“The industry is in bad shape. The people in Hollywood don’t care about films. They’re only worried about lining their pockets.”
— The Tinseltown wisdoms of Peter Carpenter
These two, lost Peter Carpenter movies have dogged us long enough!
It’s time we complete the review quartet of Pete’s four films, which includes his two writing and producing Wiseauian vanity efforts: his debut, Blood Mania (1970) and Point of Terror (1971). How much do we love Blood Mania? Well, during our month-long, February 2021 Mill Creek Box Set tribute, B&S buddy Bill Van Ryn of Groovy Doom/Drive-In Asylum reviewed it for the ‘Creek’s Grindhouse Greats set, while our friend Eric Wrazen of Festival de la Bête Noire took a second crack at it for the set.
Courtesy of Bill Van Ryn, we know that Peter Carpenter had been selected by Russ Meyer for a small role in Vixen! after Carpenter’s then girlfriend included a photo with him as part of her audition materials. A role alongside Dyanne Thorne in 1970’s softcore drama Love Me Like I Do followed, and Carpenter’s later, one-two punch of his self-produced Crown International-starring vehicles of Blood Mania and Point of Terror, made with producer Chris Marconi, undoubtedly represented a bid for establishing Peter as a working actor—a Hollywood commodity, even. A career never manifested, and Carpenter disappeared. Despite rumors that he vanished because he died, he actually simply left the movie business, although he did pass away at the too-young age of 56—in Alhambra, Los Angeles County, on April 2, 1996, under his birth name: Joseph Nathaniel Carpenter, a former enlistee of the U.S. Air Force (thanks to Mike Perkins for that bio-postscript).
As Mike Justice of the Eerie Midnight Detective Agency site correctly pointed out: Peter didn’t do much in the way of acting in these films—but, in both, he did show a natural predilection for portraying a horny, muscular man who will stop at nothing to get laid. And I’ll have to add that quality carried to its zenith, with Pete as the red-jump suit clad n’ hip-swingin’ Tom Jones wannabe in Point of Terror.
So, how we ended up here, QWERTY’ing away in the B&S About Movies cubicles about these first two Peter Carpenter films is a tale of the coolness that is B&S About Movies. And this ain’t no trope of a tale we’re telling: B&S is a family of movie lovers who love film for film—a gaggle of crazy bastards and lazy sods who write for the love of film, money in our pockets for the efforts, be damned. (In fact, it’s how our newly-posted review of The Beast (1988) came together: reader feedback to our site. Ditto for our recent “Ancient Future Week” reviews of Future-Kill (1985) and Robo Warriors (1996): reader input.)
B&S reader and uber Peter Carpenter fan, Mike Perkins, a professional librarian, reached out to us upon discovering our review of Point of Terror with questions and some new, Pete-Intel. The Perk came to tell us he’s been working with B&S About Movies’ long-time friend and contributor Mike Justice to set the record straight on Peter Carpenter’s life and career.
It all began with Mike Justice asking the February 22, 2016, question in his article: Lost Actor: What Ever Happened to Peter Carpenter? on his site. So, Mike Perkins, the insane-uber Carpenter fan he is, started digging. And the two-Mikes’ investigations led to Mike Justice posting the follow up article: Lost Actor Found: Who Was Peter Carpenter? on March 7, 2021. Then Mike Perkins took it a step further by setting up a Flickr photo tribute page, finally convincing the IMDb to updated Peter Carpenter’s page, and setting up an all-new Find A Grave tribute page. Yeah, the Mighty Perk is working on that Peter Carpenter Wikipedia page, you know it!
The one thing we’re all in agreement on: Peter Carpenter was Tommy Wiseau before Tommy Wiseau was Tommy Wiseau making his The Room vanity project. And that Rudy Ray Moore was the blaxploitation version of Peter Carpenter—remembering Moore took the vanity route with Dolemite. And that we need a Peter Carpenter biographical dramedy, à la The Disaster Artist and My Name Is Dolemite. And that Jason Segel—as first suggested by The Great Protrubero, one of Mike Justice’s readers—should star.
Like I told Justice: If Netflix can bank roll Jack Black as the financial-scamming Jan “The Polka King” Lewen in a bioflick, then a Peter Carpenter film can be done.
Does anyone know how to reach James Franco and Seth Rogen? A Peter Carpenter movie—Point of Stardom—starring Jason Segel as Pete, must be done—if only to get Segel into a fringed, red-jump suit. And, in the way-back machine: Judge Reinhold.
Just think of it: A world where Peter Carpenter never left the business—and Peter, instead of Judge Reinhold—ended up as one of the (many) boyfriends of Elaine Benis on Seinfeld—or Carrie Heffernan’s gynecologist on The King of Queens (i.e., Judge, again). Why did you leave the business, Pete . . . the castings you missed . . . you could have been “the Close Talker” on Seinfeld! And yes, B&S readers: we’re accepting your casting suggestions for Dyanne Thorne and Russ Meyer in the comments section, below.
In fact, speaking of castings and Jack Black: If there’s ever a Paul Naschy biopic made, Jack Black is the man for the job. From Pennsylvania’s “Polka King” to Spain’s “Werewolf King”? Jack can do it!
And . . . Jack Black can be Russ Meyer to Jason Segel’s Peter Carpenter!!!
“Uh, the ‘rails,’ R.D. We talked about this. The rails. You’re friggin’ off them, again. Please get back to the movie,” Sam “The Boss Man” Panico, implores me.
Sorry, Sam . . . the Peter Carpenter love is, eventually, gonna getcha.
So, yeah. Bill Van Ryn. Eric Wrazen. Mike Justice. Mike Perkins. Sam “the Blender Master” Panico, and yours truly: We are family, and by golly, we’ll get the job done and solve The Case of Peter Carpenter. Get this: for the fun. We’re fracked up that way. And by hook or by crook, we will get that movie made, too.
Let’s roll Vixen! and Love Me Like I Do. To the aisle seats, Robin!
Vixen! — The Review
“The story of a girl who loves the joy of being alive.”
— Now that’s how you pitch an X-rated movie
Yeah, you’re heard of this movie in the annals of X-rated films: it was the first film to be given the rating due to its sex scenes. Yes. It was a huge box office success ($8 million against $73,000) that not only inspired 20th Century Fox to green-light Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Doh!), it also triggered the “Golden Age of Porn” with the likes of the equally successful Behind the Green Door, Deep Throat, and The Devil in Miss Jones. Howard Avedis, who we just did week-long tribute on, dove into the golden showers with this take on the trend with The Teacher. And speaking of teachers: Earl Barton’s Russ Meyer-wannabe, the sleazy drive-in take-a-shower-after flick, Trip with the Teacher, was his lone attempt at some “golden age” sexploitation.
Erica Gavin* (later of Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; stellar in Jonathan Demme’s Caged Heat for Roger Corman) is Vixen Palmer: an oversexed (big surprise), bored ne’er-do-well hottie stuck living in a Canadian mountain resort town with her naive, wilderness bush pilot husband (Larry Buchanan stock-player Garth Pillsbury, Mistress of the Apes).
While he’s off on assignments, flying tourists on fishing trips, the divine Ms. Palmer manipulates anyone and everyone to get her jollies: including an uptight, vacationing husband and wife flown by her husband, as well as a Canadian Mountie (cue Peter Carpenter to the set). Vix even dabbles in incest with her rough n’ tumble biker brother, Judd (because all Drive-In B-movie programmers must have a biker; played by Don Stroud lookalike Jon Evans). But Vix draws the line at interracial love: she won’t do the hoochie-mama with Judd’s black, riding buddy (Harrison Page, who carved a still-going, extensive U.S. TV career). Oh, and everyone has opinions on communism to go with their insights on the sexual revolution.
Sigh . . . sex and political dissertations with a side of racism: an exploitation Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup packed with M&M’s (or is that Skittles) if there ever was one.
When it comes to skin-flicks—and Meyer’s oeuvre, on whole—Vixen! is a solidly produced flick that’s well-directed with engaging cinematography. Courtesy of Erica Gavin going so over-the-top, along with Meyer working in messages on racism, communism, Vietnam, draft dodging, and the sexual revolution amid the nekked parts, this is not, not-an-entertaining flick. In fact, instead of flinching in repulsion, you actually laugh—with, not at—the film. How can you not chuckle, when Vixen and her brother lament on their special showers back when they were 12—as they have a nekked shower-sex reunion? (Note: Adult Film purveyor Shaun Costello also worked a Vietnam subtext into his early porn/proto-slasher, 1973’s Forced Entry; fellow adult industry warhorses John Howard and Justin Simonds later cross-pollinated the genres with the SOV-nasty, 1986’s Spine.)
Look, this ain’t no 2 1/2 hour Zack Snyder zombie romp with the always career-bitching Dave Bautista: it’s a 70-minute skin flick from the limits-pushing Russ Meyer. (It could be worse: this was sliced to 63-minutes in other parts of the world.) So what’s not to likely? Take a chance, you analog masochist, to get your fix of Peter Carpenter strippin’ off that Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman’s uniform. Your own heart-breaking sighs for Peter, may vary.
Ugh. No trailers to embed. So log onto You Tube to watch them HERE and HERE. The DVDs abound, even on Amazon. Online streams. Yes. On torrent sites: don’t do it.
Love Me Like I Do — The Review
“I thought I was safe as long as I kept my eyes wide open and my knees tied together.”
— Another satisfied Peter Carpenter conquest
Writer and director Jean Van Hearn shot seven sexploitationer skinners between 1961 to 1973: Eternal Summer, Nymphs Anonymous, We, a Family, The House Near the Prado, The Hanging of Jake Ellis, Did Baby Shoot Her Sugar Daddy?, and this one—the only one starring Peter Carpenter. Oh, and Dyanne Thorne. Did we mention that Dyanne impressed Pete, here, so he cast Dyanne as his lead in his forth and final film, Point of Terror? We just did.
So . . . if you need films with soft-core kink titillations, trannies, way-too-many strippers, a world where women seduce men—while another man is dead, stuffed under a bed—all done at an Ed Woodian ineptness that makes a Doris Wishman joint look better that it should, then Van Hearn’s always-hard-to-plot-follow, seven-film oeuvre should be on your watch list.
Now, back to the Peter Carpenter love.
Sharon Sloane (Dyanne Thorne, in a bad wig) is a loyal, seemingly content suburban wife with a nice husband, Bill (Peter Carpenter, in his first leading man role), house and family—and she throws mod-swingin’ backyard parties. Well, things were content: Sharon just discovered—as a way to deal with the stress of his business ready to collapse in a takeover by his partner, Keith (the one and done Paul Flemming)—ol’ hubs cheats on her with the local, neighborhood nympho, Nanette (Maria De Aragon**, Blood Mania for Peter; the lead in 1972’s The Cremators). So, Sharon—while she attends to the woe-is-me problems of her horny-divorcee best friend (Lynne Gordon, her final film was Robert Redford’s The Hot Rock for Peter Yates)—does the only logical thing: she goes off the deep end. And so does everyone else.
- Sharon pops off a couple o’ rounds at Bill’s squeeze, Nanette? Check.
- Bill’s business partner, Keith, wants not only the business, but Sharon? Check.
- Does Keith fail at goading Sharon into adultery, so he rapes her? Check.
- Does she like it? Check.
- Does Bill, the cheater, beat the hell out of Sharon for cheating? Check.
- Divorce? Stressed out little ones? Check and double check.
- Sharon and Keith run off to Las Vegas—and Sharon, the girl who won’t commit adultery—turns into the very nympho her ex, Bill, enjoys. Checky check check.
Just wow. If this is what the sexual revolution of the ’70s did for film . . . then we need Estus Pirkle to break out the bible to inspire Ron Ormond to get the cameras rolling to get our souls in check.
Look, if you’re a Peter Carpenter fan—and you were able to make it through the movie-where-nothing-happens stylings of Blood Mania, but enjoyed the mania where-everything-happens of Point of Terror—sans the musical numbers and slasher overtones of that later sex opus—then there’s something here for you to do on a Friday night.
Thanks to our bud, Mike Justice, while we do not have an online stream of the full movie to share (there’s a few torrent-to-porn uploads out there: don’t do it: unless you’re into virus alerts and site redirects), you can watch these two clips from the film HERE and HERE (but embedded, below). You want the DVD? Well, the DVDLady has multi-regional DVD-rs, if you absolutely must have it.
I’m excited! Let’s make this Peter Carpenter bioflick happen!
About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.
* Did you know Erica Gavin has an official website? True story. Check it out at ericagavin.com. The link will take you into a deeper plot synopsis and backstory on Vixen!, as well as direct you to her insights on her other films.
** Maria De Aragon was under the Greedo make-up, hassling Han Solo at the Mos Eisley Spaceport in Star Wars? Is that urban legend?