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Movies From the Black Lagoon: Too hot to handle
Movies From the Black Lagoon
Too hot to handle - 1977, Rated R
By Tom Doty
Weekly Contributing Writer
Excellent locations highlight this B-Movie thrill'ah about a lethal lady in Manilla.
The story begins by introducing the leading lady, Samantha Fox, while she is on an assignment. She manages to entrap her prey by sunning herself by a hotel pool whilst rocking a hot pink bikini that reveals more than it covers. The victim turns out to be an assassins' dream client as he enjoys being tied up as a prelude to adult play. It's no wonder that Fox is ready to accept a bigger job afterwards. Now she sets her sights on a quartet of gangsters who have divided up various criminal enterprises in the city where Muhammad Ali whooped Jolting Joe Frazier.
Meanwhile she catches the eye of a suave detective named Domingo. Besides a cool name he's also got a sweaty sidekick and a wardrobe of fashion disasters that cause him to dress like a rodeo clown. Domingo may suspect that Fox is his culprit once the killings start but that doesn't stop him from dating her. Getting up close to her only makes it easier for Samantha to outwit him until she has knocked off all of her targets.
The finale is pretty out there with Domingo waking up in handcuffs on Fox's yacht. She has flown the coup but left him instructions on how to untie his bonds (she learned the art of knots in the Orient). His incentive is that she has decided to lose the yacht and has placed a time bomb on board. It is a great sequence, as Domingo must slowly unlace the knots, despite the time limit, or risk making them tighter. Does he make it? Well let's just say that this was made in the 70s and anything can happen to anybody at anytime.
The acting here is the main attraction. That's because it is grade school bad. The cast looks good but they were mainly hired to hold up the nice wardrobe. Cheri Caffaro stars as Fox but she was married to the director so let's not go there. A guy with copious body hair and a flimsy command of English (he mispronounces 'syndicate') plays Domingo. The actors are also terrible excuses for martial artists with Kung-fu scenes so unconvincing that I'd gather they couldn't tell karate chops from Lamb ones.
This is one of three films included on "Shout Factory's" latest collection of Roger Corman films. This set is called "The Lethal Ladies" and also includes two other action flicks shot in Manilla and featuring a female lead that can punch out any dude.
These films all feature excellent locations, good photography, and lots of Corman's favorite special effect, nudity. That said there is a lot to enjoy here. The movies are tongue in cheek and every one of them boasts fight sequences that are well choreographed but horribly executed. As it turns out, the Philippines were a choice location because the people worked for peanuts and didn't have unions. That means the stunts usually saw locals getting banged up but nobody got sued. The great exploitation era of shooting in the Philippines was recently captured in an amazing documentary called 'Machete Maidens Unleashed." It is worth watching and includes the best bits of the films that were shot there as well as interviews with the talent who worked down there such as Sid Haig and Joe Dante (Piranha).
Best Line: "It's much more of a turn-on to watch someone die slowly."
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see Tom in the Washington County Playhouse's "Tune in for Murder" every Friday and Saturday in March, starting on the 9th.