Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ginger (1971) & The Abductors (1972) & Girls Are for Loving (1972)



          In some quarters, this sleazy trilogy is referred to as "Jerseysploitation," because the series emerged from the Garden State. Funny though it may be, the label is misleading since it suggests the pictures contain something culturally or geographically distinctive. Not so. Cheap, grungy, and unpleasant, these movies could just as easily have been made anywhere. More importantly, they could just as easily have not been made anywhere. Sadly, the pictures exist, collectively representing the crowning achievement of a bland screen personality named Cheri Caffaro. Uncharismatic, uninhibited, and untalented, the extremely blonde and extremely tall Caffaro spends the duration of this series giving stilted line deliveries while acting the role of a wealthy socialite who moonlights as a private detective. That is, when she isn't performing roughly the function of a porn actress by participating in highly realistic--and yet spectacularly unerotic--love scenes. All three movies were written and directed by Caffaro’s husband, Don Schain.
          In the first picture, Ginger, heroine Ginger McAllister (Caffaro) accepts an assignment to infiltrate a criminal gang responsible for blackmail and drug trafficking. Setting aside the clumsy and vague plot, the takeaway is that Ginger’s a nymphomaniac with a cause, willing to use her body in the name of justice. For example, Ginger comforts a young woman whom she’s just rescued from captivity by going down on the woman, then assuring the woman that their encounter doesn’t mean they’re lesbians. It’s not all fun and games, however; later in the movie, Ginger handcuffs a dude to a bed, strips naked, and rubs against him until he’s aroused, at which point she ties a piano wire around his member and threatens castration unless he cooperates. None of the sex in Ginger is explicit, but the love scenes are so raw that it’s surprising Ginger escaped an X-rating. In any event, except perhaps for those who relish themes of abuse, bondage, and rape, Ginger is utterly disposable.
          The same can be said, more or less, of the picture’s first sequel, The Abductors. Made with a moderately higher budget and featuring zippier music than its predecessor, The Abductors finds Ginger tasked with capturing criminals who kidnap young women, employ brainwashing and torture to transform the women into sex slaves, and sell the women to clients who pay upwards of $100,000 per playmate. While the action scenes and the storytelling in The Abductors improve on those in Ginger, the film is still so unremittingly tacky that it’s impossible to muster any praise. Schain’s idea of a sex scene usually involves having a doughy naked dude place himself atop an uncomfortable-looking woman and then grind away, with private parts just barely hidden from view; for a filmmaker preoccupied with putting sex onscreen, Schain proves remarkably unimaginative when trying to accomplish the task. Caffaro’s performance in The Abductors is just as awful as it was in Ginger, especially when she breaks into one of her signature dance numbers. Yes, in each movie, Caffaro shakes her groove thing for an extended period, and her footwork is as weak as her acting.
          Of the trilogy, only the final picture, Girls Are for Loving is remotely tolerable, though it’s hardly meritorious. In the first 10 minutes, criminals parachute onto the grounds surrounding a ski lodge, kidnap the man of the house, and rape and murder the woman of the house, concluding the whole enterprise with an explosion. Girls Are For Loving represents Schain’s boldest attempt to date at mimicking the 007 formula, and, indeed the film’s story is as convoluted and twisty as the narrative of any Bond film. Girls Are for Loving provides Ginger with a proper adversary, the vicious Ronnie St. Clair (Sheila Leighton), and the movie features a mildly entertaining sled run down a mine-laden mountainside. It’s all very low-budget, to be sure, but it’s better than what came before. The nasty sex stuff is still present, including an odd preponderance of handjob scenes, yet Girls Are For Loving also has a certain self-awareness—at one point, Ginger and Ronnie have a conversation about the difference between love and lust. Alas, any hope the series might have found a brain is dashed by the scene in which Ginger responds to an inquiry about whether she considers herself promiscuous: “Let’s just say I like to fuck a lot.” Subtle!
          Caffaro and Schain reteamed once more after the Ginger series by introducing the new adventure character Samantha Fox in Too Hot to Handle (1977), but that picture failed to generate any sequels.

Ginger: LAME
The Abductors: LAME
Girls Are for Loving: FUNKY

1 comment:

Jeff Nettleton said...

I saw The Abductors at a local video store, back in the very early 90s, and rented it. It's pretty pathetic as either an exploitation film; or soft-core porn/fetish film. Thank god I never encountered the others. The Doll Squad it ain't (and that one isn't the greatest exploitation film around, either).