We all know it’s impossible to put a finger
on what might be the greatest moment in exploitation film history.
Was it Kroger Babb and his road show sex film flim flams like
MOM AND DAD? H.G. Lewis and David Friedman’s swaree into
blood and guts with BLOOD FEAST, King Corman and his b-grade schlock
or the works of Ed Wood, Larry Buchanan or William Castle? Me,
at the drive-in in the bed of my old man's '67 El Camino, my nubile
young ass bobbing up and down in pre-orgasmic bliss while Jason
Vorhees introduced his machete to a young man's crotch as he handwalked
down the hallway? Absolutely, all of this qualifies, but there
was something special going on in the decade of 1965 to 1975 for
American Exploitation Cinema. The strangest thing was it wasn’t
being created on our shores. Bubbling out of an underground “factory”
of sorts, with incredible fervor and it was happening for pennies
on the dollar in a rather unlikely place, the sweaty jungles and
shantytowns of the Philippines.
THE WOMAN HUNT comes to us via quite possibly the strongest ensemble
making films on minscule budgets in the BellyPains. (My pet name
for the Philippines courtesy of a Philipino gal I knew who I swore
was saying that every time she’d talk about her home. “I
talked to my fren in the BellyPains today.”) Actors John
Ashley, Sid Haig, Ed Garcia, Pat Woodell along with producer/director
and sometimes writer Eddie Romeo cut a swath through the BellyPains
jungles with classic b-fodder year after year, production after
production during this all too brief, but explosively entertaining
and profitable bit of anti-Hollywoodam.
Based on the 1930’s Richard Connell classic, THE MOST DANGEROUS
GAME, a plot that boasts at least a couple dozen retellings in
one form or another. THE WOMAN HUNT ups the ante by including
enough choice dialogue, jungle locales and nude flesh to warrant
itself a standout, even amongst the handful of fun, fine films
from the aforementioned band of moviemakers. The mysterious David
Hoover pens his adaptation for the script. And Jack Hill gets
co-writer’s credit for coming up with the story. No doubt
Hoover is probably Eddie Romero and the idea for THE WOMAN HUNT
came over a couple cheap San Miguel’s at a Philipino bar.
Without getting too far ahead of myself, let’s just say
Mr. Hoover’s script might be a bit derivative of Connell’s
classic, but he more than makes up for it with an early 70s exploitation
flair courtesy of mean spirited misogyny, bitingly filthy chatter
and a couple real decent characterizations. Oh, and the soft female
flesh parts don't hinder either.
The film starts with a beautiful henchwoman “shopping”
for nubile young ladies at a small harbor holding place. Something
we've all done at least once, right? Part bamboo prison, part
local fishing squat, it seems the boys in charge, the hippy Carter
and greasy Silas have been wrangling girls for the henchwoman’s
boss Spiros. Spiros is picky, we find out the good way. The black
clad henchwoman demands a girl strip so we, er, I mean she, can
get a gander at the goods. Note to most
of the non-male reading audience, any film that can find a way
to introduce nudity within the first 60 seconds is known around
these parts and a strong starter.
The henchwoman looks rather longingly at the girl in what
is an obvious reference to her possible lesbianism. She likes
the merchandise and promptly hands over $500 for the one girl,
shocking the hippy (as if she'd stole his stash box and handed
him a bar of DialTM) with the large price given for only one girl.
During the transaction the girl breaks and runs only to end up
surrounded on both sides of a narrow path with no where to go
but into the water. She is captured semi-conscious and dried-off
shipped away. But that is not all, Carter and his boys have their
orders, get Spiros, the bossman, four more girls matching the
descriptions on a piece of paper handed over by the lesbo roughie
and deliver them to him at his not so humble abode.
Flash forward to Carter showing up at Silas’ boat with
a couple very attractive girls, they are customers for a little
ocean tour Carter tells Silas and off the four go with Silas navigating
right along, the girls flirting with the two gents and everything
going, pardon the pun, swimmingly. Of course, the girls become
aware that it’s time to be heading back, Silas pulls his
gun, prompting Carter to loose his patience and strangle one of
the girls. The second gal, beautiful Lori, is delivered to the
makeshift bamboo big house on the bay where she meets three other
captives, each a different flavor, there’s Billy, the Nubian
princess, McGee, the leggy butch cut brunette, and Rita, the silent
Asian. Lori is our resident hellaciously built dirty blond. Billy
sums it up for Lori as Romeo’s camera catches Lori hitting
the floor of the bamboo cage, “What do ya know, another
visitor to the zoo!” Just like that, the girls are bound,
blindfolded and loaded into a military style vehicle. But, not
before tension mounts somewhere else in the holding camp between
Tony, a handsome stick-out amongst these swarthy kidnappers, and
the murderous hippy, Carter. Tony, more likely than not at this
point, is our lead, John Ashley, Silas holds Tony back from the
hippy. It seems Tony wants out of the skin trade but Carter is
quick to remind him, he’s in it just as deep as the rest
and the boss man ordered the girls and besides, they are getting
paid a large amount to deliver. In other words, the boys have
got to do what the boys have got to do.
And so with a couple pretty brief and peppy scenes, the basis
for our romp into the jungle is set. Silas, the brilliant Sid
Haig, is carrying the motion picture on his very able back up
until this point. His Silas character utters all of his come-ons
and warnings like a deranged, panty-chasing Mississippi river
boat captain, Silas seems to have inhaled all of the Philippines
in through his skinny olive ass and he exhales the sweat, stink
and bloody mosquito spit back out of his forehead, armpits and
chest. Haig in the 8 years prior to THE WOMAN HUNT had completed
roles in 15 different films, including Jack Hill’s masterpiece
of bizarreness SPIDER BABY and back-to-back Romeo works THE BIG
DOLL HOUSE (Romeo produced for Jack Hill) and the classic BLACK
MAMA, WHITE MAMA. It seems in actuality that Romeo was shooting
two pictures at once when he made THE WOMAN HUNT. According to
Haig’s PSYCHOTRONIC interview from many moons ago, Romeo
had Haig Working on BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA during the night and
BEYOND ATLANTIS during the day. But when you look at the timing
of the roles more likely than not Haig meant THE WOMAN HUNT instead
of BEYOND ATLANTIS, a film, as you peek at Eddie Romero’s
filmography that was three pictures beyond BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA.
Shit, Romeo was also lensing TWILIGHT PEOPLE at the same time
which included THE WOMAN HUNT’s Ashley and Garcia and Woodell
as well, so it’s quite possible they were somehow shooting
3 pictures at once or at the very least stacking them all together.
And Jack Hill was beginning the shoot of another Women In Prison
stalwart, THE BIG BIRD CAGE that also featured Haig as second
unit director. Haig was a machine at this point in his still new
career and obviously at the top of his game. "I was the longest-staying
guest in the history of the Intercontinental Hotel...We did four
pictures back to back, sometimes on top of each other...”
Haig said of his 6-month stay in the Philippines. Haig had met
Jack Hill at UCLA film school where Hill was studying under famed
female director, Dorothy Arzner. Haig first worked with Hill on
Roger’s Corman’s BLOOD BATH aka TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE.
I should also note that in the Phillipines is where Hiag met coffee-skinned
sexpot Pam Grier and carried on a behind the scenes love affair
with for sometime according to rumor. If you can say anything
about Sid’s performance in any film it’s that it’s
fucking real, there’s an underlying comic genius that only
makes his characters that much more effective. Sid’s Silas
exudes that. Fucking real. Now on with the show.
With the girls loaded and the boys with their shit straight,
the journey to Spiro’s place in the jungle begins. Silas
behind the wheel, Carter and Tony riding shotgun while the girls
are riding bound in the back of the enclosed truck which has a
handy little window area that connects to the truck’s cab.
I say it’s handy cuz Silas gets to say wondrously nasty
things when asked by the girls were they are being taken, like,
“Oh it’s kind of a funhouse, you’ll like it,
you’ll be able to spread your wings and other things…You
want to sit up here? You can play with my gearshift!” Ashley
plays it cool, like a leading man, matinee idol-type and does
little to give you any insight to his character’s motives.
Is it control or is it lake of real chutzpah? Who knows, but it
works for him. Before long (a minute of dialogue) the truck breaks
down and the crew unload the ladies for a five mile hike to Spiros’
place. Silas takes the opportunity to smack a little black ass
and Billy returns the notion with a swift smack to his face. But
Silas ain’t taking no shit and smacks her to the ground
laughing and when Billy threatens to bite off his ugly nose, Silas
reminds her “my nose ain’t the thing that grows…”
Mr. Hoover, now that is dialogue I can appreciate. The hike ends
rather abruptly when they come upon a group of Spiros’ soldiers
and a water buffalo led bamboo cart on wheels as well as fresh
horses. They load up and for some reason don’t make it the
5 miles before night fall and decide to camp. The girls devise
a plan to separate Silas and Tony while Carter and the soldiers
sleep by pretending to have to take a tinkle in the jungle. Tony
escorts, Lori, McGee comes on to sexy Silas and Billy plants a
shard of sharp bamboo under his chin. They unlock the box, Billy
brazenly belittles Silas but neglects to go ahead and kill him.
It’s all for naught though when Carter and the soldiers
wake up and nab them before they can get away. Twisted–up
sexuality plot display #2 for those keeping score (remember the
henchwoman’s apparent lesbianism). Carter plants his rifle
into McGee’s crotch and Sila’s chastises, “Damn,
you’d rather do that than ball her wouldn’t ya?”
Seems our hippy is a little light in the loafers, uh, I mean the
Beatle boots. Romeo pulls out the classic b-movie day for night
photography and soon the caravan is rolling towards big baddy
Spiros’ mansion. “I’m gonna shit, shine, shower,
shave, cut that fine looking black woman loose, take her for a
long walk in the garden, rip off all her clothes, lay her down
in the tall grass…then stomp the shit right out of her.”
Silas takes us right into act 2.
Oh, this Spiros character. Bad guy, he is. Likes to beat women,
fuck women, beat and fuck women. He has the jack to buy what he
wants, fill them with drugs if he wants, and of course, do whatever
he wants while they are sedated. His crib is that of the opulent
Philipino style with lesbo henchwomen, guards, chefs and those
beautiful tailored shirts. He has a big dinner party (actually
I only recall a table lined with bananas) planned the four girls
and four international playas. His guests have all been here before,
they’ve all partied with Spiro’s girls that he has
supplied but each one has also been set up, each one, had a tragedy
of some sort during their stays. This dinner party will be different
(not just because bananas seem to be the main course). It is going
to be tweaked up a notch…Silas delivers the line that sums
up the middle part of Romeo’s work quite aptly “There
sure is a lot of pussy going to waste over there.” Silas
does have a point but it seems Spiros wants his gentlemen to get
all the pussy they want…as long as it is dead first. Yeah,
that’s right, Spiros wants to change the rules of the little
prostitution game to involve a little game hunting. The girls.
Load up on potassium gentlemen, it's going to be a long evening.
Spiros is brought to the screen very ably by Philipino actor
extraordinaire Eddie Garcia, no doubt a nom de ploom of this Philippine’s
born actor who not only sparked every Philipino Romeo production,
but also still acts and even directs and has close to 150 films
to his credit. To say Garcia is good is an slight fucking understatement.
He speaks great English (always a plus, you acting wannabes!)
and plays the swarthy Spiros to the hilt. Remember how great he
was as Dr. Lorca in BEAST OF BLOOD? Okay, nevermind.
As this little plotline plays out, the girls are remarkably well
adjusted. As they await their fates. McGee almost masturbates
(I know after being kidnapped and taken into the jungle the first
I'd do when I got a moment alone would be to punish the Bishop
a bit) before trying to get it on with weirdo Carter to free herself
but remember it very possible he’s a queen. Billy takes
on Silas in the sack even though he’s too drunk to fuck
and then there’s Lori and Tony, they have the eyes for each
other and Tony, well, Tony is tired of Spiro’s bullshit
even though Spiros thinks of Tony as the son he never had. Spiros
has went beyond just plain old druggin 'em and fucking 'em and
pimping 'em out and into killing 'em. Enough is fucking enough,
so one must put their foot donw. Oh, and there’s the silent
Asian, Rita, I think her name is…well, Rita it’s safe
to say is some Philipino “extra” she never gets a
line or a scene. I'd bet they used her boyfriend's mansion or
The inevitable comes to pass, Tony escapes, girls in tow and
Spiros and his gang of mismatched followers and customers are
in pursuit. I don’t want to tell you how it all plays out
once they hit the jungle but I’ll tell you this, most die,
others, show their true colors and over all Romeo delivers a taught
little jungle drama complete with twisted characters, cheap gore
and overt sexuality, even of the closted homo kind.
If I had to say something about the best parts of THE WOMAN HUNT
it would probably be Sid Haig, as I've already mentioned, John
Ashley, Pat Woodell, Lisa Todd and Ken Metcalfe. That’s
right, this batch of dime store actors, they transcend the story
to bring this White Castle budget drama to near upper tier thriller.
Well, please remember my upper tiers rarely leave the first floor
of a rented duplex.
A 1950s icon that never really exceled much above his Frankie
and Annette co-superstardom who moved into a different element
of filmdom as times changed, John Ashley never once talked down
about his projects seeing them not only as what they were but
as special little things meant to be judged on a different plane.
Brilliant, as a hunky Matt Stevens in HIGH SCHOOL CEASER and equally
as bad in YOUNG DILLINGER as baby Face Nelson, Ashle rarely met
a script that wasn't appropriate. tI love him in Larry Buchanan’s
much-maligned THE-THE EYE CREATURES and of course, the Blood Trilogy,
THE MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, BRIDES OF BLOOD and BEAST OF BLOOD,
the films he starred in for Romeo that will forever be part of
bad moviedom. As Tony, he commands the screen when he’s
on, but does little more than raise an eyebrow, flash a little
smile and play THE WOMAN HUNT’s typical hero.
Pat Woodell, what is the best you can say about a beautiful exploitation
actress. Pat got naked, Pat got bloody, Pat got groped by various
sweaty actors and Pat performed. Pat was in her late 20s when
she flew off to the Philippines to “star” in a film
with John Ashley, Although I can’t really confirm it, they
were an item during the filming of THE WOMAN HUNT and THE TWILIGHT
PEOPLE. It shows. Pat is the forgotten “Jo” From Petticoat
Junction; she played the original Bobby Jo from 63-65, the black
and white years, when Bobby Jo (Roberta Josephine) was a nebbish
nerd girl with glasses. When the show went color they dropped
Pat and the nerd act…after 8 years of no gigs Pat decided
showing a sweaty tit would be just fine and she took the role
of Bodine for Hill and Romeo in THE BIG DOLL HOUSE. She makes
exploi-history when she grabs two machine gun and guns down a
few men before taking a barrage of bullets, zero dollar Peckinpah–style.
THE BIG DOLL HOUSE is the granddaddy and still the best of the
WIP epics and Woodell helps make it so. She's no less fun in THE
WOMAN HUNT but Romeo doesn't use her as ably as he should have.
Spiros black clad lesbo henchwoman is brought to life by leggy
exploitation gal, Lisa Todd. Lisa was a sort of regular as a Hee
Haw honey for a while and playing this role was quite a switch
for the usually blond “sunshine” character she portrayed
on Hee Haw. Todd was also part of Ted V. Mikel’s DOLL SQUAD
post this film and with measurements 40-24-38 and standing nearly
6 feet tall, she can be a rather impressive bit of eye candy.
Sadly she doesn’t get nude here but she is still no less
sleazy and scores the films best death scene. If there is a oversight
on Romero’s part it’s not amping Todd’s character
up a bit because I’m very sure she could have been thought
of as and Ilsa, Olga or Tura Satana archetype with a little push
towards the extreme. Hindsight may be 20/20, but Lisa exudes a
quiet, edgy confidence on screen and had she been given the chance
to shine might have made a little grindhouse history herself.
Ken Metcalfe plays the “faggot” Carter; I think he
even sports a wig and fake nose as Carter, probably to cover up
and not ruin his tough guy reputation. Let me sate right here
that Metcalfe is far from “good” as the closeted homosexual
Carter (he just doesn’t pretend “gay” enough)
but what he is as an actor is made up for with what he is as a
character. Carter is a dumb shit with a bad job who may or may
not like to fuck the women he captures for Spiros and I sort of
believe that. He was just cutting his teeth with exploitationer
Romeo in the late 60s because he’d go on to work for such
near brilliant hacks as crazy Bellypaino Cirio H. Santiago, who
brought us TNT JACKSON, THE MUTHERS and HELLHOLE (written by Metcalfe)
in the 70s and even nuttier features like STRYKER and NAM ANGELS
in the 80s, all of which feature Metcalfe. Basically there wasn’t
an American made exploitation film shot in the Philippines for
over a decade that Metcalfe wasn’t involved with. He cast
every Vietnam epic that used the Philippines as a locale that
was worth a shit, from APOCALYPSE NOW to HAMBURGER HILL to BORN
ON THE FOURTH OF JULY. If you made a film in the Philippines you
needed Ken Metcalfe. But with all that “clout” Ken
Metcalfe’s biggest claim to fame might be 1985’s WARRIORS
OF THE APOCALYPSE in which he wrote for director Bobby Suarez,
who also helmed DYNAMITE JOHNSON, a film which also Metcalfe acted
in. Suarez was also behind the highly recommended rarity CLEOPATRA
WONG. Metcalfe starred in WARRIORS, as well as, playing screenwriter
and I have to say in the world of post-apocalyptic shit that was
brought to the screen after MAD MAX, this one is one of the ones
that bad movie fans must see. Seeing Metcalfe as Carter some 7
years before the fact is worth its weight in poop.
All said and done THE WOMAN HUNT delivers, violence against
women, lower level “stars” and great locales and capable
direction. Eddie Romeo is no fluke nor is Mr. Haig nor Mr.Ashley
and while Something Weird and Retromedia deliver all the “other”
Romeo flickage to you as classics, this one continues to be neglected…but
Video will find the way to give you the hook up. You shoud
get one, I did.
|Tony seems touched.
|Now I see why.
|And so does Spiros...what's
Gestapo Black Exploitation?
From Tobacco Row It's Good!
Squad Join Today!
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Stranger Run Run Opie!
House On Hwy 5 Sheesh!
Locked Doors It's Dirty!
Massacre Some Like It.
Pussy It had to be done
Alley It is Rock.
Woman Truck. Woman.
Freak A Classic for You!
Geek Bigfoot Porn
School Ghosthustlers Wow!
Island You Must See!
Not that kinda Cock!
Alienator Feeling Alienated?
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Spree Tim Ritter's $0 budget wonder
Prof. Tread still can't sleep.
Tramp She is sumpin' else.
Footmen Tire You...? Heavy religiosity!
Knievel Evel of Course!
Killing Of A Chinese Bookie! Smart Guy.
Pink Angels Gayness, and Bikes
Burning The 80's, ahhh the 80's.
- The Winged Serpant! Larry Cohen rules!
For Your Life! WARNING Racist content
Tall Buford Pusser in the Hizouse!
Camp Internet Geeks Unite!
Losers Ya Loser!
of the Mutilated Bro. George gets busy.
Me An Angel Gal Biker and more.
Grim Reaper Reap on.
One of William Girdler's triumphs.
At Dawn A Modern Classic.
Boy Carradine, Dress, Dourif!
Hollywood Rape-Slaughter Rare expose'.
Savage Weekend. Take
Dead and Buried.
A Should-be Classic.
Summer In Barefoot County. PeeUww!
Night Train To
Terror Choo Choo!
Drink Your Blood Glug, glug!
Russ Meyer and breasts!
Stop Women Honnnk HonnnnK!
Deadly Darling! Pigs!
the Germ Fighter! Clean up!
Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast? Why?!
County Express! Glug, Glug!
The Night God Screamed!
White Dog Racists
City Slickers get offed!
Times Five Sean MacGregor's Titantic!
at the Red Wolf Inn Burp!
Eyes See It
Greatest Sinner One of the best!
Baby! Goo Goo!
Camp Nightmare Viva the Revolution!
of the Beast Creatures Booga!
Play Dead Incest craziness!
of Death Vacation madness!
Come, Evil Go! Bye, Bye Sinners!
Strutters Get Black Sucker!
Pretty Eddie Deep South Craziness!
Golem Jewish Folklore or what?
NYC Apartment Blues
To Kill A Clown
Alan Alda Vietnam Vet!
Spook Who Sat Next To The Door Booya!
Woke Up Early The Day I Died Mr. Ed Wood.
Mutilation Man Andy Copp goes arty on us!
People Across The Lake Good TV!
Woman Hunt Load Up Gents.
Devil At You Heels Daring Devil.
Are The Damned Dammit!
Farm TV movie Classic!