Director: Clay Westervelt
Popatopolis is a film about a director making a film. The director, Jim Wynorksi, is a king of b-movie exploitation classics such as Chopping Mall, Return of the Swamp Thing, 976 Evil II, Dinosaur Island, and many more low budgeters too numerous to mention. One enthusiast interviewed for this film describes Jim’s output as having ‘naked women running from death: hot.’ And the feature he is undertaking here, ‘The Witches of Breastwick’, fits within this description. Jim himself reckons vital ingredients for a movie are “big chase and a big chest, add those two to a film and it’s gonna be a winner.”
One snag: He is making the film in three days and whilst there are chests a plenty in ‘Witches‘, there is a narrowed down crew of two. No wardrobe, no make up and a tin opener that doesn’t work. Normally during the course of filmmaking two to three scenes are approached in a day. Here no less than 13 are filmed and regardless of the fact that the movie has “nothing but hot chicks with huge tits all over the place”, the tensions and frustrations with this insanity are evident throughout.
No wonder, considering his notoriously unorthodox methods. One actress reminiscing about an audition with Jim remembers being told to run around a tennis court in a bikini, and the actor chosen for ‘Witches’ was told he was in the film on the basis of opening a door and saying ‘hi’. For Sorceress II his direction “run you fucking monks run,” was less than kind to a troop of extras having been there all day. But that is him. Unapologetic and often rude. B-movie industry professionals, however, like and respect Wynorski. Interplayed with the behind the scenes footage are interviews with legends Corman and Sidaris. Corman says of Jim ‘He has never lost his enthusiasm for film. He is a better director than he thinks he is and is capable of doing more than he’s done.” Jim’s mother, Teresa, just loves him. “He was a loner. No girlfriend – no nothing.”
The funniest aspects arise from the working relationships he has with the women in his movies and with the filming of the sex scenes. Actresses that Jim is working with on ‘Witches’ Monique Parent and Julie K. Smith provide insight as to the man the method and modern Hollywood. Julie in particular is a delight throughout and provides great commentary. Coming downstairs for the day’s shoot Jim comments, “love those boobs.” “That is Jim’s way of saying Good Morning” she informs us after telling Jim that her boobs love him too. She knows that there is going to be a fight with him over keeping a pair of glasses on, because in doing so she will appear ‘witchier.’ Monique reckons that “whoever wrote this script does not like women”. Jim also wrote the script. To Julie, “when a script is written over a couple of rum and cokes the anger comes out”. Fantastic.
The porn actress Stormy Daniels has been brought in for some of the ‘action’, that action involving the use of a sock (the film provides never revealed before insight into B-movie sex), and what Stormy describes as “the roughest not-sex I’ve ever had”. Julie, in another creative fight with Jim, wants to keep underwear on during a sex scene because “they are cute”. “I’m not making this for gays” argues Jim. Quite right too. Jim ironically refers to his films as “something the whole family will enjoy”.
Popatopolis is a riot of a movie and is loaded throughout with serious points made about the status of a B-movie in the modern Hollywood juxtaposed with massive doses of memorable hilarity. It is well put together, written and directed by Clay Westervelt, with excellent editing from Brooks Larson. A must see for any exploitation and soft porn enthusiast. The constant clips from movies from the eighties make it a nostalgia trip but with a sad glimpse at a disappearing cult genre. A work of quiet, thoughtful genius.
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