Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Sin, You Sinners (1963)

It’s hard to know where to start when discussing a movie like Sin, You Sinners. It really is a bizarre one. The title would suggest that this very low budget 1963 film is going to a sexploitation flick, but it’s something much stranger.

It involves a stripper who came into possession of a medallion while on a visit to Haiti. The medallion, in the form of a doubloon, had belonged to a voodoo priestess. The stripper now runs her on little voodoo/fortune-telling cult. Although she’s no longer exactly in the first blush of youth, this medallion gives her a hypnotic control over others, and leads them to see her as being outrageously desirable sexually. As a result her strip-tease act is immensely popular, and she is able to maintain a constant supply of attractive boy toys.

Unfortunately her latest boy toy is also attracted to her grown daughter Julie, and he has another girlfriend on the side as well. Both Julie and this other woman know about the power of the amulet and want it for themselves. Julie’s relationship with her mother isn’t exactly affectionate, but Julie can’t break away because her mother needs her participation in her voodoo rites, and Julie is under her hypnotic control. Her mother isn’t entirely unreasonable though, and is quite happy for Julie to share her lovers.

Being an early 60s exploitation movie it’s likely that the movie existed in several versions, some racier than others, buy the version I saw (in the Girls Gone Bad: Delinquent Dames boxed set) is very tame as far as actual content goes. Despite this, it achieves a quite extraordinary level of sleaziness! It’s the treatment of the material, the atmosphere, the grunginess, and the perversity of the characters that makes it so delightfully sordid. There’s no nudity, but the scenes of Julie dancing in her underwear have a strange perverse lasciviousness to them.

Sin, You Sinners has the classic hallmarks of the exploitation movies of this period, with choppy editing, incoherent plotting, idiosyncratic camerawork and odd episodes that seem to bear no relationship to the rest of the movie. It was scripted by Joseph W. Sarno, later to become a exploitation legend. The acting is as bad as you’d expect, but strangely compelling. Dian Lloyd apparently never made another movie, but her performance as Julie is engagingly quirky, and oddly likeable despite her amorality.

If you’re a fan of off-beat cinema this one should be more than sufficiently off-beat to keep you happy! I found it weirdly fascinating.

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