The Curious Dr. Humpp and Cactus Flower :: His and Hers Drive-In Feature (1969)
Back to the Drive-In, and back to what seems like our signature genres, though in my defense I tried for a return to the “haunted house” movie genre, but the movie I was after we couldn’t track down. So, instead, I chose a story about a bachelor dentist who has convinced his much younger girlfriend that he is married in order to maintain his bachelor status, only to decide he wants to marry her after all, trapping him in a web of lies fitting of farcical comedy stage plays.
Charles dug deep into the realm of bad Sci-Fi/horror and came back with what is now the worst film I have ever sat through. It was a dubbed (though there was such little dialogue that it hardly mattered) sexploitation story about a failed experiment turned mad scientist whose obsession is sexual domination of the world, and who also seems to be healed by being a total creeper voyeur while various sex acts take place in his “laboratory“. This is no Masters of Sex, let me tell you. No, it is a movie so painfully bad that you will be wishing for your 87 minutes back and wondering where on earth does my husband find these movies.
Our first film (Charles’ choice) is The Curious Dr. Humpp, an dubbed Argentine film that plays out like a cut together porno with bad Halloween masks and a flimsy plot that is hard to locate. There was no trailer available.
The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969)
Our second film (Laura’s choice) is Cactus Flower, a story about a lie that takes on a life of it’s own, and also leads to love connections between unexpected people. It is a comedy that starts out with a suicide attempt, which really doesn’t seem all that funny at all. It also features a night club that seems to only play a psychedelic, instrumental remix of The Monkees I’m a Believer, and is popular enough to always be entertaining the entire cast (oh the coincidences!).
Cactus Flower (1969)
Originally titled La Venganza del sexo, The Curious Dr. Humpp is a film with zombie-like creatures wearing what appears to be dime-store rubber Halloween masks who kidnap various sexy subjects and bring them to the island-based laboratory of the title crazy Doctor/Scientist, Dr. Humpp.
Dr. Humpp’s research on a youth-sustaining elixir is missing a crucial ingredient, a substance released into the human bloodstream during orgasm. So, the Doctor goes about kidnapping those he finds either in the midst of a sexual act (including lesbians, strippers, lovers in cars, and orgy attendees) and bringing them back to the lab to copulate over and over again, until their bodies are spent, and then he incinerates them.
All of this is to keep himself from being turned into a monster, though it all begins to shift into an obsession of turning the world into a sexual madness. The Doctor consults, and is instructed on all things sex and “Science” by a talking brain.
The movie was originally filmed in 1967.
Rob Zombie sampled some of the Enfermera’s dialogue from the English-dubbed version of the movie into two of his songs. The line, “Use my body to keep you alive!” opens the song, Never Gonna Stop, while the line, “Give it to me!” can be heard several times in Feel So Numb.
Never Gonna Stop :: Rob Zombie
Feel So Numb :: Rob Zombie
The United States edited soft-core version contains numerous sex inserts featuring among others American sexploitation actresses Kim Pope and Kim Lewid.
This week’s little tidbit was yanked from my childhood memory of the Grand Prairie Drive-In in Grand Prairie Texas (small town between Arlington and Irving). And while I was too young to see this film there, at the time, for some strange reason the name “Dr. Humpp” stuck in my mind. Thanks to the folks at Something Weird Video I was able to bring this film to my wife, who will probably never let me hear the end of it for the rest of my life.
This film is so horrendously bad (this coming from the man who has watched ALL the Ernest films). It is nothing but 50 minutes of soft-core porn, with a half-hour of chopped down, dubbed dialogue, giving you the idea that the director planned on giving us a story, but failed miserably. The only thing the director succeeded in was reminding us how poorly trimmed people kept their nether-regions in the 60’s.
3 B rating (1 point given for Boobs, Beasts and Blood): 3-B’s. Plenty of breasts, bad beasts, no blood, so the third “B” has to be for bush (and lots of it)!
What more can I say that I didn’t sum up in saying that this is the worst film I have ever seen? I mean, I sat down to watch this with expected trepidation, but I did not expect it to be as bad as it was. For the most part the film is soft-core porn the likes of what Cinemax was to cable in the 80’s trying to somehow pass itself off as Sci-Fi/horror, or perhaps this is a prime example of sexploitation films, a genre I have not had a lot of exposure to.
The film is mostly sex, most of it mindless and staged, even before the sexed up were kidnapped and drugged. The sex is badly choreographed, bodies in awkward positions and angles that would not work, and could only be believed as actual sex by someone who hadn’t actually had sex before.
Oh, and the lesbians? If you are to believe this film’s interpretation, lesbians just touch each other’s nipples – a lot – and that’s it. No, seriously, every scene with the lesbians was various nipple play, a lot of blank, expressionless faces, and some moans here and there. Is it safe to assume that this was a male’s interpretation of sex between two women?
There are monsters in this, or creatures, or are they clones or the undead or zombies? It is never quite clear. We are made to believe that Doctor Sex, I mean Doctor Humpp, will turn into these bad Halloween masked and gloved monsters if he doesn’t drink sex-potion daily, but we don’t really understand what the monsters are. The main one, who is the worst costumed of the bunch, is sent out to do the Doctor’s bidding. He goes to pharmacies for bags full of aphrodisiac ingredients, as if that isn’t suspicious when there are newspaper articles and police sketches that look just like said monster, and all these “disappearances”.
The key monster seems to have a Frankenstein’s Monster kind of heart, and falls hard for the busty brunette, Rachel, bringing her flowers, serenading her with his monster guitar and spying on her sexual antics.
But Rachel has her lusty eyes set on the persistent reporter, who seems to be the only one “on the case“. Humpp’s faithful busty blonde, Enfermera (yes, that’s her name) seems to only have eyes for him, and is constantly offering up her body for him to do his best, and worst, to. In a drugged up, hallucinatory state she has sex with the reporter, thinking he is the Doctor Humpp finally come to take her, but when she realizes her error she doesn’t seem to bothered by it. She seems to have eyes for the reporter, too.
A poorly executed trap is laid, and some action (well, a lot of “action”) happens, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what plot existed, and where it was trying to go. All I can honestly say is I was so very glad when the whole thing was finally over.
Her Rating: Out of 5 stars: Can I give it a 0-? No, really, it is THAT BAD.
Cactus Flower is a 1969 comedy film directed by Gene Saks and starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, and Goldie Hawn, who won an Oscar for her performance. The screenplay was adapted by I. A. L. Diamond from a Broadway stage play written by Abe Burrows, which in turn was based upon the French play Fleur de cactus by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy.
The film has been remade a few times. An unauthorized Hindi version titled Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?, starring Salman Khan, Sushmita Sen and Katrina Kaif, was released in 2005. An English language remake, Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was released in 2011. An Egyptian version titled “Nos Sa’a Gawaz” (Half-hour Marriage), starring Rushdy Abaza, Shadia and Adel Imam, was released in 1969.
21-year-old Toni Simmons (Goldie Hawn) attempts to commit suicide by inhaling gas from a second-hand stove. Her neighbor, Igor Sullivan (Rick Lenz), smells the gas and rescues her by using mouth to mouth resuscitation, which evolves into a kiss after Toni regains consciousness.
Toni’s failed suicide attempt stems from her despondency following a romantic breakup. Her lover, Julian (Walter Matthau), ended the relationship by announcing he had a wife and three children. Unknown to Toni, Julian is not married. Upon learning of Toni’s suicide attempt, Julian decides to marry Toni, but he needs a wife to divorce in order to sustain his earlier lie. Julian asks Stephanie Dickinson (Ingrid Bergman), his long time assistant, to pose as his wife. At first unwilling, she ultimately relents, since she has long had a crush on her employer.
Toni senses Miss Dickinson’s feelings for Julian and asks Julian to help Miss Dickinson find another man. Ultimately Julian’s friend Harvey (Jack Weston), Señor Arturo Sánchez (Vito Scotti), and Igor all become embroiled in Julian’s scheme. Toni suspects Julian’s untrustworthiness and leaves him for Igor. Julian finally falls in love with Miss Dickinson.
The prickly cactus Miss Dickinson keeps on her desk in the office gives the film its name. Like Miss Dickinson, the cactus thrives in the driest of settings. By film’s end, however, both the cactus and Miss Dickinson have “bloomed“.
On release, the film was acclaimed by both critics and the general public, becoming the eighth highest grossing film of 1969. Howard Thompson of The New York Times stated that “both the expansive scenario of I. A. L. Diamond and the flexible direction of Gene Saks open up and even ventilate the story“. Roger Ebert declared that “the chemistry works” and “the movie is better than the play“.
The film marked the return of Ingrid Bergman to the movies. After the 1940’s, Bergman had moved to Europe and pursued a relationship with director Roberto Rossellini, diminishing her appeal to US audiences. After returning to film in Anastasia, Bergman agreed to star in this film, her first comedy, again gaining critical praise.
In her first major film role, Goldie Hawn, once described as the “dizzy cream puff who is constantly blowing her lines [on Laugh-In]“, was praised for being “a natural reactress; her timing is so canny that even her tears run amusingly“. Hawn’s performance in Cactus Flower won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, her sole Oscar to date.
The original Broadway production of Cactus Flower by Abe Burrows opened at the Royale Theater on December 8, 1965 and ran for 1234 performances starring Lauren Bacall and Barry Nelson. Lauren Bacall played the part of Stephanie Dickinson on the Broadway stage.
In the record store, a customer approaches Toni and asks her a question. The album he is holding happens to be the original cast recording of the musical Mame starring Angela Lansbury. This is an homage to the film’s director Gene Saks, since he also directed Mame when it opened on Broadway in 1966.
It’s obvious from the first scene of this movie that this was a straight adaptation of a play, from the rapid back-and-forth dialogue, to the simple setting/settings. To me, it’s rarely done well when a play is adapted, with the exception of Neil Simon’s work brought to the screen.
Having said that, I wanted to really like this film. Being a fan of Goldie Hawn and Ingrid Bergman, I found them to be the only likable characters in the movie.Why Walter Matthau was considered a decent romantic interest to either of them, but especially the perky Goldie Hawn when he is such a curmudgeon, is almost as mystifying as Brian Keith’s role in our last “Drive-In” installation. And, the character of Igor was as boring as watching a cow chew his cud.
The only enjoyable male characters in this were Señor Arturo Sánchez, played by Vito Scotti, who was definitely not Hispanic, but who has always done wonderful character roles, and Harvey Greenfield, played by Jack Weston, who has also been in tons of films as a recognizable character actor.
3 B rating (1 point given for Boobs, Beasts and Blood): 1 B. No Boobs or Blood, but 1 B for Beasts goes to Walter Mathau’s Dr. Julian Winston for his elaborate lies to avoid commitment.
This was my second choice for 1969, as I was wanting to break my “genre” trend and go back to a “haunted house” tale, but Haunted House of Horror evaded us. Despite that, I had wanted to see Cactus Flower for a long time, as I love both Goldie Hawn and Ingrid Bergman, and I have enjoyed Walter Matthau in many films, so I was happy and set to enjoy the film.
I have to say I was surprised at what transpired at the start of the film as I watched Toni Simmons (Goldie Hawn) set her small apartment, and herself, up to kill herself. There were some attempts at comedy in this suicide attempt, but they fell flat to me. Suicide is very rarely done well as comedy, Harold and Maude the only exception I can think of. It ended up being just an attempt, and a failed one at that, as writer and next door neighbor, Igor Sullivan (Rick Lenz) smells gas coming from Toni’s apartment, breaks a window and comes in to save her. He does save her, and also kisses her twice, once as part of his “resuscitation“, and once when she is half-conscious and calling him by her lover’s name, and not her own. Again, this felt odd and off to me, and definitely not funny.
Toni explains to her “hero” that she was distraught over her boyfriend who is married with kids, and is never going to leave them for her. At this point the storyline seems like a typical relationship trope, the young single girl and the (much) older married man. But, all is not what it seems. When we meet the “lover“, Dr. Julian Winston (Walter Matthau) it is revealed that in his quest to be forever a bachelor, and to avoid commitment at all costs, he has made up a fake wife and kids to keep his girlfriend as nothing but that. What better way to keep from taking the “next step” then to be the ultimate of unavailable.
But Toni mailed a suicide note to his dental offices, and before he can find out that she did not succeed in taking her own life, he receives the letter, and the presumed news, and realizes his feelings for her may be more than arms length. He races to her apartment, and is surprised and relieved to find her alive. In the heat of the emotional moment he proposes, and Toni asks “but what about your wife and kids?” And so the lies become bigger and more tangled.
Julian taps on his over-worked and faithful office assistant Stephanie (Ingrid Bergman) for help in his situation, and she joins in on the ruse pretending to be his wife. The twist here is she really wishes she was his wife. The comedy kicked in here, and both Goldie and Ingrid were fabulous in this. They had great chemistry with each other, and also just had these delightful personalities that were enjoyable to watch. But what on earth did either of these women see in Julian?
Julian was completely unlikable, and had no chemistry with either women, making the love triangle hard to understand. He seemed terribly miscast, and was way too old to be matched up with a very young Goldie Hawn. I think I would have enjoyed the movie so much more if someone else had been cast as Julian.
Goldie and Ingrid though – fantastic. And Toni (Goldie Hawn) even worked in a record store!
Her Rating: Out of 5 stars: 3.5, mostly for Goldie and Ingrid – they definitely make the movie worth watching.
At the night club!