Cherry Jankowski leads one bizarre life. Her home life is spent with her boyfriend Herman who refuses to have sex with her before marriage. What Cherry doesn’t know is that Herman dresses like a woman when she isn’t around and dreams of being a woman. Her work life is just as odd, as she works at Joyful Novelties as a product tester. These aren’t your normal novelties though, they’re sex toys. A group of crack scientists are consistently hard at work on creating the next big innovation, from life-sized sex robots to electrical machinery that sends pleasurable sensations through brainwaves so partners don’t even have to touch one another! How better to find out if these products work as intended than to try them out on horny men and women?
Being a product tester for such inventions isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds, and one of the veteran guinea pigs named Marcello is having a hard time keeping it hard, suffering from numerous “erection failures”. He’s in danger of losing his job, and becomes desperate and depressed, willing to try anything to turn things around. Soon enough he realizes his co-worker Cherry is also unfulfilled in both her home life and her work, and being that he finds her to be quite attractive, he decides she may be his last resort to cure his weiner woes.
The Booby Hatch’s main claim to fame is that many of the same people that worked on George Romero’s seminal classic Night of the Living Dead reunited to make this film. A few years after NOTLD wrapped, scribe John Russo and zombie-fodder Rudy Ricci reunited to write and direct the film, and brought Russell Streiner along to produce the flick. The weird Romero Dead series connections don’t stop there however, as David Emge, who played Stephen in the original Dawn of the Dead, plays a Bogie-inspired wannabe gangster here, and cinematographer Paul McCollough went on to score Tom Savini’s NOTLD remake. It’s pretty surprising to see so many connections to the Dead series, but outside of the names involved, that’s about all of the similarities you’ll find.
I’m sure by now you’ve guessed that The Booby Hatch is anything but serious fare, and you’d be right, although how goofy things get is another matter altogether. There are things going on in this flick that are so random they’d be out of place in a Monty Python sketch. Have you ever wanted to see a gay dude dressed in balloons singing show tunes and reciting pretentious poetry? You’ll see it here! Ever thought that rape should be a subject that’s played for laughs? Your prayers have been answered! Ever felt that while most movies are good, they’re all missing an appearance by Satan just for the hell of it? The Booby Hatch has you covered! In addition to all of this you’ll also be treated to a stuttering handyman that likes to make perverted phone calls (and even though Cherry sees him all the time in her apartment building, and hears him talk, she still doesn’t know who it is when he calls!), live women playing the part of robotic sex slaves that look like deranged Raggedy Ann dolls, a Joyful Novelties spokesman that wears a giant dildo strapped to his forehead, a gorilla smoking a cigarette and eating peanuts after banging a chick, and a psychiatrist that likes to cop a feel on his patients as part of their treatment. Yes, all that and more can be playing on your TV screen if you decide to check this shit out.
Unfortunately insanity overload doesn't always make a good movie, and there are some pitfalls along the way. The madness going on in the flick that I found to be so amusing also ends up being the biggest problem. After a while, it all just starts to wear thin. The dialogue is full of sophomoric humor and double entendres that are really fun when things start, but you can only hear so many dick jokes in 80 minutes before they start to fall flat. Some of the gags are played multiple times as well, making certain portions of the film come off as redundant. The acting doesn’t help matters, and every single person involved in the film is amateur to say the least. It’s really not surprising that almost every actor involved in the flick hadn’t acted before and never stepped in front of the camera again. Nothing is visually stimulating either; everything is shot in a very drab, documentary-like manner, and unless you’re at one of the funnier portions of the film, there isn’t very much to keep you interested when you hit a dry spell in the narrative.
Far from a good movie, The Booby Hatch is worth a look for the curiosity factor alone. If you’re a diehard fan of Romero’s Dead series, there are some interesting connections both in front of and behind the camera for you to chew on. With a beer in hand and the right mindset (i.e. 5th grade), there’s certainly some absurd enjoyment to be found here.
Leave it to Synapse to give an outlandish, forgotten film like The Booby Hatch the royal treatment on DVD. The film is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, and doesn’t look too shabby. While the print suffers from a bit of damage and heavy grain, it’s nonetheless very colorful and is free of any artifacts. The mono sound is pretty clean, without any pops or hiss, but there are a handful of occasions where the dialogue is a bit hard to make out. That may have to do more with the production of the film itself though than the audio mix.
The biggest extra included on the disc is the inclusion of the complete alternate cut of the film, The Liberation of Cherry Jankowski. While I didn’t watch the entire thing, it seems to carry a more serious tone than its cinematic sister, and has a few noticeable differences, such as the opening credits starting later and a much different ending. An audio commentary from John Russo, Rudy Ricci, and Russell Streiner can be selected for the featured version of the flick, and a lot of good information is included about the making of the film and some hilarious stories are recounted. A 10 minute interview piece with the film’s biggest star, David Emge, is also on the disc and he basically says something anyone that’s watched the movie already knows: this shit is nuts! Any fans of ‘ol Flyboy are sure to get a kick out of this. The disc is rounded out with trailers for both versions of the film.
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