Dewey Hoople (Jackie Moran) lives out in near a part of the Colorado river with his "housekeeper" Babette (Babette Bardot) and his teenage daughter Coral (Adele Rein). They run a tourist resort, a basic get away from it all kind of place where visitors can spend their days hunting, fishing, or simply enjoying the river and the surrounding countryside, but today their old colleague Cracker (Frank Bolger) has new arrivals for them. He has picked up a couple, a doctor and his wife, along with a mystery man called Rickert (Ken Swofford): little does Hoople know that they spell nothing but trouble...
Common Law Cabin begins with picturesque imagery of the Colorado river and its banks, while a voiceover sings its praises as being the very best America can offer in its majestic and natural beauty, then ends up admitting that the waterway in some places isn't so salubrious - in fact it smells like garbage. This dual nature sums up the tone of the ensuing seventy minutes, where we are invited to admire the buxom ladies in the cast while seeing them subjected to all kinds of ugly treatment at the hands of the menfolk. It starts off with Hoople fighting off the feelings of incestuous lust he has for Coral, and goes downhill from there.
But this is not Russ Meyer's wallow in the sleazier side of life, as the rest of the movie depicts Hoople coming to terms with the fact that his daughter is growing up, and proving himself a he-man when the opportunity to beat down an evildoer arises. This also gets him back in the good books of Babette, so rest assured there is a happy ending to the story. In the meantime, the characters must put each other through a sweaty hell, not wholly intentionally for the most part, with the doctor (John Furlong) and his spouse Sheila (Alaina Capri) the most obviously dysfunctional couple, encapsulating the overriding sensation here: frustration.
The doctor, we understand, cannot sexually satisfy his wife, who as played by Capri verges on the voracious, even eyeing up Babette once the holidaymakers arrive at the cabin. You can see the seeds of the personality of Meyer's later Vixen being sowed here, and Capri throws herself into the role with enthusiasm. In fact, everyone here does what is expected of them, with Rickert (Swofford looks remarkably like Damian Lewis here) the two-fisted bad guy who shows his true colours almost the second he steps from the boat. He is a corrupt lawman so despicable that he's not content with simply getting away with robbery, he has to force himself on the two females who want nothing to do with him as well.
It's up to everyone else to prove their worth in the face of such duplicity and wickedness, so to make sure that Hoople is not completely outnumbered after the doctor keels over when he is kicked playfully in the chest by his missus, as Coral is being assaulted a 21-year-old millionaire on the run from his responsibilities appears and chases Rickert off. He is inexplicably named Laurence Talbot (Andrew Hagara), but has nothing to do with the Wolf Man as Lon Chaney Jr played him. Here any time the characters are near water, or going for yet another swim, we are supposed to interpret the imagery as sexual, yet oddly for a Meyer film he shies away from outright nudity, preferring to tease the audience whenever one of the actresses disrobes. If you don't mind that, then there are a few amusing lines and some decent action, but few see this as essential Meyer. Music by Igo Kantor.
American director and one of the most notable cult filmmakers of the 60s and 70s. Meyer worked as a newsreel cameraman during World War II, before becoming a photographer. In 1959, his work for Playboy led to his first film – the hugely successful ‘nudie’ feature The Immoral Mr Teas. Other soft-core features followed before Meyer moved to a series of trashy, thrilling B-movies – Mudhoney, Motor Psycho and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! – that combined the two elements – incredibly voluptuous women and graphic violence – that would become Meyer’s trademark.