34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2004
Kudos to Something Weird Video for putting "A Smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine," one of David F. Friedman's best movies, on DVD! Sexy Stacey Walker, with her arched eyebrows, wicked smile and heavily sprayed hair, burns up the screen as Sharon Winters, a character who gets her kicks seducing men, then crying "Rape!" (In his commentary, the always-enteraining Friedman tells how he considered calling the movie "C.T.", but figured no one would get it.) It's a performance that's fun to watch, and certainly uses Walker to much greater effect than the nudie-cutie "The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill." Shot in black and white, "A Smell of Honey" has a deliciously tawdry look, yet shows some artful flourishes (likely attributed to cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs as director Byron Mabe was never known for artful flourishes. Even when the actors are clothed, our imaginations are nudged into the gutter (Walker and "victim" framed in a tree that looks like spread thighs; Walker suggestively drinking from a Coke bottle while the camera periodically cuts to the thrusting, bulging crotch of her boyfriend singing in a bar). Walker could've easily gone on to stardom, in either exploitation or even mainstream movies (she reportedly was courted by Paramount). But, as Friedman tells it, she married "some gazoony" and moved back to her home state of Texas after only making two feature-length movies.
Friedman only distributed "A Sweet Sickness," but the movie is a worthy second feature to "A Smell of Honey." Starring Vincene Wallace as a Hollywood hopeful who tries to hold on to her virtue while pursuing an acting career, "A Sweet Sickness" is nastier than most '60s sex pics, but not quite crossing over into '70s soft-X territory. Some amusing moments include Wallace's sleazy agent getting cornered on his casting couch by a Rubinesque stripper (named Bertha, naturally); Wallace sporting a hairstyle that looks like she has a giant gourd perched atop her head; a hyperkenetic performance by a spindly exotic dancer who looks a lot like Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss; and a bed brought to life through stop-motion animation. Look for Carol Channing in an opening scene (calm down, she's not naked).
"The Brick Dollhouse" is another Friedman pickup, and even he refers to it as a "worthless piece of crap." Swinging roommates come home to discover one of their roomies has been shot dead. By the time the police arrive, they've all changed into sexy lingerie--perfect attire for telling the police about all those swingin', topless pot parties they go to on a daily basis. There a few moments in this lame whodunnit that'll produce giggles, and if you like looking at topless '60s babes go-go dancing you'll be in heaven. Otherwise, even with a running time of 55 minutes, "The Brick Dollhouse" goes on waaaay too long.
There are trailers for other Friedman movies, like "The Defilers," "The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill" and "The Lustful Turk" (in which all the men wear obviously fake beards). But the best extra is Friedman's commentary on "A Smell of Honey." This sultan of sleaze and Allah of alliteration (sorry, got carried away) livens up any DVD with his frankly-told, frequently humorous anecdotes of exploitation's golden age. At times, his commentary can be more entertaining than the movie (e.g. "Fanny Hill" and "The Head Mistress"). Though "A Smell of Honey" easily stands on its own, Friedman's commentary is icing on the cake.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2005
If anything, Something Weird Video has the most interesting DVD catalog out there. Even if you have no particular affinity for the films, you've got to admit that they have some of the most unique titles ever to be displayed on a marquee. And with this David F. Friedman triple feature, SWV once again proves that they are one of the leaders of the DVD industry today.
A SMELL OF HONEY, A SWALLOW OF BRINE is obviously the main point of interest, and with good reason: it is the only good film on this DVD. SMELL OF HONEY has it all-- sleaze, cheese, and a fair bit of nudity, all of which usually make for an entertaining viewing experience. Stacey Walker is hilariously bad (which equals good, in my book) as sex kitten Sharon Winters, who teases horny young men and then cries rape when things go too far. The acting is atrocious (though not annoyingly so) and the ending is deliriously ironic. Anyone who is a fan of vintage Something Weird product will have a great time with this.
A SWEET SICKNESS is certainly a few notches down in the fun department, but is not without its merits; the film has some good photography and the quality of the transfer really brings this out. The main problem with A SWEET SICKNESS is the pacing (which is also the problem with THE BRICK DOLLHOUSE): minutes go by without anything much happening besides unattractive girls dancing in a very unerotic way, which makes a 65 minute film seem like a 165 minute film. But still, A SWEET SICKNESS has an intriguing plot that somehow makes up for some of its mistakes. In fact, the plot of the film (a woman moves to the city hoping to make it as a stripper, only to find that the only thing the men want is sex) leads one to believe that perhaps it was the inspiration for the infinitely superior cult classic, SHOWGIRLS. However, the ideas behind this film are far better than the actual execution.
THE BRICK DOLLHOUSE is a bore, plain and simple. In fact, I might go so far as to say that it's one of the worst films I've ever seen. This would have worked as an effective updating of RASHOMON--five women discover their roommate has been murdered, but each has a different explanation of the events leading up to her death--if only it weren't so mind-numbingly dull. THE BRICK DOLLHOUSE was obviously filmed to titillate, and while the women are quite attractive, the gratuitous nudity and sex does very little to advance the plot. Both this film and A SWEET SICKNESS pale greatly to SMELL OF HONEY, making that film look like a masterwork in comparison.
For the age of these three films, the picture quality is outstanding. In fact, the latter two are hardly deserving of such grand treatment. The sound is average, but the extras are where this disc really shines. SWV have included a commentary on SMELL OF HONEY with producer David F. Friedman, the original trailer for A SWEET SICKNESS, bonus Friedman trailers, a special shot-on-video short called "A Visit to the Apple Theater", and a gallery of posters from David F. Friedman productions. All in all, a very worthwhile set for any fan of sexploitation films, and even though A SWEET SICKNESS and THE BRICK DOLLHOUSE aren't very interesting, SMELL OF HONEY alone is worth the retail price.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2004
Rebounding from their disappointing Flesh Trilogy disc, Something Weird presents one certified sexploitation classic in A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine, and throws in two lesser but enjoyably kitschy nudies, A Sweet Sickness and The Brick Dollhouse, for a satisfying David Friedman triple-bill.
In Smell of Honey, Sharon Winters (Stacey Walker) makes a hobby of seducing her dullard male coworkers then screaming rape, ruining their careers and reputations. While not destroying men, Sharon spends her time teasing her big-haired lesbian roommate Paula. Sharon embarks on a "serious relationship" with new man at the office Lowell Carter, leading to his inevitable seduction/rejection. He reacts by having an erotic, kinky, soft-focus bondage dream about Sharon whipping and being whipped by him. After Sharon cries rape on Carter, he stalks and sexually assaults another woman and is shot in the back by her boyfriend. Finally, Sharon picks up young stud Tony, they dance at a bar, and she takes him home to try her usual routine only to find that she's more than met her match. Friedman's script nicely balances plot and dialogue with the obligatory petting/bathing scenes, and first-time director Byron Mabe (She Freak, The Acid Eaters) actually goes for the occasional arty montage. As Friedman observes, Walker ("discovered" by him on a Florida beach) perfectly personifies white-trash sexuality, playing the harlot with obvious relish as she spits out such lines as "Some of us, Paula, would rather fight than switch" or the now-famous "I may be a bi**h, but I'll never be a bu**h." The strangely appropriate soundtrack is by an anonymous garage band (Et Cetra) that falls somewhere between hippieish folk-psych and Stooges-like proto-punk, and often seems on the verge of completely falling apart. Another of Laszlo Kovacs's early pre-fame movies, this looks great even when nothing spectacular is happening; unfortunately the print is far from perfect. The tonal values, detail, sharpness, and grain are generally fine, but there is light speckling and blemishing, light lining, some heavier damage around reel changes, and a series of horizontal emulsion dings that appears for about 15 or 20 minutes midway through. Worse, the opening scene in the car, a shower scene with Sharon and Carter, and a few other spots are marred by jump cuts and missing dialogue. Considering the logistics of finding any decent print of a film like this after 35 years, these are forgivable flaws, yet still disappointing. Ignoring the print problems, Smell of Honey is terrific fun for fans of 60s roughie sexploitation and a nice bookend to Friedman and Lee Frost's The Defilers.
A Sweet Sickness tells the story of the "young gals" who come to Hollywood looking for stardom only to find that unless they "put out" they'll get nothing but a "one-way ticket back to Hicksville." The narrator snidely informs us that Connie, a seasoned casting-couch veteran, has a three-day $750 Vegas gig, while roommate Dee, a newcomer who wants to make it without compromising herself, is broke and unemployed ("but then, she still has her pride"). Dee is molested by their scuzzy landlord, applies for a job with a lecherous agent (then tells him to "shove it"), and is shown an apartment by a realtor who drugs her and imprisons her (in a distorted "trip" sequence) in a room full of pot-smoking white slave girls. Later, at a club holding a strange "strip auction," Dee and a "cute" guy in silk shirt and white pants dance on stage, backed by The Tigers and the Pussycat, a novelty garage trio featuring a female guitarist with long blonde hair. The owner threatens to withhold Dee's pay for spurning the winning "bidder" and a skinny topless "hippie" chick dances wildly. Back at the realtor's, Dee's involved in a drugged-out slo-mo bisexual whipped-cream party. In the hilarious final scene, a lustful casting agent reveals his pushbutton roll-away "casting" bed. These sequences, with their goofy dialogue, sarcastic narration, and bizarre plot twists are amusing enough; unfortunately they only account for about 25 percent of the 65-minute movie. The rest is the usual "nudie" padding of dressing, showering, bathing, hairbrushing, dancing, etc., that seems at times to go on forever (at least the women are generally good looking). The soundtrack is again provided by an unknown garage/frat rock band (Raul and the Revelations), and some vintage Bell System dial telephones are featured prominently. Print quality is quite good, better than the main feature, with generally excellent tonal values, sharpness, and detail, marred only by some light speckling and visible grain. Entertaining in a mid-60s schlock sort of way, just be ready with the fast-forward button.
The Brick Dollhouse, is ostensibly a murder mystery set in a "swinging" apartment building. The framing story of detectives questioning the (mostly female) residents about the murder is really just an excuse for extended flashback "party" scenes of backyard/poolside bongo playing, semi-naked go-go dancing, water-pipe smoking, joint Bogarting, chess playing, showering, dressing, keyhole-peeping, whipping, spanking, macho posturing, and spin-the-bottle sessions. There's plenty of hideous 1960s decor, clothing, and hairdos on display, backed by sub-Ventures guitar, sax, and organ. Print quality is surpisingly good, with very good to excellent color balance and saturation, acceptable contrast and detail, and some light speckling/blemishing the only evident damage. While far from classic, Brick Dollhouse is a painless, mildly amusing 55 minutes, more so for serious students of 1960s kitsch. "Yeah, she's outasight. Really outasight!"
The outstanding "extra" is a florid, fanciful, fascinating audio commentary on Smell of Honey by storyteller extraordinaire Dave Friedman, easily worth half the price of the disc if you're at all interested in the history of exploitation cinema. Friedman trailers include A Sweet Sickness, The Defilers, The Lustful Turk (looks pretty painful), Starlet, and The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill (with Stacey Walker). There is also a Friedman exploitation art gallery and an odd short containing the (videotaped) trailer for Brick Dollhouse. Overall, a solid buy for 1960s sexploitation fans. Recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
There's plenty of almost full frontal female nudity in this cheesey but fun movie from the sixties. The lead actor, Stacey Walker, was quite a dish. She got her kicks from seducing men and then crying rape, shaking her head back and forth as she screamed, when a second before she was stripping and eagerly reaching for the poor guy.
There are plenty of shower scenes, makeout sessions on the couch, strip scenes, a lesbian scene, dressing, undressing, garters, bras, panties that are almost see through, and some very close up lingering scenes of some lovely female breasts and buttocks. This was, and still is in a very sixties way, some very sensual erotic stuff. I found it a pleasure to see this type of soft core porn, done in a realistic way, without vulgarity, with slow natural build ups. To see the male hand reaching to unhook a bra, or slowly easing down just inside the back of the panties, can be very erotic, to some of us. In this way, it was very refreshing and unusual.
The fact that it was shot in black and white didn't detract at all for me. And to see a beautiful female predator, preying on men in such a sick way, made it even more unusal. We felt pity for her victims. Her last attempt at
seducing then crying rape backfires however. The very last shot is of her standing on a street in a trench coat, looking vacant and dead, and an older man comes along and takes her arm and starts walking with her.
I don't often buy movies any more since I can watch them through online subscriptions but I'm glad I bought this one.
It is cheesey, sleazy, dirty and cheap but so entertaining to watch.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2005
This film is really amazing. It's 60's trash, but it is different from other films of the type and becomes a film in a category of its own. It may sound pretentious to call a movie like this art, but is so orignal it can only be described as such. It's extremely low budget. The filming is crude, the camera is often shaky, and the editing is very poor, scenes jump around and collpase into one another. But all this almost seems to be done on purpose. The music is amazing, light 60's rock that is so repetitive that it puts one in a quasi-hypnotic state and the melodies are beautiful. The film is often silent except for the music which constantly plays in the background. The sreenwriting is of course not written by the book, but you can still find a traditional three act story if you try. The movie instead moves in segments, each having its own theme song and victim. The story is divulged in other reviews, but if you can watch the movie without having the story line revealed to you first I would recommend it. I recommend this movie to any adult who can watch it with an open mind.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2009
I have a soft spot for low budget obscure films. Something weird videos are definitely worth indulging yourself in.
This 3 movies are prime examples of great stories done with bad acting. I enjoy things like that so indulge yourself too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
Ok so first of all i am not a movie critic by nature. Im not going to pretend that I know everything about film making, when in fact I dont. BUt I recognize a good set of movies when I see them. All 3 movies I think have plot. This set certainly borders on erotic and sleezy trashy grindhouse fun. Well perhaps these movies will never win an oscar. But the characters and acting here is well put. YOu have abundant of nudity in all 3 films but they are done with a touch of grace and good taste. The girls are average looking but they are all natural. What I liked most of this set was THE BRICK DOLLHOUSE- it features a lot of girls in jeans and pigtails and very topless dancing to grinding cheesey 70's rock music. NOw this I can appreciate because you dont see this anymore with movies nowadays. I paid $6 for my dvd and it got 3 movies that I will perhaps watch again when Im bored. So with that said I can promise you this is a good bargain and an excellent addition to your collection if you are into erotica or 60-70's grindhouse trash.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2013
These movies are a blessing for those of us that remember these stag films .
I'm thankful for the people that took their time to make it possible , for my older
age group to remember these classics ,and to be able to see them again.Again,
the plot is as important, as a story in Playboy, if you catch my drift.Just buy one
of these,and enjoy!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
'A smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine' is one of the most entertaining movies to come out of the Something Weird Video collection. It has all of the qualities that make a great B-Movie. If you're not a fan of vintage exploitation, bad acting and hilarious dialog, then chances are you may not like this movie... if you are a fan of those things, then order now!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2013
I realize this is a triple title DVD, but I'm most interested in the first film---A Smell of Honey/A Taste of Brine. It has everything we love about 60s sexploitation films, and more.
The first thing to mention is the music throughout the movie is lots of fun. Done by an unknown group that David Friedman found for $500, their classic garage band sound fills your head and won't leave. In one scene you get to see the band actually performing live, which is also terrific. In fact, I can't imagine this film without that marvelous, classic 60s background music.
And Stacy Walker's performance as Sharon Winters is almost legendary. She has a cinematic presence that's quite remarkable for such a miniscule budget film. Charismatic and deliciously trashy at the same time...perfect for Dave Friedman's zany films! Too bad she only appeared on camera a couple times, before moving back to her home town.
Other people here on amazon have already mentioned all the enjoyable things about this film, so I won't repeat them with my commentary. I will mention my favorite scene is when Sharon watches a prospective new victim sing with the band, she gives head to a coke bottle! lol
And the unforgettable line,"Paula, I may be a bitch. But I'll never be a butch." is one of the Sexploitation Film genre's finest moments, IMHO. Highest recommendations to folks that love the unusual films of Sexploitation--- and a sleazy, trashy look at the 1960s.