BILL’S BIZARRE BIJOU
By William D. Carl
This month’s feature presentation:
Welcome to BILL’S BIZARRE BIJOU, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.
First up in a little piece of cheesecake called PAGAN ISLAND (1961). These were the days of the “nudie cuties.” You could show a bit of skin, but no actual action involving said skin. What better place to showcase a bevy of beautiful women than an island setting where every costume is simply a sarong bottom and a carefully placed lei. The movie was cast by the great Bunny Yeager, who was the head Playboy photographer at the time. She was also the, ahem, lady who thrust Bettie Page onto the world and made her a pin-up queen.
Our story starts with a shirtless, and may I say quite hunky for 1961, man and a woman attired in the aforementioned sarong and lei. The titles come up…PAGAN ISLAND starring Edward Dew and, I kid you not, Nani Maka. Yes, the actress took the nom de plume of her character, much like Anne Shirley from ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (1934). Well, maybe not. We also find out this gem was an early production of the prolific Barry Mahon, who brought us such wonders as THE GIRL WITH THE MAGIC BOX (1965), THE BEAST THAT KILLED WOMEN (1965), and SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972). Hoo boy.
Anyway, the girl, Nani Maka, is dead, so she’s ignored when a boat chock-full of even more shirtless young men and a cranky, gnarled captain pull the hunka-hunka beefcake to safety. When he comes around, the half naked sailor says his name is William Stanton, the dead woman is his wife, and he was swept onto a deserted island after his ship was bombed. When he gets there, he finds – hubba hubba – three beautiful, nearly nude women who miraculously understand him, even though one plainly says “William. Stanton. I no understand. Do not come to our village. We go now.”
Our intrepid red-blooded explorer follows them to find a whole village full of gorgeous women and one plus-sized lady for comic relief. The village is run by the stunning Kealoha who does hilarious double takes when she sees his “stick that shoots fire”. There are no men on the island, but it looks like the Maybelline saleslady and a hair stylist get there often enough. Also in the village is a seven foot monster statue that looks like it was created by Mrs. Johnson’s Fifth Grade Class from P.S. 23.
Then, what a stroke of bad luck! Nani Maka is promised to be wed to the Angry Sea God, and she can never belong to any man. This makes William into a drunken flirt with all the other women (“He like me. He say I built like small brick house.”) Soon, the dancing begins around the monster statue, with leis constantly just on the verge of falling aside and exposing something, but you’d have to squint really hard to see any naughty bits. These women really hold on to their leis tightly as they scamper around the island. I can almost hear Barry Mahon shouting at them, “Keep ‘em covered, girls! We can’t show too much.” Meanwhile, the dancing goes on. And on. And on. This chick can hula for what seems like months.
Twenty three women, nearly always exposing themselves, and no men – as William constantly says, “What a place to be shipwrecked!” This is before he’s hog-tied and hung upside down and the White Diaper All Male Review tries to invade the island.
Jealousy ensues, sacrifices are avoided, love blooms, exposition is spouted through lips that couldn’t find an inflection if her centerfold spread depended upon it. Our lovebirds make a run for it, pursued by the wicked Kealoha. But first, they must visit the Angry Sea God. This is when we discover that Nani Maka is engaged to a rather unimpressive Aqualand giant clam. Yes, a clam, like the one that makes bubbles in your home aquarium. And people are worried about gay marriage?
Oh, and one of the actresses is named Yanka Mann, who was also in the fabulous FLESH FEAST (1970) and SOMETIMES AUNT MARTHA DOES DREADFUL THINGS (1971). Yanka Mann? Sorry, I just had to say it again.
Full of hilariously bad acting, wretched Pigeon-English dialogue, spear fishing scenes obviously shot in tanks, lots of hula dancing, a sunken treasure, some lovely (no kidding) Les Baxter music, and a couple of dozen stunningly beautiful women (and yeah, one buff guy), PAGAN ISLAND is short and sweet at 58 minutes and was probably a second bill drive-in feature. It’s available on a great double feature DVD with the awesome FIEND OF DOPE ISLAND (1961) (“You’re not entertaining a hundred men…You’re entertaining me!”) from Something Weird Video.
Most memorable line: “If it weren’t for this religion thing, I’d take you away from this island and marry you.”
PAGAN ISLAND won’t win any awards, but it’s a hoot and a half, so I give it two and a half giant plastic clams.
© Copyright 2011 by William D. Carl