I love Something Weird Video releases. Many are forgettable. Some are excruciating. Some — Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973), Thunder in Dixie (1964), Night of the Bloody Apes (1969), A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine (1966), A Thousand Pleasures (1968), to name a few — are among my exploitation favourites. No matter how bad a Something Weird release is, it will always contain at least a sprinkling of madness that makes it worth the purchase. For me, one of the biggest surprises from their catalogue was the double feature release of Joe Sarno’s Sin in the Suburbs (1964) and The Swap and How They Make It (1966). I watched these knowing nothing about them and realised pretty quickly that they weren’t your average hunks of smut. This could especially be seen in the brilliant Sin in the Suburbs, where Sarno ramps up the melodrama and manages to get genuinely engaging performances from his cast. I’ve been keen to check out more of Sarno’s work and got that opportunity with another Something Weird release…
FLESH AND LACE
USA, 1965, Joseph W. Sarno
Bev starts to evolve into a very different kind of lady when Joan’s asshole boyfriend, Rook (John Aristedes), slips into bed with her. She finds herself losing her mind over Rook’s advances and opens up a side to herself that she didn’t know existed. Bev, as the poster screams, is, in fact, a repressed NYMPHOMANIAC!
Joan kicks Bev to the curb when she walks in on Rook getting his kicks. Bev winds up shacking up with a strange toy shop owner, Julian (Joe Santos). Julian is obsessed with Bev, so much so that he accepts her intense desires in an unexpectedly open way. All is fine for a brief interlude, but Rook and his gambling debts are just around the corner, ready to shatter Bev and Julian’s oddball bliss.
Flesh and Lace is not nearly as good as Sin in the Suburbs, but, to be fair, it’s a lot to live up to. Sarno still delivers an extraordinarily entertaining bit of sleaze and, unlike most trash of the era, it takes its time to establish its cast of kooks. From Heather Hall’s doe-eyed dopiness to John Aristedes’ macho swaggering, the performances in this are very enjoyable. The real shining star is Judy Young as Joan. Young gives a raw, impassioned performance, creating a character filled with regret, smarts and sass.
This doesn’t get as weird as some 60s sleaze — it’s certainly not a Findlay production — but it has a smattering of bizarre that gives it an extra edge. Julian’s shop is a creepy location packed with awkward, wind-up toys. The bar’s stripping performances are fabulously dead-to-the-world. And, best of all, we get an uncomfortably intimate moment between Bev and a giant stuffed lion.
Flesh and Lace is not the Sarno sexploitation film to begin with. Stick with Sin in the Suburbs if you’re new to his work. But if you dug what you saw in that film, then absolutely give this a shot. Flesh and Lace is premium sleaze, entertaining from start to finish. It’s also a blissfully short 74 minutes — the perfect length for something like this. Throw Something Weird your bucks, sit back and enjoy the grime.
Flesh and Lace is available in a double feature with Sarno’s Passion in Hot Hollows. The disc is packed with the usual glut of Something Weird goodies.