One night in the not too distant past I treated myself to the diabolical road fun that is Race With the Devil starring Warren Oates and Peter Fonda. At one point I recognised another actor in the cast but his name escaped me. With a little imdb assistance, I discovered that his name was Phil Hoover, and when i tried to find out a little more info about him, I was soon to learn that he made a few films with one Lee Frost. "Who is this Lee Frost?", i asked myself. Or rather, I asked imdb, and it turns out he was responsible for not only having a writing hand in the great little film I am currently watching, but also made a slew of exploitation sub genre movies which nearly all sounded like worthwhile fun.
The man responsible for the bizarrely influential Love Camp 7 also gave us the two flicks on tonight's menu. First up is Policewomen (1974), starring eye queen Sondra Currie as a kick-ass lady cop sent out to bust an all female gang of gold robbers. Oh sweet Jesus...can this possibly disappoint? For the main course, racist doctor Ray Milland gets a black head transplant in the endearingly daft The Thing with Two Heads.
This evening's Zombie Club was brought to you by Zomblee, in association with some really nice ladies' boobs and bums.
Plot A lady cop infiltrates an all-female criminal gang
Zomblee Kicking into gear right away, the gem that is Policewomen opens with a riotous women's prison break, and these chicks are so organised! There's also plenty of flesh on show. Already. In the first five minutes. Rawshark guessed their escape route while we were appreciating the bare bums on display ("It's gonna be an abseil jump!"), and he was right on the money. Damn, these girls know how to abseil, too! I'm not kidding folks, only ten minutes in and we were already impressed with what Policewomen had to offer, even if, well, there weren't any policewomen so far. Which is where the deliriously hot and sexy Lacy Bond (the gorgeous Sondra Currie) comes in.
Bored with the constraints of her role as a prison officer (even though she got to kick ass in the opening scene), her request for 'special assignment' is granted by her sexist peers to bust - get this - an all-female gang of gold smugglers. Yes, this really is as good as it sounds. Cue plenty of undercover work (interpret that however you want to, it will apply anyway), loads of hot chicks kicking ass, and last but not least, a funny-as-f**k dojo sequence where Lacy spars with big Bill McLardy (William Smith), who Rawshark rightly called ”a big pussy”.
We all became big fans of Sondra Currie tonight. Rawshark rightly pointed out that ”she’s got come-to-bed eyes that would work even if you were already in bed” (”Yeah, you’d get out of bed and get back in again” - Jim). She also had fantastic 70’s gravity-defying ‘come to bed boobs’. And if that isn’t enough, then check out the unbelievably hot blaxploitation queen Jeannie Bell as the other undercover cop, Pam, who’s got a wicked afro at the beginning of the movie but gets it sheared off halfway through. Shame. I honestly didn’t know where to look most of the time. Actually, thinking about it, I knew exactly where to look.
Shameless perving aside, I was well surprised with Policewomen. Lee Frost was more competent behind that camera than his drive-in status would suggest. It’s genuinely entertaining and sexy to the hilt, and there’s a great B cast assembled here. Look out for Elizabeth Stuart in her only ever role as the female crime syndicate boss, Maude Anderson – an absolute pleasure to watch. A bit like all those lovely boobs and bums. Brilliant.
"Put her through a few moves to see how she handles herself."
Jim Me too dude, with Sondra Currie playing the lead, Lacy Bond ("Oh, she's actually called Lacy Bond?" - Rawshark), and with her amazing eyes and boobs (I swear that woman is Jessica Rabbit made flesh) and with Jeannie Bell's beautiful big blaxploitation ass on show within minutes, I don't know how you can fault Policewomen. That's not to say hot chicks maketh the movie, Policewomen has a fuck of a lot of other stuff going for it. We had that gymnasium sequence near the beginning ("And here's the gymnasium, I know how you love gymnasiums." - Zomblee), and those amazing patchwork trousers Lacy wears in the first cool car chase ("They're some of the best trousers ever at Zombie Club." - Zomblee), and lest we forget, all those all-girl kung-fu sequences with all the high-pitched "Hi-ya!"'s ("That's what they did in 70s karate." - Zomblee). Zombie Club heaven? Could be.
Plot wise, I think Zomblee's covered it. Sondra has a hand in foiling a prison break, gets promoted (to the disdain of a handful of her openly sexist peers, which is played as a shamelessly comic device in the kind of way you couldn't get away with now) and ends up on the Maude Anderson case. She goes undercover, infiltrates the gang after a big kung-fu fight on a boat, gets a cover story gifted to her by Jeannie Bell (as she's undercover too, which it should be noted Rawshark was the first to suss, thus validating the plural title of Policewomen) and then goes for dinner with them. But that all ends abruptly with everyone rushing off for more undercover action involving sunken gold and submarines, although being on the right side of the law Lacy feels obliged to pay the bill first ("What is she stopping to pay for?" - Rawshark). Don't ask me man, I only work here.
Anyway, there's fun to be had on that cliff top ("I don't know whether you noticed they're just by a big cliff?" - Zomblee), and a nice subplot about a blossoming romance between her and Inspector Frank Mitchell ("I only ever met one Frank in my life - it's a movie name!" - Zomblee). In fact, Policewomen is one of those movies that just zips along, with tidy pacing, a cool funky score, beautiful 70s ladies, neat car chases, wicked 70s kung-fu and enough comedy touches provided by the ensemble 70s B-movie cast to keep you going for the duration. And the credits sequence is so good Tarantino ripped it off for Pulp Fiction. Well how about that?
"Car One to Control, Car One to Control, we're going to start our lunch breaks now."
Rawshark Well, at least Tarantino rips off great b-movies, and whilst Policewomen is no classic, it certainly is great fun, and truly deserves its nod from the man with the big forehead and 90mph voice. Opening in rip-roaring style with both nudity and a mass prison escape, (as well as ”cheap chop-socky action” - Jim), Policewomen rarely pauses for breath and features a great supporting cast, including William (”I’ve appeared in just about every TV show going”) Smith, Jeanie Bell and Sondra Currie as tip-top cop Lacy Bond.
After proving her worth kicking lady butt in the opening escape sequence, Lacy Bond is finally given the chance to do some real police work, providing of course, she passes a few tests first. Cue Bond in the firing range with an automatic rifle, then taking to the driving range to prove her ability at handbrake turns, before finally donning a karate outfit to break William Smith’s tooth on the martial arts mat (”Is he really called Big McLardy?” - Zomblee). Who says strong women aren’t sexy?
So, with all credentials intact, Lacy is given some cool gadgets (although not a bra) and the task to infiltrate 70-year-old Maude Anderson’s gang who are suspected of smuggling large amounts of gold and a tidy profit in the process. And this is where the real fun starts, because in addition to having a muscle-bound 30-year-old boyfriend (Phil Hoover), Maude Anderson’s gang consists of a bevy of buxom beauties that, when not fighting between themselves, like to spend their time at the mansion hanging out in skimpy outfits - ”That’s the best bikini top I’ve seen in a long time!” (Jim). Add to that a fantastic comic turn from Elizabeth Stuart as gravely-voiced granny gangster Maude (her name must surely be a reference to the classic Harold and Maude) and what you have here is a Grade A b-movie dripping with sexy cool.
Ok, so it might get a bit far-fetched towards the end with some ”stock submarine footage” (Zomblee) and a chase with police cars and army vehicles, but there’s no doubting that Policewomen is an extremely arresting movie and one well worth making a strip search for.
”You handled yourself extremely well Lacy”.
Director Lee Frost
Cast Sondra Currie
Runtime 90 mins
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The Thing with Two Heads (1972)
Plot A rich but racist man is dying and hatches an elaborate scheme for transplanting his head onto another man's body.
Rawshark Made two years before Policewomen, The Thing with Two Heads is Lee Frost’s attempt at a broadly surreal comedy, and whilst it doesn’t quite work as well as the similar body-sharing comedy All of Me (starring Steve Martin of course), there’s still a fair bit of fun to be had here, not least of all the ridiculous opening two-headed gorilla sequence, and the lengthy motorbike chase that must surely have been some inspiration to the gloriously over-the-top final police car chase sequence in The Blues Brothers.
Ray Milland plays Max, a rich, yet rather racist doctor, whose body is dying. So, in order to try and prolong his life, Max has taken to experimenting with transplanting a gorilla’s head onto another gorilla’s body, but this results in the two-headed simian breaking out (”a two-headed monkey escape!” - Jim) and going on a rampage down town, trashing a store in the process. It has to be said that the costume is pretty bad – it looks like a wrinkly-dog gorilla with a cheap double fake head – but that’s just the sort of thing we love here at Zombie Club, and it brought much laughter all round.
Unfortunately the next half an hour or so drags as we’re introduced to ‘innocent’ black man Jack Moss (Roosevelt Grier) on Death Row who volunteers for an experiment, only to find out at the 34 minute mark that he’s had the racist Max’s head transplanted onto his body – bringing a whole new meaning to the term ’giving head’. It has to be said though, that the ‘head effects’ are kind of hokey (”it’s like 1/4 rubbish, but 2/3 brilliant” - Jim), with a fake head in place when the body is in motion and a superimposed head whenever the body is stationary. Anyway, it turns out that Max will gradually take control over Jack’s body over the next 10-14 days, giving Jack only a limited amount of free time in which to prove his ‘innocence’…
Jack uses this time to venture out into the open, prompting news reports that ”a two-headed monster has been seen”, and along with another black doctor Fred Williams, he steals a speedway bike giving us the joy of seeing a stunt man riding a bike with a fake head - PLUS a fake body on his back - across fields chased by a multitude of cop cars, all of which crash spectacularly several times over (”it’s the gift that just keeps on giving” - Zomblee). Of course, all things end rather happily for all concerned (Jack was innocent all along!), apart from racist Max, who despite having learnt the error of his ways, still ends the movie as a disembodied head. Not quite full marks for this movie then, but full marks for at least trying something different.
”Get me another body please!”
Jim Yes, full marks for trying something different. That’s a good way of putting it. Although doesn’t that sum up a lot of the 70s? I just love the fact that, cutting through the politically correct red tape, you could pitch a movie idea like this and the general reaction would be ”You know, that’s not a bad idea!” At the very least, I doubt the reaction if you tried to pitch the same movie today would be anything similar. And I’m not talking about the controversial special effects budget.
But anyway, I think my eyes popped out of my face temporarily when the two-headed gorilla made a break for it (I had flashbacks to Night of the Bloody Apes, although none of those apes had two heads). Then I spent the next half hour (the dull bit Rawshark refers to above) talking about how much fun the two-headed ape escape was. And then before you know it we’re at the big operation scene, with lots of conveniently placed sheeting and tons of red blood tubing (Zomblee in particular liked that), before Ray Milland wakes up attached to Roosevelt Grier’s shoulder. The potential was there for a new game we could play – namely ‘spot the fake head’ – but Zomblee quickly shot me down. “Think it’s going to be quite obvious really.” And he was right, I suppose. Party pooper.
Of course, the real pay off is the wicked two-headed bloke and another bloke on bike being pursued by tons of cop cars chase sequence near the end. It’s hilarious and comes way before all those comedy car chase efforts that spring to mind when you think about comedy car chases (The Blues Brothers, yes, but lest we forget Smokey and the Bandit II), although admittedly a lot of laughs result directly from the scenario Rawshark described above - “There’s one guy riding that bike, with three heads.” It just has to been seen to be believed. Watch the trailer below, if you don’t believe me.
The ending is a little abrupt (it all comes together pretty quickly at the end, like they were running out of money fast) but the final shot of Milland calling for another body is strangely haunting. In fact, I can still picture him now. I’m going to be keeping my eye open for this Lee Frost guy in the future.
"I want to transplant my head on a healthy body."
Zomblee You know the plot by now. The racist-yet-pioneering Dr Kirshner (Ray Milland) is dying of 'chest cancer' so demands his staff use his own new body transplant on him. The only fit and healthy body they can get is that of a wrongly-convicted black man, Jack (Rosy Grier), who doesn't take too kindly to waking up, post-op, next to a grumped-up, ranting racist. Dr Kirshner is also less than pleased, but in thirty days time Jack's head will die and Kirshner will live and breathe as (sort of) normal once again. Jack has other ideas, though, and strives to prove his innocence before he dies, and has an ally in Dr Kirshner's disgruntled black colleague.
At one point Rawshark rightly pointed out that there was something "Cronenbergian" about The Thing with Two Heads, but the overall light-hearted tone of this little cult gem couldn't be more different than Mr. C's focus on the breakdown of social order. Unless a two-headed gorilla running around suburban streets represents the breakdown of social order in some way, which, the more I think about it, begins to make sense. Don't you think?
This has all the comedy you should expect with such subject matter. From the moment Ray Milland wakes up, post-op, and realises his arm is black, you know exactly what the next hour of your life holds in store. Cue loads of twin-headed physical comedy inventiveness, e.g. The snoring scene (which is funny in itself, before Jim noticed that Kirshner's fake head was "about half the size of Jack's"), as well as the dirt bike chase, which although seemingly goes on forever, is great, frantic fun. Also brilliant is the man Milland; his priceless facial expressions throughout are something to behold, and even though he's a big old racist, you'll have a soft spot for him.
"Do you have two of anything else?"
Director Lee Frost
Cast Ray Milland
Runtime 93 mins
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Perhaps The Thing With Two Heads didn't quite measure up to the sexy brew of the first movie, but it's a pleasantly rewarding experience nevertheless. Unless your favourite movie genre is musicals or war movies, in which case you'll probably find the notion of watching a two headed gorilla running about the streets quite odd. Not us. We raised a glass or two to low budget master Lee Frost tonight, and I would urge you to do that same.
See you next time for some wild, outrageous sex and the best drugs money can buy.
8th Jun 04 The film opens with a very similar voiceover narration to the original (see Trivia) but with different footage as we tour the furnace room, all fingernail scratches and blood-clotted hair, of the Hewitt residence.