It has been said many times that there are no new ideas in film anymore. If this is true, you may double that for works of cult exploitation. The best exploitation films will always be from the late sixties/early seventies when flicks featuring an “unrated” rating could be shown in drive in theaters across the land and there was no stranglehold by the MPAA who now decrees that all films with content “too hot for an R rating” will be a commercial failure, by making it all but impossible for them to be shown in American theatres to the general public. There are all sorts of unrated films for the modern home video market, but they almost always appeal to a niche market and usually have such awful production values, off-putting subject matter and such a complete lack of advertising budget that they are lucky to make their budget back, even if they only cost a few thousand dollars to shoot. Needless to say many folks, (myself included) are somewhat nostalgic for the days when cinema had fewer rules. Understandably, some legitimate directors even tried to capture the magic with an empty, hype filled tribute film of their own. Oliver Stone had NATURAL BORN KILLERS, Paul Rodriquez/Tariantino had GRINDHOUSE. Martin Scorsese had TAXI DRIVER. These were all adequate attempts, but the same pesky mandatory R rating that ruined the scene forever still made these film’s theater releases a truncated tribute at best and no more harder than the usual offerings of the big studios. A true tribute to the films of this day will never exist again. Even if someone could take the necessary time, effort and budget to create something badass enough, the theatres will refuse to play it if it isn’t rated R, and a straight to home video release fails to make any impact whatsoever because most of them are never designed with any semblance of budget or quality. This is why whenever I get a product that claims to be a “fresh, titillating take” on sexploitation films done in the old tradition, I am noticeably skeptical and perhaps you should be too. Today’s sexploitation throwback is called “CLIMB IT TARZAN” a modern film that does provide us some crazy sixties motif, yet is anything but a “swinging” good time.
CLIMB IT TARZAN is the story of two women, sort of. First there is an insatiable aspiring model named Ginger and her sister Janet who works at a strip club. CLIMB IT TARZAN (or C.L.I.T as I like to call it for short) is shot in the style of a true confessional which details the story of Janet as she maneuvers her way to the top, using others even as she is used herself. The major antagonist in C.L.I.T. is actually a lesbian photographer Paula who uses every tired, sleazy stereotypical trick established in movies such as this short of violence or actual physical coercion. From secretly snapping photos of her trysts, to aggrandizing her list of fashion contacts to simply promising advancement to any female model that will sleep with her, Paula is the prime mover of this film even if her scenes, methods and motivations have all been seen before in better films wearing a proper Cult/exploitation release date (having been actually produced in the day). Not to say this is a bad film, there are over fifty attractive women in this thing and many of them do appear in at least one scene of “naked exposition” (usually in the lesbian photographer’s studio). However the real problem with C.L.I.T is that it tries so hard to achieve its retro look that the entire film suffers for it. For example, while every film locale and set looks like it takes place in the late 1960’s, the mere fact that even a big budget film couldn’t afford to realistically replicate what Hollywood looked like in yesteryear means that all scenes tend to take place indoors on the same six sets and most of the conversations happen between actresses talking on authentic looking Northwestern Bell dial phones from over half a century ago. In fact there are about fifty phone calls made in this movie which is the prime method of communication and plot development in C.L.I.T. I appreciate the effort it must of taken to dress up every actress in flawless renditions of Sixties Mod fashion and to create a reoccurring musical theme that always sounded exactly the perquisite 12% difference between itself and any of the DOORS actual copyrighted hits, but between this and the forced indoor camera tricks that seek only to conserve the same lackluster budget of all modern Unrated films I have to say I have never seen such a textbook case of a pretty female cast being “all dressed up with nowhere to go.”
And I suppose I must now make a big deal of the female cast, not just because I am Sinferno and all my reviews contain numerous subliminal double entendres but because there isn’t a single male character in this film whatsoever. Of course the women are so self-absorbed, petty and gossipy no one seems to notice in the least. At first I thought C.L.I.T. was about a bunch of aspiring Hollywood lesbians (If only), but only the evil photographer Paula seems to be able to notice this pervasive female ratio much less exploit it toward any discernible goal, and even then barely so. For Paula, just as every other character in this film is confined to her indoor “lair” set so she too must scheme over the phone, spending 10 minutes talking about doing something for every 10 seconds she is seen actually doing it.
I admire the aesthetic in this film; despite the plot limitations they ultimately caused the production. They almost had me fooled into thinking this took place decades ago until two women actually drive a car and some of the worst blue screen work I have ever seen in a film plays out onscreen. Also it is generally understood by now that if you want to fake a films age it is best to shoot the thing exclusively on film stock available in the day and to get the soundtrack rights for the background music. I know such little nuances are often cost prohibitive for independent studios producing obscure films for a scant market share, yet I like to think that in 2012 most film directors aspire to the bare minimums of television’s COLD CASE when it comes to creating elaborate onscreen flashbacks disguised as modern entertainment. In the end, I think this films concept of time and place was perhaps too pretentious and ultimately impossible to shoot on a budget and probably shouldn’t have been attempted. As always, I will give it two skulls for plotless scenes coupled with topless nudity, but it had little more. Honestly, I don’t know what I disliked more about this film, the fact it passed its R rated antics off as an “UNRATED” homage to harder better sleaze films from the golden age of the drive in (typical), or the fact the setting for this picture took place in an era half a century ago that it couldn’t reproduce accurately onscreen for budgetary reasons. I suppose it doesn’t matter exactly which offense irked me more as they both made me wish I could say the exact same thing ”Let the past go, man.”
Special features include trailers and deleted scenes.
CLIMB IT TARZAN releases on Oct 15th, thanks to Independent Entertainment for the advance copy.