The Bad Movie Report


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My, oh my, oh my. When I decided to delve into the world of '70's drive-in fare for a while, I did not expect a movie I had viewed earlier in life would so thoroughly jump out and bite me on the butt as does Ginger. *

Cheri Caffaro, who, in her teens, won Life magazine's Bardot look-alike contest (thanx for the info, Mike Weldon), plays Ginger McAllister, "the female James Bond". There were two other Ginger movies, the titles of which should give you an idea of the general tenor of the series: The Abductors and Girls Are For Loving. These flicks provide excellent examples of a Drive-In Movie's ideal combinations of sex, (poorly-staged) violence and some bondage (to set them apart from the other soft-core fare).

Men, if you see this woman coming, RUN!!!We first meet Ginger as she drives our nation's byways in her sports car to the movie's theme song, which is a knock-off of the Mannix theme (if it were made today, it would be Pat Benatar's "Stop Using Sex As A Weapon", but then, this movie would not be made today). She arrives at the private investigation agency of series regular Jason Varone (William Grannell), who, despite her lack of training in the investigation or law enforcement fields, hires her to go after small-time crime lord Rex Halsey. Perhaps it has something to do with them already losing two people on the job. Ginger is then given her very own secret agent briefcase, which is a normal briefcase with a gun, camera, tape recorder and some handcuffs tossed in (when this film came out, I was 12 years old and I had a better secret agent briefcase).

He's gay, I tell you! Gay!When I say Halsey is small-time, I mean small. He is also the most incredibly gay bad guy to ever be playing it straight. With a crack team of spoiled rich kids and the token streetwise black dude, Rex runs prostitution, drugs and blackmail in a New Jersey resort town (ah, the glamor of Jersey...).

Ginger arrives and immediately gets to work on who she considers I STILL hate interpretive dance!the weak link in the gang: Rodney, the rich kid in charge of blackmail. To set the tone for the rest of the movie, Ginger does this by participating in a bar game, wherein a girl picks any guy from the crowd. He must stand against a post, hands behind his back, and she must turn him on by dancing for him. Neither are allowed to use their hands. Rodney is, shall we say, impressed.

Are your SleazeMeters pegging yet? If not, let's go on to the next scene: the next day, while Ginger is sunbathing on the beach, she is accosted by the Girl Contingent of the gang, who give her the leave-our-men-alone speech. When it looks like they'll all jump her, Ginger uses the standard hero "Wassamatter? Can't take me on alone?" gambit. No holds barred, loser has to call quits. This leads to Girl Gangster #1's immortal line, "You don't get off that lucky. Loser has Bad Movies of Gor!to get stripped." As she is a Bad Guy, this means that not only will she wind up sans bikini, but Ginger will use self-same bikini to tie her hand and foot. A truly amazing piece of cinema. It is the Citizen Kane of catfight scenes.

The only Girl Gangster who is happy at Ginger's victory is Cathy, a good girl turned into a prostitute by the heinous Halsey Gang. So distraught is Cathy, agonizing that she's "even beginning to hate men," that Ginger immediately has lesbian sex with her.

All of this is within the first half-hour, mind you.

Cathy agrees to testify against Rex and crew, which of course means that she will wind up deadWimp. within two scenes. Ginger summarily offs her killer by strangling him with a belt. Apparently, if you use a wide, studded leather belt, this can be accomplished in about 10 seconds. I did not know this.

After that, the plot occasionally interrupts the sleazery, but not too often. Jason Varone himself gets into the act by entrapping one of the Girl Gangsters in a prostitution sting, managing to handcuff her to the hotel bed after she's stripped for business (of course). At her urging, he goes ahead and avails himself of her wares while still tied (I'm telling you, this is not our planet). Jimmy, the streetwise token black dude (hereafter STBD) makes a rich white junkie strip for him (I guess I should add Angry to the STBD). And Ginger slips Rodney some knockout drops, and when he wakes up, he is spread eagled, nude, and tied to a bed. Ginger threatens to castrate him unless he spills the beans.

"And this is your peepee on drugs.  Any questions?"It is at this point that we discover that Ginger Has Issues. Upon finding that Ginger has taped his (understandably) cowardly tattling, Rodney calls her a bitch (helpful hint: never call a woman who has a piece of piano wire wrapped around your privates A Bitch). Ginger has a flashback to when a guy said he loved her, took her to bed, then left. After the flashback, Ginger whacks off the helpless Rodney's 'nads.

Later, Ginger entices Jimmy (remember him? the ASTBD?) to her room, strips, and then shoots him. Seems in her youth, Ginger was gang-raped by three black men. This perhaps explains Ginger's constant use of the term "jungle bunny", but our heroine is rapidly becoming sociopathic, if not outright psychotic.

With the death of Jimmy and one of the Girl Gangsters deciding to drop a dime on the whole sordid mess, only one GG and the amazingly gay Rex remain. The last GG wails, "I want to laugh and swing, and you don't get to do any of that in jail!" and splits. Jason and Ginger capture her after a less-than-thrilling (or even visible) nighttime car chase. This leaves Jason's not-terribly-competent right hand man to watch Rex, who kills the lackey with his bare hands and runs off into the night."And this is your peepee on drugs.  Any questions?"


Ginger leaves the distraught Jason with the corpse and goes to her hotel. Rex, of course, is waiting and knocks out the suddenly incompetent blonde. He uses her own handcuffs on her, rapes her (given the general tone of the film, it comes as no surprise that she winds up enjoying it), and then shoots her full of heroin. He then leaves her, only to be shot to death offscreen, where it is cheaper.

The movie's end finds Ginger apparently exorcised of her personal demons and somehow not held responsible for all the murder, maiming, and other violations of Due Process, and telling Jason if he has another "interesting case", to let her know. She then boards a private plane, perhaps heading for Disney World. The end.

What stuns me about my return to the land of Ginger is the explicitness of the scenes. A bit of history might be helpful here. Several different sources give Ginger a release year of anywhere from 1970 to 1972 - a period when Deep Throat was considered mainstream cinema and nudity was increasingly cropping up in studio films, meaning the indies had to really up the stakes. Ginger was given an R - but it's what is known as a "hard" R. Hard enough to cut diamonds.

Today, in a culture where movies get an NC-17 for "general tone", Valenti and crew would probably burn the negative. Like Blazing Saddles, there is no way in hell this movie would be made today. If it were, it would be shot on video and star.... oh crap. I've gotten old enough that I don't know the names of any porno stars. Never mind.

ACTING!!!!The acting throughout, though rarely awful, is, at the least, quite stagebound - especially since several characters get long solo speeches, the type which are generally lifted and utilized at high school speech tournaments. Cathy's speech about how she became a prostitute is the best-acted, which is probably why she got killed. I know actors will often do anything for a role, but the number of people the filmmakers got to do humiliating things while nude is astounding. And just to make sure that nobody dodges the humiliation bullet, even Jimmy, the ASTBD, must have a speech where he informs Rex that he was promised "...all the ass I wanted! White ass!" And the Ginger movies are notable in that they're not terribly shy about full-frontal male nudity - which counts for something, I guess.

Ialso find I have to mention the drug deal scene - no, it's not heroin or cocaine, it's pot. On Planet Ginger, the marijuana comes pre-cleaned ("no stems, no seeds that you don't need," as Cheech and Chong once sang) as a sparkly green powder (a lot of Easter basket grass is my guess), "$800?  Too high, man."and we all know how in traditional drug deal scenes, the lacky tastes the dope with a finger. Here, we are treated to a lengthy joint-rolling scene, doubtless so that the like-minded in the audience could do the same (it couldn't have smelled any worse than Pic mosquito repellent, lemme tell you). While not of the caliber of Reefer Madness, the scene does exert a certain sense of silliness.

The late Monterey Home Video considered these films notable (or notorious) enough that they issued all three in a box set a few years back. Past the three Ginger movies, Caffaro only made three others that I know of. The really frightening thing is that I own five. Although I've only watched the Ginger flicks.

I do have my limits.


I admit it. There are parts of the 70's I miss.

- March 29, 1998