Tuesday, October 21, 2014

HubrisWeen, Day 16: Please Don't Eat My Mother (1973)

When people say, "They don't make 'em like they used to," it's usually a safe bet that they aren't referring to pornographic films. And yet, the saying holds just as true if they are.

While porn parodies still exist, it was not until very recently that they began actually having some modicum of focus on story and plot. And even among those that do, you're looking at "This Ain't Pacific Rim XXX" not something only vaguely related like "Kaiju of Love." I mean, if I didn't tell you that Please Don't Eat My Mother was an adult parody/remake of Roger Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors (this being before it was retooled into a beloved musical), how would you know from its title alone?

Even beyond that, they don't make porn flicks like this any more for another reason. Softcore porn is still a thing, yes, which one can argue that this film qualifies as. But that's nothing but actors grinding on each other in ways that vaguely simulate sex while making sure we see nothing but breasts and buttocks from any of the performers, male or female. No, this film manages to fall somewhere between that kind of fare and the harder stuff: fully naked people grinding on each other in ways that vaguely simulate sex despite the fact we are given graphic evidence that neither person involved is even aroused.

So, you know, maybe it's for the best that they don't make them like this any more.

The film opens with a couple sitting in a parked car. The woman (Flora Wiesel, one of the few bump & grinders that IMDb wishes to give credit to) is a bit nervous since apparently the man is married and someone could see them. Little do they know they're being watched by our, uh, "hero" for the evening, Henry Fudd (Buck Kartalian, a character actor you've probably seen in actual "legitimate" films, but everyone needs to eat). Henry is a creep in a hideous sweater who loves to watch rutting couples on his lunch break from whatever the hell his job is.

God, you're a creep.
Anyways, his lunch break apparently ends before the couple does much more than some heavy petting outside the clothes. On his way to work or from work, I don't even know, Henry stops by a florist shop when he hears a strange plant making gurgling, almost talking sounds. He is immediately accosted by the gay hate crime (Art Hedburg, who looks vaguely like Graham Chapman without the talent) who runs the shop. Naturally, the florist rubs himself all over Henry because gay men are instantly attracted to anyone with male parts.

Henry, convinced the plant can talk--despite it being obviously constructed of cotton balls, pipe cleaners, and construction paper--buys it from the florist and heads home. At home, his mother, Clarice Fudd (Lynn Lundgren) is waiting for him, chatting away on the phone to one of her friends about ungrateful her son is. This kind of undercuts the title a bit, because Henry hates his mother the whole time. There'd be more comedy potential if his mother was a sweet old woman who had no idea that her son was a peeping tom hiding murderous plants in his bedroom.

Then again, this film wouldn't know how to do comedy if it were invited to an orgy at the Friar's Club.

Not a picture from the Low-Budget Audrey 2 tumblr.
Henry settles into his room with the plant and feeds it some plant food that the florist gave him. Whereupon the plant begins to actually talk with a woman's voice (nope, no idea who's doing the voice), but Henry isn't present to hear. We next see Henry heading to his lunch break spot, annoyed that another pervert has set up shop to watch the couple in the car, though he quickly sits down next to the guy and shares his lunch while trying to keep the guy from groping him in excitement.

Yes, it's the same couple in the car. And they're still at the point of just starting to undress. Every time Henry catches sight of them throughout the first half of the film, they are only a little further in the process of having sex. So either they are taking days to have sex, or they're caught in some kind of a time loop.

Later on, Henry catches his mother snooping in his room--which is full of nude pin-ups and Playboy issues, of course--and shoves her out. And during this exchange, Clarice tells Henry, "Don't blame me, I didn't make you Jewish! That was your father!" Exhausted from the argument--and maybe from trying to parse what the hell that statement means--Henry takes a nap in a chair by the plant and wakes up when he realizes the plant is talking to him. The plant, who will later be called Eve, asks Henry for more of the plant food and "something that buzzes." So Henry goes fly-hunting, spies on the horny couple locked in the time loop some more, and then returns to find that Eve has grown into a terrible puppet. He feeds her the flies but accidentally feeds her a frog, which she now wants more of.

And then we're introduced to one of the weirdest running gags in the film as, after Henry spies on the couple some more and returns with more frogs, Eve begins spewing colored smoke from her mouth (!) after eating all the frogs. Based on the reaction of Henry and the voiceover work, this is apparently supposed to be her burping or farting, but it makes no damn sense.

Clarice is becoming suspicious of Henry because she swears she hears a woman in his room. And then Eve hears a dog and decides she wants Henry to bring her dogs. So Henry gets a job at the local pound and Eve grows into her final stage, a tall puppet with eyelashes. Though naturally we cut away from Henry feeding her a dog because there's no way for the largely immobile prop to move enough to eat anything.

After feeding her more dogs and cats, Henry puts his foot down when Eve expresses a desire to eat the woman in one of Henry's centerfolds. Of course, once Henry loses his job at the pound, he gets into an angry shouting match with Eve--and Clarice barges into Henry's room trying to find the woman he's keeping. There's an argument about how Henry is sick of her "always kvetching", because he's Jewish, you see--and then Eve promptly eats Henry's mother.

We're about 50 minutes into a 90-odd minute movie and the title has already been rendered inaccurate. Especially since Henry never even begs Eve not to eat his mother. He just reacts with horror for a moment and worries he'll be arrested, but Eve convinces him it's all okay. After all, "Have you ever heard of a plant being arrested?"

I can only imagine how that would go over with a jury. "Your honor, my client did not kill his mother--his carnivorous, talking plant did. He's totally innocent."

Henry's attempts to convince his mother's friend over the phone that she went to visit her dying sister results in a painfully unfunny "comic" police detective, Officer O'Columbus (an uncredited as well as unfunny Carl Monson), coming to visit him. O'Columbus is introduced with what I swear is the Dragnet theme being played on a casio--as if his explicit references to the show and Adam-12 were too subtle. At any rate, O'Columbus is interrupted in his attempts to determine if Henry is "one of them preeverts" by hearing Eve speak. O'Columbus asks if that's Clarice talking and Henry, being a moron, doesn't just say, "Yes."

So, O'Columbus enters Henry's room and, one quick cut later, he is disappearing into the plant puppet feet-first so he can give a note to Henry to take to his wife. Exit awful comic character, stage plant puppet. Eve is disgusted because apparently men don't taste good to her. And, in an almost funny running gag, she keeps spitting up the cop's gun and badge only for Henry to keep tossing them back to her.

By this time Henry has found a new couple locked in a bang loop, since the car couple finally achieved the climax that apparently freed them. This couple is getting it on in a park on a blanket. I mention this because it will actually become "relevant" later. In the mean time, Eve is craving more woman flesh so Henry calls up a friend who can get call girls (which raises all kinds of questions) and says he's hiring a girl for his big brother who is currently bed-ridden. He literally hangs up the phone when the doorbell rings and he comments, "That was fast!" Well, that's what happens when you hire call girls from Jimmy John's.

The call girl (Alice Friedland) walks in, promptly puts the moves on Henry (?!) but then spurns him because the price for her to screw him is way out of his grasp. Then she goes into Henry's bedroom, tells him there's no free shows--and promptly gets undressed without actually closing the door, so Henry can watch via a hallway mirror. The call girl spends the whole scene calling out for "Big Brother Fudd," which is exactly as unerotic as it sounds. Finally, after showing us her naked body from all sides, she gets eaten offscreen by Eve. Cue first instance of Eve saying, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing," whilst billowing smoke.

Then Eve confides in Henry that she's craving something other than food. She's craving sex. (Oh, no) Henry is confused and then quickly gets excited. (Oh, please, no) After all, he reasons, they've become very close (No) and become even more than friends. (No, God NO) And then, Buck Kartalian is forced to amorously grab onto a plant puppet and dry hump it.

One of the worst aspects of this whole movie is that Kartalian, despite knowing he's playing the role of "schlub who never gets to take part in the action" in a porn flick, actually gives the role his all. So you already feel terrible for him even before he tries to fuck a plant.

Eve is not amused by Henry's attempt to mate with her and gently explains to Henry that he's not what she is looking for and they should keep their relationship friendly. (As my horrified girlfriend remarked, "Did...did he just get 'friendzoned' by a plant?!") She needs a male plant to do that. So Henry goes to the florist, using the gun and badge to pretend to be a cop (?!), and finds that he has another specimen of the same plant that is strangely identical to baby Eve. Out of earshot of the florist, Henry asks if the plant is male. "Friend or foe?" the plant responds in a man's voice, before confirming it's male once Henry identifies himself as "friend." The plant tells Henry how to con the florist into buying the plant cheap and then, as they walk away, the plant says, "Those [slur for gay men that used to mean a bundle of sticks] make me sick!"

So, let's see, this film is misogynistic, antisemitic, and homophobic. I can only assume it's not racist because they ran out of time.

The male plant, Adam, quickly grows into a puppet identical to Eve's second stage and it is revealed that while Eve only eats women, Adam only eats men. Naturally. So Henry takes his gun and uses it to interrupt the couple in the park, who had finally gotten to the sex part after several days of working up to it. He takes them back home and feeds them to the plants. Now Adam and Even both say, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!" Because if it's not funny once, it's even less funny twice. Then Henry tries to shoot himself after hearing the sounds of Adam and Eve having sex (hey, save some bullets for the audience, jerk) but finds that the revolver's bullets don't fire. In one of the few moments of almost humor, the gun actually fires when Henry points it at the wall in disgust.

Seriously, high school drama departments would reject these puppets.
That evening, Henry goes for a walk and peers into the bedroom of a couple who have just returned from a night at the erotic cinema. The IMDb credits the couple as Harry (Ric Lutze) and Harry's Wife (Rene Bond), but I'll just call her Rene. At any rate, they have sex while Henry watches incredibly conspicuously from the window. I guess being in a bedroom spares them the time loop effect as they go from start to finish in one sequence. As they bask in the afterglow, two things happen: One, I realize that Harry is largely hairless above the waist but his legs are so covered in dark, curly hair that he looks like a Satyr; Two, Harry asks, "Was your climax more intense than last time?"

Oh, honey, if you have to ask...

Bizarrely, that question is asked because Harry has been working on improving his talent and, apparently, size. When he decides that Rene is just telling him what he wants to hear he turns violent (!) and asks where his gun is (!) while putting his hideous boxer briefs back on. Only Rene has the gun, which naturally looks a lot like the one O'Columbus left Henry with, and Rene shoots Henry dead.

Well. That was a thing that happened.

"What have I done?" Rene weeps. "You killed him," Henry says aloud. Rene looks at Henry now and, without the slightest trace of alarm, says, "Yeah, I did. Who the Hell are you?" Henry convinces her that he is a helpful neighbor and can dispose of Harry's body. She happily shoves Harry out the window to Henry. Except we next see Henry dragging the corpse into his bedroom with Rene in tow, wearing such a flimsy negligee that even her clearly fake breasts won't stay in for more than a matter of seconds. Apparently Henry told her about Adam on the way (!) and Adam happily greets her and then eats her dead husband.

Rene reacts by pouncing on Henry (!) and pulling off his sweater to reveal an even uglier sweater benea--oh God that's not a sweater. And here we discover that Henry didn't bother to mention Eve to Rene, because after she strips naked she walks right over to Eve and while Henry is stripping down to black socks. red briefs, and a white undershirt (Gah! My eyes!), Eve promptly devours Rene. Having been deprived of his only chance at a woman who would willing bone him, Henry goes to grab the gun--but returning to his room to find that Eve has given birth to lots of baby plants (all which are already in pots!) causes him to react in joy (!) and cradle the plants lovingly.

Cut to the florist, tied up and gagged in plain view as Henry gives away the baby plants for free to anyone who will take them. And we end with footage of the city and the sound of the plants eating and eating. Cue "THE END????" card.

You know, the original film of The Little Shop of Horrors doesn't end with the implication that Audrey Junior is going to take over the world after it eats Seymour, as in the musical (and the Director's Cut of the movie version of the musical). This film does end with that implication. I really hope that was a coincidence.

Though I'm really glad the musical version didn't exist yet. Had this film tried to be a musical it surely would have been even worse.

Really, though, this one fails on every level. Nobody who came to this film for the titillation factor is going to want to sit through all the painfully unfunny comedy (though I will admit there is a funny gag about Eve wanting to eat an elephant), and the sex scenes are pretty much as unerotic as you can get. There's a saying that if you watch five minutes of pornography, you want to have sex right now; but if you watch ten minutes of it you never want to have sex again. Well, that goes double for softcore porn like this. I strongly advise not watching it with anyone you intend to have sex with afterwards because it will kill the mood almost as thoroughly as realizing that the performers in something truly obscene that you're watching are your parents.

I honestly can't even say who the audience for this could be, beyond those who are just drawn to the world of sexploitation films regardless of quality. Maybe in 1973 it was hot stuff, but you can color me skeptical even on that score.

The sad thing is that this doesn't even rank in the top ten worst films that I've ever seen. Contemplate that on the Tree of Woe. And don't you dare try to hump the tree, you "preevert"!

Thus concludes day 16 of HubrisWeen. Check out the other "P" reviews by clicking the banner above.

Ya preevert.

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