Elmer Gantry (1960) with a dose of The Intruder (1962) on a 75 cent budget.”

There is the one-sentence synopsis for Shanty Tramp (1967), written and directed by Joseph P. Mawra. Mawra was a lesser-known director of numerous grindhouse films (such as 1964-1965’s Olga trilogy, produced by Glen or Glenda‘s George Weiss). Movies from this sadosexual school of filmmaking were often referred to as “roughies,” and here the lighting alone justifies that moniker.

After watching Shanty Tramp, you’ll never think of the song “When the Saints Go Marching In” quite the same way. The film opens with a worm’s eye-view of the Shanty Tramp herself (Lee Holland, in her only film role), barely squeezed into a tight white dress and pumps from hell as she shakes, jiggles, and marches her tramp way into a tent revival, choreographed to a gospel tune.

The little incubus-Eve is bound and determined to distract Preacher Man and every other male with red blood, which includes Daniel, a young African American male whose Ma warns him about the wiles of evil Shanty Tramps.

There’s a gleam in Shanty Tramp’s eyes when she spies the tithing basket. There’s a gleam in Preacher Man’s eyes when he spies Shanty Tramp’s popping cleavage. They promise to rendezvous later for a “spiritual lesson,” but Shanty Tramps get easily distracted.

The local rock-n-roll bar is man meat magnet for our heroine. Shanty Tramp grinds. Shanty Tramp flirts. Shanty Tramp gets fought over and the winner is… Savage, the leader of a biker gang! “Come on big man! You promised me a fin! I wanna see it!” She tells Savage. “Shut up and put out, babe!” Put out she does, and darn it, Savage actually lives up to his name and frolics rough.

Meanwhile Daniel’s Ma is still warning her son: “Tain’t good for black folk to be out at night! You get that Shanty Tramp outta your mind! ” “Oh come on Ma!” “Them whites in this town, they’re the same ones who strung up your Pa!”

Still from Shanty Tramp (1967)Daniel’s not listening. He’s hearing the call of that succubus Shanty Tramp. The wise words of Ma can only fall on deaf ears when Shanty Tramp does her mating call. Daniel’s just in time to hear Savage yodel, “You teasing’ little bitch!” Poor Shanty Tramp has lost her top. It’s the exploitation version of Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943) with Daniel and Savage substituting for  and , They crash into a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Daniel proves the better man and our heroine rewards him with some interracial action. Unfortunately, Shanty’s drunken Pa stumbles in to see Shanty and Daniel sharing a sweaty cigarette.

The redneck villagers, torch in hands, are in full pursuit of the black monster while his Ma has to pay the ultimate sacrifice for her little Cain. Shanty’s Pa gets sober enough to realize his little girl was engaging in consensual interracial sex. Pa grabs the old testament whip and … off with her top again!

Thrown in patricide, exploding cars, racial revenge, and bed-hopping that goes full circle back to Preacher Man, who don’t mind sloppy seconds so long as he gets to save a soul from the Devil’s lair. The sacrifices poor Preacher Man has to make doin’ the Lawd’s work!

Enjoy it with friends, but after shuffling your guests out the door, a tub full of Calgon is strongly advised to take you away from all that Shanty Tramp residue.

5 thoughts on “SHANTY TRAMP (1967)”

  1. “Lee Holland” was actually Eleanor Vaill, who was also in H.G. Lewis’ “A Taste of Blood” (which also starred Bill Rogers, the preacher in “Shanty Tramp,” as the vampire). Vaill was also in Lewis’ “The Girl, the Body, and the Pill.” “Shanty Tramp” was directed by José Prieto, who occasionally used the pseudonym “Joseph P. Mawra,” but was not the same filmmaker who created the “Olga” films. “Shanty Tramp” was shot in Davie, Florida. The bikers in the film were members of the local police department, and many of them were fired for their participation in the film. Other cast members also lost their day jobs. Some are still bitter about it.

    1. Thanks for this article, Alfred, and for your comment Charles. I just want to confirm that “Lee Holland” is really Eleanor Vaill of the H.G. Lewis films, even if this begs the question: Who is Eleanor Vaill? I’ve never heard this bit about Jose Prieto taking the name of “Joseph P. Mawra” — it’s sort of like me taking the name of “Orson Welles” (but not the one who made Citizen Kane). Whatever.

    1. Eleanor Vaill aka Lee Holland played Emily. She graduated high school in 1953. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1955 (or attended there) as she was a senior in 1955. At college she belonged to National Pi Epsilon Delta (honorary dramatic society) and Lambda Alpha Psi (Honorary language and literature society). Around the time of the filming of Shanty Tramp she was a second grade substitute teacher in Miami, Florida. I think she was laid off after the film came out. She also did legitimate theatre in Miami and Minnesota. After Shanty Tramp she married Otto Schlesinger credited as Kenneth Douglas who played her father in the film–yeah that is right the real creepy guy. Anyone reading this knows the other films she was in. She currently lives in the western US. Sorry, am not going to be more specific as she does not need some nut who reads this showing up on her porch.

  2. Calling Jesse Helms “one of the most despicable human beings in American history” is a little like calling Mount Whitney “a tallish mountain.” But I suppose if you’re an ambitious North Carolina R (or you’re a North Carolina R who wants to keep his head attached), you have to honor the old buzzard.
    [Spam link removed]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *