But beyond the skin factor is something even more surprising – this is actually a pretty funny movie. Yes, there are plenty of bad puns and worse slapstick. But there are also lots of clever jokes. Richardson steals his scenes along with everything on the set. Much of the cast exhibits a fine bit of comic timing and director Michael Pataki (MANSION OF THE DOOMED) is surprisingly deft at handling the material. When a vassal of the king discovers that his horse has abandoned him, he pleads, “I promise I won’t sing anymore!”
Cheryl Smith and Sy Richardson steal the show.
The greatest thing in the film is Smith’s portrayal of the title character. The casting in this case was spot-on. For the role, they needed someone who was sexy yet also sweet and innocent. This was Smith all over. She had a prosperous career in the 1970s and 80s before her tragic decline. Smith was excellent in films like the too-obscure classic LEMORA: A CHILD’S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL as well as exploitation fare like CAGED HEAT, LASERBLAST and THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS. CINDERELLA is another incredible performance by a woman who shined so bright before the darkness overtook her.
But wait, Cinderella gets a visit from her Fairy Godmother (Sy Richardson). Not only is her godmother a flamboyant bisexual black man (“A fairy can go both ways.”), he’s actually little more than a thief. But as he’s robbing the house, even he is surprised to discover that he does possess some magic. He uses his magic wand to give Cinderella the makeover, the pumpkin coach and most importantly, at least to this story, a snapping pussy.
This version of CINDERELLA is full of surprises. First off is how explicit it really is. I realize we’re dealing with an X-rated flick, but hear me out. I eat exploitation films for breakfast and I’m very familiar with films that don’t deliver on the promise of prurient content suggested in the trailer. Most films don’t, because those trailers are so traditionally bombastic they couldn’t possibly.
Everyone gets an invite, even the ugly stepsisters and even Cinderella. But the mean old stepmother tosses Cindy’s invitation in the fire, forcing her to pine away at home at have surreal nightmares about sexual assault and popcorn shooting out of a place that seems biologically impossible (Though not completely unamusing, this sequence is considerably darker than anything else in the film, and constitutes an abrupt though brief shift in tone).
The king and queen are concerned about the prince, worrying that he doesn’t know enough about the opposite sex. Actually, the prince has slept with everything with a pulse. The problem is that just shy of his 21 st birthday, he’s already so done with sex that he can’t even get excited anymore. They invite all the eligible ladies in the kingdom to a royal ball.
That’s right, just like Disney and Rogers and Hammerstein versions before, this CINDERELLA gets the musical treatment. The songs are poorly lip-synced but aside from that, they aren’t half bad. Musical styles range from traditional musical numbers, lonely ballads and since this is the mid-1970s, disco. The highpoint is a funky duet between Smith and Richardson that seems to be called “Grab It.” I have to guess on the song titles, since they are not listed in the credits.
CINDERELLA was produced by Charles Band and believe it or not, it was one of two softcore comedy musicals based on the Brothers Grimm tale to be released in 1977. In this version, Cinderella (Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith) is put upon by her horny ugly stepsisters and her hammy mother. They mill around being horrible while Cinderella is forced to work. Incidentally, this is the moment when I discovered that seeing a topless woman working a spinning wheel does something to me. It’s the pumping.
Cheryl Smith and Sy Richardson shine in this version of CINDERELLA that's as far from Disney fare as you can get.