10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Female Animal / Teenage Mother (Secret Key Motion Pictures) 
Written by: on August 28th, 2009

Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1970 (Female Animal) USA, 1967 (Teenage Mother)
Director: Jerry Gross (Both Films)
Cast: Iris Avener, Jeanne Avery, Tito Bonilla, Robert D’Arcy, Arlene Farber, Richard Fusco, Nico Hartos, Harold Keith, Vassili Lambrinos, Andre Landzaat, Camille Monte, Belen Rios, Pudgy Roberts, Mary Rysz, Joanne Sopko (Female Animal), Arlene Farber, Frederick Riccio, Julie Ange, Helene Farber, Howard Le May, Alex Mann, George Peters, Fred Willard(Teenage Mother)

DVD released: November 10th, 2009
Approximate running times: 92 minutes (Female Animal), 69 minutes (Teenage Mother)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Letterboxed Widescreen (Female Animal), 1.33:1 Full Frame (Teenage Mother)
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Secret Key Motion Pictures
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99

The Jerry Gross Organization was probably most [in]famous for the ‘gross’ double bill I Drink Your Blood / I Eat Your Skin. Blatantly borrowing from American International Pictures, most of his productions relied more on sensational titles and posters than actual content. However, he did direct three pictures himself, Girl On A Chain Gang, Teenage Mother, and Female Animal. The latter two are double-featured here in full color from 35mm elements.

Teenage Mother is a prime revival and merging of the 50’s juvenile delinquent / hotrod / bad girl cycle with the 40’s “educational” roadshow films. Arlene Farber is dissatisfied with her clean-cut jock boyfriend and flirts with the wild side of life – the local bad boy drug dealer. Much more realistic in style and content than High School Confidential or Blackboard Jungle, this film combines hot cars, drive-ins, high school, drugs, and fast thrills. Into this idyllic scenario comes a Swedish bombshell sex ed instructor, sure to raise the ire of the conservative community. All this unfolds in a natural and engaging manner, with mostly impressive acting from a cast of unknowns. But then comes the show stopper – the graphic birth of a baby in glorious color and close-up. With state-of-the-art forceps apparatus, no less.

The film does contain a lot of dry sex ed propaganda and a town council trial of the sex ed teacher. Somewhat intrusive to the main drama, but all that was necessary in order to justify the appearance of the big bloody vagina without engaging the ire of the conservative community in real life. How can anyone attack a film that has already attacked itself and proven them misguided?

Back again for Female Animal are go-go dancers, [almost] garage bands, hot cars, and marijuana. Arlene Farber is again the star attraction and target of multiple males, and her performance is much improved this time around. She also bares it all, as does most of the cast. To distinguish from the average eurotrash with lots of skin, this one has impressive twists and turns, reveals and surprises, sort of an adult version of Peyton Place.

Jerry Gross stays true to form, as Female Animal contains some rather unexpected shock sequences, more suggestive than graphic – but it couldn’t have been released if it weren’t. But wait, there’s more! The entire Spanish / Italian co-production aspect is FAKE. Purposely misleading to draw audiences of the time, who cares, because this one actually delivers the goods. Like Rami’s The Quick and the Dead was to the Spaghetti Western, this is a clever homage / satire / rip-off of the import sex film.

The DVD:

Both features are in color with no subtitle / caption options. Teenage Mother has some very noticeable damage, mostly in the lead-in and at reel changes. Not so bad for an unrestored print, and Jerry probably left no print unplayed-to-death. Presented in the apparently proper full frame ratio. Female Animal is presented letterboxed widescreen. Remastered from 35mm elements and non-anamorphic – that’s more blatantly offensive in this day and age than anything Jerry Gross ever did. A double-sided insert portrays original posters for both pictures.

If you crave enthusiastic low-budget exploitation, both films are must see entertainment. Teenage Mother also marks a very early appearance for Fred Willard (Fernwood 2 Night). Shocking and sensational but not schlock.

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