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Living Venus

USA 1961
produced by
David F. Friedman, Herschell Gordon Lewis for Mid-Continental Films
directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
starring William Kerwin, Harvey Korman, Danica D'Hondt, Jeanette Leahy, Lawrence J.Aberwood, Linné Ahlstrand, Robert Bell, Lee Hauptman, Andrew Lindhoff, Edward Meekin, Herbert Graham, Charles Cook, Cherie Ross, Clio Vias (voice), Fran Harding, John Perak, fred Knapp, Adele Kelly, Billy Falbo, Bob Scobey
written by William Kerwin

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Ken (Harvey Korman), a photographer-for-hire, accepts an assignment by magazine publisher Jack (William Kerwin) sight unseen, not knowing it's a men's magazine. The real problem though is not only the content of the magazine but the fact that Jack is a rather unstable character, a notorious drunkard and womanizer with a commitment problem - but he has an eye for beauty, as evidenced in his first cover model Peggy (Danica D'Hondt), a pretty waitress he talks into posing scantily clad in front of the camera all too easily. Peggy soon becomes the permanent covergirl for the mag, and is dubbed the Living Venus, and Ken soon takes a definite liking to her, but Jack has long made it a habit to sleep with his models, and he isn't one to make an exception when it comes to his star model - especially after he hears Ken has proposed to her. So Jack is quick to marry her away from right under Ken's nose - and Peggy couldn't be happier ... until Jack finds a new assignment within his magazine for her - as promotion manager, meaning she has to "be nice to the advertising clients." At the same time, he has Ken replaced too, by a photographer (Lee Hauptman) more interested in his models than photographing them.

One year later: Ken has moved to fashion photography, while Peggy has become a hopeless alcoholic, as her job as promotion manager has made her more and more the company whore, later also a nude model ... and sales of Jack's magazine have started to slip because he has lost his direction, and his financiers start to ditch him.

Everything comes to a head at Jack's mag'sm 2nd anniversary party, where he threatens to divorce newly sobered up Peggy - and she fills herself up with champagne and drowns herself in his pool as a result. This is the last straw for even Jack's most patient backers, who take away his magazine and - in a twist of bitter irony - give it to Ken. At Peggy's funeral, Jack is full of threats for all he thinks have wronged him, but these threats are little more than empty words ...


Of course, the main selling point of this film at the time of its release was its occasional topless nudity (still something of a sensation in the early 1960's), carried by a plot that promised insights into the sleaze biz - and yes, the film delivered, and the girls were rather cute, too. But it's actually a pretty decent low budget melodrama as well. Sure, the plot is pretty clichéed, but the whole thing is pretty well-paced, the actors are uniformly up to the job - with William Kerwin giving what might be the best performance of his lifetime -, and the whole thing doesn't take itself too seriously.

This all doesn't make Living Venus a masterpiece of any sort, not even one of director Herschell Gordon Lewis' best films, but a very decent effort when nudies were usually made with half a braincell for some quick return at the box office (not that these are necessarily unfunny to watch of course) ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
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and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD