Stephen Rebello, co-creator of the original "Bad Movies We Love" column, book and film marathons, is back and taking aim again at jaw-droppingly, dementedly wonderful Hollywood movies that we're calling "So Bad, They’re Brilliant." For his debut column, he puts Burlesque star Cher’s 1969 trainwreck Chastity (newly released as part of a 5-DVD box set) squarely in his sights. Check back for next week's edition of "SBTB," wherein Stephen tackles GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra.
If we could turn back time, we’d happily spin ourselves back to the wild woman that was Cher, 1969, when she made her wackazoid dramatic debut as a teen runaway, hooker, car thief, crackpot philosophizer and lesbo curious hooker in a low-rent Mexican cathouse in Chastity. Ride with us in the wayback machine to old-school Cher -- several husbands, boyfriends, boy-toys, Golden Globes, an Oscar, a Grammy and many, many face enhancements ago --when her clownish, massively self-impressed then-husband Sonny Bono cast his lady love as a seriously schizy, anti-Establishment chick described in the movie’s trailer as “a bummer, a loser, a cop-out, a drop-out” and “not a girl – she’s an experience.” That’s OK, though, because like the heroine, Chastity isn’t a movie – it’s an experience; an experience in sleaze, pseudo-arty dialogue, cheesy music and insane direction wrapped around a big talent so bizarrely misguided, you could get a contact buzz just from watching.
The madness begins with Cher running frantically (and bra-lessly) toward the camera for a very, very long time while Sonny Bono’s grindhouse theme music promises all sorts of raunchy nastiness. What exactly is this doll running from? A high desert drag show? The set of a Russ Meyer movie? Well, from the looks of all that war paint she’s sporting, odds are that she escaped captivity from a research lab where twisted cosmeticians had been torturing her with experimental mascara testing. Soon, our tough-talking, freewheeling street urchin is thumbing rides from horny truck drivers, rifling cash out of wallets (hey, you think those perfectly manicured nails come cheap?) and staring into space while musing in monotone: “People are dying. Girls are getting raped. Kids in the backs of cars are making it.” She might have added, “Viewers are howling with laughter.”
But it’s after our heroine flees a bland, fresh-faced Bible-loving law student (Stephen Whittaker) that Chastity spins dizzily into the rarefied realm of bad movie bliss. Blowing into Mexico, our heroine hooks up with a pimp who sets her up in a grungy whorehouse where her fellow hookers look like rejects from a casting call for Real Housewives of Juarez. There, she enjoys a giggle-inducing romantic montage, an off-camera sexual interlude and a bizarre post-coital ritual of soup-eating with a dyke madam (Barbara London) who rocks a Mrs. Brady ‘do and reads her lines like a grad of The Joey Heatherton Academy for Overripe Sex Kittens. Sweet Chastity digs the lovemaking – she, no kidding, even murmurs that the lesbo touches her like her mother used to – but finally turns on her, braying, “You stink!” It turns out that all along our little darling has been longing to play house with the future lawyer, to whom she returns just long enough to rename him “Andre” and scrawl sweet nothings on his wall before freaking out and hitting the trucker route again.
The reviews and box office for Chastity were so rotten that director Alessio de Paola never made another movie, but Cher went on to do many more, winning awards for some and not so much in others. Faithful, anyone? Anyone? While it’s great that, at 64, she returned to her roots with Burlesque, it’s even greater that she reportedly still wants to star in a remake of the romantic 1940s flick The Enchanted Cottage that originally starred 29-year-old Dorothy Maguire.
Play Our Super-Exclusive, Super Cheap Chastity Games Round up a pack of bad movie-loving friends, fire up the flick and:
- Knock back a drink every time Cher licks her lips; or the theme song gets repeated.
- When Chastity recalls how many strangers’ bedrooms in which she’s woken up, stop the movie and make your guests count how many strangers’ bedrooms they remember. Extra points if they’ll admit to making it with a trucker.