I remember renting Night of the Living Babes back in '88 not knowing really what to expect. It was a strange little movie - sort of John Waters-esque, with a horror twist. I returned it to the store, and didn't think about it again for twenty years.
Then, for whatever reason, a memory of this weird flick popped into my head. "What the hell was the name of that movie?" I couldn't remember to save my life, and it became sort of a quest to rediscover this film.
Recently, I found it, and was sad to see it's never earned a DVD release, so all that remains are some shitty VHS tapes and even worse VHS rips. But that will have to do. I'm not going to abort my quest just because of some poor video quality. It's time to rediscover this lost classic scene by scene - let's dive in!
It starts at a yuppie barbeque with two guys cooking weiners while their hot wives set the table. Picture The Flintstones, but, as I said, with a John Waters feel. The Fred here is Chuck (actor Andy Nichols) and Barney is Buck (actor Louie Bonanno).
Their hot wives aren't Wilma and Betty, but rather Sue (Scream Queen Michelle Bauer) and Lulu (Connie Woods).
Chuck is telling Buck about "humping a Southern Belle in the stall in the men's room" and Buck doesn't understand why Chuck would do such a thing. "You're missing the point, Buck..."
"I love Sue and all that, but every once and a while a man has to.. you know... enjoy the fruits of the world."
"Chuck, are you trying to tell me that you're gay?"
Ba-da-BOOM! But it gets better...
Sue isn't exactly feeling the love for her two-timing douchebag husband either. We learn that Sue and Chuck are having marital problems, while Buck and Lulu are blissfully in love.
Unfortunately, Chuck has talked Buck into hitting Zombie Fantasy Ranch tonight. This isn't going to be good...
Chuck tricks Buck into it by pretending they're going bowling. When Buck learns they're actually going to the Zombie Fantasy Ranch, he protests: "I'm a happily married man." To which Chuck utters these immortal words:
"Yeah, but will she put on garters and pumps and bray like a donkey in heat?"
What do you even say to that?
Meanwhile, the ladies are drinking Michelob and watching Night of the Living Dead. Sue tells Lulu that she's having fantasies about killing Chuck with his golf trophy. She then proceeds to show Lulu all the smelly undergarments that she's finding in Chuck's suitcases he returns with after business travels. Then.... oh, snap..... the newspaper clipping for Zombie Fantasy Ranch!
Chuck and Buck arrive and are greeted by a chick in a sequined bikini named Igor (actress Cynthia Clegg in her only acting role). But first Chuck wants to ensure he gets the discount even though he forgot the newspaper coupon.
The guys are introduced to the head of this "joint" - a Madame Mondo.
Chuck says they need to get back in time to watch the wrestling match, so let's make it snappy.
Madame Mondo is played by Forrest Witt who would have a regular role on the TV show "Fudge" as Warren and played the anaesthesiologist on "Chicago Hope".
Buck is paralyzed with fear. Chuck: "You're the only guy I know who's afraid to get a little bitty blow job."
And so we are introduced to the "The World Famous Mondo Zombie Girls".. Actresses from left: Ashley Elstead, Violet Lickness, Lisa Devine, and Blondi. Of the four, only Blondi has a filmography beyond this film (I'm assuming Ashley, Violet and Lisa are local strippers, but I've been wrong before).
Blondi has a quite a list of hard/softcore films under her belt. Her distinctive resume includes mud-wrestler at Hollywood's Tropicana Club, and during the year Night of the Living Babes was filmed, she also "acted" in Little Shop of Whores.
So, while the boys are getting down with the Mondo Zombie Girls, Sue moves from Michelob to doing whiskey shots and binge spending on the "Home Super Market Network".
While the girls are calling the bowling alley, the guys awake to find themselves chained in a dungeon wearing tutus. Why has Madame Mondo done this? She has "invented a device to change them from men into gorgeous female cheerleaders". (I should have guessed.)
Sue puts the pieces together and realizes the guys must have gone to the Zombie Fantasy Ranch.
Lulu asks what kind of girl would work in a place like that. Sue explains that "young girls are so screwed up these days, with their MTV, Punk Rock, Sex, Drugs, Spandex Pants... no wonder they're all f----d up."
The girls head out.
Back at the dungeon, Chuck and Buck are forced to listen to muzak, teased with Vienna sausages, and told that their transformation via "sex change ray" is right around the corner. Will the girls get there in time?
Sue climbs through a window while Lulu waits outside. She finds the two in a compromising position to say the least. "You son of a bitch! If you had just told me you wanted to be tied up and humiliated... I would have been happy to beat the living shit out of you!!"
Unfortunately, all this screaming gets Sue apprehended by Igor and Madame Mondo.
Lulu grows impatient outside and decides to just knock on the front door. Note: Lulu is wearing an amazing neon spandex outfit. Needless to say, the 80s attire in this film is super rad.
Madame Mondo hypnotizes poor Lulu into becoming one of his/her minions.
Yes, you've probably noticed there's a grand total of maybe three sets in this entire movie; but that's okay. Who needs elaborate and varied set designs when you've got smoking hot new wave zombies?
So, back to the dungeon where Sue is now chained up... topless.
Remember at the top of this post I said that, over the years I periodically would recall certain scenes from this mystery rental? This is one of them. When I first saw this in '88, I was actually quite shocked to see Chuck's wife get topless (I had no idea at the time that this was Michelle Bauer). It evidently left an impression.
Oddly enough, this was the best thing that could have ever happened for their marriage. Chuck admit's he's a "sexaholic" (he read about it in The Wall Street Journal) and promises to change. Sue is actually touched by the moment and forgives.
It truly warms the heart.
Buck and Lulu have a heartwarming reunion of their own. Lulu, under hypnosis, tries to remove his unit with a pair of garden clippers, but Buck is able to snap her out of it by clapping (?). Now it's time to save Chuck and Sue, and Buck has just the plan...
Lulu emerges from the room pretending to still be hypnotized. As Madame Mondo and Igor are distracted, Buck bonks their heads together. What a masterful plot!
Buck and Lulu unchain their friends and sweet, sweet freedom is nearly within their grasp.. until Madame Mondo unleashes his/her Mondo Zombies on the gang....
Buck, normally slow of wits, remembers to clap, thus releasing the Mondo Zombies from their spell, returning them to normal.
Then, Lulu shoots Madame Mondo with the sex change ray gun and she/he turns into a dapper, well-spoken British gentleman...
Chuck threatens to call the police, but the new Madame Mondo offers an alternative: he has a green thumb and Igor is a great cook - he could do their gardening and lawn-care, while Igor cooks and cleans for them.
They're all good with the plan. Chuck suggests that Igor could wear a French maid outfit when she cleans, to which Sue slaps him upside the head. It's nice to know that things haven't changed too much.
Overall, it's a stupid little movie, not even an hour long. However, for 80s B-movie zaniness, it doesn't get much better. There's some genuinely funny moments and plenty of hot new wave women, What's not to love? In fact, I wish there were more Chuck, Buck, Sue and Lulu movies out there - I really would have liked to see these characters more. It would've made for an interesting, campy TV show.
But, alas, this is all we get. At the very least, this super-strange horror hybrid of John Waters and The Honeymooners deserves a DVD/Blu Ray release. This level of 80s-ness demands high-definition viewing, and I'll be first in line for when it gets its due. Until then, I'm just glad I could rewatch this mystery VHS from almost thirty years ago - and even more glad to have the opportunity to share it with all of you. Cheers!