be rewarded with an Academy Award nomination, but only after an exhausting association with his employers. With little time for location work, a decreasing deadline and spiralling budget, he was aided by Roger Dicken, David Allen and Brian Johnson. With the use of real-life lizards and alligators acting as padding, the production still had to lose two major effects sequences: one involved a horde of giant ants, the other involving two pterodactyls. Against this backdrop of blood, sweat and tears, Danforth delivers a number of memorable scenes, such as villagers fighting off a rampaging Plesiosaur with flames, and a Triceratops pursuing a caveman to the edge of a precipice.

Imogen Hassall is jealous cave girl Ayak. Referred to as "the countess of cleavage" because of her revealing outfits worn at film premieres, the actress was a regular performer in 60's and 70's cinema and television. In 1980 - at the age of 38 - she committed suicide at her Wimbledon home by overdosing on Tuinal tablets.

21-year-old Vetri is hardly an equal to the iconic memories of Raquel Welch. In fact, in Tom Weaver's 2003 McFarland interview book Double Feature Creature Attack, Guest describes the starlet as "a nitwit" and "a real nothing, and a very strange mixed up lady." As Angela Dorian, Vetri was Playboy's Playmate of the Month for September 1967 and subsequently was the 1968 Playmate of the Year. Before donning the fur bikini, Vetri turned down the title role of Stanley Kubrick's LOLITA, and worked mainly in television - including BATMAN and STAR TREK - but she did have a bit part in Roman Polanski's ROSEMARY'S BABY. Later appearing in sexploitation entries INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS and GROUP MARRIAGE, the actress made headlines in 2010 for shooting her fourth husband, Bruce Rathgeb. A year later the charge against Vetri was reduced from attempted murder to attempted voluntary manslaughter, to which she pleaded no contest. The judge sentenced her to nine years in state prison.

The Canary Island locations give WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH an expansive glow that belies the merits of such a juvenile fantasy. As with ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., there is no intelligible dialogue, only a series of grunts and gesticulations; in Wayne Kinsay's book Hammer Films: The Elstree Studio Years, Guest states "I invented and wrote a whole new language. I actually thought if we could do this really believing in what you're doing we may get away with it." Ballard said that he was "very proud that my first screen credit was for what is, without doubt, the worst film ever made." Why such an experimental new wave science fiction author would become involved with a Hammer dinosaur picture has remained a mystery. In the finished product, the writer's main plot thread of the formation of the moon is placed after the coming of man but before the extinction of the dinosaurs, heartily accompanied by a choir of heavenly voices.