This week’s Grindhouse Sunday offers two Crown International titles, Malibu High and Blood Mania. The first is a fantastically smutty sexploitation film and the second is a slow burn Gothic horror.
The 1979 film, Malibu High, begins with the usual Crown trademark: a shot of gratuitous nudity – as our protagonist, the rebellious Kim, rises out of bed to eat breakfast before school. She and her mother engage in a tense and awkward conversation concerning Kim’s lack of interest in her studies, as well as her habit of smoking while at the table. Kim is dismissive of her mother, and leaves for school without her book bag.
The opening moments set the tone for the rest of the film. The half-assed dialogue and the weak acting are but a sign of the wonders to come. And the film delivers. It is gloriously trashy in all of the right ways, not to mention downright hilarious.
Kim arrives at school with her friend and chauffeur, Lucy. Upon their arrival, they realize that Kim’s ex-boyfriend, Kevin, is dating Annette Ingersoll, the popular rich bitch whose father, Henry, owns “half the town”, according to Lucy. Kim confronts Kevin in the library and attempts to strike up a conversation, but he becomes annoyed with her and leaves. That night, Lucy insists on going to the school dance and begs Kim to go. She reluctantly agrees.
As she prepares to leave for the dance back at home, Kim gets into an argument with her mother, who is obsessively cleaning the house in her nightgown. You see, Kim’s father committed suicide a few years prior, and Kim blames her mother for his death. In a fit of rage, Kim screams at her mother: “No wonder he couldn’t stand it here! You could have looked decent once in a while, instead of worrying about dirt and dust and greasy build-ups! Maybe then you wouldn’t have driven Daddy away! And maybe Daddy wouldn’t have had to kill himself because he couldn’t get it up anymore!” Yes. Kim has issues. Shortly after this outburst, she leaves the house in a huff.
Kim quickly becomes bored at the school dance, and asks Lucy if they can go back to her place and raid her parents’ bar. After a moment of hesitation, Lucy agrees, but says that she would rather have pot. Luckily, a pot dealer and pimp named Tony is outside the school in his van. Kim scores a bag of weed and the two girls head back to Lucy’s place, where they hit the bong a few times and Kim lets Lucy in on a little secret. Kim is going to become a new woman. “I’m going to get the highest grades and studying’s not going to have a thing to do with it.” She’s going to have money, too. “I am going to get them both the nicest f*cking way I know.” In other words, Kim is going to become a slut.
The next day, Kim throws on some revealing attire, heads to class, and seduces her history teacher. He meets her in a secluded area at a place called High Point, and the two of them dry hump each other in their underwear.
Come to think of it, no one ever really goes all the way in a Crown International film. They just roll around and grunt. Clothes are optional.
Later on, Kim meets up with Tony and decides to become part of his prostitution ring. In between classes, Kim services her clients, who line up outside of Tony’s van. Before long, Kim pulls into school with a brand new shiny car. Her mother asks her where she got the money for such extravagant purchases. Her answer? “Relief work”. Kim goes to school and proceeds to seduce her physics teacher. He is angry at first, but soon gives in to Kim’s advances.
Meanwhile, Kim starts to harass Kevin’s new girl, Annette. When Annette confronts Kim, Kim punches the girl in the nose and walks away. This is one of the funniest moments in the film. And there are many.
One day on the beach, Kim meets a man named Lance, who offers her a large sum of money to work as one of his call girls. She leaves Tony and agrees to work exclusively for Lance. The two carry on a love affair. This leads to several love scenes where nothing really happens, save for lots of rolling around, kissing and moaning.
When one of Kim’s johns attacks her and attempts to rape her, she stabs him in the back with an ice pick. Shortly thereafter, Lance gives Kim a gun and asks her to pull hits for him. Now she’s a high-class hooker as well as a cold-blooded killer. Things escalate when the principal at school becomes suspicious of the uncharacteristic change in Kim’s grade point average. On top of the principal’s accusations of foul play, Lance asks Kim to pull a hit on Harry Ingersoll, Annette’s father – who may or may not be involved in criminal activity.
The ending is typical of many of the films in the Crown International library. You know that five seconds before the credits roll, it is all going to end in tragedy, and it does. Crime doesn’t pay, kids. This is definitely one of the best films of its kind. It is hilariously inept and just plain wrong in every possible way. This is where good taste goes to die. Right here with Malibu High. I suppose that it could be much, much worse, but as it is, you don’t want to miss this one.
The 1970 film, Blood Mania, is one of the most incompetent Gothic horror films that I have seen in quite some time, but it is definitely worth a watch.
The film centers around a promiscuous and sexually repressed woman named Veronica. She is taking care of her ailing father, a mean old bastard named Ridgeley Waterman who owns his own practice. His doctor and employee, Craig Cooper, has been the object of affection for Veronica for quite some time, although her many attempts at winning his heart and/or bedding him have been rather unsuccessful. In her spare time, Veronica walks through the house in the nude and tries to seduce the pool boy, who is afraid of her. Mostly, she thinks about Dr. Cooper, her father’s declining health, and all of the money that she hopes to receive after his death.
One night, Dr. Cooper is approached by a blackmailer who demands $50,000 as hush money, and threatens to reveal Cooper’s past as an illegal abortionist if he fails to pay. Cooper is broke and doesn’t have the extra money, and so the next day, he tells Veronica of his dilemma. She immediately offers to get the money for him, seduces him, and the two of them consummate their relationship with the aid of hallucinogens. Later, she poisons her father and kills him, hoping that his estate will provide the cash. As it turns out, Veronica’s father leaves her nothing, and gives her sister Gail everything, including the house and all of his money. Even the maid gets $2,000. Veronica gradually becomes insane for the rest of the film, as Cooper naturally sets his sights on Gail.
Veronica plots her revenge, all leading up to the “blood” in Blood Mania. This is a slow burn affair, so gore-hounds shouldn’t expect a fast-paced blood bath. A point of interest: the psychedelic opening credits montage features a young blonde woman with a noose around her neck, running from a sinister hooded figure. Throughout the duration of the film, we will never see these images again. Perhaps this a dream of Veronica’s. Maybe an acid trip. It is revealed during her tryst with Dr. Cooper that she has a thing for hallucinogens. Who knows?
See Blood Mania for the pure joy of witnessing Veronica’s descent into insanity. And the score! The score is wild, and features the Wurlitzer in all of its glory. It is quite entertaining.
It should be noted that this film is never scary. Not even close. And yet, this is not a problem. See it.
Both of these films can be found on Mill Creek Entertainment’s “Drive-In Cult Classics” DVD set. It is available on Amazon.com for under $10. I highly recommend it.