New Jersey, the birthplace of motion pictures, has been turning out literally hundreds of B movies the past two years, as though the ghost of Thomas Edison has risen from his grave and decreed, "More nudity, Watson."
So I thought it was fitting that I was sent a publicity still for a movie featuring the old damsel-tied-to-the-railroad-tracks scene, with the damsel in question being the Garden State's most voluptuous directress, Pamela Sutch.
As it turns out, it's not exactly a locomotive bearing down on the leggy disheveled Pamela. It's some kind of midget streetcar operated by New Jersey Transit. But hey! She could get some nasty scars that way.
The name of the movie is "That Gosh-Darned Mortgage," and the idea is to do one of those melodramas from the silent era, complete with a mincing Mountie and a villain with a buzzsaw named Solomon Snakebite, not to mention three babes hanging out of their wardrobes when they're not being (badly) tied up with nylon cord. In fact, virtually every cast member gets tied up at one time or the other in this movie. Tying each other is what they do.
There's a little skinny thread of a plot, punctuated with purple dialogue like "My heart belongs to another!" and "Curses!" (yes, they really say that) and "That jackanapes Snakebite!" and "Vengeance, you viper! Let me loose! I'll show you vengeance!"
It would be possible to do this in such a way that you start almost accepting it, but unfortunately the actors sometimes forget which century they're in and lapse into Jersey mumbling.
The story is peppered with that convention of the 19th century stage, the "aside," spoken directly to the camera in fuzzy scratchy black-and-white. It's funny the first two or three times.
You gotta give 'em credit for trying something different. The best actor in the group is a paunchy slob named Michael Grieco who basically carries the bags for the villain and has a kind of deadpan comic delivery indicating that behind his expressive eyes, absolutely NOTHING is going on.
They try for some Three Stooges slapstick, but the fistfights and kidnappings are mostly indicated instead of acted, with a lot of flailing of arms, kicking of feet, and girlie punches that miss by a mile. You don't necessarily mind it, though, because the entire female cast gets nekkid at one time or another.
Call it "Snidely Whiplash Goes to Jersey."
And those drive-in totals are: No dead bodies. Eight breasts. Four kidnappings. Multiple rope restraint. Dynamite fuse between the legs (foiled, of course). Buzzsaw between the legs (ditto). Breast-thrusting. Gratuitous belly-dancing. Kung Fu. Fist Fu. Railroad-track Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Pamela Sutch, as the cloyingly sweet heroine Constance Fairheart; Stephen McKay, as the snarling villain who says "Plagues and perditions! Can I not win?"; Patrick M. O'Connor, as the fey Mountie in a dorky turtleneck who says "They've taken my horse Gumdrop!"; Tina Krause, as the slutty Sinestra, who wears a Cher pants suit, throws herself at the hero and WANTS to be tied up; Debbie D, as the dancing bell girl; and Michael Grieco, as the stumbling bumbling sidekick.
One and a half stars. Joe Bob says check it out.
"The Gosh-Darned Mortgage" website: sirentales.com
(To reach Joe Bob, go to joebob-briggs.com or email him at JoeBob@upi.com. Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221.)