Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This is another one of those over the top, ill informed, propaganda films released in the late 1930's that attempted to inform citizens and save lives, mostly about the dreaded Marijuana!! Reefer Madness being the most popular and well known of these films was one of at least three different (or somewhat different... same actors, same sets, same music, same topics, etc) films on the topic of the evils of pot smoking. Ironically, if it weren't for potheads, these films would have died out seconds after their release. Reefer Madness has been restored, colorized, and even remade as a musical. The same care should be taken with Reefer Madness's fellow films, as they are just as bad if not worse. This particular film is called Sex Madness and deals with the very real dangers of syphilis. Though not as "out there" as Reefer Madness, which obviously tries to explain something that it in actuality knows nothing about, Sex Madness is somewhat more informed. Only in the bare sense though really. We know it is transmitted sexually, affects vision, and is damn hard to get rid of (at least in the 30's). Like the others, this movie has a really lame plot and some of the worst acting imaginable. It isn't quite as chopped up as Cocaine Fiends, the editing here is slightly better, but not by much. Made in 1938, Sex Madness was pretty racy, for not only did it deal with syphilis, but it also had a lesbian subplot that didn't have anything to do with transmitting venereal diseases. A secretary hits on her coworker and convinces her to go see some showgirls together. While at the theater, the secretary actually pulls the old "yawn, stretch my arms and end up with my arm around her shoulder" routine. It works, but the story isn't continued. What this had to do with syphilis is anyone's guess. The real hunk of the story revolves around two showgirls named Millicent and Sheila. Sheila already has syphilis and Millicent contracts syphilis at a beach party when she gets drunk and boinks a guy in a Zorro costume. Apparently, it was illegal in 1938 (could be illegal today, I dunno) to marry someone if you know you have syphilis. You could only wed once you got the clean bill of health from a doctor, which back then could take years. Millicent is treated by a quack doctor that promises her she will be syphilis free in a mere 30 days. She falls for it and gets married the second the doctor says she's cured. She then proceeds to have a child. Soon, the husband is having vision problems and the baby is displaying weird symptoms. They all go to a doctor where all three are diagnosed as syphilitic. Millicent breaks down and admits it's her fault. Feeling lower than the rent on a burning building, Millicent nurses her ailing husband who is sick in bed. She has laced two drinks with poison and plans to end both their suffering, when she gets a call from Sheila. Sheila says that she has gone to a "real" doctor and got the news that she will be syphilis free in a year. She's elated at this news (a whole year? I personally wouldn't feel that much better) and says that she also plans to get married and have children. Millicent laughs hysterically and hangs up the phone. While embracing her deathly ill husband, she exclaims "If there's hope for Sheila, then there's hope for us!!!". Good ol' syphilitic showgirl Sheila shall lead the way! The end. This is probably one of, if not the cheapest movies ever made. There's a hilarious goof in it that completely boggles my mind. During a speech from Millicent to her landlady, a window set slams shut and makes the actress playing Millicent totally mess up her lines... and they left it in! I think even Ed Wood would have trashed that botched of a scene. It's topic is a bit more dismal that it's companion films, but it's still filled with all the hilarity of a cheap pile of vintage propaganda crap.