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Like psycho, like son
A UK region 2 DVD review of PERVERT! by Gort
 

First up, why is it that the moment a film called Pervert! lands on the Outsider doorstep it's passed straight on to me? (Oh do be serious – Ed.) Anyway, to business.

If you've never seen a Russ Meyer movie then you've missed out on a singular viewing experience. Meyer was a true auteur, working as writer, producer, director, cinematographer and editor on his films, and even making an appearance in most of them. If the name really is new to you then you may be wondering what sort of films he made. Documentaries? Social realist dramas? Thrillers, perhaps, in the mode of the great Alfred Hitchcock? No, Meyer made sex comedies starring women with huge breasts. But he made 'em better and funnier than anyone else around. And if you've never sat through a Russ Meyer movie, then Pervert! is likely to leave you wondering just what director Jonathan Yudis thinks he's up to.

Yudis and his scriptwriter Mike Davis are clearly Russ Meyer fans. You don't need me to tell you that, as there's a big dedication to Meyer in the end credits. They're such big fans that they've decided to make their own Russ Myer movie, but give it an identity of its own by exaggerating the violence by way of Troma and throwing in a pinch of crazy old desert redneck to spice the pie.

The old crazy in question here is Hezekiah (a wonderfully grizzled Darrell Sandeen, whom you might just recognise as Buzz Meeks from L.A. Confidential), who's shacked up with the young and unfeasibly big chested Cheryl (porn star and would-be California Governor Mary Carey, who's actually rather fun here). She yells a lot during sex but clearly holds Hezekiah in complete contempt. There is a reason for this. Anyway, when Hezekiah's good-looking son James (a wonderfully innocent Sean Andrews) arrives from college to spend the summer with his Pa, Cheryl sets about seducing this strapping and virginal young lad. We're not talking subtle suggestiveness and double entendres here. No, Cheryl declares her interest by plucking a beehive from a tree, pouring honey over her naked chest and using it as massage oil. You get the picture. So does James, but his lustful ambitions are floored when he's stung about the face by the hive's angry occupants. Luck's not on his side at this point. He starts having dreams about satanic ceremonies in which he is the victim, is lusted after by a scary local mechanic (played by director Yudis), and discovers that Dad spends his leisure time constructing sculptures of women out of raw meat. But when James and Cheryl finally get together they're at it like they're going for gold in an Olympic sex event. Then one night James overhears an argument between Hezekiah and Cheryl. The next morning Cheryl has mysteriously vanished and Hezekiah is cutting up some new meat for his sculptures...

And this is just the start of it. More women appear in the shape of buxom town girl Alisia (Sally Jean) and buxom nurse Patty (Juliette Clarke), who's been called in to evaluate Hezekiah's sanity at the request of his concerned son, who has become increasingly convinced that his Dad has gone kill crazy. On top of that, there's something small and vicious running around the house, a creature that's as capable of delivering sexual pleasure as it is of violent homicide.

Yudis and Davis haven't so much absorbed the cinema of Russ Mayer as taken a long hot bath in it and swallowed the water afterwards. Breasts are exposed, wobbled at the camera (which is often low enough to exaggerate their size further) and massaged at every opportunity, accompanied by a variety of cartoon sound effects and a music score that hops from genre to genre at a dizzying pace. I'm not exaggerating here – in the space of just thirty seconds the score shifts from Bollywood to classic frontier western to swing-time jazz. It's all very silly and if you don't get the references it'll seem hopelessly out of its time, a He-He-He for big tits in the age of hardcore internet porn.

But if you do get the joke then there's just enough here to make Pervert! worth your while. The principal pleasure lies in a script that knows its source material and is prepared to have fun with it, seemingly playing it straight one minute but smartly piss-taking the next. "Why son, why?" pleads Hezekiah on the mistaken belief that his son is a murderer. "I was just about to ask you the same thing!" responds James, "Except for the son part." Later he chastises his father: "What do you know about women? With your crazy, dirty little whores and your objectifying sculpture work!" An almost ludicrously innocent first date with Patty sees the couple skip in slow motion and walk into shot with ice cream cones, irrespective of their isolated desert location, while the conversation that follows veers cheerily from "What's your favourite colour?" to "If you had to wipe an entire race of people from the face of the earth, which would it be?" A secretly made phone call by James to have Hezekiah committed is repeatedly interrupted to bellow at his father to put the extension phone down, and a lesbian flashback scene skips the expected saucy sex in favour of showing the two girls having a pillow fight and giving each other presents.

All restraint is abandoned in the final third, with the mystery creature unmasked and brought to life with a don't-give-a-crap disregard for realism, using the sort of claymation approach that made similarly handled sequences in Freaked and The Happiness of the Katakuris so endearing, and the family drama is brought to a literally and absurdly heart-rending conclusion. It's sexist, a little homophobic, and contains at least one scene designed to offend all but the most hardened misogynists. But it's also witty, well made, affectionate for its inspirational source and, intermittently, a whole lot of fun.

sound and vision

A decent enough anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer that could have been a little better were it not an NTSC to PAL transfer, though it's still superior to many of its ilk, having little of the motion judder and blur that blights the worst offenders. It loses out on sharpness, which is a notch lower than a true PAL transfer could have been given the 35mm film source. Contrast and colour are pleasing enough, but bright blue skies display some visible compression artefacts.

The Dolby 2.0 stereo track is bright enough, but the 5.1 surround track is a lot livelier, with neat surround work and some meaty bass in places.

extra features

Extended Lesbian Scenes (2:12)
The lesbian scene with a couple more kisses and a nipple lick. Not enough to get excited about, but I'm sure its on-box announcement will prove a selling point.

Beyond the Chasm of the Hypervixens – Making Pervert! (30:09)
An enjoyable making-of documentary that mixes cast and crew interviews with pre-production and on-set footage. Director Yudis comes across as easy-going and likeable and the cast appear to have had a good time. There's some revealing info here – the budget was apparently just $50,000 and the entire film was shot in just 12 days. The admiration for Russ Meyer is made clear here, scriptwriter Mike Davis referring to him as "the American Fellini."

Deleted Scenes (5:12)
Not as revealing as you might hope, they include a long dialogue scene between James and nurse Patty, who here suffers from a condition called phallophobia.

Photo Gallery
About 90 (I lost count) behind-the-scenes and publicity stills, all very good quality and that fill the anamorphic screen for a change. There are some spoilers here.

Bloopers (2:03)
A few outtakes, not as funny or interesting as you would hope.

Trailer (3:23)
Not the slickest trailer in town, and with a few too many spoilers to watch before the film.

summary

Not quite as funny as it probably could have been, Pervert! is still a well made and witty piece that could well be destined for cult status and is a must for Russ Meyer fans. Arrow Films have delivered a pretty good DVD, although a PAL transfer would have been nice.

Pervert!

USA 2005
79 mins
director
Jonathan Yudis
starring
Mary Carey
Sean Andrews
Darrell Sandeen
Juliette Clarke
Sally Jean

DVD details
region 2
video
1.78:1 anamorphic
sound
Dolby 2.0 stereo
Dolby 5.1 surround
languages
English
subtitles .
none
extras
Extended lesbian scene
Making-of documentary
Deleted scenes
Photo gallery
Bloopers
Trailer
distributor
Arrow Films
release date
30 April 2007
review posted
30 April 2007

See all of Gort's reviews