Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Chained Girls (1965)

Chained Girls is a phrase that has immediate connotations and resonance for me. When I see it on a movie box – or poster – I assume that I am looking at a Women In Prison film (or WIP as some people like to abbreviate it). This is a genre that I have a particular interest in – and connection to – as I once wrote an important essay about it when I was a film student, and subsequently wrote an entire musical play poking fun at it (which was called  Bad Girls Jailhouse and was first produced in 1994). That play started me on a long path of writing, producing and directing crazy musicals, which was my main focus for over ten years – but that’s another story.

Chained Girls (1965) is an old exploitation movie that is NOT about women in prison. It is, as stated in its own publicity materials, “A daring film about lesbianism today!” If that wasn’t shocking enough for audiences in 1965, Chained Girls also claimed to be a documentary. That’s right. A documentary, as opposed to a sleazy sexploitation drama that one might typically have seen at certain drive-ins and grindhouses back in the day. Chained Girls wasn’t a cheap exploitation picture, it was EDUCATIONAL, so… uh… back off censors and other rule mongers. We have to show the public what lesbians do so that honest, morally upright people can LEARN something. This movie is good for them, like eating granola. It can help prevent tragedies and poor life choices by showing what happens to people who who’ve made those poor choices.

Poster for Mom and Dad (1945), perhaps an influence on Chained GirlsI suppose this suggests that Chained Girls is part of that unique exploitation genre, most popular in the 1930s and 40s, which includes infamous movies like Mom and Dad (1945), Marihuana (1936), Child Bride (1943) and She Shoulda Said No! (1949). On the other hand, it was probably influenced by the emergence of mondo movies, like Mondo Cane (1962), Mondo Cane 2 (1963) and La donna nel mondo aka Women of the World (1963). These movies were pseudo documentaries that purported to show shocking but true (and often sleazy) stuff from around the world. Many of them contained footage that was “fake”, or at least explained as being something other than what it was. For example, a film could show footage of a bunch of Poster for Women of the World (1963), perhaps an influence on Chained Girlsmen standing around in a foreign country while the narrator says “These men are here to buy female slaves…”. I suppose it could be true, but there is no actual evidence of slave-buying visible in the footage.

Chained Girls uses this technique often throughout its scant 65 minute running time. One of my Twitter friends (hello Peter) pointed out this questionable gem uttered by the film’s narrator: “Most teenage lesbians are prostitutes or drug addicts.” As I recall, we are simply looking at shots of young women interacting when the narrator says this. I could be wrong, as this movie (despite its claims of being a documentary) is a full production featuring actors who appeared in other exploitation pictures. I don’t think that it contains any Poster for Joseph P. Mawra's Olga's House of Shame (1964), which shares stylistic similarities with Chained Girlsactual “documentary” footage of people living their own lives. Having said that, there might be stolen shots of real people on the streets of the city. But the “scenes” that we witness throughout the film are all staged.

The movie was directed by Joseph P. Mawra, who is best known for his Olga films, such as Olga’s House of Shame (1964), Olga’s Girls (1964), and White Slaves of Chinatown (1964). 1964 was a very busy year for Mawra. As I recall, all of these movies use the same stylistic approach (silent footage of women doing stuff while a narrator says lurid things – and the narrator is often the same guy, Joel Holt, who also acted in and directed a few films as well). Both Mawra and Holt seem to have played out their entire filmmaking careers in the 1960s. Perhaps the arrival of hardcore sex films in the 1970s put them out of business. Who knows?

Chained Girls (1965) is not for everyone, but for those with a taste for its unique brand of antique sleaze, it’s pretty darn entertaining. For those with a sensitivity to out of date, inappropriate and offensive material, it would likely be much less fun. On the one hand, it’s a “documentary” with a lot of misinformation & stereotyping in it. But on the other hand, I kind of believe them when they say they got their facts from recent (in 1965) research. Probably some biased, 2nd rate studies by would-be Masters & Johnson types. This makes it a fascinating window into the crazy beliefs of the time. And it’s the over-the-top inappropriateness of what the narrator is saying that makes the movie a jaw dropping good time (for those who can stand it). John Waters is apparently a fan of this film, and I can see why. In some ways, it’s kind of a distant relative (and perhaps an influence on) Waters’ A Dirty Shame (2004). it’s been a while since I saw that movie, but I recall Waters educating the audience about different types of unusual sexual practices (a plate job, for instance). I really need to see that movie again soon…

One reviewer on the IMDb says “For what it is “chained girls” is one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve ever had… Rarely has a movie made me laugh so hard and so deeply… Really this film is a treat if you are in the right frame of mind and/or watching it with someone who truly has a firm grasp of irony.”

I first saw Chained Girls with my friend Brian during one of our all day movie marathons. We had no idea what we were getting into, and I think we both spent the entire 65 minutes with our jaws hanging open in disbelief (when we weren’t laughing, of course). Watching it again now only confirmed our original impression of it. I remember turning to Brian halfway through the film and saying “This movie could be turned into a brilliant fringe musical.” As I mentioned earlier, I spent many years working on crazy musicals and I had a pretty good eye for material that was ripe for adaptation. “I don’t think I could do it, however,” I said. “The playwright and/or composer needs to be a woman – and preferably a lesbian.” I made a mental note to mention this idea the next time I ran into the right person, but alas, it never came up. So, if any of my lesbian playwright friends are reading this, here’s an idea for you…

As for the rest of us, we can still enjoy Chained Girls (1965), for what it is, on any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn on which the spirit moves us, grabs us, or otherwise chains us to our seat. It’s the kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that must be seen to be believed.

Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical

Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Angus Kohm

You’ll See: Innocent young girls, cruel sorority sisters, foolish fraternity freaks, and one sadistic, insane killer stalking them all. Sound familiar? It is. But this time they sing and dance too…

Reviews:

“What do you do when you’ve got a script that tells the story of an axe-wielding madman who escapes from the loony bin and starts stalking sorority girls on a nearby college campus? Why, you make a musical, of course. Which is exactly what Winnipeg writer/ composer/ director Angus Kohm has done with Slumber Party Massacre, aHalloween-style plot delivered with a Rainbow Stage sensibility. The result is a campy, absurd musical spoof that’s found commercial and critical success beyond the cult following Kohm and co. already had in Winnipeg. And all we can say is, uh… it’s about bloody well time. Not only is Kohm worthy of praise for breathing new life into a time-worn genre (Scream notwithstanding), so is the troupe. Particularly noteworthy are the skilled veteran duo of Cassandra Williams and Stefanie Wiens, who are so adept in their competing good-girl/bad-girl roles. Let’s hope that Kohm, who poked fun at that other B-movie staple, women’s prison films, in the equally ridiculous Bad Girls Jailhouse, will keep coming back like the Michael Meyers of his craft. Five Stars!” (Highest Rating)
— Riva Harrison, The Winnipeg Sun, 1997 

“Call it magic, fringe-style. But what other explanation is there when actors start belting out the tune There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl and all the prim looking grannies in the front row start tapping their toes? And then, by the time the cast starts singing I’m a Crazy Mixed-Up Psychopathic Killer, the grannies actually look ready to jump on stage to sing along. That is the rather magical scene these days at the Manotick Fringe Festival, site of the world premiere of Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical.”
— Paul Gessell, The Ottawa Citizen

“This is the show you don’t want to miss. It’s fast, funny and macabre – just the kind of edgy fluff people expect at a fringe festival. Sweeney Todd fans will be especially pleased. A unifying, tenacious grip on just the right sense of irony makes dippy songs about things like finding a severed head in a toilet bowl absurdly funny. Prediction: Manitoba playwright/composer Angus Kohm will make serious money some day.”
– Pat Donnelly, The Montreal Gazette

“Screamingly funny and well performed. How can you go wrong with a song title like There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl? REACTION/BUZZ: “Even the corpses are singing and dancing.” “I laughed, I cried… I just about wet myself.”
– David Gobeil Taylor, The Montreal Mirror

“A wondrous little piece by Angus Kohm… it moves fast and the timing is bang on. I want the cast album!”
– Gaetan L. Charlebois, The Montreal Hour

“In a perfect world, all Fringe shows would feature at least some of the spunk and spirit of Winnipeg playwright Angus Kohm’s Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre. The Winnipeg Based B-movie fanatic, who brought his Bad Girls Jailhouse to the Toronto Fringe last year, once again shows a genius for casting and a gift for catchy tunes and good humored, ridiculous lyrics…Sorority Girls is good silly fun.”
– Kathleen M. Smith, The Toronto Eye

“Oh what the hell.”
– Jason Sherman, Toronto Life

“This is one of the must-see shows of the festival… like Andrew Lloyd Webber staging Halloween.Kohm’s lyrics draw hoots of laughter… There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl appears destined to become Kohm’s signature song. Five Stars!” – (highest rating)
– Kevin Prokosh, The Winnipeg Free Press

“Here’s a show that gives you exactly what the title promises. Yes, there are sorority girls, they do have a slumber party, there is a massacre and, incredibly, it’s all set to music. Winnipeg’s Angus Kohm is the evil genius behind it. Lyrical gems like That Madman Is Nuts pop up frequently. Only one song goes to far: There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl was just too disgusting.”
– Cam Fuller, The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

“He’s baaa-ck!  No, not the sadistic ax murderer with a lust for the blood of nubile sorority girls, but local composer/playwright Angus Kohm, who unleashes a raucous, cutting-edge satirical attack on slasher movies. Who needs a two sided ax when you can wield cutting edge songs with razor-sharp lyrics honed to leave listeners helplessly laughing?  Sorority Girls debuted in 1997 as a kind of stage cousin to the 1996 film Scream.  Since then, the genre has been crowded by moreScreams, Scary Movies and I Know What You Did Last Summer.  Kohm still has the musical field all to himself.  Undeniably silly and violent in a cartoon-like manner, Sorority Girls stands up as a hilarious skewering of the cliche of teen slasher flicks.”
– Kevin Prokosh, The Winnipeg Free Press (2001)

“A returning Fringe fave, Sorority Girls should have been force-screened to the Wayans Brothers before they spoofed the horror genre in Scary Movie and its terrifyingly bad sequel. This is all the ammo they needed, as five local university students remind us that horror films are already effective self-parody. With rousing song-and-dance numbers such as There’s a Severed Head in the Toilet Bowl, and I Feel Like a Walk in the Basement … Alone, the musical plumbs the depths of bad taste — with hilarious results… This will be a hot ticket by the end of the week, even in the spacious Prairie Theatre Exchange.”
– The Winnipeg Sun (2001)

Performance Rights and Other Details For Potential Producers:

Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical
A one act musical comedy;
Cast Size: 5 Actors (4 Female, 1 Male);
NOTE: The show was designed for 5 actors doubling as more than one character. It is also perfectly acceptable to cast more than 5 actors and reduce (or eliminate) the doubling.
Running Time: 60 minutes (could be as long as 75 minutes if the director chooses to slow the pace);
Set: Originally produced on a bare stage with one mime cube.
Props/Costumes: Few props, such as fake knives, axe, etc.; simple costumes such as work coveralls and a mask; if doubling with a cast of five, quick changes will be required (for example, from from generic members of the sorority to specific characters in pyjamas);
Music is scored for piano and voices; has sometimes been arranged for a full band.

Copies of the script are available for $7.95 each.
Single Perusal Copies of the score are available for $29.95 each.
A Soundtrack Recording of the 2001 Cast of  Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical is available on CD for $19.95. More info here

Professional and Amateur Performance Rights are available.
Royalty Fees will be applicable, but the exact amount will depend on the details of each individual production.

To find out more, contact the author (address below).
Please include information such as:
1) Where your production would take place
2) When it would take place
3) How many performances there would be
4) How many seats there are in the theatre
5) Ticket prices

To Order Scripts, Scores, CDs, etc.,
or for information on obtaining the professional or amateur rights to
Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical,
contact Angus Kohm c/o Rubbed Raw:

To send an e-mail click here
Snail mail: Angus Kohm c/o Rubbed Raw:
205 – 21 Roslyn Road
Winnipeg, MB
R3L 2S8
Canada
Make cheques (or money orders) payable to Angus Kohm.

Shipping charges may be applicable, and may vary due to shipping location and size of order. E-mail or snail mail to find out more.

Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical: a musical that has been seen at fringe festivals and on university campuses all over North America.

Bad Girls Jailhouse

A Musical, Set In A Women’s Prison

A heartwarming story of an innocent woman’s adventures in the big house. Featuring a strip search, a riot, and a shower scene – all set to music (!) – it is surely only a matter of time before this play wins a major award for it’s contributions to society.

When Bad Girls Jailhouse made its debut in Angus Kohm’s hometown of Winnipeg, the critics said:

“Twisted toe tappin’ tunes… Kohm is the Andrew Lloyd Webber of women’s prison musicals!” – Kevin Prokosh, Winnipeg Free Press, (1994)

“Hilarious!  Four Stars!” – Riva Harrison, Winnipeg Sun (1994)

“Rejoice! The Rocky Horror Picture Show now has a true, if illegitimate, heir!” – D.G. Valdron, The Jenny Revue (1994)

One of the critics (hello, Den) liked Bad Girls Jailhouse so much he went on to design the posters for the debut of the UNCUT version of the play in 1996.

         

Bad Girls Jailhouse

Book, music and lyrics by Angus Kohm

A crooked warden, sadistic guards, bloodthirsty convicts, and one innocent woman clash behind bars in a white hot story of violence, revenge, and singing and dancing. Yes, it’s a musical spoof of women’s prison films!

Performance Rights and Other Details For Potential Producers:

Bad Girls Jailhouse
90 Minutes, 2 Acts, Musical Comedy;
7 Actors (7 Female);
NOTE: It would be possible to cast more prisoners as a chorus if so desired
Running Time: 90 – 100 minutes (could be done with or without intermission);
Originally produced on a bare stage with one mime cube.
Few props; simple costumes;
Music scored for piano and voices;
_
Copies of the script are available for $7.95 each.
Single Perusal Copies of the score are available for $29.95 each.
A Demo Recording of the 1996 Cast of  Bad GIrls Jailhouse
is available on CD for $19.95.
Professional and Amateur Performance Rights are available.
Royalty Fees will be applicable, but the exact amount will depend on the details of each individual production.

To find out more, contact the author (address below).
Please include information such as:
1) Where your production would take place
2) When it would take place
3) How many performances there would be
4) How many seats there are in the theatre
5) Ticket prices

To Order Scripts, Scores, CDs, etc.,

from the Black Hole Theatre production in 2000, at the University of Manitoba

or for information on obtaining the professional or amateur rights to Bad Girls Jailhouse contact:
Angus Kohm c/o SWAK Productions:
205 – 21 Roslyn Road
Winnipeg, MB
R3L 2S8
Canada
_
Or send an e-mail
Make cheques (or money orders) payable to Angus Kohm.
Shipping charges may be applicable, and may vary due to shipping location and size of order.
E-mail or snail mail to find out more.