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THE ALLEY TRAMP (1968) ****

As a fan of everything Herschell Gordon Lewis, I can’t believe it took me this long to see The Alley Tramp. It’s an unheralded classic of sleazy ‘60s skin flicks. It’s proof that Lewis could make a shoddy sexploitation movie just as well as a gruesome gore film. Although I can’t quite in good conscience rank it with his best work yet (I would first have to see how it holds up to repeat viewings), but I can safely say that it is an exploitation classic that certainly deserves a bigger following.

We’ve all seen movies about bad filmmakers making a low budget smut movie. You know how hard they try to recreate the bad editing, camerawork, and acting found in low budget skin flicks? Well, The Alley Tramp should be the template for all of those filmmakers to follow.

It’s the charm that Lewis puts into the enterprise that makes it work. Every frame has his unmistakable touch. The man just has a knack for turning bad smut into its own deliriously entertaining art form.

There are other things though that helps make The Alley Tramp a classic of the genre. You know how in most of nudie movies of the time, the filmmakers went through great care to hide the ladies’ nether regions? Well, Lewis just doesn’t care. Sure, he may act like he’s trying to hide the ladies’ muffs in some scenes, but a few of the beaver shots in this movie are so brazen that it’s hard to imagine how they got past the censors.

The plot: Teenager Marie (Julia Ames) catches her parents doing it and becomes instantly turned on. If that wasn’t icky enough, she then runs off and seduces her third-cousin into balling her. Pretty soon, Marie needs more and takes up with her mother’s boyfriend. When her mom catches her, Marie blackmails her mother into keeping her man by threatening to tell her father about her affair. When Marie becomes pregnant, she gets her cousin (who probably isn’t even the baby-daddy) to pay for a back alley abortion (from the pharmacist!!).

It gets better. While Marie is in the hospital recovering from the procedure, she seduces her doctor! That’s enough for her shrink to send her to the nuthouse and label her a nympho! Incredible.

You’ve got to see it to believe it.

Speaking of seeing is believing, wait until you get a load of the acting in this film. I’m not lying when I say that The Alley Tramp features some truly awful acting. (Check out the deer-in-the-headlights look on Marie’s girlfriend.) On top of that, all the actors have thick Midwest accents and have awkward deliveries. Add to that the outrageous lines they are forced to say (sometimes they are visibly reading from their script that they are holding just off screen) and you have a recipe for hilarity.

Lewis’ camerawork is so shoddy that you just have to love it. It follows the actors around about a second late everywhere they go and zooms seemingly in and out at random. The results are often mesmerizingly baffling.

In short… MAN! This is a lot of fun. There is non-stop skin on display and the brief 69 minute running time goes by like lightning. Just when you think the plot can’t get any crazier, it does. I loved it.

That’s not to mention all of the wondrous hateful dialogue. My favorite line comes from Marie’s father when he and his wife are arguing. He straight-up asks her: “Are you going through ‘The Change’?” Hilarious.

AKA: Alley Tramps. AKA: I am a Woman. AKA: Pleasure Me, Master.

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