From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Upon its release in 1971, Ginger caused a sensation. “My filmmaking strategy was to start out making really commercial films like Ginger and then reach a point where I could make more serious pictures,” director Don Schain revealed in 2008. That didn’t happen, but it also didn’t matter. Ginger was such a box office bonanza it was followed by two sequels; The Abductors (1972) and Girls Are For Loving (1973).
Ginger tells the story of detective-for-hire Ginger McAlister (Cheri Caffaro), a tall, attractive blonde who uses her face, wits and body to crack a small-time prostitution, blackmail and drug ring. The supporting players include Jimmy (Herbert Kerr) an African American thug who has a penchant for “white ass,” Rex (Duane Tucker), a leather choker-wearing ringleader who has a penchant for bondage (as do other characters), and Rodney (Calvin Culver ) a buff, over confident rich kid out for kicks.
Ginger’s in-your-face script (obscene and racist diatribes), and imagery (creepy under-lit hotel rooms; filthy drug shooting parlors) enliven the familiar script and add an authentically unsavory stag film feel that is effectively unsettling.
So are some of the first—post Hayes Code—“sex” scenes which, although not explicitly photographed (Ginger was released unrated but “For Adults Only”) are crudely (semi embarrassingly) presented—channeling the sex tapes and home-photographed porno moments that would come decades later with portable cameras and cell phones.
A nude lesbian seduction—“don’t worry, one day you’re going to meet a nice man and get married!,” a topless catfight on a beach, a “no hands” erotic dance, a forced heroin injection, and a castration with piano wire are all a part of the decidedly tawdry proceedings at hand.
For the most part forgotten but still gritty and surreal, Ginger is a time capsule experience: a peek at one of the earliest and most influential (1974’s Foxy Brown appropriates the castration scene) exploitation/sexploitation features.
Josiah Howard is the author of four books including Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide (now in a fourth printing). His writing credits include articles for the American Library of Congress, The New York Times and Readers Digest. A veteran of more than one hundred radio broadcasts, Howard also lectures on cinema and is a frequent guest on entertainment news television. Visit his Official Website.