When the title screen looks like this, you know you're in for some low grade cinema. So glad they thought to put the movie's title in quotes, aren't you?
Well, I was in the mood for a gritty, sleazy, low budget grindhouse picture - the kind that would land on a 42nd Street marquee for a week and never be heard of again. The kind that would play at the drive-in at midnight for one night only. The kind that you might find on VHS, but it would be a tattered box on a bottom shelf of the seediest video store in town.
With Judy (1970) I got what I was looking for.
The movie actually begins with a completely pointless (and surprisingly unpleasant and awkward) lesbian scene that leads to nothing.
Then a completely different girl, Regina Fairchild (actress Lee Sherry in her only acting role) leaves her house to go outdoors and enjoy the wonders of nature and sketch its beauty... only to get raped offscreen.
The title credits roll (seems like this should have been done earlier, but okay). I show you this screen to make a point - a point that I could go on all day about: What separates these grindhouse pictures from current straight-to-Netflix fare is that even the filthiest, low budget grindhouse pictures still had a decent sized budget and crew. A movie even as low budget as Judy has a set designer and hair stylist. The only overhead in the straight-to-Netflix garbage is the cost of the el cheapo digital camera and the bag of weed. But I digress.
The hardboiled private detective, Gunner Sloan (great name!) is called to investigate by Mr. Fairchild, the father of Regina. He'll get $5,000 and $100 a day for expenses. Not too shabby for 1969 dollars (when this was actually filmed).
Sloane and Mr. Fairchild question Regina, and she proves to be not only unhelpful, but possibly the worst actress in the history of cinema. I don't say this lightly. She's bad - real bad.
So, Sloan pays a visit to a luxuriously wood paneled doctor's office. The doc is OUT, but his sexy secretary, Judy, is IN. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) Sloan wastes not time in making the moves on Judy.
Yeeouch! This may be the grossest sex scene ever put to celluloid. Sloan is milky white and not in good physical shape. Judy's okay, but this scene, although quite long, isn't as graphic as I feared it would be. You catch glimpses of this and that, but it's mostly Judy's forced expression of pleasure - obviously fake and probably fully of nausea.
Next, there's an unconvincing death of victim #2 who gets strangled. Then it's back to gumshoe Sloan who's paying a visit to his sweetheart, Velvet, a cigarette girl. Was that still a career in '69?
Velvet is played by Sandy O'Hara who starred in a couple low budget flicks (Divorce Las Vegas Style (1970) and The Strange Fetishes (1967)) then dropped off the map until a Don Rickles TV movie in 1982 called Two Top Bananas.
Sloan pays a visit to the roommate of victim #2, Sylvia. (Sloan pays lots of visits in this film.) Unfortunately, Boston PD is there first, and they don't like an old BPD detective-turned-private-eye trying to solve their case.
The fact that this is all filmed in Boston does give it a certain charm. Everyone has a pretty thick accent, and scenes like this are right out of The Departed.... well, not quite, but you know what I mean.
After the BPD head back to the station, Sloan returns to talk to Sylvia on his own terms. She won't give up any information and tries to make advances towards the pasty out-of-shape private dick. He'll have none of it, and smacks her around and gets the hell out.
Like almost every other actress in this film, the girl who plays Sylvia, Toula Flambouris, never played in another role. I wonder what she went on to do with her life.
Velvet, the improbable cigarette girl, has been attacked! Fortunately, Sloan arrives just in time.... just in time to get knocked out himself, but at least it prevents Velvet from getting killed.
Sloan dials Boston PD then stares out the darkened window: "You just made your first mistake, buster. You should've finished me. The next move is gonna be all mine."
Note that Sloan has to use a rotary dial to contact the police; in a few years, those types of phones would have buttons.
In the next scene we find future Victim #3 (actress Karen Beglan) who gets stalked walking through the park. It's moments like this where the movie isn't so bad - almost like a DePalma movie (which, obviously, means it's like a Hitchcock movie). The killer/rapist is sporadically shown POV shaky cam style, which is pretty ahead of its time, I want to say.
Victim #3 goes back to her seedy apartment where there's the prerequisite gratuitous nude scene, then she's killed. If this killer was wearing a hockey mask this would be called a slasher; but no mask, so it's just a crime drama. Funny how that works.
The movie immediately moves on to Victim #4 (actress Nancy Kely). There's the requisite shower scene, of which there was no editing done because we watch the entire shower. Then a surprisingly graphic murder scene.
Of note: Victim #4 has terrible taste in music. The vinyl she puts on the turntable sounds like a 70s game show theme. There's a moment where she attempts to dance to it, and Sweet Lord, it is excruciating.
Sloan pays yet another visit - this time to the doctor who's actually in this time. In between drags, the doc tells him there's been another victim - a certain lesbian named Mrs. Nelson. He explains to Sloan that Mrs. Nelson and his secretary, Judy, were pretty chatty when Mrs. Nelson came in for appointments.
Time to pay a visit to Judy and find out about this Mrs. Nelson.
Sloan shows up unannounced and catches Judy in the midst of a lesbian relationship of her own. Judy begs Sloan not to tell the doctor about her depraved lifestyle. All Sloan can do is call her a bitch and shove her face to the floor. What a guy.
Victim #5 gets it in a back alley. IMDb has her listed as Julia Willis. There's no suspense or build-up to this attack as with the others, and it's moments like these where you have to ask yourself, "What the f- am I doing watching this?"
The killer shows up at Sylvia's. She knows who he is, but we never see his face. He quickly makes her Victim #6 and we move on to the final scene... a final scene which is among the worst I've ever seen.
Velvet and Sloan are at the wood paneled doctor's lair when Boston PD arrives. A skirmish ensues between Sloan and one of the loud-mouth cops. This cop then proceeds to run like a crazed idiot right out of the third story window - to his death!
The cop who didn't madly fly through a window looks down upon his partner's dead body and comments that the chief is sure gonna be sore about this.
"Not half as sore as Fairchild is gonna be when he hears about this as well", says Sloan.
The cop asks who the hell Fairchild is. Sloan says, "I'm with you buddy boy. Who's Fairchild?"
And the movie ENDS!
Are we supposed to understand that Mr. Fairchild is the killer? Who was the mysterious Mrs. Nelson the lesbian? And why is this movie called "Judy" anyway? Ugh. That's enough grindhouse for this evening. Good Night.