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Below the Belt (1971)

Sammy (John Tull) is a small-time boxing manager in charge of man-child Johnny (Steven Hodge) and Johnny’s equally dim trainer Benny (George ‘Buck’ Flower). Sammy is sick of the small time (it doesn’t prevent him from skimming about 95% of the money Johnny makes, though) and wants to move on to bigger and better things. Standing in his way is the world’s worst dressed mobster, Louie Gardino (Fred Finkleloffe), who has hired Lisa (Mirka Madnadraszky) to seduce Johnny and find out everything she can about Sammy’s ambitious plans. Meanwhile, Sammy fears that Louie, seeing a champ in the making in Johnny, will make his life expendable and finds another unfortunately dressed mobster to put a hit out on Louie. Will Sammy’s plan succeed? Do you even care?

Face it, this is a Harry Novak flick, so the plot’s just about nonexistant. I do give them credit for giving it the ol’ college try though. The problem really comes down to the fact that it’s just a bit hard to follow at times. Just when you hit a part of the movie where they try to further the story along, boom, another looong softcore scene. Nobody watches these things for the plot anyways, so I have no idea why I’m even trying to justify this.

Below the Belt is yet another showcase for the editing and directorial talents of Pete Perry, Novak’s resident director who rarely used his real name (borrowing the name of real-life production assistant Bethel Buckalew for nearly all of his country-fried sex films, in addition to this picture). Tull stands out in this, wildly overacting as the mysoginistic Sammy. He’s twitchy and eye-bugging through most scenes, and his sex scene with Rene Bond has him grunting like he’s got a poker jammed straight up his ass. It’s so OTT, that she’s breaking character and laughing when it’s finished. Hodge is okay as the girl-shy boxer, but he isn’t given a whole lot to do and honestly, he looks more like he’d be at home ripping bongs and catching waves. Buck Flower again shines as the loveable ex-boxer Benny. The funniest thing about this is Louie’s wardrobe. Everytime he came onscreen, I nearly pissed myself with laughter. Most pimps would look at his clothes and say “I think that guy went too far”.

What the real question boils down to is this… how are the sex scenes? You’ll be happy to know that they are all pretty hot, especially if you’re into that natural 70’s look. All the females are attractive and have no qualms about showing off everything. You’ve got a pre-boob job Rene Bond, gap-toothed Terry Johnson, Mirka Madnadraszky (who’s accent makes her sound like Borat’s sister), and of course, the one and only Uschi Digard. If you’re an Uschi fan (and I don’t know anyone who isn’t) then you’ll be a little bummed to know that she’s only in the first 15 minutes of this. The scene with her and Tull is sorta funny, with Tull trying to earn her sympathies by telling her how hard he has it managing the simple Johnny, intercut with scenes of him verbally abusing Johnny. Also watch for the part where someone’s dog wanders into frame and start sniffing them while Tull is going down on her. They eventually get down to buisness in a pool, and the resulting thrashing and flopping of Uschi is reminiscent of Elizabeth Berkley’s seizure in the pool in Showgirls. The overly long lezfest (10+ minutes) between Mirka and Terry is pretty hot as well.