Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Naked Zoo (1970)

While some folks might take perverse pleasure in watching World War II-era screen goddess Rita Hayworth star as a sex-starved housewife who dives into the drug culture of the late ’60s and early ’70s by taking a decades-younger lover and emulating his controlled-substances habits, most viewers are wise to avoid The Naked Zoo, which is among Hayworth’s final films. Although the movie’s production values are passable, the only thing worse than The Naked Zoo’s discombobulated editing is its pointlessly lurid script. Most of the scenes feel unrelated to each other, strange things happen without explanation, and vast stretches of the film comprise montages of dancing and partying that fail to advance the storyline. The Naked Zoo is not unique, in that many other unhip movies about the counterculture devolve into shapeless sequences depicting wigged-out kids drugging and screwing, but The Naked Zoo achieves and sustains a noteworthy level of incoherence, ensuring that the few logical scenes are like islands in a sea of nonsense. The basic gist is that Mrs. Golden (Hayworth) wants stud service because her husband, Harry (Ford Rainey), is a crusty old dude in a wheelchair. Enter golden-haired swinger Terry (Stephen Oliver), who can’t seem to make it through a conversation without drinking or popping or snorting or toking. Not that it matters much to the narrative, but Terry has a lover of his own, African-American beauty Nadine (Fleurette Carter), whom he offensively calls a “pickaninny.” (Terry also does things like starting indoor bonfires, so racial insensitivity is merely one of his flaws.) By the end, The Naked Zoo devolves into a soap opera replete with betrayals and tragedies, though anyone watching the flick unironically is likely to have checked out long before that point.

The Naked Zoo: LAME

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