|Any intrepid explorer of odd cinema really needs to see The Curious Dr. Humpp (a.k.a La Venganza del Sexo) (1966). I can honestly say Ive never seen another film like it.
A black-and-white horror sci-fi sex thriller from Argentina, Dr. Humpp begins with a montage of awkward staged sex scenes intercut with ominous close-ups of steel-plated running shoes plodding towards the unsuspecting fornicators. When the camera finally tilts up from the metal Nikes, we see that they belong to a peculiar monster with a grouchy, wrinkled papier-mâché face and a small, blinking LED in the middle of its forehead. No, Im not kidding. Despite the monsters exotic appearance, its method of attack is as mundane as it is effective the beast simply chloroforms people and carries them away. Its nice to see at least some monsters moving on with the times.
The victims are schlepped over to the lair of one Dr. Humpp, MD (Aldo Barbero), who forces them to have lots of sex with each other. Since thats what they were originally doing when they got abducted, the kidnappees adapt to their new situation quite easily. In fact, some of the footage looks suspiciously familiar.
The Doctor himself is a victim of some sort of weird experiment and he quickly starts to moulder and decay if he doesnt have enough nymphomaniacs schtupping each other in his lab. The lair is also home to a cranky brain in a jar, the last remnant of the brilliant mad scientist who instructed Dr. Humpp. The brain continually inflates and deflates as it floats in simmering water, and frequently chastises Dr. Humpp for making stupid decisions, such as sending the monster to the drugstore to buy more aphrodisiacs. Brain-boys got a point there while the monster with the light-up Aunt May face was waiting for the prescription to be filled, the canny pharmacist ran to the back room and checked a mug shot to see if this was the same monster the police were looking for.
I should point out that none of the police, bystanders or other "normal" people in the film react with panic at the appearance of the monster. The goofy-looking thing is free to wander around town, order chemicals and sit quietly in strip clubs with little more than concerned glances and hushed confusion from the passersby. This is one of the little touches that make The Curious Dr. Humpp unique. At one point, a bartender is actually asked to give a description of the monster, so that a sketch artist can render a picture of it. This is the same picture that the doomed pharmacist later glances at when he finds the creature waiting in his drugstore.
Dr. Humpps lab assistant is a sexy blond who pleads with the doctor to abandon his dangerous research and vows to provide him with all the sex he wants if he does so. He spurns her, so her only option is to seduce one of the male test subjects and team up with the good guys. Meanwhile, the disembodied brain keeps telling Dr. Humpp what an idiot he is, while the drugged-up prisoners continue to hump each other merrily and the monster strums sadly on what appears to be a cigar-box banjo.
Clearly, movies like this dont come along every day. The original footage was shot in 1966 or 67, and 17 extra minutes of "adult" footage were added years later, along with English dubbing. (This longer or "hot" version is whats available on the Something Weird DVD.) The director, Emilio Vieyra, was something of a maverick and the projects that got him shunned at the time (directing an anti-communist film in 1962, and making several "vulgar" horror potboilers when the rest of Argentina was committed to art films) are ironically the reason hes now becoming highly regarded in cult circles.
The Curious Dr. Humpp was practically a lost film until cult auteur Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case, 1982) found a print in a film vault that was scheduled for demolition. The good folks at Something Weird video have given it a fine DVD release, coupled with three random "special features" that deserve special note.
· "Rasputin and the Princess" is a funny little nudie loop, probably originating from an old-fashioned coin-operated viewer. In it, an extremely robust-looking stripper shakes her thang, takes a nap and is menaced by a scrawny guy in a dark buck-toothed Halloween mask. She cringes girlishly, even though shes got a good 30 pounds on this guy and could probably heave him straight through a wall.
· "The Girl and the Skeleton" is easily the most pornographic three minutes on this disc. A gorgeous nude woman writhes around, occasionally embracing or caressing herself with one of those flat cardboard skeletons you can buy at drugstores in October. A big dose of "rowrr," flavoured with a generous dash of "
· "My Teenage Fallout Queen" is suitable for family viewing, but still manages to be transcendentally weird. Its an odd little scopitone (60s music video used in coin-operated viewers) in which a guy in a furry vest serenades his mutant lady love. She got locked out of the fallout shelter, ysee, and now she emits gamma rays, but shes still his baby. Aww, aint that cute?