Rob and Mike watch Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat (1934) at The Projection Booth. “The first big American studio film — and last big American studio film – directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, The Black Cat is, uh, ‘inspired’ by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story and stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in a taut game of life and death.”
Posted July 27, 2006
A lot of trash cinema fans don’t realize that Canada has a long and sleazy history of sexploitation films. Until somewhat recently — despite being a Canadian citizen, as well as ‘60s filth-film booster, I didn’t either.
In a previous column, I introduced you to Quebecois smut king Claude Pierson, and his 1966 film WE ARE ALL NAKED. His career spanned 20 years, directing EROTIC LOVE GAMES (1971), NAKED LOVERS (1977), JUSTINE DE SADE (1972) and collaborating with eurotrash god Jess Franco on JUSTINE (1975).
Let me introduce you now to an even more obscure Canadian sexploitation filmmaker from north of the 49th parallel, and prove that even in the ‘60s, Canadians knew how to get freaky and sinful.
THE LOVE BLACKMAILER (1966)
aka Adulterous Affair
aka Room for a Stranger
84 min. Black and White.
Directed By Ted Leversuch
Starring Jean Christopher, Bruce Grey, Sean Sullivan, Brian Hadley James, Faith Gardener,
Drifter Russ Taren (Bruce Grey) makes a meager living blackmailing cheating wives, but he doesn’t just settle on cash for his trouble — he wants the ladies to pay him in naked sweaty flesh! Taren rents a $10-a-week room from Lola, a lonely ex-stripper who makes nightly visits to his room to drink rye, smoke cigarettes, and try to finagle Russ into the sack. Her good-looking and suave renter is polite, (“I bet you look like a million bucks with your war paint on!”) but eventually tires of her constant rutting and demands that she get bent so he can return to his “work”.
The real quarry is his latest victim Barbara (Jean Christopher), a lovely but neglected next door suburban Toronto housewife who has secretly taken up with a British fop named Steven who plies his trade as the family doctor. Russ gets his jollies taking saucy incriminating photos of them in the act, (none of his sexy subjects ever seem close their drapes!) and after Barbara and Stephen return from a clandestine Niagara Falls getaway, he approaches her with his best B-grade James Bond villain impersonation, and makes his contemptible demands known.
Against her better judgement, Barbara allows herself to be taken on as his part time sex slave, but with her husband Frank, Dr. Stephen, as well as Russ all taking turns riding her, the frazzled housewife begins to feel like the town bicycle. Will Barbara continue to allow the sleazy blackmailer to take her for not only what she’s got in the bank, but in her panties as well? Or will she figure out a way to get her revenge? And look out gang… husband Frank is getting suspicious!
The elegant Miss Jean Christopher (who was actually quite a decent actress) started her screen career as one of the stars of the infamous CBC satire program NIGHTCAP, a bawdy late night hit hosted by Canuck entertainer Billy Van. She had only one other starring role in PLAYGIRL KILLER two years later.
This was the very first film in a long and fruitful career for Bruce Grey, who can been seen in Hollywood films like STARSHIP TROOPERS, and SPY HARD, but is best known in Canada for his TV role of Adam Cunningham on TRADERS which ran from ’96 to 2000.
Director Ted Leversuch arrived in Canada in the early 1960s from the UK, and quickly became one of the most daring characters in our still-fledgling film industry. His first move was to pen the 1963 nudist flick HAVE FIGURE WILL TRAVEL for future STARLOST director Leo Orenstein, and two years later, directing the nudie cutie FRENCH WITHOUT DRESSING. This was followed by a string of slightly nastier “adults only” melodramas he and his writing partner Margot Stevens would team up on, starting with THE LOVE BLACKMAILER, TAKE HER BY SURPRISE (as producer) and SEX AND THE LONELY WOMAN 1 and 2, each film progressively more kinky than the last.
In my mind, they did Canada proud.