THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP ***
Directed by Emilio Vieyra.
Starring Ricardo Bauleo, Gloria Prat, Aldo Barbero, Héctor Biuchet.
Horror/Sci-Fi, Argentina, 87 mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray via 101 Films on 18th July 2022.
It is time once again for 101 Films to open the American Grindhouse Film Archive vaults and unearth another treasure for your delectation. This particular treasure is an Argentinian (well, it’s on the same land mass) sci-fi sexploitation shocker from 1969 called THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP, and it is indeed a curiosity, not to mention the ‘HUMPP' part of the title also being rather apt.
Shot in black-and-white with an English dub, THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP contains a full-frontal lesbian sex scene within the first three minutes, and the sex continues for the next 11 minutes with barely a word being spoken (unless you count the hilariously dubbed ‘Ooh’s, ‘Ah’s and various other exclamations of ecstasy when those involved are clearly not moving their mouths) as various couples of all differing sexualities and kinks are filmed enjoying themselves, only to have their big moments ruined by a strange humanoid creature who invades their homes and kidnaps them at the peak of their fun.
Turns out that these people are being kidnapped so Dr. Zoide (Aldo Barbero ) – who isn’t as much of a laugh as he would be if this were a Russ Meyer movie – can perform various experiments on them in order to ‘dominate sex’, as he puts it. Whatever that means in real terms is anyone’s guess as Zoide gets his orders from a talking brain but for the rest of the movie that is pretty much all that happens as people have sex and then get kidnapped by a creature wearing what looks like a homemade Day-of the Dead festival mask, only for it to all come crashing down when the police and an investigative journalist try to figure out what is going on.
So yeah, it’s basically a mad scientist story with some - actually, quite a lot – softcore sex to pad it out because... well, that is what exploitation movies do. Is it a good movie? Not really, but it does have a charm about it, and not just the obvious attractions. There are certain film elements that just work better in black-and-white, and lurching sci-fi monsters and gratuitous titillation are just two of them, so even though the plot isn’t up to much there are still a lot of visual treats to be had in this movie. Hopefully the lighting crew were well paid anyway, as they clearly deserve it.
But if you want to dig deeper and go for analysis you can as there is clearly a commentary on society’s wider fear or condemnation of sex and/or the human body. What that comment actually is, again, is anyone’s guess but considering there is a cut of this movie with quite a lot of the graphic sex and nudity removed you get the feeling somebody somewhere was trying to make a point. Also, it isn’t that difficult to see a through line from the indecipherable rantings of Dr. Zoide to the mad ramblings of Dr. Heiter in THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, so you can bet that Tom Six has seen this movie at least once (and Rob Zombie definitely has as he has sampled a couple of quotes from it in his music).
Suffice to say that THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP – like many of the titles in this AGFA range – isn’t going to be for everyone but for those who lean towards the strange and bizarre, who like their transgressive movies to be not just out there but really out there, then this could be right up your calle, as they would no doubt say in Argentina. As a perfect accompaniment, the disc comes with an audio commentary courtesy of filmmaker and all-round grindhouse icon Frank Henenlotter (whose own FRANKENHOOKER also pays a debt to this movie), plus the original Argentinian version of the movie that is a lot shorter, features less graphic sex and is in Spanish but still retains enough weirdness to work its magic, and also a collection of shorts and trailers featuring all sorts of peculiar exploitation behaviour that you wouldn’t want anyone to walk in and catch you watching.
As far as the AGFA collection goes this is one of the stronger packages to have been put out thus far, as it really does capture the independent spirit of grindhouse cinema and the simple pleasures one can have from watching very rude, occasionally violent and totally daft action done on the cheap. However, as a movie THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP has an appeal that is more limited than the skills of the dubbing artists employed to provide the voices for it, and that, ultimately, is probably its biggest strength.