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SCUM OF THE EARTH (1963) ** ½

 

The same year that Herschell Gordon Lewis made the immortal Blood Feast, he also directed this crass exploitation picture.  It features many familiar faces from that film and uses some of the same music.  It even ends with the villain being endlessly chased on foot by the police, just like Blood Feast.  Although it’s pretty tame and features no nudity (except for one brief slip of the nip), it’s still fun to watch. 

 

Vickie Miles stars as a young, naïve and gullible small town girl who wants to go to college but can’t afford it.  A sleazy gang of pornographers find out about her plight and blackmail her into taking some scandalous pictures.  The photographer and some of the models are nice to her, but most everybody else is a repulsive letch.  In the end, the organization topples itself and Miles is able to escape with most of her dignity intact.

 

The film’s centerpiece is a scary rant given to Miles by the owner of the porno ring, Mr. Lang (Lawrence Wood).  If you’ve seen any Something Weird DVD’s, you’re probably familiar with his speech since it’s showcased in their opening title montage.  He berates Miles telling her “All you kids make me sick!  You’re no better than a woman who sells herself to a man!  You’re worse!  You’re damaged merchandise and this is a fire sale!  Down inside you’re dirty!  Do you hear me?  Dirty!”   

 

It’s also fun catching Lewis’ usual stock company in small roles, especially Mal Arnold.  It’s hilarious to think that in the same year he played an old Egyptian caterer (in Blood Feast) AND a dirty picture seller who’s “still a minor”.  That just shows you his range I guess. 

 

Miles is quite good in the lead role, but her name was just an alias.  She’s actually Allison Louise Downe, the same woman who wrote many of Lewis’ best movies including Blood Feast, The Gruesome Twosome and She Devils on Wheels. 

 

Even though Lewis skimps on the skin and shows off none of the trademark gore he’s known for, Scum of the Earth remains compelling thanks to a handful of memorable performances and the sordid atmosphere.  While no one in the cast pops their tops or gets their tongues ripped out, Lewis still peppers the movie with some truly wonderful dialogue like “I’ll keep my shirt on as long as you take yours off!” and “Our business is pleasure!  Let’s do it in front of the camera” to keep you entertained. 

 
AKA:  Devil's Camera.

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