The once beloved word Grindhouse has been so overused as of late when it comes to cult film that it is all but meaningless. Does it refer to the time period of the seventies before the mandatory “R” rating of all modern day film where nasty hyper sexualized violent movies played in double, triple features in small filthy theatres or small town drive-ins? Does it refer to the Planet Terror/Death-Proof double feature by Rodriquez and Tariantino which sought to reclaim the authentic feel of a double feature from long ago by using stressed film, fake trailers and a finished hardcore product which still packaged the same tame lame MANDATORY R rated viewing experience that might as well have been filmed on digital all along? Whatever the true, “according to Hoyle” meaning of grindhouse, Full Moon has recently released a ten volume series of movies which hopefully will introduce this overused phrase once again to a whole new generation of moviegoers most of whom, who cannot remember when it actually meant something.
During the week of March 15, 1978 an ad in appeared in the Hollywood Variety:
The producers of Cinderella and FAIRYTALES are on a massive talent search for their new major motion picture production FAIRYTALES Part II we are looking for the world’s sexiest woman for the role of sleeping beauty, The world’s sexiest man for the Co-starring role of Prince Charming and the world’s most Unusual Act or personality.
AUDITIONS is a video compilation featuring anonymous people coming in to try out for this role, most of them first timers with no previous film experience. They interact exclusively with an unseen camera man behind one way glass who asks them detailed questions about their sexual history, and if they are attractive and female they are first told to disrobe and then to masturbate, which every single one of them does in a vague but realistic unrated fashion. Of course, most of the auditions are not so much as exploitative but wacky, as it seems that every aspiring actor or address in 1970’s Hollywood showed up to try out for the role and most of them have a story to tell, and some of them are unintentionally quite dark.
One girl, Sally Webster is told to take off her clothes, after which she promptly dances around on a dungeon set. The director tells her that she is will be invited to a second audition callback even though the director tells her she looked “quite young”. We see her again later in a scene with two men tearing her clothes off and throwing her on a torture rack. Yet, the scene is interrupted as the unseen voice informs her that her age verification didn’t check out (she is actually fifteen years old) and that she is to call home immediately as her father is very displeased with her. (Whoa, why isn’t this scene blurred?)
There is Eddie Edwards, the manager for the “Strange and Unusual Talent Agency”, a strange sleazy John Waters lookalike who first auditions, then keeps coming back in the middle of other peoples auditions, rudely interrupting them to offer some actors or actresses of his own, most of them with terrible and illegal specialties that sound like they were part of “THE ARISTOCRATS” joke.
There is the male actor Vinnie Malucchio who arrived to his audition describing himself as “charming and debonair” with a .45 caliber pistol gun sticking out of his waistband. When he asked to describe why he needs a gun, he admits candidly, matter-of-factly how he pulls out on women now and then during dates to encourage “bitches” to have sex with him. (I think they found their Prince Charming!)
And of course, once they start pairing the male and female actors and actresses together and let the cameras roll as they bump and grind each other it appears that there was a time or two where “sex” may have actually been achieved, but of course who can be certain by now of the authenticity of any of this stuff some thirty five years later? Actually none of it was real, unbeknownst to the people starring in this film or most of you watching it.
You see the real trick here is that there actually never was a FAIRYTALES 2 film ever made but you would never know that by watching this feature in its entirety or by reading the box. On the “special features” of every Full Moon Feature Grindhouse disk Charles Band talks explicitly about the making of this film and reminisces about how much fun it was for he and his friends to watch old audition tapes from previous films and see all the unique and peculiar people who came to try out for a part. So they figured it would be a great idea to have an audition for a film that was never going to be made (the sequel to Fairy Tales) and just release the audition tape as a film instead, paying all aspiring actors a dollar (after signing a release). That’s right. All of the “featured talent” in this film disrobed, danced and all but prostituted themselves believing that they were getting closer to landing a part in a movie that didn’t even exist for the price of a couple sodas back in the day. Wow, talk about the original SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE.
There was a time, when I was younger, meaner with insanely Caligula-esque cinema tastes regarding “sexy” abuse of power onscreen where I would have really gotten off on the concept of a mockumentary featuring desperate sleazy actors conned by unscrupulous directors into doing dirty full frontal frolics for the false promise of wealth or notoriety. But these days I merely concede that whether real, staged (or likely some mix of the two) AUDITIONS is unlike anything I have ever seen before (released as an actual film). It’s grainy, gritty and doesn’t play by the rules. It makes you feel generally uneasy for watching it afterward and most good people have never heard of it. Such content, coupled with a proper 1978 pedigree makes this film validly “Grindhouse” and if it had been more successful it is all but certain that Charles Band would today be cranking out adult film instead of puppet movies these days. I give it a four, but as a special feature for a Fairy Tales 2 DVD that had actually been made, I would have given it a five. Yet in a modern internet world where newer, much more hardcore footage of this EXACT sort of fake audition can be found everywhere for free by typing “casting couch” into a porn browser, this is best appreciated for its nostalgia over its actual nastiness. Still, for a forgotten flesh flick, it does somehow package “prick teasing” in a whole new way, using it to exploit the fantasies of its own actors for the benefit of the viewer, (most unrated erotica works the other way around).