Plot: Kim (Allison Louise Downe) has been accepted to the college of her dreams, but lacks the finances to attend. But when her friend Sandy (Sandra Sinclair) tells her about some easy modeling work that pays well, her hope is restored. At first she is thrilled with the work, as she simply models some dresses and has good chemistry with the photographer, Harmon (William Kerwin). She soon moves from dresses to swimsuits, which makes her nervous, but she really needs the money. When Harmon stops offering her work, she realizes if she wants to keep earning, she will need to pose topless. She resists at first, but gives in because she trusts Harmon, but is soon blackmailed with the topless photos. Now she has to pose fully nude for the camera, not to mention a couple of rough, tough delinquents involved in the operation. Kim finds herself spiraling deeper into this dark world and Harmon struggles with his conscience as well. What will become of Kim, Harmon, and all the other girls who have fallen into this trap?
Entertainment Value: This is a simple, rough look at the shady business of old school pornography. Cult legend Herschell Gordon Lewis is at the helm, but don’t expect buckets of low rent gore here. The story is solid and plays out much like it would in real life, a naive girl is groomed, then manipulated. The performances are of course a little lacking, but that helps Scum of the Earth feel gritty and real, at least in my opinion. The girls seem either vacant or worn down and with the exception of Harmon, the men tend to be harsh and all too happy to profit from the situation. There are some wacky moments, but Scum of the Earth isn’t a light nudie cutie. The tone is pretty serious and while of course there is some camp, for the most part the film lives up to the “roughie” expectations. Never graphic, but still not brisk, light hearted stuff.
As you’d expect, Scum of the Earth has some naked flesh, but not a flood of the stuff. A few girls get topless, usually more than once and little below the waist stuff. They’re fully nude, but various props and angles block the lower in most scenes. There’s a rape scene, but it happens off screen and there’s no other sex to speak of. No blood either, though there are off screen belt whipping and baseball bat combat. The dialogue is memorable for being either being exceedingly mean spirited or the strange pauses that occur in line delivery. The “deep down, you’re dirty” monologue is instant quote fodder and probably the highlight of the movie. This is a pretty grounded movie, this all seems plausible and probably happened to a lot of girls. So I wouldn’t call the film itself that insane, but of course it does deserve a couple notches for the performances and dark tone.
Overall Insanity: 2/10