I've heard and read about PRIVATE PARTS (1972, directed by Paul Bartel) for years. I knew the late Mr. Bartel from his modest art house hits EATING RAOUL and SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN BEVERLY HILLS as well as his camp classics DEATH RACE 2000 and LUST IN THE DUST, but somehow PRIVATE PARTS managed to escape me.When my friend Jeff brought over the dvd a few weeks ago and showed me the trailer, I knew that we'd soon have to get together to watch it - and I'm so glad we did. This is MY kinda Friday night flick.
The story goes like this: runaway teen Cheryl (cute and perky Ayn Ruymen) and her best friend Judy (munchkin-faced Ann Gibbs) are living in dumpy L.A. apartment. When Judy catches Cheryl watching her and her latest suitor Mike having filthy, dirty sex, Cheryl takes off (with Judy’s wallet) and winds up downtown at the rundown King Edward Hotel - where her eccentric Aunt Martha (the terrific Lucille Benson, later on BOSOM BUDDIES) lives and manages the building. Uncle Orville and her daughter have gone to live with Jesus, so Cheryl is her only family.
Martha agrees to let Cheryl to stay at the hotel temporarily, and we soon meet the madcap residents of the dilapidated building - including a perverted priest named Rev. Moon (Disney mainstay Laurie Main), a crazy old lady named Mrs. Quigley (Dorothy Neumann), who is looking for a girl named “Alice” and a quiet weirdo named George (John Ventantonio), who we later learn is an avant garde photographer.Aunt Martha's hobby is attending funerals of strangers to photograph their souls leaving their bodies, oh and she has a white pet rat named "Whitey". When Martha goes out funeral-hopping one afternoon and locks Cheryl in the apartment, things start to get a little weird. First Cheryl accidentally kills Whitey and then shoves him down the food disposal. Yikes! Then she sneaks out of the apartment and explores the building (much like Alice in Wonderland) and we learn various things about the building and the people that dwell there.
For instance, Rev. Moon has a collection of male physique pin-ups, Mrs. Quigley sunbathes in her apartment and George has a shrine devoted to the mysterious "Alice".
When friend Judy's hunky blond boyfriend Mike (Len Travis) shows up looking for Cheryl, his visit is abruptly cut short when he loses his head. Literally. Then Judy shows up looking for Mike and she soon meets her maker as well.Meanwhile, oblivious to all this bloodshed, Cheryl befriends a cute, but nerdy hardware store worker named Jeff (MY THREE SONS star Stanley Livingston).
Lots of crazy stuff follows, but I would not want to spoil it here, because I cannot recommend PRIVATE PARTS any more highly.
Jeff seems romantically interested in Cheryl but she is somewhat intrigued by the mysterious George, who has now began pursuing her in a stalker-ish kind of way.
But suffice to say, there's some kinky stuff that happens involving Cheryl in a bedazzling Spider-Woman costume, a scene involving blood injected into a sex doll and a there's shocking twist end that it's not too much of a shock if you watch the trailer first. So don't.
To me, Paul Bartel has created an almost perfect black comedy and a terrifically twisted horror film all in one. Composer Hugo Friedhofer's amazing score brings to mind the great Bernard Herrmann / Hitchcock collaborations and helps elevate the whole affair to another level.
This film gets a 10 outta 10. Enjoy!