Of course, Doris Wishman, the self-taught, innovative grand dame of sexploitation and grindhouse films, personally stamped everything she did. Wishman’s repeated focus on inanimate objects is her most infamous trademark. Hideous wallpaper, repeated shots of feet, and dirty floor tiles were favorite concentrations in some of the most outrageous compositions ever filtered through a lens. All of those abound in The Amazing Transplant (1970), but there is an additional focal point here: a giant moose head hanging on the wall. I have no idea what the hell it means, if anything. It is tempting to say that, perhaps, it’s a symbolic joke at the expense of male testosterone, except that this may also be Wishman’s most misogynistic film—which is saying quite a lot.
The Hands of Orlac (1924), Mad Love (1935), The Beast With Five Fingers (1946) and The Hand (1981), all dealt with with hand transplants resulting in murderous hands. Most of these films at least had an iota of style, and two of them starred the iconic character actor Peter Lorre. In this film, Doris Wishman gives us her take on a transplanted member. Naturally, no Wishman film would dare to tackle something so acceptable as a hand. No, Wishman’s raving lunatic has a newly-grafted penis. Lest one be tempted to conjure up the image of David Cronenberg’s vampire phallus growing from the armpit of the late porn star Marilyn Chmbers (Rabid-1977), I lament to report that The Amazing Transplant is nowhere near as anatomically outrageous. That is simply because we never see the Edward Hyde anaconda of poor Arthur (Juan Fernandez)—which is probably a good thing. Perhaps the hanging moose head is a sufficient avatar for all things phallic after all.
Wishman usually dubbed her films, which led her to focus the camera on anything but the actor speaking. Here, Wishman did her audience a commendable service, despite the fact that the dubbing is atrocious. The acting here is possibly the worst found in any Doris Wishman film, and not seeing her amateur thespians mouth their dialogue may actually make the film more bearable.
Arthur was never too adept with women, at least not until his late bosom bud Felix, a Casanova of a ladies’ man, left his penis to Arthur! So in a flashback we see Arthur instructing the doc: “Put Felix’ penis on me.” No, I am not making this up. If you do not believe me, watch it for yourself.
There is, naturally, one hitch. Unknown to Arthur, Felix was also not only well-endowed, but he was also a…. serial rapist. Apparently Felix’ penis has a mind and will of its own, and once Arthur gets an extra pound of Felix’ man meat, Arthur transforms into Albert DeSalvo.
Arthur and his newly acquired penis embark upon a series of rapes, which include ex-gal pal Mary. The sight of enormous gaudy, gold earrings gives Arthur/Felix a raging woody. Since we are not privy to any Sami-Rami styled FX of a scurrying penis, Wishman treats us to plenty of cut-aways of those earrings, a few hideous shots of fingers adorned in cluster rings that would have made Elvis blush, and yonder hanging moose head. Lots of excuses for nudity, a hilariously inept depiction of broadcast news 1970-style, and the most putrid fashion statements in the history of pop culture all adds up to something surprisingly subdued. The Amazing Transplant is missing some of the zaniness we associate with this director. Of course, all the ingredients are present, but the film itself seems to be mimicking Chesty‘s ability to sleepwalk through an entire plot. Inexplicably, the ho-hum approach may actually add to the film’s inherent strangeness.
Conveniently, Arthur’s Uncle Bill (Larry Hunter) is also a Keystone Kopper, who is investigating the series of rapes. Hunter may be the only actor I have ever seen who can overact with his eyebrows alone. Arthur’s mama just cannot believe her sonny is a filthy rapist. Said rape scenes are a hair shy of being hardcore, indicating the direction Wishman would take, with some resistance, in her final years.
Apart from the downright bizarre compositions and editing choices, there is little to recommend The Amazing Transplant, unless you possess a masochistic craving for bizarre train wrecks passing as American cinema. Admittedly, I do. I would advise flying your freak flag high and proud when shoving this in your DVD player. And it’s still preferable to anything directed by Ron Howard.
Next Week: Doris Wishman’s Let Me Die A Woman (1978).