Undulations (1981)

Carlos Tobalina was a self-styled erotic auteur who got his starred cranking out sexploitation quickies for penny-pinching producer Harry Novak with titles like I AM CURIOUS TAHITI, LAST TANGO IN ACAPULCO and SEXUAL KUNG FU IN HONG KONG that were usually shot in and around anonymous beach houses, presumably owned by whoever chose to invest his hard-earned in the endeavor, standing in for the exotic locations the monikers promised. As theatrical soft-core gave way to the more explicit stuff, Tobalina followed suit, usually hiding none to inconspicuously behind the pseudonym “Troy Benny”, with a series of cheap and frequently dreary little numbers. From his veritable wealth of low rent features, only a couple are truly worth recalling like SENSUAL FIRE (with Jamie Gillis lusting for stepdaughter Dorothy Lemay), the two-part FLESH AND LACES (as a money-grabbing family tries to outdo each other sexually for the inheritance of dying dad Gillis) or the surprisingly fun SEXUAL HEIGHTS detailing the revenge sought by divorced Herschel Savage on baby-sitter Tawny Pearl with whom he was caught in flagrante by his irate spouse.

Contrary to expectations, the passing of time has actually been kind to even some of Tobalina’s lesser efforts, giving them the patina of nostalgia, helped in no small measure by slumming star casts in need of a paycheck. Case in point is this UNDULATIONS, a wannabe spoof of scandal-mongering TV shows that’s actually little more than a collection of fairly energetic sex scenes with a bunch of people that longtime genre fans will surely welcome back. Following a steamy threesome involving Serena (top-billed though she’s never seen again), an unidentified brunette with facial blemishes and Jamie Gillis that was probably left over from another shoot, we get to the story proper (such as it is) with a show devoted to sex called “Undulations”, hosted by Susannah French (toothsome star of THE OTHER SIDE OF JULIE, billed as “Georgia Drugg”, appropriate as there’s some on-camera coke snorting later on !) and Mai Lin whose transfixed grin seems more desperate than ever.

Frankly, this flick could do no wrong when the ladies kick off their program with footage from the San Francisco gay parade, highly unusual for a straight porn movie at the time (it sent groans through the audience at the Brussels ABC cinema I saw this with), before getting down to more heterosexual matters with the role reversal scenario of boss Juliet – AUNT PEG – Anderson’s job interviewing aspiring foreman Billy Dee with her customary enthusiasm and French relating the experiences of her Marilyn Monroe lookalike roommate (an uncredited Brooke West, which is funny as she figured prominently on the original one sheet). An uncredited art shop attendant makes reliable second banana Eric Stein pay for a couple of paintings with his natural endowments and a very young Jon Martin gets sexual relief from his wife’s best friend with the blessing of his spouse as she has just had a baby and has little time or desire to take care of his needs herself ! The drawn-out finale sees Lin, French and busty redhead Kitty Shayne (the blackmailing neighbor from Jeff Fairbanks’ EXPOSED) interact with interviewees Gillis and John Holmes, the latter delivering a paltry performance now that his recreational drug-taking began to take its toll. Tobalina tries to cover up Holmes’ lacking ability by cutting back and forth to Gillis taking on Mai and Kitty but to little avail.

This film is not clever by any stretch of the imagination, most of its “humour” deriving from reaction shots of the show’s two home viewers, one of these achieved through a visual effect so blatantly bogus it’s actually touching Tobalina thought he could get away with it. Much of the script seems improvised on the spot and, as acting is not the greatest talent most of the people present here possess, that makes for some truly dire moments where the film just stops dead. And yet, the flick is hard to dislike, disarming almost in its ineptitude springing from the director’s conspicuous lack of talent to make even the simplest scene look unforced. Oh, and by the way, you’ll note that the end credits have a lot of names (Tawny Pearl, Lindy McGrace, etc) in them that aren’t in the film and few of them that actually are but that’s because it was taken from SEXUAL HEIGHTS, even though it runs over a freeze-frame image from this film ! Go figure…