Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shanty Tramp (April 1st and 2nd at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[SHANTY TRAMP screens Friday April 1st at 7:30pm and Saturday April 2nd at 9:30pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]
Review by Bob Ignizio

It's rare to find a movie as gleefully trashy as SHANTY TRAMP, let alone one so cynical and misanthropic. Emily (Lee Holland) is the tramp of the title, happy to sell her body to anyone with the cash. She's not all that picky about her lovers, either. But her lack of caution gets her into trouble when a biker decides to take what he wants without paying. A young black man with the hots for Emily intervenes and winds up framed for rape for his troubles.

This movie has just about everything you could want from a low budget exploitation movie. Incest, nudity, interracial sex, bikers, unconvincing hipster slang, moonshine runners, gore, and even an Elmer Gantry-esque tent revival preacher all figure in the action. Almost all the characters are horrible human beings, and the ones that are good and likeable are pretty much doomed. The rough black and white cinematography just adds to the overall sleaze factor.

The film is based on a story idea from producer K. Gordon Murray, best known for importing Mexican wrestling/horror movies and Japanese sci-fi epics starring giant flying turtle Gamera. Director Joseph P. Mawra cut his teeth on the “Olga” series of S & M tinged sexploitation flicks, and his assistant director Bob Clark went on to direct CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, BLACK CHRISTMAS, PORKYS, and A CHRISTMAS STORY. With a pedigree like that, no self respecting fan of schlock cinema can afford to pass this up. It may not be a great film, but it does deliver the goods. 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.

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