Time to celebrate one of cinema’s greatest Producers – RIP to iconic Movie Master Harry Novak – who entertained the world with a classic array of hits like THESE!
Yes, some of the greatest films ever made – from a time when the title and tagline for a film were as important as what was in it! Because as you can see, it was:
“A CITY RIPPED APART BY SIN AND LUST!”
Thanks to legendary film Producer Harry Novak, we will always have these classic slices of cinema to enjoy – because Harry helped blow the doors off cinema! RIP Harry, you will be missed – let’s remember how he heated up movie theaters forever!
Harry Novak is one of the most influential Producers in movie history. Why? Easy! How can you not love a guy who was behind a film like this?
It’s just one of the deliciously wicked films from the mind of Novak. To fully appreciate his impact, a quick bit of history…back to a time when seeing a salacious film was more difficult, more daring…and very dangerous for the people making them!
Enter The Glory Years Of Exploitation!
In the 60’s and 70’s, exploitation films – also known as “sexploitation” movies – were the cheapest, sleaziest films there were: low budget, often poorly made, and often dubbed european films that were shown exclusively in inner city “grindhouses”…
In big cities, especially New York’s Times Square, these downtown movie theaters were open 24 hours a day, and didn’t care WHAT was going on in the seats – seeing a film here was a dangerous sport! And the movies that were shown were “grinding out” all day and night – usually a gratuitous mix of non-stop sex and violence…hence the term “grindhouse”:
And they were aiming for one thing, and one thing only…to satisfy a PURIENT INTEREST:
Here is the definition of PRURIENT: “Having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters.”
Well then, there you go. And Harry was about to satisfy a lot more than that!
Movies like “Scream In The Streets” were designed to tease and titillate – and also WARN everyone about the dangers of promiscuity…remember, when these movies were shown, there were no “hardcore” movies in theaters – nudity and sex were a dangerous mix…
So these “sexploitation” films were a legal outlet for pent up sexual repression – and presented as “sex education”, therefore slipping back local censors…
In those early days, these films were always presented as if they were made for one reason only: to warn you of the dangers lurking in the big city!
It was a wild time for all – along with Times Square, these movies were routinely booked in drive-in theaters in the midwest and south, with lurid come-on advertising – and in many cases they high-tailed it out of town with the police close behind.
I do not apologize at all for my love of “grindhouse” films: these movies celebrate sex, violence, and – well – MORE sex and violence, but they are an important part of our cinematic history, for they helped open the doors to much more “adult” film making. I mean, who can argue with titles like these:
Harry Novak was a master in making money off sex – as you see, often with a sense of humor! Appreciate them for what they are – the opening of the door to a new world of freedom in movie making that now results in “anything goes”…
And Thanks To Harry Novak, It DID!
Here is a look at three of Harry’s sexploitation masterpieces – beginning with one that was so iconic it even go the attention of the President Of The United States!
Mantis In Lace – 1968
She loved them…and loved them…and loved them…TO DEATH!
Look at this! President Obama and VP Biden enjoying a burger in a shop that never stops celebrating this film!!!!
Time to meet the sexy cast of “Mantis In Lace!”
The plot of “Mantis In Lace” is pure Novak: Lila (played by Susan Stewart) is a good-natured go-go dancer who strips at a seedy topless bar on the Sunset Strip. After ingesting LSD, Lila becomes a psychopathic serial killer!
Read This Carefully!
Now listen to how crazy this plot gets: she continues to pick up men at the bar where she is employed, but:
after her sanity is lost she routinely is interrupted mid-coitus by psychedelic bad trips in which she visualizes a balding, half-naked old man clutching wads of cash in one hand and a bunch of bananas in the other.
Yes, you read that right!
These psychotic episodes cause her to murder her partners by stabbing them with a screwdriver and dismembering them with a rusty meat cleaver (or in one case, a garden hoe) while imagining that she is cutting up cantaloupes and watermelons. As you can see from this VHS cover, they had no problem selling the seddier elements of this movie!
Sexploitation King Harry Novak produced and distributed a prolific number of exploitation films from the early 60s to the mid-70s, including “Mantis in Lace” – which exemplified the wacky theatrics that went into selling sex in the late 60’s and 70’s.
Novak’s later films straddled the line between hardcore and softcore pornography by featuring both full frontal nudity by both women and men – something that had never been seen before in a movie theatre!
Novak was one of the first to push the envelope for adult content in movies…using the “educational tone” of his movies to fight obscenity charges….
After the floodgates were open, Novak expanded by heading out to the country for some fun:
Talk About “Driving A Hard Bargain!”
I mean, look at that poster! As a producer, Novak expanded his taste for film, and his most popular late-period genres were rural comedies like “The Pigskeeper’s Daughter”…
Thanks to Something Weird, a great double bill DVD exists!
Sassy Sue / The Pigkeeper’s Daughter
Come on down to the farm for some fun! Producer Harry Novak was a legend for his lowest-common denominator approach to film making, which resulted in movies like these playing all over the country to “excitable” teen boys:
Yes, girls down on the farm who just want to have a “roll in the hay.” Thanks to the terrific company Something Weird Video, these classic sexploitation films live on.
As you would imagine, the plots are simple: “Sassy Sue” tells the story of Pa, a moonshining chicken farmer, who is worried that his dim-witted son Junior is becoming way more attracted to their cow Sassy Sue than he should be, so he sets out to gather up all the nubile young farm girls in the area and get them to show Junior what he’s missing. And they do, trust me.
The special edition includes: Country Bumpkin Trailers for these movies, plus “Country Cuzzins,” “Country Hooker,” “Midnite Plowboy,” “Southern Comforts” and “Tobacco Roody” – plus, a bonus Southern-Style 32-Minute Theatrical Featurette: “The Old Man’s Bride”.
Buy this and you will thank me the longest day of your life!
In addition to producing films about America, Novak would also bring classic european sexploitation to America, leading to what I consider the craziest slice of “euro-sleaze” ever unleashed upon America!
“A young bride, left alone to the lewd passions of an evil dwarf!”
The film’s releasing company was called “Box Office International”, which was Harry’s film company, and the film is “presented by Harry Novak” – in other words, Harry went overseas to keep his sexploitation madness alive in America!
Here is the plot of this twisted masterpiece: Diminutive former kiddie-show host Torben Bille – who looks disturbingly like Jack Black in a trash compactor – stars as a young man who takes a special interest in the female guests at his mother’s boarding house…
Yes, that is Torben Bille – “The Sinful Dwarf” – who stars as the pint-sized pervert who imprisons drugged teenage sex slaves in the attic of his drunken mother’s decrepit rooming house…and that’s just the first ten minutes!
Poor Anne Sparrow!
Just look at this description from the cover art:
“The delicious Anne Sparrow – in her first and understandably only screen role – co-stars in this towering achievement in graphic depravity, now fully restored from a 35mm print discovered hidden in a janitor’s closet at the Danish Film Institute!”
Anne Sparrow certainly had a good reason NEVER TO ACT AGAIN – in classic euro-sleaze style, she is abducted and abused by our Sinful Dwarf – while her husband naively looks for a job…
Oh, did I mention that his Mom is CRAZY – and yes, she SINGS! Happy Mother’s Day indeed! You will never clean your ears the same way again…
And yes, that’s right – this movie was not only found in a janitor’s closet in Denmark – but they chose not to throw it out!
You will never see a more bizarre film than “The Sinful Dwarf” – and yes, it’s a euro-sleazy as they come…this is grindhouse at its best – or worst!
Novak went on to produce more films throughout the 70’s and 80’s , but these were his “exploitation masterpieces”…from his first :Kiss Me Quick”:
To one of his last, with the classic tagline:
“Let’s Play Hide And Go Kill!”
RIP Harry Novak – your twisted movie madness will be missed!
Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Books / Media, Comedy Movies, documentary films, Exploitation films, Film Noir, Foreign Films, Great Films, Grindhouse, Horror films, Independent Cinema, Movies, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies, Sexploitation Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized