Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Touch of Her Flesh (Michael Findlay, 1967)

You know how some movies act as comfort food? Everyone has them. They're certain films that are always there for you whenever you need them in a pinch, and, as of right now, I'd say Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone is a film that currently occupies that spot as my go-to slab of cinematic comfort food. Well, I would classify The Touch of Her Flesh by Michael and Roberta Findlay as a sort of break glass in case of emergency type of film. Let me explain. You see, I was all set to devour a film by a porn director whose been called the heir apparent to Rinse Dream. Excited to finally watch one of his films, I knew right off the bat that this was a bad idea. It was so antiseptic and bland. Fake boobs, no lingerie, cheesy mid-'90s techno music, it was awful. Now, I don't want to mention his name (feel free to guess if you want - and I tell you if you're right), but I will say that the experience left me somewhat shaken. Since I ended up fast-forwarding through most of it, I was able to free up a huge of chunk of time. Meaning, there was still a chance to salvage the evening. I know, why I didn't go outside and play instead. I'll tell you why, I had a hankering for sleaze, and no insipid piece of pompous pornography was going to prevent me from getting my pervert on.

Looking over the modest pile of unwatched movies sitting on my coffee table, I set about choosing my sleaze. Anyone care to guess what was on the top of the pile? That's right, first chapter in the Flesh Trilogy, the Findlay's epic journey into the mind of a deranged serial killer who targets go-go dancers, strippers and prostitutes. Grabbing it without fail, I put it on and hoped it would remove the foul taste of mid-90s pornography that was still lingering in my mouth.

As the fleshy opening credits began to throb and heave across the screen in not-so glorious black and white, I felt a profound sense of relief wash over me. Now this is sexy, I thought to myself, as the titles cleverly appeared all over  Roberta Findlay's shapely bits and pieces.

It's just a hunch, but I think the crossbow Richard Jennings (Michael Findlay) is playing with at the beginning of the film will probably be employed later down the road.

Anyway, as he's about to catch a train to Boston, Richard says goodbye to his wife, Claudia Jennings (Angelique - I don't need no stinkin' last name), who's sleeping on the couch in heavy eye makeup (I like this chick already).

No longer asleep, a fully-refreshed Claudia is sitting cross-legged on a chair in the living room in a tight cocktail dress and heels. It would seem like she's waiting for something. But what? What is she waiting for? Suddenly, there's a knock at the door. Ah, she's not waiting for a what, but a  who. She's waiting someone, not something. (No shit, Sherlock.) Shut up.

Do you know what this means, right? (Um, she's going to answer it?) Well, yeah. But don't you see, there's at least ten feet that separate the chair she is currently sitting cross-legged on and the door that is being knocked on. (Oh, okay. I get it now.) Exactly. She's going have to uncross her legs, get up, and walk across the room. This is going to be sweet!

All right, here she goes. I knew it. (Knew what?) I knew her voluptuous figure would look amazing as it pressed against the fabric of her cocktail dress as she walked. (You have got to be the most perverted person on the face of the Earth.) Thanks. However, it's got nothing to do with being a pervert. I don't know how many of you know this, but I have a very keen erotic eye. Some might say it's a little too keen, if you know what I mean.

The level of my keenness aside, the sight of Angelique's Claudia walking around her apartment in a tight cocktail dress and heels is, to put mildly, aesthetically pleasing as all get out.

I don't want to alienate my base, but I must have watched Angelique uncross her legs, get up and walk over to the door at least twenty times.

What am I talking about? If anything, that will make my base like me even more. And if that's the case, I should come clean and tell them that half of those twenty times were viewed in slow motion. Oh, if only the disorganized collection of creeps and weirdos who saw this film on 42nd Street back in the late 1960s could see me now. *single tear*

Since I'm pretty much an expert when it comes to watching Angelique uncross her legs (which are, of course, sheathed in tan stockings), get up (she uses the chair's arms for leverage) and walk over to the door (each step causes her ample curves to careen violently against the inside of her dress), thanks to my over-indulgence, we can now safely move on to discuss the undressing process.

I'm sorry, I forgot to mention that Claudia was waiting for Steve (Ron Skideri), her lover, to arrive. Greeting him at the door, they kiss. After they're finished, Claudia leads Steve to the bedroom.

Leaving Steve by the bed, Claudia goes over to another part of the room to undress. Unzipping her dress, she pulls it down to reveal a black bra, black panties (though, we kind of already knew she was wearing black panties given her due to the extreme nature of her pantie line, so no real surprise there), a black and white garter belt and tan stockings. You'll notice that Claudia's first attempt to kick her dress (which is now in a clump around her ankles) to the side fails (the dress has become ensnared on her right foot). Realizing this, Claudia simply tries again. Successful in her second attempt to kick her dress to the side, Claudia sits down and begins to work on her stockings. Whereas the second stocking is merely tossed like a rolled up sweat sock being put in a laundry basket after a long day, the first stocking flies gently through the air like a gossamer bolt of mist on a wretched October day.

Meanwhile, an agitated Richard Jennings is wandering the bus station in a daze. Deciding to give Claudia a call, Richard, who has just written a book about weapons, grows concerned when the line is busy. Heading back home in a hurry, Richard is not going to like what he sees when he gets there. Storming out in a huff, the sight of Claudia and Steve rolling around together causes Richard to run wildly through the streets. Eventually, he's hit by a car.

Temporarily paralyzed and missing an eye (the accident was obviously worse than it looked - the car barely touched him), a now wheelchair bound Richard Jennings recites his new mission in life in the form of an anti-women screed. The montage the accompanies his screed (a screed that includes the line, "slash open the very core of your perversion") is the film's most artistic from a film-making perspective.

The opening salvo in his war against what he perceives as the millions of whores who tempt men with their naked flesh lands squarely at the feet of a black go-go dancer (Vivian Del Rio) with substantial, drink coaster-size nipples. In order to flesh out her character (get it, flesh out...), we're shown her dancing at a nightclub and getting undressed backstage. I prefer the latter scenes, as they give us a nice peak into the day-to-day grind of being a go-go dancer. And we get to see her hanging out in black stockings (mmm, busty black babes in black stockings).

Anyway, I won't say exactly how Richard Jennings kills the black go-go dancer. But let's just say it's a prickly affair. Transported to the woods, we watch as a thick woman named Janet (Suzanne Marre) makes her way to a wood working studio. Once inside, she finds Claudia playing the piano. Sitting on the couch, Janet proceeds to remove her leather jacket, her gloves, her dress, her slip, her tan stockings, her white garter belt and her white bra. It would seem that Janet is there to model for Claudia, who's bit an artist. Nonetheless, Claudia is having a hard time concentrating, as her mind is preoccupied with Richard Jennings (she thinks he's stalking her).

Attending a burlesque show, Richard targets a stripper (Sally Farb?) during her routine (again, like the go-go dancer hit, his technique is unorthodox - though, I shouldn't be surprised, he is a weapons expert after all).

Unable to locate Claudia, Richard uses a hooker friend of Janet's to find out where his cheating wife is hiding. This leads to another terrific scene involving stockings and garter belts, as the hooker (Peggy Steffans) slowly strips in Richard's apartment.

Tracking her down at the wood working studio, which is in Oyster Bay, Richard Jennings confronts Claudia in the classic horror movie style (chasing after her with a crossbow - I knew we would see that crossbow again). At any rate, in a perfect world, every film would mix horror and eroticism the way Michael Findlay does in The Touch of Her Flesh. Curvaceous chicks in lingerie being slaughtered in creative ways by a madmen in an eye-patch. It doesn't get better than this. Let's just hope the next two chapters in the trilogy are as good as this one.

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