I believe it was Joseph Campbell who said that the essential ingredients for making a hero’s journey epic are a protagonist, an antagonist, and a young actress willing to take her shirt off on camera. The protagonist hero is the easy part. Just lure some guy off Hollywood Boulevard with some weed and the promise of half-naked girls and you won't even have to pay him. The antagonist can be anyone who can fit into a rented gorilla suit. Judging by the number of films using this recipe, I would recommend getting the suit cleaned before using it. The woman or women may need to be paid, or at least promised fame and fortune.
For you, my dear reader, or readers, as the case may be, I have sat through two low-budget masterworks that employed this special set of ingredients. The first is Beauties And The Beast made in 1974, the second is The Geek made in 1971.
The Beauties And The Beast
I thought I knew what I was getting into when I started watching The Beauties And The Beast. I figured it would be a man in a gorilla suit running around after topless lady campers. It does indeed provide these two things, but it adds some fun extra stuff, like dream sequences and a hippy musical interlude.
The first half is basically the same as the movie Eegah! but with more hair. Instead of a caveman kidnapping girls and dragging them back to his cave, it’s Bigfoot kidnapping girls and dragging them back to his cave. In Eegah! he traps them in the cave with a huge boulder, in The Beauties And The Beast, Bigfoot traps them with a few fistfuls of dried hay stuffed in the entrance.
Bigfoot has quite a few lovely ladies to choose from. The “very remote” forest as it is described by a particularly buxom coed, seems to be brimming with horny, half-naked honey’s just waiting to be carried off and caressed by rubbery gorilla gloves.
One pair of young ladies have come for a weekend getaway at a cabin. Note below how they choose to relax on the couch.
The sex scenes in movies such as these are usually intolerable soft-core sequences of people licking each other's belly buttons, but to the director's credit, the couples actually look like they are having something close to sex. Let’s call it “sex adjacent.”
Eventually, our two young ladies meet a band of hippies and people start flirting. The dream sequence features Sarah, an angry drunk, in an old western style face off with Mary, a free-thinking college girl who is making eyes at Sarah’s bearded beau. The two girls are naked, save for cowboy boots and gun belts, and they slowly approach each other while an annoying yellow ball of light floats around. I think the ball is meant to make the sequence look “dreamy.” They draw their weapons and Mary wakes up.
Much to my amazement, The Beauties And The Beast has a secondary plot involving a hidden bag of gold coins and two gangsters who think the hippies have stolen it. One gangster looks like Gene Wilder wearing a beret and smoking a cigarette. Conveniently, his name is Frenchy. The other guy is a mix between James Cagney and The Frog from Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. I miss Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse, it looked grainy and low quality even back then, but that theme music!
Over the course of the film, the secluded forest gets very crowded. Next to arrive is a hermit guy with a long white beard and fur coat. He is accompanied by a lumberjack in the obligatory red plaid shirt. Everyone starts chasing each other around. There are some gunfights, and of course, an attempted rape, where would be without a rape scene?
The ending is not what one might have expected. The group of hippies hug and some of them drive off into the sunset. The hermit and the Sasquatch walk off together and the three chicks up in the cave are never rescued. Perhaps they will form some kind of large-breasted cave-collective and live in polygamous rapture with their hairy host. That must be it. The whole movie was a Mormon parable about the Garden of Eden, when man didn’t need magic underwear and women were free for the picking. It’s all making sense now.
The “film” was directed by Ray Nadeau and is also called The Beast And The Vixens. If you look it up, it says that it takes place in a nudist camp, which it does not, but I won't be filing a lawsuit. I don’t imagine Mr. Nadeau has much money. The Beauties And The Beast is the only film he has directed. He was the editor on The Satin Mushrooms, the production manager on Messiah of Evil, and had a role as a detective in one episode of Kojak, but somehow I don’t think he’s living the high life.
Ray Nadeau may have been inspired to make his movie after seeing The Geek. The director of The Geek is unknown. I wouldn’t blame him or her for wanting to keep a low profile after making it. The Geek is only an hour long, but it is interminable. It only has three elements which I have broken down into percentages for your convenience. 50% of the film is footage of people hiking. There are just a series of medium and long shots of hippies trudging through a landscape. I believe there was an auteur effort to quote Bergman with the shot below, but it could have just been a coincidence.
Another 45% of the film is uniquely unappealing, hardcore sex encounters, and at the very end, just as you are drifting off to sleep, the last 5% is dedicated to Bigfoot, who the narrator claims is sometimes referred to as “The Geek.”
After hiking for 30 miles in what feels like real-time, two of the hippies, John and Valerie, split off from the group and hike a little further over a hill to have sex in a field. It’s not a pretty sight, so I will limit the number of stills I subject you to, but for the sake of cinema history, it is imperative that you bear witness to at least a few, or at least that is what I tell myself.
After they finish, Valerie asks if they can do it again “real soon,” and John says “all night long, baby.” Maybe I’m just too old, but after a 30-mile hike, they seem to be keeping a pretty challenging schedule.
As soon as that scene ends, we cut directly to a couple we have yet to name, but it doesn’t matter, they hop right into a tent, and out come the tongues. Then, unfortunately, we are faced with the same kind of less-than-flattering angles as before.
Bigfoot finally shows up to join in the festivities. His costume is better than The Beast’s from The Beauties and The Beasts. The Geek’s Bigfoot is not wearing a mask. He has long hair, a beard, and a lot of black makeup. No, it’s not “blackface,” because that would be racist. Just because this is a film about a bunch of white kids getting raped by a big, hairy black man doesn’t mean… uh… well, he isn’t completely black. His pink neck sticks out of his costume and so does his little, pink pecker. I guess the makeup artist had laid down some boundaries, which is more than I can say for the hippies. Near the beginning of the film, the narrator explains, “We are all pledged to share and share alike, our food, our water, our women.” No, it’s not sexist. Just because the men own the women like commodities and pass them around as if the women have no volition of their own doesn’t mean… well, let’s just move on.
Bigfoot seems to think he is included in the patriarchal pecking order and has his way with two young ladies. In truth, he pretends to have his way with two ladies, but is not able to “rise to the occasion.” It can’t be easy copulating through a hole in a gorilla suit. I’d like to take a moment here to emphasize my earlier advice about cleaning a rented gorilla suit before donning it.
The “rapes” don’t seem very rapey considering the expressions on the young ladies’ faces. As soon as it is over, the ladies cry and are rescued by their boyfriends, but Sasquatch knows what he knows.
I thought of doing an article about the whole gorilla costume genre, but after a little research, I found there were way too many to wade through. I guess they’re crowd pleasers or cheap way to approximate crowd pleasers. In the 1930s and 1940s, they were safari films, cashing in on the success of the Tarzan series. In the 1950s, there weren’t as many, but there was the infamous Robot Monster, which wins the prize for most creative use of a gorilla getup. Then in the 1960s and 70s, the genre was revived by simply adding nudity. Now I suppose the mantle has been passed on to the Planet of The Apes franchise and their troop of CGI simians.
Perhaps our fascination with our primate brethren stems from their similarity to us, but so far, apes have not displayed the ability to make films. If they did, I expect they would be better than The Beauties And The Beast and The Geek.
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