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Something Weird Video presents
Cool It, Baby / Mini-Skirt Love / Venus in Furs (1967)

"Sometimes I long to be something better, but I can't help myself."
- Marna (Elinore)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: April 15, 2005

Stars: Beverly Baum, Jane Banzet, Elinore, Shep Wild, Joe Marzano
Other Stars: Donny Lee, Bella Donna, Stephanie Smythe, Christine Cybelle
Director: Lou Campa, Joe Marzano

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexual situations)
Run Time: 03h:06m:30s
Release Date: October 12, 2004
UPC: 014381217322
Genre: cult

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C+B-C+ B-

DVD Review

Producer/director Lou Campa was maybe not the king of 1960s grindhouse sexploitation, but he was certainly on the royal court in some capacity. He didn't have the comparatively arty finesse of a Joe Sarno, but in this triple feature disc from Something Weird, we find a pleasingly lurid cross-section of his output from 1967, including the surreal grande opus Venus In Furs, which was actually directed by longtime Campa sidekick Joe Marzano.

Cool It, Baby

Mixing sex and cameras is never a good thing, because in most cases blackmail is the result. At least that's what Campa unfurls in Cool It, Baby, when self-described "lonely" suburban housewife and aspiring actress Connie (Elinore) falls in with the wrong crowd, namely Herman (Joe Marzano) and Monica (Beverly Baum). It seems Herman and Monica run some kind of porn studio, and poor Connie is drugged up and put on camera doing the bump-and-grind, and unless she continues to work for them the film will end up in the hands of her husband. What's a girl to do?

This is a real cheapie, even by Campa standards, utilizing what is clearly an office (complete with file cabinets and one fugly painting) that is supposed to be a court room and prolonged voiceover narration that limits what were probably some god awful line reads. Unintentional comedic highpoints include awkward gesturing by the prosecutor during Connie's testimony, but Beverly Baum steals this one as evil, permanently horny Monica; she is really one scary, sexy nutjob, cavorting about in all sorts of low cut getups and gobs of eye liner, turning poor Herman into a human slave.

There is a fairly normal nude model photo shoot that is properly grindhouse erotic, but Campa really parades out lots of oddities here, including bondage, murder, a fully-clothed LSD orgy, and a mondo strange torture ritual. Slap on a twist ending (or at least a Campa version, which gives us even more crazy Monica), and it's a done deal. Get used to the players in this one, because most of them crop up again in the next two titles on this disc.

Mini-Skirt Love

It's weird trouble in the suburbs again, only this time it's caused by an unfaithful wife, a mentally-handicapped "teenager" (the guy looks 30, if he's a day) with a camera and a rouge butcher knife. After her affair with the appropriately named Peter Johnson gets caught on film by her son, the distraught mom tries to commit suicide with a kitchen knife, but only succeeds in "accidentally" stabbing her understandably upset husband. But in Campa's world, that's okay, because hubbie had already been shown getting it on with a black prostitute, so his death has a "he had that coming" feel to it.

Mommy gets shipped off to the nuthouse, and kindly, but sexually-repressed Aunt Janet (Janet Banzet aka Marie Brent) is sent to care for poor Billy. She's not there ten minutes before she's soaping up his bare ass in the shower, slinking around in see-through nighties, pleasuring herself to pictures of her sister(!) and Peter Johnson, and of course eventually hopping in the sack with the aging teenager down the hall.

The semi-incestuous nature of this is weird, even for Campa, but the late Marie Brent is actually darn good here. She plays the crazy/sexy/weird aunt with the right amount of sexploitation camp, and by the time she falls into a lusty lesbian romp with the Avon Lady (that eventually leads to an implied three-way with Billy), you know the bizarro meter is in the red. But Campa's not done, as he piles on a wacko ending involving the return of crazy mommy, a lucky milkman, and what we're supposed to assume is unimaginable suburban depravity. Fun.

Venus in Furs

While produced, but not directed, by Campa—unlike the other two titles here—Venus In Furs is probably his Sgt. Pepper, a dizzying bad dream sexcapade inspired by the published-in-1870-erotica of Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch (he of "masochism" fame). Shep Wild is a hunky, but mild-mannered and sexually-repressed, shoe salesman who stumbles across the mysterious Marna (Elinore) in the local library. He ends up spending the weekend at her country mansion, where kinkiness and sexual fetishes are the order of the day, and every room is crammed to the rafters with exploratory lust.

There is no real plot here, and it's really an exercise for Campa and director Joe Marzano to provide naughty fetish vignettes (light bondage and the like), whose steamy highlight is a sexy dominatrix act that turns a willingly young woman into a purring, saucer-of-milk-licking kitty. Campa recycles a lot of content from his other films, including the cast (Elinore and Marie Brent especially), the music (dig the jangly garage rock featured in Mini-Skirt Love) and yet another fully-clothed orgy that is almost a shot-for-shot like the one from Cool It, Baby.

Unlike a lot of grindhouse titles—which paraded nudity, petty crime and wanton abandon just for the sake of it—Campa often went down an infinitely darker routes, usually sprinkled with acting that would make an Ed Wood film look like high art. There was generally a fair amount of skin in a Campa film, but it usually was rolled out with a slant toward kinky fetishism, something that often made the content seem all the more dangerous, forbidden or appealing—depending on where your mind was at.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: All three black-and-white titles are presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, and considering their age and history they don't look all that bad. The backcover claims they have been digitally remastered, and while they don't look consistently immaculate, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean they did appear. A few age-related nicks and splices show up here and there, but there were more than a few moments (as during Monica's photo shoot of the nude model in Cool It, Baby) that look noticeably sharp.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: It's mono all the way around for this release, and it is tolerable, but not noteworthy. Cool It, Baby sounds particularly awful more often than not, as if the audio was being played back through an echo chamber, but the other two features hold up a little better. Dialogue is understandable, though it often clips and mildly distorts at times.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 38 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Not as fully loaded as some Something Weird releases, this one sports a pair of shorts highlighting work of Harry Novak. The Gallery of Harry Novak Exploitation Art With Soundtrack Greatest Hits (03m:49s) features poster art for what seems like an endless stream of titles, all set to a hip and groovy tune. The Gallery of Harry Novak Exploitation Photos (07m:58s) goes the skin route, offering nudity-laden stills from all sorts of Novak films, as well as a jangly guitar soundtrack. I always hope Something Weird will someday release one massive set of these "gallery" featurettes they include on most of their discs. They're a blast.

In addition to just two trailers (Cool It, Baby and Venus In Furs), there are a total of 38 chapter stops, with 15 for Cool It, Baby, 13 for Mini-Skirt Love, and 10 for Venus In Furs.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

This triple bill of campy, naughty and sexy strangeness from Lou Campa really pushes a load of taboo hot buttons, all sandwiched in the grindhouse format of frequent nudity and suburban depravity.

It's so weird it's cool.


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