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cast: Sean Andrews, Darrell Sandeen, Mary Carey, Sally Jean, and Juliette Clarke

director: Jonathan Yudis

81 minutes (18) 2005
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Arrow DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
It would be traditional at this point to draw attention to the fact that this film is called Pervert!, has 'Sex! Death! Freedom!' for a tagline, and make some smug comment about how this film was never going to bother the jury at the Cannes film festival. However, the 2007 Cannes festival has a film called Death Proof in competition. Part of the Grindhouse double-bill, Death Proof and its sister flick Planet Terror, are intended by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez as postmodern homages to the exploitation films that used to run in 'grindhouse cinemas'. The term grindhouse comes from the fact that these cinemas would grind as much profit as possible out of their space. Unlike modern cinemas that show multiple films four or five times a day, grindhouse cinemas would effectively run 24 hours a day with back-to-back low-budget films heavy on the sex and violence.

Once seen as the nadir of film-making, these films have now acquired enough cachet for studios to be willing to give Quentin Tarantino millions of dollars to make his new film look like it's running on old tired film stock while Robert Rodriguez can 'hilariously' pretend to lose the reel with all the plot and exposition in it. However, the thing that annoys me about the Grindhouse project is that while exploitation films might have been politically dubious and poorly written excuses for women to get naked and then get their heads cut off, there was a certain creative honesty and character to them that simply can't be recaptured by directors with far greater talents and resources. Happily though, there are filmmakers out there who are still churning out proper exploitation films and Jonathan Youdis, the writer/ director/ producer/ actor of Pervert! is undeniably one of them.

The film tells the story of James (Sean Andrews). A socially inept college student whose lack of success with the women has pushed him into an all consuming addiction to porn, James returns home for the summer to find his aged father (Darrell Sandeen) shacked up with curvaceous blonde Cheryl (Mary Carey). Initially, things are looking up, as James' father is obsessed with making sculptures out of meat, leaving James to cavort with Cheryl. However, before long Cheryl turns up dead, as does her replacement Alicia, prompting James to conclude that his father is some kind of serial killer. In order to get to the bottom of the strange goings on, James sends for a health professional to come and examine his father but the nurse turns out to be Patty, Cheryl's vengeful lesbian lover. However, James and Patty soon discover that it is not the old man that's killing people but rather James' cock, which, thanks to a voodoo curse, has taken on a life of its own.

Apparently made for $50,000 Pervert! looks amazing. Paying tribute to genre giant Russ Meyer, Yudis makes the most of the desolate landscape and crafts a film that is full of brilliant blues, deep reds and neon pinks. In fact, the film looks so good that it really is difficult to believe that it cost as little as Yudis claims. The stop-motion animation of the disembodied rogue penis is also quite cheerfully done even if the budgetary constraints are more obvious there.

Meanwhile, the acting is pretty much what you'd expect from this kind of production. Sally Jean's Alicia clearly aims to be a latter day Tura Satana (from Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!), but results only in a mess while leading man Sean Andrews proves to be limp and entirely devoid of comic timing or screen presence. However, more than making up for such shortfalls are Darrell Sandeen in the role of the father, a man so grizzled that it's unsurprising that he featured in the film version of L.A. Confidential. Also superb is the screen presence of Mary Carey. Perhaps best known for being the porn star that stood against Schwarzenegger for the governorship of California, Carey can't act for toffee but her on-screen warmth and charisma mean that the film loses a major asset (or indeed two major assets, ho-ho) when the script kills her off.

Nicely made and clearly full of good intentions, it's hard not to warm to Pervert's ambition and complete lack of pretension. The limited budget and slightly creaky script mean that it fails to climb such exploitation film heights as those scaled by Tim Sullivan's 2001 Maniacs but this is still a fun, silly and enjoyable film that's well worth your money, if only for the neo-nazi/ wigger character played by Yudis himself.

The DVD features an 'extended lesbian scene' which isn't that much longer that the one included in the actual film and is clearly there more simply for the pleasure of having an 'extended lesbian scene' on disc's extras. There's also an uplifting making-of feature that drives home the idea that this was a film made with very little money and a lot of goodwill.

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