Monday, April 11, 2011

The Penis Made Me Do It: "The Amazing Transplant" (1970)

Doris Wishman, to put it bluntly, was the worst film maker of all-time.

Arthur (Juan Fernandez) is having penis problems. He rapes and strangles the love of his life, Mary (Sandy Eden), and then disappears. His mother (Linda Southern) brings in her dead husband's detective brother Bill (Larry Hunter) to find Arthur before he kills again. Armed with Arthur's address book, Bill looks up some other women in Arthur's life, and finds out he raped them all. He also stumbles upon a tense Dr. Meade (E.B. Priest), who finally confesses to Bill why Arthur is behaving irrationally whenever he sees a woman wearing dangly gold earrings.

Like other films I reviewed here from Doris ("Double Agent 73" and "Let Me Die a Woman"), "The Amazing Transplant" is a study in awfulness. Wishman's camera meanders around one or two sets passing for clinics and big city apartments without any establishing shot or structure. The acting is uniformally bad across the board. To save on sound, Wishman has most of the cast deliver their lines offscreen while the camera focuses on whomever the line is being addressed to. Surprisingly, coming from a female writer/director, the film is full of rape scenes, and these victims never report Arthur to the police. The rapes are played for erotic value (if there is such a thing), and are painful to watch. Also painful to watch is Hunter's eyebrow-arching, the only emotional trait he seems capable of. The cast seems dead inside, as if they signed on to this before realizing what was going to happen. This also might explain the high number of pseudonyms among the actors, and Wishman herself.

The sexual scenes are explicit, falling just short of hardcore pornography. But seventy minutes of Wishman's cinema is like having a penis implant with just enough anesthesia...oops, just gave away the big revealing climactic moment of the film; don't worry, if the title didn't clue you in, Wishman's obvious hints will. The film loathes its audience, treating the viewer like a half-brained moron who can't find boobies anywhere else. The Something Weird Video DVD copy of this is surprisingly clear and looks pretty good, when you aren't rubbing your eyes and wishing this would go away.

"The Amazing Transplant" is easily one of the worst films of the 1970's. I am doubtful Wishman made a film deserving of more than one star, but I will gamely plod on. If you hear a scream from the northern part of the country one night, you'll know I am still looking. (*) out of five stars.