Newest Reviews
Wind, The
Holly and the Ivy, The
Now, Voyager
Wolf's Call, The
Nightingale, The
Eighth Grade
Irishman, The
Lords of Chaos
Operation Petticoat
Dead Don't Die, The
On the Waterfront
Last Faust, The
Art of Self-Defense, The
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Newest Articles
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
  Manhandlers, The My god, breasts!Buy this film here.
Year: 1975
Director: Lee Madden
Stars: Cara Burgess, Judith Brown, Rosalind Miles, Vince Cannon, Henry Brandon, William Molloy, Arleen Sinclair, Wayne Storm, Peter Fitzsimmons, Tom McDonald, Herb Voland, Dan Seymour, George Skaff, G.J. Mitchell, Wade Crosby
Genre: Comedy, Sex, Thriller, Trash
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Aspiring businesswoman Katie (Cara Burgess) inherits a massage parlour-cum-brothel from her Uncle Leo (George Skaff), a pimp who got caught trying to blackmail the mafia and was gunned down by mob boss Carlo (Henry Brandon). Determined to re-open the business as a legitimate massage parlour, Katie takes on two friends as partners: sassy secretary Liz (Judith Brown) and accident-prone actress Mo (Rosalind Miles), whom we first glimpse filming a commercial for “Madonna Vaginal Spray” (a gag with a different set of connotations, these days). After some initial misunderstandings with men over what services they do offer, the nimble-fingered ladies soon rake in big bucks. Unfortunately, this does not go unnoticed by Carlo who wants a piece of the action. Reluctant mob lawyer Frank Spinelli (Vince Cannon) tries to get them back in the game, but ends up falling for Katie instead. Meanwhile, dorky cop Buckner (Wade Crosby) sets out to entrap the ladies in a police sting and murderous Carlo is still on the prowl.

Penned by Gil Lasky, a grindhouse stalwart with Blood and Lace (1971), Mama’s Dirty Girls (1974) and The Night God Screamed (1971) on his resumé, The Manhandlers is an eccentric exploitation stew combining soft-core sex, sitcom silliness and B-movie brutality. It is a strange mix for sure, with the faux feminist subtext and tongue in cheek tone occasionally overshadowed by the odd scene of unpalatably straight sadism as when Carlo’s hulking henchman crushes a hooker to death or batters the rather sweet heroines. For modern feminists the familiar Seventies sexploitation message (take charge of your sexuality and happiness will follow) might sound dubious at best but the plot genuinely does have the heroines take charge and get their men to open up emotionally, leading to happier lives. It also results in a troika of soft-core love scenes set to saccharine Seventies soul ballads, while director Lee Madden indulges in artsy editing and optical effects.

Despite dubious sexual politics the film actually has a fair amount going for it, not least some genuinely likeable characters. As played by the charmingly well-spoken Cara Burgess, Katie emerges an engagingly gutsy, forthright and idealistic heroine while Frank proves a surprisingly sweet-natured and conflicted love interest. Rather than jump into bed, these two lovers first go out on a tandem bike ride! Meanwhile Mo bonds with Elliot (Peter Fitzsimmons), a hopelessly repressed client who insists on keeping his clothes on for the massage, over their mutual failure to conform to African-American stereotypes (he’s scrawny and sucks at sports while she can neither sing nor dance). Gradually, Elliot loses his inhibitions and wins Mo’s affections (“My god, breasts!”). Lastly, lovely exploitation staple Judith Brown lands the film’s strangest sub-plot, posing nude for her body-painting artist boyfriend Gavin (Tom McDonald) who is oddly indifferent to her charms. Gavin’s eventual explanation for why he repeatedly rebuffs her sexual advances (“You know the problem with you sexually liberated chicks? You take all the fun out of the chase!”) encapsulates the confused attitude, something that extends to the finale wherein the mafia turn out to be - hey! - a bunch of stand-up guys after all. It is disappointing that for all the faux feminist posturing, the film resorts to having a bunch of brutal men (and mobsters at that) clean up the mess when really the girls should have been the ones that took a stand.

Madden directs with a penchant for cock-eyed camera angles that invest a certain lunatic energy into proceedings. It is not a classic of the genre along the lines of Summer School Teachers, Candy Stripe Nurses or The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) but more likeable than most.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1283 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: