Hay, I mean, hey gang, the Keeper here, jest taking some slime off whilst listening to Flatt & Scrugg’s “The Story of Bonnie & Clyde.” Time to dust off my bowl & think Depression, & there’s nothing like some chicken-lickin’ pickin’ to get the ole Keep in a banjocular vein!
Long about 1967 Arthur Penn scored a big hit with BONNIE AND CLYDE, witch did much not only in the style of sinematic violence to come, but witch lickwise did much to Dunaway with the old Warner Bros. method of mythologizing the gangster. (Baby)face it, gang, Hollyweird has long acted like the gangster is scum kind of hero, when axe-ually he’s jest scum kind of scum, pond my word.
Not the type of guy to let his own brand of story-telling go unreekcognized (he had already done a mean despunking of the gangster hit and myth with MACHINE GUN KELLY almost a decade previously), King Cheapo Roger Corman splattered the screens of ’67 with THE ST. VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE, witch at the time took all the critikill pans the review-hacks had saved up while praising BONNIE AND CLYDE to the skies and beyond. Seems there were too many references to whops and crazy Irishmen; never mind the fact that the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was the result of the long-standing war between, you got it, crazy scum who happened to be of Irish and Italian persuasion. Still & malt, ole Roger escaped from 20th whatever the critikill slurs. Ya might say they only ethnicked him!
By 1970 Corman was out there with BLOODY MAMA, the first of a series of MAMA movies. Shelley Winters played Ma Barker with CONsiderable verve under Corman’s direction, & her assordid gang of relatives & rejects gave new demeaning to many a perversion. Should you ever find this titular title on video rental, be sure to (banjo) pick it up -- the monster and I incest!
Spooking of titular titles, by 1974 Corman’s New World Pictures found itself riding thigh, uh, high with Steve Carver’s BIG BAD MAMMARIES, er, MAMA, starring the always remarkable Angie Dickinson as Wilma McClatchie, a gun-totin’ hip-slinger of a reel woman.
New World’s market at this point in slime was pretty much car crash & burn, & BIG BAD MAMA slayfully mixed said formula with udder New World staples, like titties and leer.
Even the Angie D. bod was on bountittieful display, as many a men’s magazine of the day can attest two.
SET in the 1930’s BIG BAD was a fun PITure, light-hearted without being light-headed. A message of sordid sorts lay there, about banks, land, family sticking together through hell & dry weather. Also on set, uh, handling Angie’s set, I mean, also on hand were Tom Skerritt & also William Shatner, doing a fine turn as the flip side of his repertoire, a coward.
Surely this was a flick whereon the ghouled Captain was more than WILLing to trade his enterprise for a booby prize, eh? (Hay, why should Nimoy be the only guy that KEEP’s his ears warm?).
Ah, butt back then in ’74 even the most light-hearted of folk could by the choice of their path through life be light-headed toward tragedy. Crime, even when cornspun rather than Capone-run, does not pay. What seemed a drive-in romp turned downer with an ending witch found Angie D.’s daughters tooling down the road laughing about the last heist only to find out it WAS the last heist: it seemed Angie D. had met her Wilmaker!
& now a word from your pun sir. Much to his dismayhem, the Keeper can only admit (one) that the drive-ins are on their last GASp. Old New World is long gone, new New World is more successful with video releases than theatricks, the mall has replaced the Passion PIT as the home for happy zombies. Where for most of his (such as it is) life, the Keeper could catch films on giant, outdoor concrete screens, now he has to suffer through nothing but the latest big budgie product the majors use to illuminate the little boxes they call theaters. How many indepundent pix pass through such venues could be counted on one of the monster’s tentacles…the majors rule. Little pictures have nowhere to go…no neighborhood theaters anymore, no drive-ins, no play-dates at the mall. I mean, when I grue up in the 50’s (sure that’s dating myself, butt when ya look like the Keeper, you HAVE to date yerself!) & went to outdoor ogle the 50 Foot Woman, that’s how big she looked. I mean, she was TITanic! & ass fur as the Keeper is concerned, that’s axe-actly how Big Bad Mama’s should be Hayes-seed!
Cut the hay to 1987. Corman/Concorde do some theatrick still, but ole Roger didn’t survive making movies until retirement by being a dummy: nowadaze most Concorde product moves through video, the “B” now “B” & “C” market of the ‘80’s. Rare is the Concorde pic witch even sees the light of a mall box, so Corman thrives on video deals with MGM/UA, foreign sales, cable, etc. & wonder of wonders, seems to make his usual skillful killing, whilst the outfit witch is now New World flounders like a fish out of Wanda.
So, to survive & thrive in the changed market, Corman of late makes sequels. Jest like big $ Hollyweird. It KEEPs up the sinterest in which might lay doormat on shelves, witch makes dealers happy. “SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 2? I didn’t know there was a SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 1!” (& then he slaps down his “2” bits!) “DEATHSTALKER 2? Yeah, I’ll take it. When they comin’ out with SORCERESS 2 WHOSE ASS IS ONE?”
Witch brings us 2...
In the true grue blue tradition of Hollyweird sequels, it safely ignores certain events of its predecessor (Fur instants, the Frankenstein monster could die in a sulfur PIT one PITure, then be floundered, uh, found in a block of ice in the next. Witch beats a bolt in the neck!). So, BIG BAD MAMA 2 jest opens with Angie D. & her two daughters (& who can argue with an open Angie D. plus 2 daughters, letch KEEP it in the family way!) as they watch the loco Tex-ass law of 1934 come onto their homestead & blow the old man away in the name of the Morgan Crawford bank.
Morgan Crawford’s the name of the piece’s villain. He’s a bigpig, uh, wig banker & loco business-poison, played by Bruce Glover.
Soon he’ll be running for governor whilst Wilma & her 2-girl gang run for their lives as they look for slaymates & playdates.
They’d rather knock over banks than get knocked up…like the John Solie 1-sheet sez, “Untouchable? She’s unstoppable!” & before you know it, Robert Culp as Daryl Pearson, “Voice of the West” for the Philadelphia Eagle, catches their act of daylightheaded robbery & of curse wants their story.
Wilma & the gals spot him on their tail, so the youn’uns engage in some skinny-dipping to sucker him into their clutches as Ma draws a bead on him. Before he knows it, they’ve stripped him down to his hat without him so much as getting felt! Why, he doesn’t even get to ask Wilma “What’s a Ness girl like you doing in a place like this?”
Ah, butt this is a dizzylulu of a story. Shortly the gals have in their hands & band the son of the perspiring governor Crawford, & he licks the idea jest swell.
I mean, his dad’s that kind of guy. When Wilma & gang stick up 1 of his fundraisers & a lackey jest sez why don’t we jest shoot shoot it out, ole Morgan replies “Jewelry can be replaced. Wealthy contributors can’t.”
Gradually the tone gets more political. Sleazy sets witch look no cheaper than the rest become “Hoovertowns,” & the spectre of the dust bowl looms even larger.
After a stop at the Jackson County Fair...
...& a visit to Culp’s favorite bordello (a SET witch can also be seen in another Depression-era Corman quickie, DADDY'S BOYS)...
...Culp and Angie D. get it together in footage not nearly as vivid as BBM1’s.
Maybe she wandered from DRESSED TO KILL to BODY DOUBLE, I dunno…
Angie’s an old lady butt firm, as Lenny Bruce used to say, butt I have my doubts.
Rewind again! (Down, monster, down!)
You be the judge, butt I look at it this way: drool, pant, slobber! Who knows, by the next sequel they may have to call it OLD BAT MAMMARIES.
From there we go to the wrap-up: a return to the family boneyard & homestead, from witch Ma & the gals will go straight. Will Culp, when he learns of the upcoming bloodbath from the loco loco law, turn journalistic jellyfish & root for the boys with the badges? In udder words, will he CELLAR out? We won’t tell, unless someone forces us to watch FATAL ATTRACTION AGAIN.
[Originally published in Temple of Schlock #12, October 1988]