Written by: Carroll Jenkins on November 3rd, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1963
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Writer: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Cast: William Kerwin, Allison Louise Downe, Lawrence J. Aberwood, Sandra Sinclair
DVD released: February 20th, 2001
Approximate running time: 71 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Something Weird Video
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.98
Synopsis: A photographer for a ring of smut peddlers lures attractive and innocent young women with good money for easy cheesecake shoots. But it’s all a bait and switch, and once ensnared the gloves come off and the threats, intimidation, and strong-arm tactics come to play.
The Golden Age of Softcore Black and White Roughies article revealed indirectly that many of these titles had not been reviewed here at 10kBullets. This series of ‘retro’ reviews is intended to rectify this situation. The title under consideration is still in print thanks to the efforts of the late Mike Vraney and Something Weird Video.
Herschel Gordon Lewis may be the ‘Godfather Of Gore’, but Scum Of The Earth from October 1963 is the granddaddy of the roughie genre. Allison Louise Downe’s performance as the central character is rather stilted and amateurish, but still light years above any performance by Connie Mason, who appeared in Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs. Still, she somehow does manage to project the naivety and innocence of her character. The majority of the cast were Lewis regulars having appeared in Blood Feast, Adventures Of Lucky Pierre, and/or others. Both William Kerwin and Sandra Sinclair turn in excellent performances as the photographer and the ex-model turned recruiter and they help to carry the entire film. Most of the other characters are cartoonish caricatures as scripted and realized on the screen. Cartoonish in the sense of Charles Addams or Gahan Wilson with a dash of Bill Ward, of course.
Producer David F. Friedman kept most of his original negatives/prints, so most of his titles are about as good as the original low budget production would permit. An Image Entertainment / Something Weird Special Edition double feature release.
This is a seedy, sleazy, and salacious world that we glimpse; and it is often hinted to be much more depraved and darker than the tip of the iceberg presented for evaluation in this early landmark of the roughie genre. Be advised that the nudity factor in this early release is quite tame almost to the point of non-existent compared to the prior nudist camp and nudie cutie genres.
SPOILER ALERT: Everything works out to a righteous conclusion in the end.
Note: Scum Of The Earth appears on a double feature release with The Defilers; stay tuned for more rough times and roughie reviews to come!