My reviews of bad movies that not even their catfights can save
I've frequently seen topics or just posts on what movies and TV shows, regarding what got people interested in catfights in lieu of actually seeing a fight (or both). However, for obvious reasons, most professional reviewers and people on YouTube never review a movie that involves catfights, exploitation. That's actually interesting in light of the fact that Roger Ebert wasn't just involved in praising some odd films, but as a producer was involved with Roger Corman's productions.
Just to clarify, I won't include movies, like True Lies, that featured a fight which actually elevated the quality of the movie, nor will I include a movie like Raze, which wasn't made for a mainstream audience. Again, I'm assessing movies which are bad whether they contain a fight or not, but even if they do, it's also bad or unrealistic.
In that spirit, my first subject is Maniac from 1934 and from the same people who produced Reefer Madness. This being 1934, it was an era, that paid high emphasis on the chastity of white people (hence the Hays Code) but was also chock-full of racial stereotypes. The story is even more of a jumbled mess than The Room. In its essence it tried to jump on the Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi monster train by introducing a mad scientist who creates undead people to live forever... until he dies about halfway at the hands of his equally insane assistant just, so he can pretend to be him (by the use of a terrible fake beard which was already fake on the other actor), lure people to his hideout, and turn them into zombie like things.
Full disclosure, I wasn't aware that Maniac does a catfight. However, as a lover of Golden Age Hollywood movies, I was already aware, that because women weren't allowed to show too much skin, catfights were a vehicle to serve both a male fantasy that women need to fight for us as they only exist in relation to us, and to substitute for titillation. As a consequence some famous actresses like Lucille Ball or Ginger Rogers delivered some nice catfights in good movies. If there's interest I review them as well.
Anyhow, in a movie that barely clocks over an hour yet you feel you've been watching it for 3 hours (mainly because interspersed scenes make no goddamn sense), nearly at the end, the impostor of the impostor wants to get rid of his own wife and his conspirator, who never met before, that in lieu of some orderlies, he needs that woman to subdue the other dangerous psychotic he tells the woman the other woman is. When he lures them into the basement, he shuts the door behind them, and does what a New York deli would be graced to license as a new sandwich. The actor does his damnedest to deliver the ham and to chew the scenery like lettuce as he maniacally cackles back and forth (hence the title).
Meanwhile, the movie gets to why I brought it up, the ladies deliver a fight that is unrealistic on so many levels. For one, the brunette has a sturdier figure than the blonde, so if you've ever seen a video where one party is stronger, you know it would lead to a quick submission. Alas, for the sake of titillation, let's say I forego that realism. They do a little rolling back and forth, deliver a few blunt traumas to each other by any object they find (which is where you need to suspend disbelief, they should be massively dizzy and heavily bleeding) and keep on fighting, until the cops who restrained the mad scientist, arrive in the basement to keep them apart.
In fairness, you could say: "You just watched a movie, where a mad scientist chose a young woman who died by carbon monoxide poisoning as a test subject, and they revived her by massaging her hands, and you expect a semblance of realism here?" To that I say, it's still not an excuse to throw human nature out of the window.... and that's where the Hays Code comes in.
You see, while the ladies were fighting to the death, they bumped into an unused fireplace+chimney, behind which the former assistant interned the original mad scientist with a living cat, because reasons. When the cops start to break off the bricks, the Hays Code does its magic, and the two women, who just 5 minutes ago tried to murder each other, are now hugging each other side by side like deer in the headlights (keep in mind the brunette helped kill people for him). I don't know about you, but I've never heard about anybody wanting the physical closeness of a person who just tried to kill them.