Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gator Bait (Beverly Sebastian, 1974)

If you're easily offended by the sight of sickly perverts who get their kicks by openly pontificating about the sight of Claudia Jennings in cut-off jean shorts, you better clear on out of here, because things are about to get ridiculously out of hand. When I first saw the leggy crouching clinic Claudia Jennings was conducting on the film's unofficial poster (for some fucked up reason, Claudia's gorgeous mug is nowhere to be found on the film's theatrical poster), I let out a mild sigh. Why a sigh and not a woo-hoo, you ask? Realizing that if I watch and review 'Gator Bait, the bulk of my focus will be on her legs and the cut-off jean shorts they pour out of. In other words, I'm doing exactly what my detractors expect me to do. Now, you're probably thinking to yourself: Detractors?!? You don't have any stinkin' detractors. You're right, I don't have any detractors. In fact, I'm one of the most likable human beings I know. No, the detractors I have are not real in a walking around and doing stuff kinda way. My detractors live inside my own head, and they go by the name "self-doubt."

As I finished watching 'Gator Bait, and it became clear to me that this film, directed by  Beverly Sebastian and Ferd Sebastian (the former wrote the screenplay and the latter does the music and is the film's cinematographer as well), is the ultimate Claudia Jennings in cut-off jean shorts experience, I knew exactly what I had to do.

However, when I sat down to begin the long-winded cut-off jean short-related screed this film so rightly deserved, a wave of self-doubt washed over me like a tsunami. Maybe I should write about the swamp a bit before mentioning Claudia Jennings and her cut-off jean shorts, I thought myself. After all, the swamp plays a critical part in the gestation of this film's story. Sure, you could transfer the film's action to the heart of a big city, you could even move things out into the desert, but it wouldn't be 'Gator Bait, now would it? No, take away the swamp, and you pretty much have no movie.

Well, you can apply the same logic to Claudia Jennings and her cut-off jean shorts. What I mean is, take away Claudia Jennings and her cut-off jean shorts, and you can pretty much kiss this review goodbye.

In a disturbing twist, the first time we see Claudia Jennings onscreen she isn't wearing cut-off jean shorts, she's wearing a burlap sack with sleeves (think: cavegirl chic). Don't get me wrong, Claudia Jennings looks sexy no matter what she wears. It's just that this isn't what I signed up for.

Call me demented and sad, but the plan was to watch and review a trio of films from the 1970s that feature the inordinately leggy crumpet in denim shorts. And I even had a name picked out: The Jean Short Trilogy. But the sight of Claudia Jennings hunting snakes in a glorified burlap sack had me sweating bullets.

In an ironic twist, Claudia Jennings stuffs the snakes she catches into a–yep, you guessed it–burlap sack.

Keeping with the ironic twist theme, it just dawned me that 90% of the shows currently on television are about  people who live in the swamp. Except, these swamp dwellers are nothing like David Strathairn in Passion Fish. Uh-uh, these shows are mostly about morons (a.k.a. white supremacists without razors) who kill animals for fun.

Don't mind me, I'm just basking in the pompous afterglow of what I consider to be a pretty first-rate David Strathairn/Passion Fish reference.

Scooping snakes from the river like it was second nature, we're introduced to Desiree Thibodeau (Claudia Jennings) as she's collecting food for her brother and sister. Watching her are Deputy Billy Boy (Clyde Ventura) and Ben Bracken (Ben Sebastian), two yokels with shit for brains. I know, Billy Boy clearly says at one point, "We ain't stupid." But trust me, they're stupid.

After chasing Desiree through the swamp (using motorboats), Billy Boy and Ben corner her in a watery dead-end. As they're about to nab her (something about illegal pouching), she tosses her bag of snakes at them, causing Ben to jump in the drink and Billy Boy to pull out his revolver. Wildly shooting at the snakes, Billy Boy accidentally shoots Ben in the head as he was trying to climb back in the boat.

Instead of telling his father, Sheriff Joe Bob (Bill Thurman), the truth, he makes up this story that involves Desiree shooting Ben to death, not him.

While it was a cowardly thing for Billy Boy to do, I can see why he wouldn't want it to get out that he killed Ben, as his family are not the kind of people you want to piss off.

What the... Why can't I find the name of the actress who plays Laura Lee Bracken? Ahh! At any rate, we meet Laura Lee (and the rest of the Bracken family) as she hanging laundry in a clingy nightie (cling to those swamp-reared curves you slinky piece of store-bought lingerie, you).

Pete Bracken: "You sure look fine sliding around in that thing."

Laura Lee Bracken: "Feels good too."

Ooh-wee! I loved the way Pete says, "sliding around." His tone is so sleazy. I know, Pete and Laura Lee are brother and sister. But still, as far as incestuous relationships go, I dig their sick scene, man.

You know who doesn't dig it? Their father, T.J. Bracken (Sam Gilman), that's who. He shows his displeasure the only way he knows how, by whipping Pete real good. If you're expecting his brother Leroy (Douglas Dirkson), who's whittling nearby, to lend a helping hand, don't count on it, he literally doesn't have the balls.

Interrupting up this family squabble are Joe Bob and Billy Boy, who break the bad news to the Bracken's about Ben. Since Billy Boy didn't bother to bring Ben's body back, they all go looking for him in the swamp. When the finally do recover his body, their attention turns to Desiree, who is about to have three angry rednecks and two corrupt cops all over her ass; which, finally, has been sheathed in a skimpy pair of cut-off jean shorts.

It's true, twenty-two minutes might not seem like a long time to wait to see Claudia Jennings in cut-off jean shorts. But if you're brain is anything like mine, it will seem like an eternity.

Not around to protect her jail bait sister Julie (Janit Baldwin) and her mute brother Big T (Tracy Sebastian) from the Bracken Boys, Sheriff Sycophant and Deputy Dumbass, Desiree has left her family exposed. To be fair, she had no idea she was the one being blamed for Ben's death (she didn't even know he was dead), but leaving her siblings all alone was a fatal mistake.

Hunted like an animal, Desiree must use her swamp wits to survive, as she is being pursued by five of the most objectionable characters I've come across in a long time.

When using her acumen, shapely gams and tight midriff all fail to placate these assholes, Desiree employs the scumbag stopping power that only a fully-loaded shotgun can provide.

My only complaint about that manner in which Desiree takes care of these scumbags is that some of them get off too easy. Though, it's implied that one of them is left to be eaten by gators. Which, if I'm not mistaken, is an unpleasant way to go.

The first film in my self-proclaimed "Jean Short Trilogy," 'Gator Bait is an excellent showcase for Claudia Jennings to display not only her toothsome stems jutting out from a pair of cut-off jean shorts, but it also allows her to show off her various other talents. For example, whether climbing trees barefoot, driving motorboats at a high rate of speed, grabbing snakes out of the water with her bare-hands or talking with a Cajun accent, the fiery redhead manages to accomplish all of them with flying colours.


  1. I wanted to like this rare flick, but I found it to be like a sleazy dukes of hazard episode!

    1. While my memory of the Dukes of Hazard is a tad on the foggy side (thank goodness), I can see where you're coming from.

  2. I finally watched this after it sat unopened for some time, in a box with some Jess Franco films. I am also disturbed by the lack of credit for Laura Lee. I watched the featurette on the DVD, and no mention there either. There is a longish bit about Ferd finding Jesus, but I don't remember a Jesus in the film. He is missing from the credits as well. Perhaps he and Laura Lee should file a complaint?

    1. Four years later Laura Lee Bracken still has no name?!? Outrageous!

      Hi, Darius. :)

    2. I fear the secret may die with the Sebastians...

      Nice to be back. I lurk a bit, but seldom comment.