Movie: The Exotic Ones (1968)

By this point in the Powerhouse/Indicator’s Ormond Family box set, I had been subjected to somebody’s vacation footage of Africa, real surgery footage, an illustration of a man who has a 100-pound testicular tumor, a bloated and washed-up sexpot, dirt track racing, chain gangs and a husband-and-wife harmonica duo.  I thought I had hit every space on the white-trash Monopoly board that is the Ron Ormond oeuvre, and yet 1968’s The Exotic Ones proved me wrong.

This is the last movie on the “sleaze” half of this blu-ray box set.  Having survived two plane crashes, Ron and June Ormond had already decided to dedicate the rest of their lives to making films for Jesus.  But before they would do that, they apparently decided to have a theatrical blow out where they would overindulge their worst impulses. 

That the movie takes place in New Orleans isn’t surprising since, in a way, the couple was having a kind of Mardi Gras before a planned lifetime of penance.  In an opening montage, Ormond narrates a whirlwind tour of the Big Easy, or as he calls it “The Paris of America.”  I will begrudgingly give him credit for doing a decent job with this part of the film, though it is little more than something a tourist bureau would churn out.  Also, I question his choice of underlying music, which I swear I have heard in at least one corporate film from that era.  The piece is hard to describe, but I always think of it as, “Let’s get down with 3M, creators of the polymers of tomorrow!”

I can’t recall what he cuts to immediately after that montage.  It is either a man killed by a caveman in the swamps or a dancer twirling flaming tassels attached to her pasties.  I’m not going to go back to determine which it is.  Really, both of these are fair representatives of the bulk of the picture.

This is another of Ormond’s “meatloaf movies”, as I have come to think of them.  He takes something he either already has access to, or knows will drag in a certain audience, and then fills the remainder of the runtime with half-baked ideas in an attempt to convince people this is actually a cohesive feature film. 

In previous efforts, these have included the aforementioned vacation footage of Africa or flagellants actually beating themselves to a bloody pulp. In Exotic, there’s two such elements: the performers at a strip club and the swamp thing I mentioned earlier.

The strip club performers are pretty sad.  I don’t want to judge people by their body type but, if I was in this club, I would probably be yelling for some of them to put it on instead of taking more off.  If there is one thing that is marginally impressive, it is the flexibility demonstrated by one performer.  I will call her act “Cirque de Cheap Lay”.  What is odd about these scenes is how curiously chase they are, and I don’t recall any actual nudity in the feature unless one counts the paintings in the club owner’s bedroom. 

Conversely, the movie becomes surprisingly graphic when it comes to the antics of the Swamp Thing.  There’s an extremely gory shot of a cow that has been disemboweled, with its decapitated head laying a couple of feet away.  The camera lingers almost lovingly in close-up on these elements.

The Swamp Thing is played by Sleepy La Beef (I am not making this stuff up).  I don’t know if Mr. La Beef was ever a carnival geek, but he practices that art here in a horrific scene where he dismembers and eats a live chicken. 

Needless to say, this is a gross movie.  In addition to the scenes I just mentioned, one scene has many cuts to chewing tobacco being expectorated into a spittoon.  I’m sure this scene was faked, but one character will be forced to consume the contents of this receptacle.  Faked or not, that concept is gag-inducing.

The acting is bad all around, with many of the actors recognizable from previous Ormond works.  Father and son, Ron and Tim Ormond, again appear in prominent roles.  Ron is a gangster for at least the third time in this set, and as bad as always.  Tim, now a teenager, is as irritating as always.  His appearance in each film is a testament to how a parent’s love can often be misplaced.

Wife and mother June has a far more prominent role in this than anything before, including a feather dance this woman of advanced years does while wearing the kind of long underwear I always associate with California gold rush prospectors.  At the conclusion, it is revealed she has a sign reading “LSD” on her ass.  Yeah, I don’t get it, either.

Admittedly, there were a couple of moments of genuine humor in it and those caught me off-guard.  One comes from an ancient stagehand we last saw winning the election in Forty Acre Feud.  Here, one of the strippers inspires him to remark, “Boy, if I was only 65 again”.  Another moment I was surprised I laughed at, was after Tim finds the disembodied cow, there’s a jump cut to him shoveling food in his mouth with both hands as he says, “It’s makes me sick just thinking about it.”

The Exotic Ones is a no-holds-barred wallow in excess before the Ormonds spent the remainder of their lives repenting for their ways.  What I don’t understand is why they wanted to show much of what appears on the screen.  It made me question the mentality of those behind the camera.  What is odd is how I would have the same thoughts regarding some of the tortures we will see when we get to the religious half of this set.

Dir: Ron Ormond

Starring…fuck it–I’m sick of listing the same people for each of these

Watched as part of Powerhouse/Indicator’s blu-ray box set From Hollywood to Heaven: The Lost and Saved Films of the Ormond Family.