Sunday, March 10, 2013

Satan in High Heels

Starring: Meg Myles
Grayson Hall
Del Tenney
Earl Hammond
Mike Keene
Robert Yuro 

Directed by Jerald Intrator 

Release: 1962 

Length: 90 minutes

"I'm the kind of woman, not hard to understand. I'm the one who cracks the whip and holds the upper hand....I’ll beat you, mistreat you, till you quiver and quail. The female of the species is more deadly than the male."
Those are the words Meg Myles sings from the nightclub floor, donning a leather outfit and waving a riding crop. It is the pinnacle of the movie, “Satan in High Heels”, and much like the audience in the nightclub, we the audience of this movie are witnessing the most unforgettable act of the show. Myles nightclub performance, while mild for 2013, was certainly tantalizing and ground breaking for 1962.
“Satan in High Heels” was the first fetish film made for a mainstream audience. It was produced by Leonard Burtman, the father of the modern fetish publishing industry. Burtman created the first nationwide distribution for fetish and femdom oriented magazines in the 1950’s and 1960’s and he successfully defended his publications from numerous legal attacks.
The screenplay for the film was based on a short story submitted to Burtman’s “Exotique” magazine. The short story did not have a title and once the movie was made, Burtman and his director, Jerald Intrator, decided to call it “Satan in High Heels” and released it in the Sexploitation genre, hoping that the title and sexy theatrical trailer would attract a male audience. Personally, I would have called it “Female of the Species” and would have tried for a wider audience, but then again I am living in 2013, not 1962. 
While the movie is slow in parts, the acting is very good, the cinematography is superb and today this film would get a PG13 rating at worst, as there is no cursing, no frontal nudity and the sex scenes are all implied but never shown. The film’s star, Meg Myles, was a pin-up model in the 1950’s thus there is little doubt Burtman was seeking to capitalize on her fan base. Yet, she could act and she could sing. Her physique made her a favorite of men's magazines of the era, but in 1954 she landed a small comic relief role, involving singing, in the feature film “Dragnet”, portraying a Cuban singer. The following year, she played a singer in Phil Karlson's feature “The Phenix City Story”, in which she sang the title song. Myles was also selected to perform on the national tour promoting the movie, and got a major label recording contract out of it. Myles sings two songs in “Satan in High Heels” including the show stopper “Female of the Species”.
In the present day, “Satan in High Heels” is considered by some to be a ‘1962 campy masterpiece of Sexploitation features’ as the voluptuous Meg Myles proves ‘that the wicked woman is truly irresistible.’ However, watching the first three quarters of this movie, I did not perceive Stacey Kane to be a wicked woman. An opportunist, yes, but no more sinful than the males in this film, such as her drug addict and abusive husband, or the married nightclub owner Arnold Kenyon who likes to have a woman on the side for when he visits New York, or Louie who hits on Stacey on the airplane and introduces her to the nightclub manager but only after she sleeps with him. Nevertheless, I guess in 1962, a confident and dominant woman who refuses to be a victim and who uses men instead of allowing men to use her was considered a wicked woman.
I’m not sure how old the character Stacey Kane was intended to be in this movie (I’d say middle to late thirties) but Meg Myles was exactly thirty in 1962 although she looks much older. Two other females of notoriety starred in “Satan in High Heels”. Grayson Hall plays the dominant and no-nonsense lesbian nightclub manager, Pepe. Hall went on to star in such films as Disney’s “That Darn Cat” in 1965 but she gained star status with the fans of the 1968 supernatural soap opera “Dark Shadows”. Grayson Hall left Dark Shadows in 1971 for a long stint on another, more sedate daytime drama, “One Life to Live”.

The other female of notoriety in “Satan in High Heels” was the British cheese-cake pinup model, actress, and cabaret star Sabrina, a beautiful British woman, born Norma Sykes, who was known by her fans as simply Sabrina. She was called the British answer to Jane Mansfield and Sabrina has a small part in this movie. She performs two nightclub songs in “Satan in High Heels” which prove two things. One, Sabrina was stunning,

and two, she could not sing. But that didn’t matter as “Satan in High Heels” captures the eyes and facial expressions of the male audience and it is quite apparent that they could care less if Sabrina could sing. They may have been actors but they portray the penis-led male nature quite well.

“Satan in High Heels” does a wonderful job of capturing the male nature in this film. There is some superb camera work in this movie. We see how males eye up women, how powerless they become when a woman shows a little leg or wears high heel shoes or when she wears leather. 
The movie begins as Stacey Kane (Meg Myles) is working as a burlesque dancer in a carnival sideshow when her heroin addicted ex-husband Rudy turns up in her dressing room with $900 cash. Stacey isn't exactly thrilled to see her ex, but she is thrilled to get her hands on the $900 so she double crosses him, grabs the cash, and runs off to New York. 
On the plane she meets Louie (Ben Stone), and he's so taken with Stacey's sex-appeal that he asks her out, invites her to stay with him and introduces her to nightclub manager, Pepe (Grayson Hall). Stacey also meets nightclub owner Arnold Kenyon (Mike Keene) and his spoiled son Laurence (Robert Yuro). A secret love triangle commences and as Pepe observes "there's an awful lot of wear and tear when you play both sides against the middle." 
Burtman makes sure that Myles wears plenty of leather in this movie knowing it will appeal to the fans of his fetish publications. Myles wears leather pants in a number of scenes and she also wears a leather dress. In fact, one of the more memorable scenes to me was when the nightclub owner, Arnold Kenyon (played by Mike Keene), confronts Stacey about sleeping with his son, Laurence (played by Robert Yuro). Stacey has moved in to Mr. Kenyon’s apartment, a place he uses as a love nest when he visits New York. Mr. Kenyon thinks he owns Stacey and he is furious when he finds out she ran off with his college-aged son for a day and night at the Kenyon house in the country.  
Mr. Kenyon slaps Stacey but she does not cower to him and tells him that she is going to move out. Stacey is dressed in leather pants and a leather top, the same outfit she wore when she seduced young Laurence. Mr. Kenyon, a man who is accustomed to being in charge of the young women who perform at his clubs, becomes powerless in the presence of the dominant and leather wearing Stacey Kane. He falls to his knees, hugs her around her leather clad waist, grovels and begs her to stay by saying “I’ll give you whatever you want”. Stacey towers over him and in her dominant position tells him “Give me what I want, Arnold, and think how I want it.”

The next scene shows Stacey at the nightclub preparing for her big song, now dressed in her leather outfit complete with leather boots, leather pants, leather vest (her arms and neck covered by a white silk shirt, thus no skin showing) and riding crop in hand.

Mr. Kenyon seems at peace and he mentions to her that he is glad they had a heart to heart chat. Laurence comes to visit her and she confesses to him that she has also been intimate with his father. Laurence leaves her but not before she tells Laurence that she loves him. Laurence goes and talks to his father and Arnold is anxious to tell his son about the arrangement that Stacey demanded and he agreed to, but before he can, young Laurence tells his father he wants to leave for Europe in order to end the love triangle.  
We never do hear what the arrangement would have been. Was Mr. Kenyon going to submit to Stacey’s unspoken terms that she could date and sleep with Laurence as long as she did not leave Mr. Kenyon? (And why not choose the handsome college-aged male over the much older man when the older man is willing to pay your rent and provide you a career?).  
When Mr. Kenyon hears that Laurence wants to join his mother in Europe, he goes and tells Stacey, “My son is not as opened minded as I am”, which angers her because Stacey has fallen in love with Laurence. She does manipulate the men in the movie for her own gain, however she genuinely loves Laurence. 
Another great Femdom scene is after Stacey performs her “Female of the species” number, she returns to her dressing room and is attacked by her ex-husband, who is wielding a knife and intends to kill her. Stacey fights him off by striking him repeatedly with the riding crop. Who knows how long she would have whipped him if not for a knock on her door.

Stacey then decides to use her manipulation powers to get her ex-husband to kill Mr. Kenyon by promising to reconcile with him. Her hope is that once Mr. Kenyon is out of the way, Laurence will have a change of heart. The ex-husband fails and all three men find out about Stacey’s plot, forcing her to leave the nightclub and all three men. It is this final part of the movie that plays into the “Satan in High Heels” designation. 
The word "exploitation" gets bandied about cinema circles like a bit of graffiti to be splattered on any low-budget film that features ample amounts of either violence or sex. Even films with the loftiest of intentions usually are exploiting some facet of mass-appeal curiosity. A film like “Satan in High Heels” can today be revisited as a well-crafted, low-budget film noir. It has that salacious title and a seedy atmosphere, but in the end, it is a much better film than one would expect from a film on the “Something Weird Video” label.

The DVD release, part of the "Something Weird" series, is brimming with extras. The film is presented full-frame and it looks and sounds rather good for a low budget film from 1962. Accompanying the feature is a second movie, “The Wild and the Naked”, which I must confess that I did not watch, but only skipped through it and stopping to watch a few scenes. It tells the tale of a young woman who takes a nap and dreams that she's stuck near a lake wherein any time she gets a fleck of dirt on her she feels that she must take yet another bath, and is chased by a gorilla, an ugly man, and other creatures.  
Added to the DVD extras are eight trailers for this and other gems of the genre, along with a 12-minute gallery of "Something Weird" promo art and radio ads. There are also are two short films: “Satan and the Virgin”, which features a dancer who has a devil head on her shoulder and dances around in circles (there is an informative title card that tells us that she is doing both roles). This feature is very lame. 
However, the other short film on this DVD is called “Latex She-Devils” and I know the readers of “Predominant”, especially the men, will enjoy this feature. It is an early 1970's S&M reel about a male cat burglar who is overpowered, tied-up and abused by two latex-clad women. It has mild bondage, mild spanking, forced shoe worship, forced breast worship and believe it or not, forced ass worship.
So if you find “Satan in High Heels” too mild for your Femdom tastes, the DVD extra “Latex She-Devils” should increase the erotic value of the DVD. I got my copy on Amazon.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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