13th Sep2015

‘Sweet Trash / The Hang Up’ Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido

SWEET TRASH
(1970, Dir: John Haynes)

“Some people are born to be Sweet Trash”

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Michael (Duncan McLeod, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) is a down on his luck drunken longshoreman whose life takes a weird and potentially deadly twist when he clashes with Dan (William Connors in his only role), a loan shark with a thirst for blood as big as his hunger for money. After losing big at one of Dan’s back room card games, Michael gets an opportunity to settle his $6,000 debt by joining Dan’s operation, but ultimately turns it down. This leads him to have his hand roughed up by a couple of heavies. After taking some drastic measures, Michael is forced to flea for his life. Does he go to Mexico or Columbia? No, he fleas to Coney Island of all places where he meets a seductive blonde carnival girl and then gets seduced and mugged by a Puerto Rican woman. Things only seem to get weirder from there. His only real nod to normality is his lifelong friend and admirer Helen (Mary McGee also in her only role). It’s one trip Michael will never forget!

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All in all, Sweet Trash is a mish mash of genres. You have the crime and gangster elements, some almost Hitchcockian thriller aspects, a touch of almost sci-fi weirdness and an overall arthouse feel. This is a piece of of pure psychotronic cinema. Not only that, but it almost feels like a roughie. It definitely has the flesh on show. The film is well acted enough, McLeod is great as the drunken anti hero and Connors puts in a great performance as the sleazy loan shark, it’s a real shame this is his only credit as he suits that style of character perfectly. Of course, there’s a lot of female ‘talent’ on show too. There are some wonderful looking ladies throughout, especially a girl who looks like a cross between Tasha Reign (Deep Inside Tasha) and Carol Connors (Candy Goes to Hollywood). Of course, this is a soft-core flick so when there is nitty gritty on screen, it’s clumsy and simulated. For me personally, this is more than just a cheap skin flick. There’s some great cinematography by Paul Hipp (The Cut-Throats) throughout, especially with the exterior shots and it’s complimented perfectly by Mario Toscano’s (Fandango) score, or at least the music he selected. The film overall, is aesthetically pleasing and stands out from a lot of the films of this type from this era. My only slight gripe is the film does tend to plod along at times, but overall, John Hayes (Grave of the Vampire) has written and directed an enjoyable film that can be enjoyed more than once.

THE HANG UP
(1970, Dir: John Haynes)



“ALL COP .. except for ‘The Hang Up’”



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Tony Vorno (Jailbait Babysitter) stars as Sgt. Robert Walsh, a hard nosed vice squad cop who must have drawn the short straw back in the precinct because he’s undercover in drag, going from one sleaezpit to another to help stamp out the debauched goings on. Considering he dresses up in drag, he sure has some harsh things to say regarding homosexuals and deviants (hey, no prejudice from this writer folks!). When he’s not on the streets or kicking ass in a skirt, he’s at home living in uninspired misery. That is until Angel (Sharon Matt, Baby Vickie), a local sex performer… I mean masseuse, walks in to his life. The pair forge a relationship, even leading to Walsh tipping her off about a raid. It’s going beautifully for the pair until fate rears its ugly head and Walsh finds himself in something of scandal and Angel reveals a shocking truth.

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The Hang Up is a fairly scuzzy little film that blends the roughie with melodrama. The film and the characters are rough round the edges, but it never gets too nasty. There is plenty of flesh on show throughout, but it never becomes overly sleazy. That being said, there are some fairly campy moments throughout, especially when it comes to Robert’s and Angel’s relationship. Sleazehounds, do not be disappointed! The final third of the film is a fantastic exercise in downbeat craziness. Those looking for an academic element will be interested in the theme of gender politics and sexuality. Yep, seems there is something for every exploitation fan with this one. Well, for the most part yes. Unfortunately, the film does tend to plod in places which is a shame because there is so much there in terms of classic exploitation.
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Overall, both films are entertaining in their own way and what’s missing in Sweet Trash can be found in The Hang Up and vice versa. It’s a great pairing of cheap sleaze and make for a great double feature. What stood out ,most for me was just how well made both films were. Both are actually quite accomplished productions. In terms of the overall release, Vinegar Syndrome have provided one of their best Drive-In Collection double features for a while. Both films look and sound really nice, I have no previous releases to go off, but it’s clear this the best way to view these films. Especially due to the fact previous releases for both films cost more than double to pick up. This is another affordable release that exploitation fans should pick up. Both films include a trailer, which is just the icing on the cake. Definitely give this one a try, especially if like me, you’re not too much of a fan of kitschy late 60′s and early 70′s films a label like Something Weird would release.

Both films are available from Vinegar Syndrome on a double feature DVD and are streamable on Exploitation.tv

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