The name Walt Davis will probably be unfamiliar to all but the most studious exploitation movie fan. While the more adventurous may have, at some juncture, found themselves psychologically-violated by the nil-budget lunacy of Davis’ Evil Come Evil Go (1972) and those with an even stronger constitution may well have tested their personal limits with his 1970 hardgore bonanza Widow Blue (aka Sex Psycho), the depraved mind behind these works remained an enigma. Be warned, only those with a passion for ultra- camp early ‘70’s outrageousness and a stomach for unkempt pubis, extreme cellulite, and gushing stage blood should venture here. Suffice to say, fans of the Something Weird back catalogue should feel more than at home in this retro-scuzz territory.
Evil Come Evil Go opens with a red-maned southern belle driving to a desert bar and picking up a randy farmer in amazingly tasteless dungarees. It quickly becomes clear that their “afternoon delight” has somehow turned sour as we’re confronted by multiple shots of loverboy’s corpse stretched out on a motel bed, the sheets covering his crotch soaked in blood and a chunk of ragged flesh lying across a hole in his abdomen. Unfortunately, the gormless lunk had fallen for the charms of Sister Sarah Jane (Cleo O’Hara), a psychotic evangelist on a crusade to rid the world of “horny cheating men” and “pleasurable sex” (and become a television personality!). We follow our protagonist as she gleefully despatches another sleazeball before serenading bemused passers-by on Hollywood Boulevard with zesty renditions of her favourite hymns. Eventually, she attracts the attention of well-heeled lesbian Penny Van Crooke (Sandra Henderson) who offers her free accommodation and, with little persuasion, full, unquestioning loyalty on her mission to exterminate the permissive society, one degenerate at a time. Soon Penny’s voluptuous – and slightly flabby – body becomes the bait to lure victims, both male and female, back to her bedroom where Sister Sarah waits with her pocket knife.
From its shrill folk theme – surely an outtake from Manson’s Lie sessions – to the woeful damp squib ending, every second of Evil Come… is unmitigated trash. By all conventional standards, it’s a terrible film but for connoisseurs of the offbeat, it delivers the squalid goods by the spadeful. As the focal character, Sister Sarah Jane is a source of endless entertainment whether she’s singing hymns while receiving cunnilingus, chastising hippies for fucking on the lawn, or plunging a blade (over and over and over again) in between some scumbag’s shoulders. Resplendent in her white lace Sunday school dress, casting moral judgement in an overbaked Bible Belt drawl, she’s one of 1970’s exploitation standout characters. As a submissive counterpoint, Penny is vapidity personified although thanks to Henderson’s stilted line delivery (“I really have been such a dumb cunt!”), she’s fun to watch especially as she tussles naked with a vile, enthusiastically amorous Sid James lookalike during one of the film’s numerous sex scenes.
Yes, ultimately, Evil Come… belongs to the softcore porn genre. Thankfully, any potential for tedium is banished by the weird demeanour of the participants and the hilariously unflattering photography of their less-than-perfect bodies. In fact, the sheer ugliness of the film’s near-hardcore sequences can be strangely compelling – in much the same way as road accident voyeurism. The production values are a notch above Andy Milligan but this is primitive stuff with a raw vérité feel that vaguely recalls the same year’s Last House On The Left (if you’ll allow me to mention that movie in the same breath). The ever busy soundtrack is a multi-genre smorgasbord encompassing C&W, easy listening jazz, unnerving avant-garde ambience, and the acoustic ballad theme sung by a travelling minstrel character that can be seen strolling through many of the street scenes. Adding to the unwholesome fun, there’s two serious gaffes deserving of special mention: fleeting evidence of stage blood being flicked from a white bucket at the climax of a murder scene and Penny’s apparent ventriloquist act during a lesbian love-making session. It’s clear though that Evil Come …is not the work of a hapless moron. There’s a sardonic wit underpinning the whole project and it was obviously made with some evangelist-baiting satirical intent. In all, it’s a must-see for those who appreciate the more absurd, campier end of the psychotronic spectrum.
A young blond (Sue Minx) dressed in eyeball-assaulting pink smokes a joint beneath a portrait of her geeky husband. Elsewhere, a down-at-heel couple – an odious middle-aged slob (Mike Haven) and a bespectacled True Detective obsessive in an ill-fitting wig (Sandy Dempsey) – argue over burnt toast and the deteriorating state of their marriage. Meanwhile, gay lovers hungrily pleasure each other in a highly theatrical manner. As the day progresses, the paths of these diverse everyday American folk will soon cross with incest, necrophilia, group sex, and cold-blooded murder as the shattering consequences!
Widow Blue is most assuredly XXX material but this is hardcore as you’ve never seen it before! In his quest to obliterate just about every taboo known to man, Davis created one of the most bizarre porn movies in cinema history. It’s hard to fathom whether the director set out to arouse and titillate or simply to shock and repulse, using the nascent porn format as a mere vehicle for his outrageous set-pieces. Certainly, it’s difficult to conceive of anyone except Jimmy Saville getting turned on by the sight of repugnant blood-spattered freaks humping atop a freshly murdered corpse, especially as the female of the pair reaches over to yank on the dead man’s shrivelled cock. Or the coffin-mounted, brother/sister/greasy slob ménage-a-trois as soundtracked by distressing clanging dissonance and filtered through sickly psychedelic colours. Even when certain sequences drift into more traditional porn territory, the stench of dark perversion is unshakeable. Widow Blue is more bad trip than wet dream; erotic is the last word that comes to mind.
For the open-minded, the sheer verve behind the project has to be respected and there’s some intellectual stimulation to be had from the baffling questions raised by the film: What sort of person signs-up to perform in such a movie? How did 1970 pre-Deep Throat audiences react to the endless graphic sexual depravity on display? Was the legendary John Holmes brought in simply to humiliate the lesser endowed male lead? Fans of schlocky HG Lewis-style gore will no doubt revel in the splashy decapitation scene and the genuinely jolting climax but though interesting as a historical curiosity, it’s not an experience that many will want to repeat.
Last and most definitely least, we have Oh! You Beautiful Doll, the threadbare tale of a washed-up Hollywood star (Cleo O’Hara, again) who spends her days ‘auditioning’ young men for non-existent movie roles, shouting down the telephone, and rubbing fruit over her crotch. The 60 minute softcore feature is akin to early John Waters or one of Warhol 60’s experiments except without an ounce of the wit. O’Hara’s scenery-chewing performance as the embittered, rotten-toothed hag prevents the film from sinking completely but the dull, lengthy sex scenes, unappealing location (it mostly takes place in a grubby living room), and bland supporting characters make Oh! You Beautiful Doll a trial to endure for the most part. The ratty, harshly-recorded dialogue is abrasive to the ears and it’s a blessed relief when the rich tones of the jaunty ragtime theme play on the soundtrack. There is one amazingly strange scene that stands-out as some kind of warped psychotropic achievement: a sexual assault at gunpoint presented as goofy comedy! On paper, this should test the limits of any sane person but the blank passivity of the victims, the non-threatening silliness of the assailant, and O’Hara caterwauling I Wanna Be Loved by You completely saps any shock value from the scenario.
All self-respecting trash fiend need to see Evil Come Evil Go and, well, Widow Blue is a unique, daring piece of early extreme exploitation so there’s a certain historical interest there. But please do ensure that you have some Domestos and Brillo pads on hand for that post-viewing shower.