Monday, February 11, 2008
I’ve been a fan of Leon Klimovsky for years. He directed several of my favorite Paul Naschy movies (DR. JEKYLL AND THE WEREWOLF, THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK, WEREWOLF'S SHADOW, etc.) and I love THE VAMPIRE’S NIGHT ORGY so I was anticipating a good movie. But what I got was something I was not expecting.
Philandering husband Ernest is out partying in a nightclub with some co-workers one night. He gets in his car to take one of the secretaries home for the evening for a little mattress bounce but has overestimated his ability to drive while drunk. One crash later the secretary is dead and he is on an operating table breathing his last. Enter mad scientist/doctor of insane medicine Adolph who is pressed by his nurse into continuing his concentration camp experiments on poor Ernest. A gleeful Adolph takes the fellow’s brain out of his dying body and pops it into the body of Leta. It seems that she’d had a terminal brain tumor but her body is in fine shape so it’s a perfect match- right? You would think so- especially if you were a Nazi doctor hell-bent on proving his mad theories to the world.
Of course if you’re a macho man suddenly placed inside a woman’s body you might think otherwise. Ernst is shocked at his transformation and disgusted by the attention he/she gets from men. He’s still the same old pussy hound with the same old pussy hound urges and the idea of sex with a man is just not going to work for him. (Alternate titles- Creation of a Lesbian!; Night of the Lesbian; The Lady Wears a Tie; Is That a Boobie in Your Bra or Are You Just Happy to See Me?) Pissed at his new lot in life and suffering some decided shock he seethes with anger. Only able to take being locked up in the hospital for a short time he/she starts a distracting fire, shoves Adolph into it and makes an escape. A visit to his ex (?) wife reveals that she’s now sleeping with his best friend/co-worker and living comfortably off the million dollar insurance policy Ernest left behind. Hard up for money Leta tries to get Ernest’s old job at the engineering firm. After all- she has the same qualifications. When that doesn’t work (he/she actually calls his old boss a male chauvinist!) she tries to convince a psychiatrist of her predicament but he dismisses her story. Or he does until he realizes this is the escaped crazy woman who burned old Dr. Adolph to death! At this point Leta decides to visit her new body’s parents for a break. But Ernest soon learns that Leta has a son from a youthful out of wedlock relationship! Oh my. Not just a woman but a mommy! He/she leaves almost as quickly as he/she arrived exiting the old hometown, setting up house in a boarding room and getting a job in a factory. But when this and a bar slut job don’t work out Leta hits on a much better plan for cash. It’s time to blackmail Ernest’s wife for half the insurance money.
This is a pretty good but not great slice of sleazy trash. A movie like this often teeters on the edge of unintentional humor but for the most part I HATE MY BODY maintains its balance. The central idea of a man in a woman’s body is much more likely to be played for laughs than drama and there are some things that are impossible to present without a bit of humor. I laughed out loud at Leta’s reaction to learning about her son. But for every scene that veered toward amusement there was another that pushed things in the other direction. Once Leta starts making her moves on the insurance money she also tracks down Dr. Adolph’s nurse and beats the hell out of her with a whip. And if there was any doubt about how the film was to be taken the downbeat ending should erase all confusion.
This is by far the weakest of director Leon Klimovsky’s movies I’ve seen. That doesn’t mean its bad at all but it doesn’t measure up to his better work. It’s well worth a look for the Euro-curious and it’s a shame the only way to get it is the dubbed scratchy print that Something Weird sells. A nice boxed set of Leon’s movies from Blue Underground or No Shame would sure be nice.