“Wet Wilderness” (1975)

Directed By
Lee Cooper

Version Reviewed
Exploitation TV version

Total Runtime

Bernard Hermann’s score from Psycho plays over the film’s opening credits. The music is warped and jumps every few seconds. It sounds like it’s dying. Four people walk into frame. A mother, her son & daughter, and the daughter’s girlfriend. They’re all about the same age and seem high. One of them mumbles something about a cabin. They walk up to a cabin.

Hermann’s legacy lives on.
Credit: Exploitation.tv

The daughter and her girlfriend wander off to a clearing. The girlfriend takes pictures of the daughter. They start making out and have sex. There’s a lot of overdone moaning dubbed in. A bad motherfucker walks in from the background. He’s wearing golf pants, an unbuttoned shirt, and an orange ski mask with the word LOVE written across it in permanent marker. There’s black makeup around his eyes, which makes him look like a budget Deadpool. He’s holding a machete. “Well, now isn’t that nice?” he asks while the daughter goes down on the girlfriend. Five seconds later, they hear him.

Oh shit!
Credit: Exploitation.tv

“So, you girls like each other, huh? Ever had a man?” the about-to-be-rapist inquires. “You, take off my pants.” he says, motioning to one. “Do it! Come on, take ’em down.” His small-to-average size boner flops out of his underwear. “Now that’s what a real man looks like. Suck it. You, come over here and help her.” he demands of the other. “That’s right, one on one side and one on the other. Use your tongues, girls.”

[continued below]

Thoughts (Possible Spoilers)
The daughter scampers away. The rapist turns his attention to the girlfriend. “Alright,” he says, “lay down there, cunt. I got a surprise for you. Spread your legs out. Close your eyes. Hehehe.” He proceeds to kill her by jabbing his machete into her pelvis.

I’m pretty sure I have that same camera bag.
Credit: Exploitation.tv

The daughter runs up to her mother and brother. The killer heads them off. “My goodness, we got the whole fan damily here, don’t we?”





Then, he clarifies, “I mean take off your clothes, bitch!”

The masked murderer forces the sister to suck off her brother while he fucks the mom. Then he makes the mom suck the son. The most disturbing part is that this family doesn’t seem to be too distressed about all the forced incest. The daughter runs off. Again. It’s sunset when she makes her getaway. The next moment, it’s magically midday and the killer is shown watching on from a distance with a different mask — this time an orange and black mask with a second black mask underneath it. It’s unclear if the brother dies here, but I think he does. RIP.

Some fans subscribe to the “two killer theory” — just kidding, this movie doesn’t have fans.
Credit: Exploitation.tv

The daughter stops running long enough to untie a black guy from a tree. Oh yeah, there’s a black guy tied to a tree. While she does that, the killer drags the mom through the woods by an arm. Somehow, they catch up to the daughter. The killer makes the mom watch as the daughter goes down on the black guy. Once again, the lighting is wrong. The sex scene that follows was filmed during the day, while the cutaway shots of the mom looking mortified take place at night.

At the 37 minute mark, the killer’s voice changes. Like, it’s clearly a different actor.

At that point, the killer makes the mom join in. The second time — I repeat, the second time — the black guy ejaculates, he yells “You ain’t supposed to cum!” and strikes him in the chest with a hatchet. Blood sprays all over the women. They appear to be startled, but not overly bothered by it.

After that, the killer commands the two women to go down to a river and wash up. It doesn’t show them doing this, but they come back clean, so I guess they did. The killer makes them both suck him off again. While his eyes are closed, the daughter grabs his machete and swings it at him. The screen goes black. He screams. It’s implied that his penis is chopped off, but nothing is shown, leaving the door wide open for a sequel.

There are no end credits.

Surveillance footage of the East Area Rapist in action.
Credit: Exploitation.tv

There’s very little info available on this movie outside of a short Wikipedia article. And by “little” I mean none. All I can find is that director Lee Cooper made another movie with the same cast called Winnebango (clever), and one without called A Fantasy Fulfilled.

Wet Wilderness is what’s known as a “roughie”. I’m no porn connoisseur, but the term as I understand it refers to films of the 60s and 70s that infused sex with violence and sadism.

Put simply, Wet Wilderness is a poorly-made, mean-spirited porno full of murder, forced incest, and rape… And if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s an element of racism to it as well. Some of the stuff the killer spouts — like “big black son of a bitch” — is probably not cool. On top of that, the black guy is given the most brutal death. Wet Wilderness would be really offensive, were it not so comically bad. One of the users on Exploitation.tv christened it the Troll 2 of roughies. I think that’s fair.

One thing that astounds me about it is how point-and-shoot it is. Everything is in close-up or medium shot. The camera moves maybe twice. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it has the fewest unique shots of any movie I’ve seen in my life. There’s almost no B-roll. I didn’t notice any long shots or establishing shots whatsoever. Laziness. Maximum laziness.

Technically and artistically, Wet Wilderness is the shits, the nadir of filmmaking. There isn’t much worse. It’s also a great human achievement. Great because I’ve never seen something so brazenly half-assed and offensive. That’s a feat all its own. No one has the guts to make outlaw garbage like this anymore. And if they did, it would feel phony. It was a different time back in 1975, that’s for sure.

Something else that astounds me about it is how closely it follows the slasher formula. Bear in mind, Wet Wilderness came out three whole years before that subgenre hit its stride with Halloween. Take a look at the plot here — masked murderer hacks up over-sexed young people at a campground with an axe and machete. Ring any bells? In all seriousness, this might be the first camp slasher ever produced. It predates the earliest examples I can think of offhand… Friday the 13th (1980), The Burning (1981), Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone! (1981), Madman (1981), and Sleepaway Camp (1983). I’m not saying it influenced or laid the groundwork for those bigger, better productions, just pointing out that it did come before them. Something to think about.

I watched this pre-slasher slasher on Exploitation TV at the suggestion of my trusted physician, Dr. Hummp. Sadly, that streaming service shut down over the summer. I grabbed my screen shots from there before it went offline because I knew I wanted to cover this. I just had to find time to sit down and type out my notes.

According to my research, Wet Wilderness is available in a “Rapist Rampage” two-pack DVD put out by After Hours Cinema. The other movie it comes with is titled Come Deadly (1973). At least one review of the disc claims the whole soundtrack, Psycho music, dialogue, sound effects, everything, was scrapped and re-dubbed to avoid copyright issues. As far as I know, Exploitation TV was the only way to watch the original version, short of owning an actual film print.

Someone should start an Indiegogo campaign or Change.org petition to raise enough money to license the music from Universal and put out a “proper” release. I’d contribute forty bucks for a Blu-ray and stickers. No, really, I would…

In closing, balls.

Body Count
2, maybe 4.

Bod Count
3 men, 3 women.

Overall Enjoyability
3 Psycho soundtracks out of 5.

I Got My Copy From

these other roughies I’ve heard of:

Widow Blue! (1970)
The Zodiac Rapist (1972)
Forced Entry (1973)
Come Deadly (1973)
A Climax of Blue Power (1975)
The Defiance of Good (1975)
The Image (1975)
The Story of Joanna (1975)
The Farmer’s Daughters (1976)
Femmes de Sade (1976)
Hardgore (1976)
Hot Summer in the City (1976)
Sex Wish (1976)
The Taking of Christina (1976)
The Devil Inside Her (1977)
Unwilling Lovers (1977)
Water Power (1977)
Expensive Tastes (1978)
Summer Heat (1979)
Her Name Was Lisa (1980)
The Story of Prunella (1982)
The Taming of Rebecca (1982)