Hot Thrills And Warm Chills: A Mardi Gras Thriller

Let me make clear from the outset that if the soundtrack for this film were available I would shove that sucker in my cd player and glue the lid shut. I think the music is best described as Surf Mambo. It’s got the driving beat and constant ride symbol of surf, and the enormous horn section, bongos, and congas of the mambo, and that awesome pause every few measures where a guy yells “HUH!” Irresistible!

The film opens with a groovy bongo beat and a title card that reads, “Filmed on location in the sin city of the Western Hemisphere where babes and booze can be had with the wink of an eye.” Unfortunately, the lack of specificity in this statement results in some of the movie dialogue referring to Reno and other times New Orleans. I suppose they are equally sinful, but Las Vegas isn’t even mentioned.

The film was made in 1967 by Texan, Dale Berry. Mr. Berry only made 5 films in his career. Titles like Hip, Hot and 21, and Hot Blooded Women.

Hot Thrills And Warm Chills barely holds together as a series of related images or continuous dialogue. Near the beginning we see a blonde woman lying naked in her bed and talking on the phone. An echoey voice narrates from off-screen, “Just about time I was gonna make out and get myself satisfied our friend Chris was lying around the house naked and on the phone trying to locate Charlie so I stepped out to get a bottle to get my insurance man a little pep, and when I returned this cat was wasting all his energy on Chris. Charlie never showed up and I was left as frustrated as ever.” I assumed the narrator was the woman on the phone getting ready to “get satisfied” but then it seems like it might be Chris, but Chris looks an awful lot like Toni who is the one narrating and it isn’t clear whether Charlie and the insurance man are two different people. There is simply no way to follow whatever is going on.

You can’t hold on too tightly when watching a film like this. You just have to take your entertainment however it comes. In this case, the music is enough but the camp and the sexy ladies help a bit. The premise is that three hot chicks, Kitten, Dottie, and Toni, are looking to steal the crown of King Sex which is worth 500,000 dollars. That’s really about it, that’s the plot. There are police and crowds, and the women having sex with people but none of that seems to tie into anything.

To understand the quality of acting in this film, just picture three actresses sitting in a dimly lit room, each with a script that they have never seen before. All the scripts are printed in 6 point font and have all the punctuation removed. Imagine pressing record and using whatever comes out during their first read through.

At one point Kitten has to say the line “French, French, French quarter! Sounds good to me.” I’m sure the writer had something in mind when he wrote “French” three times in a row, but I doubt it was the wooden recitation of the word in three identical repetitions. It’s enough to make you crack your teeth from cringing.

The ladies go out to a club and take in a striptease show. Another big band mambo kicks in, this time led by a brassy trombone. We get two dances. The second with better camera work and a funkier R&B groove driving a dissonant modernist Mambo.

The sex scenes are not like normal 60’s softcore. There are no shots below the waist just a lot of boobs and a lot of kissing, a whole lot of kissing, way too much kissing. There is some effort made to synchronize the sound in the film but during the sex scenes they throw caution to the wind, and then they pick caution back up and send it through a shredder, and then they burn it. They have one 3 second sound clip of a woman hyperventilating as if at the height of orgasm or perhaps on the verge of a ferocious sneeze, followed by a male voice grunting. They place this bit of tape on a loop and just let it repeat over and over again. As a result, the clip begins to blend with the mambo like a breathy vocal track. It’s a unique effect. I think maybe this whole film is better suited for the radio.

On the other hand, if it were on the radio we would miss out on some amazing fake orgasm faces provided below.

There is a strange prevalence of phones in this film. They are in almost every scene, even when they don’t belong there (note figure below.) There is even a house phone in the police car that acts like a loud CB. Maybe the set designer got a deal on phones.

As far as I can tell this is the only film the writer, Herman Eldeweis, wrote. We can all be thankful for that. Eldfeweis chose to spice up the film by adding numerous double entendre. In one scene a couple is lying in bed, post-coitus, and have the following exchange,

Woman: “Is it four or is it six?”

Man: “I don’t know it’s, it’s probably closer to six.”

Woman: “I don’t know, I think it’s four.”

Man: “I’m too tired to argue”

Woman: “Oh, please, please, let me look.”

Man: “Honey I told you 1000 times it’s probably six, it could be closer to seven”

In another scene, a policeman is on the phone and asks,

“A big black one?”

Pause,

“Well God, did he eat it that way?”

Pause, “Still pink in the center, yeah OK. Well you know those charcoal broilers are alright but they’ll play hell with a steak if you’re not careful.”

When the film finally reaches its climactic chase scene, we are on the streets during Mardi Gras. We follow the cop, or a cop, it’s not clear how many cop characters there are, as he chases down our dirty dames. They all race through the Mardi Gras revelers. As the editing cuts back and forth between the girls and the cop everyone’s clothing changes and it turns from day to night and back to day again. Continuity is for the petty.

There is an added bonus. The Mardi Gras footage is real and provides a window into what the floats and costumes looked like back in 1967. Even half a century ago they were throwing beads and sipping giant daiquiris in curvy glasses.

As both the ladies and the cops make their way through the crowd they are all shooting at each other with revolvers or more accurately, little, silver, old-west style, plastic cap-guns. The crowded throngs of people don’t seem to mind. No one screams or even acknowledges the deadly pursuit. I suppose it is “sin city” after all. Lots of shots are fired but no one in the crowded streets gets hit.

With 20 minutes left the film loses any semblance of a narrative structure and just becomes a montage of running, shooting, boobs, and tourist spots in New Orleans. The hyperventilating tape loop returns and then we’re in a graveyard and the congas are raging and before you can throw your hands up and walk away the movie is over.

For a cheap piece of crap, Hot Thrills And Warm Chills is pretty entertaining. Maybe try playing the soundtrack while watching a different film like the new Wonder Woman movie, or an old episode of Happy Days. Who knows what strange alchemy might result.

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I have an MFA in painting and I’m an art professor but I managed to convince the school to let me teach film. https://twitter.com/Filmofile1

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