Farewell Doris Wishman…
By Wil Forbis
At Acid Logic, we’ve done several pieces that take an in depth look at the world of Doris Wishman.
Interesting Motherfuckers: Doris Wishman. Doris was featured in our official celebrity bio section, which contained a reasoned analysis of her films.
Interview with Honey Lauren: Honey, star of Doris’s second to last film, gave an inside look at working with Wishman.
You also may enjoy my review of Bad Girls Go to Hell.
By all rights, the independent film should be a dying breed. Indie movies have to compete with studio films made at 10-20 times their budget. They have to rely on no-name actors. They often deal with subject matter with, at best, niche appeal. (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” anyone?) The cards are stacked against them. But the fact is, now is a golden age for indie films. Movies like “Kissing Jessica Stein” or “Memento” have had breakout status, causing the public (and studios) to take notice. The emergence of the digital camera has slashed the cost of entry for independent filmmakers. The Internet has popped up as a successful promotional tool (Hey, it duped you into seeing “Blair Witch.”) and has the potential to be a low cost means of mass distribution. Now is a great time to be an independent film maker.
As such, it’s that much sadder that cult movie director/producer/screenwriter Doris Wishman died August 10th, 2002. This could’ve been a great time for her as well. Doris spent more than forty years in the business making the types of films that had no choice but to be independent. Movies that the wealthy studios and big name actors never would have touched. Think you’ll ever see Dreamworks releasing titles like “Bad Girls Go to Hell” or “A Night to Dismember”? What are the odds of Tom Hanks playing a man driven to serial rape because he has the penis of a sex maniac attached to him? How about Meg Ryan fighting crime with a pair of 73 inch breasts? (God, I’d chew off my own arm to see that one.)
But those were exactly the sort of crazy ideas that found home in Doris Wishman's films. Doris started out shooting “Nudie” films in the early sixties – extra soft core films that usually featured a bunch of topless chicks chasing a beach ball around for 90 minutes. Then she moved into the “Roughies” - black and white morality tales in which suburban housewives were chewed up by a cold, cold city and spat out as prostitutes with cigarettes burns on their back. In the seventies, Doris avoided going into straight hardcore and did a couple adventure films with the elephant bosomed actress Chesty Morgon. The rest of her movies, be they 1980’s Samatha Fox showpiece, “A Night to Dismember” or the recently released “Satan Was a Lady” (starring my good pal, Honey Lauren) followed the same formula. Don’t be afraid to be outrageous. Don’t be afraid to be absurd. Don’t be afraid to push past the boundries of good taste, cohesive storytelling and conventional human logic.
When we eulogize an artist, it's common to try and make them sound better than they were. (Like all those clowns who said Kurt Cobain could actually play the guitar.) I’m not going to do that here. To call some of Doris’s work “terrible” would be putting it kindly. Her filmmaking was crude at best, with long stretches that border on unwatchable. But that’s what makes it all the more curious that her work remains in the public eye. After all, there’ve been plenty of unwatchable filmmakers throughout the years and 99% of them have faded away into deserved obscurity. Why not Doris?
The answer I think, is in her stories, her ideas, her concepts. Watching a lousy film about two people falling in love, or yet another predictable slasher film is one thing. Watching a lousy film documenting the creation of a transexual ("Let Me Die a Woman") or the life of a woman who suffocates people with her boobs ("Deadly Weapons") is quite another. It was in the breadth of her imagination that Doris shone. Nothing was out of her reach. Few people would have the balls to make a film about a man driven to crime by his transplanted penis ("The Amazing Transplant") or a tale of a secret agent with a camera in her breast ("Double Agent 73"). Fewer still could make a movie about a nudist colony of aliens ("Nude on the Moon"), or a housewife driven into prostitution ("Another Day, Another Man.") But how many people would have the balls to make ALL these films (and a whole lot more?)
Only one. Only Doris.
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Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org