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Too Hot to Handle (1977)
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by Brett Gallman

"Too Boring to Care For"
2 stars

Cheri Caffaro starred in a string of low-budget sexploitation/action movies in the 70s (most notably the "Ginger" series); after about six or seven of them, she apparently became disillusioned by her typecasting and promptly quit the business. And after seeing "Too Hot To Handle," I don't think I can blame her.

Once again portraying a globe-hopping hit-woman, Caffaro gets naked a lot before seducing and killing off a slew of targets as Samantha Fox. Eventually, an intrepid detective with a horrible English accent (Aharon Ipale) begins connecting the dots, which of course doesn't stop him from wanting to sleep with her himself. Because of this, the film continually alternates between an endless cycle of elaborate, complicated assassination schemes and some interminable, painful romance sequences, some of which show off way too much of both principles.

This is an incredibly bad, cheap movie; of course, so many movies like this are, but they still manage to somehow work in the realm of absurdity. "Too Hot To Handle" is just a little too dull despite a couple moments of wacky brilliance. One involves Caffaro dressing up as an Asian maid to assassinate a target; it's so obviously her, but it's a neat spy movie trick, even if I really had no clue who was being killed or why. The script even invites you to turn your brain off about this because even Samantha flatly reveals that she only gets the names and asks few questions herself.

So you're just left with a bunch of people getting killed in somewhat grisly fashion; even a seemingly sweet old bag (Corrine Calvet) peddling beauty treatments isn't spared. Fret not, though, as we soon discover that she was actually one of the biggest white slave traders in the Philippines, so it's not like our scantily-clad hero just killed an old lady for no reason.

Ugh. And if this repetitive cycle weren't bad enough, the awkward romance between Caffaro and Ipale is nearly unbearable. Since this was the 70s, one of their love-making scenes is scored by this terrible Lite FM tune called "Lady Samantha," which was probably written for this film. Something tells me more time and effort went into its lyrics than were committed to the script.

I suppose Caffaro is an interesting enigma; maybe this wasn't her most flattering appearance because she didn't do much for me, even if she was playing a borderline insane character. Apparently, her idea of a good date involves cockfighting, plus she's the type of broad who shows up to a funeral wearing a negligee. You could do worse than to go out at her hands if you're a notorious international criminal.

Shoddy, sleazy, and altogether sluggish, "Too Hot To Handle" even tries to toss in a bewildering climactic twist makes about as much sense as the film's previous 80 minutes--that is to say, none at all. Shout Factory is still seemingly treating it as the crown jewel of the "Lethal Ladies" collection (even though "Firecracker" is easily the best of the three), as it's the only one to get an audio commentary (with Caffaro) in addition to a trailer. Like the other films, it also receives a nice audio and visual restoration, so it looks rather sparkling while making its digital debut.

A movie this nuts has no business being so boring; no wonder it not only ended Caffaro's acting career, but also Don Schain's stint behind the camera.

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originally posted: 11/05/11 14:01:13
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  27-May-1977 (R)
  DVD: 25-Oct-1977



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