The Booby Hatch (1976)
Director: Rudy Ricci and John Russo
Also known as: The Liberation Of Cherry Jankowski
Tagline: “The ultimate in sexual fulfillment!”
Plot: Cherry Jankowski (played by Sharon Joy Miller) isn’t getting all she hoped for out of the sexual revolution. She’s dating a Bible-thumping closet transvestite who shows no interest in her filmy négligées. Her next-door neighbor keeps asking for her help hanging curtains and straightening rugs, then molesting her when she’s in compromising positions. Her psychiatrist is awfully hands-y, and more concerned with getting himself off than with listening to Cherry’s problems. And her building’s stammering superintendent keeps pestering her with the most depressing obscene phone calls in the history of perversion.
Meanwhile, Cherry spends her days working for Theophilus Suck’s marital-aids company Joyful Novelties, testing sex toys that only make her hornier. But the JN product line is having the opposite effect on her co-worker Marcello Fettucini (played by Rudy Ricci, The Booby Hatch’s co-director), who’s suffering a prolonged bout of impotence. Fettucini’s bosses would fire him for his failures, but they’d risk the wrath of Fettucini’s brother, a mobster who talks like Humphrey Bogart for no apparent reason.
Mr. Suck tries to get Fettucini back on track by giving him free rein with his technologically advanced robotic sex-doll—“I left my wife for one of these!” Suck says—but Fettucini isn’t interested. Plagued by fears that he might be gay, or at least perpetually joyless, Fettucini tries to kill himself, but he’s hauled in by the cops, who find it hard to believe his tale of woe.
Finally, Cherry and Fettucini find each other, and realize that Joyful Novelties’ vision of a world of technologically advanced, soulless lovemaking is the wrong way to go. In his cartoonishly broad Italian accent, Fettucini delivers The Booby Hatch’s moral, saying, “I know-a now that-a love can-a not-a be instant, like-a mash-a potato.”
Key scenes: The Booby Hatch jumps back and forth between scenes of Cherry Jankowski getting objectified or manhandled—including one scene where a man peeks up her skirt on the bus while the soundtrack plays the movie’s Russian-flavored theme song, “She’s A Good American Working Girl”—and scenes of the Joyful Novelties crew going about their increasingly absurd daily routine. We hear how one male tester staves off premature ejaculation by thinking about sauerkraut and wieners, and we see a coal miner endure a job interview that includes questions like “Did you ever screw a sheep?” We also see the JN folks hold a press conference to demonstrate “the sonic stimulator,” a device that induces the physical effects of sex without any touching, and we witness a vibrator test that ends with the subject being pleasured to death.
There are also lots of scenes of Fettucini moping around, as when he leaves an orgy so he can have a poetic interlude at a seedy local amusement park.
Can easily be distinguished by: The hostility toward women, plus the grubby, smart-ass underground-movie aesthetic. The Booby Hatch is based on a novel by Night Of The Living Dead writer John Russo (who also co-directed), and displays a dollop more ambition than the typical drive-in/exploitation fare. Its stylistic touchstones include John Waters, Russ Meyer, and the sob-sister adventures of Playboy’s Little Annie Fanny. The movie also sports some of George Romero’s Pittsburgh Chic, evident in the lumpen cast and the near-constant chatter of experts and TV hosts in the background.
Sign that it was made in 1976: Fettucini excuses his limp-noodle-ness by sighing, “Even Hank Aaron has a slump.” Also, check out these prices!
Timeless message: Homosexuals are laughably freaky…
…while rape can be “a sensational erotic experience:”
Memorable quotes: The movie features multiple pitches for Joyful Novelties, including the slogan “The company that not only helps you get into your things, but helps your thing get into it.” Like the rest of the movie, it’s a line that sounds clever, but really doesn’t make any sense.
Available on DVD from Synapse.