Monday, 4 December 2017

Olga's Dance Hall Girls (1969)

Olga's Dance Hall Girls was the fifth and last of the infamous Olga films, although it’s claim to be an actual Olga film can be debated.

The Olga series began in 1964. They were not quite roughies although with many obvious similarities to that sleazy little sub-genre. The Olga films upped the ante on the sado-masochism front with wall-to-wall torture scenes. Had it been possible to take these movies seriously they would have been very strong stuff indeed. In fact it was not possible to take them the least bit seriously. Their camp quotient was off the scale. That is their charm (if you happen to be an Olga fan). Their outrageousness is so excessive as to be almost cartoon-like. Director Joseph Mawra made the formula work rather well but what really made the Olga movies so appealing was Olga herself. Or more particularly it was the delirious performances of Audrey Campbell as the cruel ruthless mercenary Olga, glorying in her wickedness like a Victorian melodrama villain.

Four Olga movies appeared before Audrey Campbell departed. In 1969 the decision was made to do a fifth movie. The absence of Audrey Campbell is enough on its own to cast doubt on this movie’s claim to be an Olga film, but in fact it turned out to be an entirely different type of sexploitation movie, veering towards erotic horror. It’s impossible to imagine the real Olga bothering with Satanism. There’s just not enough money in it.

In Olga's Dance Hall Girls we find Olga running a dance hall which is a cover for a prostitution racket. The house’s specialty is beautiful young bored housewives. The assumption is that there will be enough allure in the idea of having sex with respectable wholesome housewives to turn a tidy profit.

Olga’s right-hand man Nick (Larry Hunter) is very pleased with his latest recruit. Carol Ross is a housewife and she’s stunning and he’s convinced she has the potential to be thoroughly corrupt and debauched. His judgment on that score is very sound. The problems for Olga’s organisation with come from Carol’s friend Jill, an attractive enough housewife but one who curiously enough seems to have no desire to embrace perversity and crime.

Then comes the surprise revelation that Olga is a servant of Satan, and of course she’s planning to sacrifice a virgin. Given that the young lady in question has worked in Olga’s dance hall for quite some time the audience could be forgiven for having some doubts about her virginity.

Olga's Dance Hall Girls shows serious signs of not knowing what it wants to be. For most of its running time it seems like it’s going to turn out to be a typical roughie. The witchcraft stuff is tacked on at the end and while I for one have no objection to sexy witches indulging in rituals that are almost certainly going to requite a minimal amount of clothing it just doesn’t seem to gel with the rest of the movie.

The other problem is that the major part of the film that is trying to be a roughie suffers from being too tame to be a real roughie. Some attractive young ladies get naked and there are some simulated sex scenes that are moderately hot by 60s exploitation movie standards (by 1969 American women had apparently discovered that if you’re going to have sex it’s an advantage to take your panties off although the men still cling to the tradition of keeping their trousers on). There’s very little real perversity and no real sense of menace or impending violence. There is also no torture whatsoever, and torture scenes were what Olga movies were all about.

Olga is played by Lucy Eldredge. She has an interestingly exotic look, not beautiful but striking in a slightly disturbing way. She convinces us that Olga is a predatory lesbian (an essential part of the character in the earlier films) and has no morals to speak of but she’s no Audrey Campbell. Her biggest problem is that most of her scenes require her to sit in one spot whilst engaging in rambling dialogues that go on for much too long. She just doesn’t get enough opportunities to demonstrate Olga-style wickedness. She could just be a very ruthless businesswoman.

Larry Hunter manages to make Nick seem sleazy and a bit dangerous which is all he’s required to do. Most of the actresses are of the standard you expect from sexploitation movies which doesn’t really matter since all they really have to do is take their clothes off when necessary.

The shining exception is the remarkable Linda Boyce who plays Carol Ross. She’s a very competent actress and she is able to make her character reasonably interesting. She has the ability (which she demonstrated in quite a few sexploitation features) to project a real sense of smouldering and dangerous sexuality. She also looks good nude and she’s nude a good deal of the time so all in all she has everything you’d want in a sexploitation actress and she effortlessly steals the picture.

The presence of the lovely Uta Erickson is also welcome and she gets to engage in a fairly good cat fight scene in her underwear. It’s one of the movie’s better moments.

This movie is included in Something Weird’s three-movie Olga set. The transfer is by no means pristine but it’s acceptable. Since the disc includes two other better Olga movies it’s definitely a recommended purchase. It’s not a movie that would be particularly worth buying on its own but assuming you’re going to buy the disc anyway (and I can’t imagine any right-thinking person not wanting to do so) then there’s no compelling reason not to give Olga's Dance Hall Girls a spin. It’s not a real Olga movie and it’s not terribly good but it’s not entirely lacking in entertainment value and Linda Boyce is always worth watching.

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