Jul 25, 2014
Poor Paul Bartel. Imagine if you directed an excellent exploitation flick deserving of instant cult status that was buried by a studio and rarely seen, then a degenerate yet exceedingly popular Hebraic shock-jock horndog like Howard Stern comes along and creates a film with the same exact name a couple decades later, thus guaranteeing the film’s permanent obscurity. Indeed, Private Parts (1972) is the debut feature of Bartel and unlike Stern’s 1997 biopic of the same, it is wickedly funny and pleasantly perverse. Sort of like a compulsively campy mutation of Psycho (1960) featuring hagsploitation elements as if directed by the son of Curtis Harrington, Bartel’s quasi-slasher flick is far too sophisticated for gorehounds yet too raunchy and perverse for the sort of bourgeois cinephiles who delicately diddle themselves to the artwork of the last Criterion Collection release. Made at a time when obnoxious bull-dykes did not have their own hit talk shows, parents would beat their sons if they decided to dress like girls, before tranny freaks and other sexual invalids associated with the authoritarian aberrosexual LGBT movements did not start throwing out smear words against heterosexuals like ‘cisgender’ and ‘heteronormativity,’ and—arguably most importantly—when fags still knew how to make fun of themselves, Private Parts is a masterpiece of cinematic homo self-exploitation that demonstrates that gays indeed had an important place in this world when gay-bashing was still somewhat vogue. Undoubtedly Bartel’s most primitive and graphic work (indeed, the film features genitals as advertised), the film is partly a satire of the counter-culture era that features, among other things, a murderous woman who thinks she’s a man that looks like Lou Reed, as well as an old bitchy puritanical hag who helps said loony Lou Reed look-a-like slaughter worthless hippie degenerates. Sort of like Blood Feast (1963) meets Chelsea Girls (1966), Private Parts is the tastefully trashy story of a 16-year-old teenage girl who moves in with her reclusive bull-dyke-like hotelier aunt who runs a rundown hotel inhabited by senile old cranks, gay closeted middle-aged reverends who live second lives as leather-fags, and a cock-less female-to-male tranny of the majorly murderous sort whose idea of a sexual climax is injecting her blood into a water-filled blowup doll. Featuring auteur Bartel during his more ‘svelte’ period in a Hitchcockian cameo as a man having anonymous sex in a public park, Private Parts is a rare ‘psychotronic’work possessing both wit and intellect that demonstrates that horror and exploitation hacks have no excuse for directing mundane and/or mindless cinematic twaddle, as one can make a perfectly perverse film with a bit of sophistication. Opening with a marvelous montage featuring various nudes set against a pitch black background, Private Parts immediately sets a titillating tone of quasi-campy sex and violence of the postmodern Hitchcockian (emphasis on the cock!) sort.
After her less than homely bitch of a roommate Judy (Ann Gibbs) catches her playing ‘peeping tom’ (aka she sees her screw some nerdy hippie), 16-year-old Cheryl Stratton (Ayn Ruymen)—a petite little lady that might suffer from a mild cause of autism—is forced to seek shelter elsewhere, thus she decides to head to a rundown hotel owned and operated by her eccentric estranged Aunt Martha (Lucille Benson). Upon arriving at the hotel, Aunt Martha, who seems like a repressed bull-dyke, is somewhat hostile, but finally agrees that she can stay under one condition: “that you promise not to wander around the hotel alone. This is no place for a little girl.” Indeed, as a place inhabited by a gay religious leader named Mr. Moon (Laurie Main), who moonlights as a leather-fag despite being well into his 50s and has young twink hustlers sent to his room that he refuses to pay, and sundry women with varying degrees of dementia, Judy sticks out like a sore spade thumb. When Cheryl’s bitchy ex-roommate’s boy toy stops by to see Cheryl for dubious reasons, he finds himself decapitated by a mysterious slasher killer, with his headless corpse being thrown in an incinerator. Upon asking Aunt Martha about her blood uncle Orville and Cousin Alice, who is supposed to be twice her age, Cheryl gets some rather strange answers. While Aunt Martha states that Orville, “passed on several years ago, age of 73,” she is slightly more ambiguous regarding Alice, stating, “I guess you’d say she’s in the Lord’s hands.” Meanwhile, Cheryl learns that there is a reclusive photographer that lives at the hotel named George (John Ventantonio), who has turned one of the hotel rooms into a makeshift darkroom and only leaves his room at night. When Cheryl’s intolerable bitch ex-roommate shows up at the hotel, Aunt Martha lures her to George’s darkroom where she is assumedly slaughtered.
In what ultimately evolves into a non-romantic subplot, Cheryl meets a young man named Jeff (Stanley Livingston) at a locksmith store while getting a key made and the young man asks her to go on a date with him to a rock concert, which she agrees to do. Towards the last 30 minutes or so of Private Parts, the mysterious seeming homo George begins making regular appearances at night. While lurking near a park, a random man remarks to George, who looks like Hebraic proto-hipster Lou Reed, that, “Goddamn hippies, they’re taking over this country. It’s shameful! Ain’t got no morals at all! All these young gals doing it left and right. They don’t care. And there’s nothing they won’t do. You know what I mean?” The guy also says, “Goddamn weirdoes are taking over this country” and he must be right as George soon begins snapping photos of people having sex out in the open in a public park, with auteur Paul Bartel being one of the perverts. When George gets home from his naughty night in the park, Aunt Martha confronts him regarding an apparent obsession he has with Cheryl, telling him she has devoted her life to “helping him….overcome flesh,” to which he emotionally replies, “you’ve helped ruin my life. You robbed me of a normal childhood and now you’re trying to rob me of whatever little pleasures I can still enjoy…I’m a human being and I need human contact. Now.” And, indeed, in his own wayward way, George attempts human contact with Cheryl by leaving her some fetishistic clothing (i.e. stockings, large gloves, etc.) on her bed with a note reading: “you would drive me crazy if you’d let me see you with these things on.” Determined to prove she is a grown woman and not the annoying naïve little girl that she is, Cheryl puts on the stockings and gloves (which leaves her breasts, bush, and butt bare) and takes a bubble bath, which peeping tom George watches via a hidden hole in the wall Norman Bates style. After getting rather aroused by Cheryl’s less than titillating performance, George ‘has sex’ the only way he knows how by injecting his blood into a translucent blowup doll. Indeed, instead of injecting the doll with his DNA the normal way by merely ejaculating in it with his prick, George uses a needle as a pseudo-penis and blood as his semen.
While Aunt Martha attempts to save Cheryl from the patently perverted photographer by kicking her out of the hotel, George calls the teen that night and she confesses to him that she likes him because he is the only one that doesn’t treat her like a “little girl.” That same night, Jeff picks up Cheryl for their planned date to the rock show, but she becomes angry after he asks her about her missing cousin Alice. Indeed, after Jeff mentions that Alice disappeared around the time she began hanging out with George, stupid little girl Cheryl becomes enraged at him for besmirching her prospective beau and heads back to the hotel. Upon arriving back at the hotel, Cheryl is warned by Aunt Martha that she has booked her a bus ticket for the next morning to Chicago and that she, “won’t have whores and painted women in my house.” When Jeff goes back to the hotel looking for Alice, he is knocked unconscious with a large glass bottle. Meanwhile, Cheryl meets George in his rather bizarrely decorated room and the two begin a photo session. Of course, things become rather strange for Cheryl when Georgie boy attempts to inject her with his blood. During a struggle, George is killed after a large light stand falls on him, and when Aunt Martha storms into the room afterwards, Cheryl stereotypically cries rape. While Aunt Martha is fiddling with George’s corpse, Cheryl realizes that the recently deceased photographer has breasts and is really a woman. Indeed, Aunt Martha offers Cheryl the chance to also be her pseudo-son like George, stating, “You can stay here and take his place. You can be my son.” Of course, Cheryl declines, so Aunt Martha attempts to stab her with a butcher knife. In the end, the police arrive and Jeff survives. When leaving the hotel of closet-homo horror, Jeff spots Cheryl, who has taken on the identity of the perniciously puritanical persona of her Aunt Martha, who she has killed, just like Norman Bates did with his momma.
Undoubtedly, in its depiction of a deranged serial killer of the sexually schizophrenic sort, Private Parts anticipates the teenage tranny slasher flick Sleepaway Camp (1983), but of course, Bartel’s film is infinitely more sophisticated as a work that updates Hitchcock’s Psycho for the counter-culture age. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is that the most demented slasher killer in the film is a repressed bull-dyke who is so out of touch with her own sexuality that she accuses her own female relatives of being wanton whores and even attempts to turn them into men. Indeed, on top of confessing that she had to be artificially inseminated to have her daughter Alicia, Aunt Martha states to Cheryl regarding why she did not have a child with her actual husband, “Not Orville, just me. He was too old. We went to a doctor and worked it out another way. Didn’t need Orville.” Indeed, if the outmoded and pathetically played-out horror genre needs anything, it is more films where the monster is a crazed carpet-muncher who is murderously hungry for the taste of a creamy, young cuntlet. Unquestionably a lost masterpiece as far as campy quasi-exploitation films are concerned, Private Parts is just another example as to why auteur Paul Bartel is one of the most underrated and overlooked filmmakers of his generation, as a sort of Curtis Harrington of his zeitgeist. Indeed, it seems that only exceedingly effete cocksucking camp filmmakers like Harrington and Bartel had what it took to deal with directing boorish old fat cows.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 3:50 AM
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