With immoral majorities running the country, the present seems a perfect time to relish yesteryear’s schlock cinema. There’s a pure juvenile (or JD) satisfaction to be found in this product of a time when Hollywood and its censors could be bested by movies whose scripts played second fiddle to their poster copy.
In Mau Mau Sex Sex (Cinema Village), director Ted Bonnitt attempts a grind-house elegy by documenting retired exploiteers David Friedman (who, with Herschell Gordon Lewis, concocted the immortally awful Blood Feast) and frequent partner Dan Sonney, whose father peddled silent-era sleaze. Blessed with Friedman’s knack for carny-barking publicity, the pair churned out innumerable “soft-X” pictures together. Regrettably, Bonnitt’s film pales in comparison, putzing after the ex-moguls and their families in shaggy TV-doc fashion—the sequences of the two men washing dishes rendered all the more banal by highlights from their mondo repertoire. A historical context is barely hinted at, mainly by exploitation archivist-Frankenhooker director Frank Henlotter. He’s Mau Mau‘s sole outside commentator: Even Lewis goes unmentioned, and Bonnitt fails to dish enough dirt to satisfy either the curious or the already converted. Unwilling to put money shots where their mouths were, Friedman and Sonney retired at the dawn of hardcore, their guiltless freak shows and tawdry rebellions only recently rediscovered. Given the importance of such work in the legacy of American moviegoing, it’s a shame that Mau Mau is so resolutely mediocre—its wily protagonists deserve better, or worse.
Über-low-budget Zombie! vs. Mardi Gras (Pioneer Theater) has no quality concerns—just a vague satiric impulse and limp pomo-by-way-of-postdubbing randomness. Some stuff happens, followed by boobies; cue more stuff, followed by lame Godard parodies. Followed by the big payoff: Titular Zombie! (yes! superfluous punctuation!!) eats a boobie! If that strikes you as a selling point, you might make it through all 70-odd public-access-poor minutes. Maybe.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 3, 2001