What follows is an excerpt from long-time contributor Mike Sacks’ hilarious new book Stinker Lets Loose, a re-release of the novelization to the infamous 1970s action flick that we all saw as children and to this day still can’t forget.
INTRIGUE. SUSPENSE. ROMANCE.
TERROR. MYSTERY. MAGIC. CAR JUMPS.
EVEN SOME HUMOR!
Have you ever thought back on a movie—a specific scene or even the entire damn film—and wondered, Did I dream that?
This happens to me often. For years, I vaguely remembered watching a movie scene in which a young woman, wearing a black veil, strolls down a long line of soldiers and searches for just one volunteer.
No big deal. Won’t just one soldier please volunteer? It’ll be fun. You’ll ride down an elongated slide with a giant razor in the middle, committing suicide.
I couldn’t possibly have seen this, right? Well, yes. It turns out I actually did see this. This was not a fevered hallucination. It was a scene from a 1964 movie called The Long Ships, co-starring Sidney Poitier, about Moors and Vikings, and I must have watched it on television in the mid-1970s and, not surprisingly, never forgotten it.
Watch it. The suicide scene—actually, more like a murder scene; the veiled woman chooses a soldier before he can officially volunteer—begins at the 1:14:30 mark. It’s not as scary as I remember, although I still find it plenty disturbing. Even watching it now as an adult, I’m not quite sure why the soldier has to die.
Another movie I’ve often thought about over the years that I must have dreamt—I mean, no way in hell could this possibly exist!—is a film about a chimp in estrus and a dim-witted, cussing mountain boy who join forces with an out-of-shape Georgia road adventurer named Stinker so that they can “fun truck” their way up to Washington, D.C.
Dear Lord! Could this possibly have existed?
Actually, yes. This film very much did exist. It was released in 1977 and played for a few weeks in theaters (mostly in the South) and in a few drive-ins (also mostly in the South).
The movie is called Stinker Lets Loose!
The movie is very bad. It will certainly never enter the lofty canon of the Criterion Collection, but I still remember it fondly. It was the first movie I ever saw in a theater—this would be in Virginia Beach—and I was five. Yes, five. I was with my parents, but still…
The movie would never—not for all the money in this ol’ world—be made today. And yet I loved it then and I love it still. What can I say? I have a soft spot for movies that are very much “of their time,” especially if that time took place in the 1970s. It’s very hard to find a copy of this film beyond bootleg versions that were duped off VHS tapes that were recorded off cable (long after midnight) in the mid ’80s to early ’90s.
James Taylor Johnston, the author of this novelization, died in 1987. Like the movie, it’s difficult to glean any information about him or this book—although it wasn’t for lack of trying.
The character of Stinker is described in this book as “just the man this country needs in these difficult times.” I tend to doubt that this was the case in 1977 and I most definitely doubt that this is the case now, and yet… there is something sort of refreshing about Stinker and his rag-tag group of “deep-fried Dixies.”
And if you don’t like Stinker or his story?
Well, what can I say? There are a lot of other great books out there, even a few great novelizations. Have you read the novelization to the 1979 comedy The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh?
So, we’ll talk soon. Until the next re-release, let me just say the following:
10-4, good buddy! Keep the bugs off your glass and the trouble off your glass! Keep your lips a-smirkin’ and the girls a-jerkin’! For sure, for sure! Catch you at the next Surf N Turf!…
— Mike Sacks
Stinker Lets Loose!
Chapter 1: Wakey, Wakey!
Stinker opened his dazzling blue eyes, slowly and with great effort. He could barely see. Was it the middle of the night? No. It felt like daytime. Maybe late morning at the earliest. His eyes squinted from what little light invaded through the dirty, drawn shades.
A languid country song warbled from a radio-alarm clock. Not surprisingly, it was about Stinker:
That man, he like to ride,
Ride, ride, ride . . . straight to his beer,
That Stinker, he don’t like to never, ever hide!
This Stinker, he don’t got at all nothin’ to fear…
It wasn’t a good song, nor did it make much sense, but until the day Stinker died—probably right here in his trailer, crushed under the weight of his vintage erotica collection—he’d be more than okay with it.
Stinker reached across his messy, stained, well-used mattress—over the box of wombat scat and around the jug of doe urine—for the radio’s off button, hit it, and then accidentally knocked over an empty bottle of cinnamon whiskey. The sound of glass hitting and then bouncing along the linoleum floor rang in his ears and made him wince. The label couldn’t be seen, but it was the brand of cheap cooze-booze to be found at any illegal backwoods juke joint owned by a former career Navy cook named Gravy Boat.
’Twas the only style of booze Stinker ever drunk.
The great man now took stock of himself. He reached betwixt his thighs, making sure his ample package was still there.
There’d be a lot of upset ladies if it wasn’t.
Rutting season would continue . . .
Stinker was “well-favored” by nature. The big trucker above had made sure of that!
Stinker giggled. The giggle was high-pitched, much like a jungle creature’s. And extremely distinctive. Anyone who lived within the great state of Georgia knew this giggle, especially in the South-eastern part of Georgia, where Stinker resided and thrived.
“Moly holy! Where in the hell was I last night?” ejaculated Stinker, more to himself than to anyone else, as no one else was in the bedroom. “Where now?”
It started to slowly come back…
Ah, yes. With Lizzie… that spicy, slinky firecracker of an overnight waitress at Hank’s Saloon.
That dirty little thang with the tight knockoff designer jeans. All moist around the edges… tea cup long since gone a’-cracked… slick in the sluice and dry in the goose…
And what did we do all night?
Got drunk and then… ahem.
That last part was best left to his own fading memory.
Where was Lizz now?
Not in this dump, that was for sure. She was a cat. Clean. Sleek. Stylish. Loved to lick. He was more like a dog. Smelly. Sometimes his penis was visible in public. Sometimes even his anus. He didn’t care. Hairy.
Lizz’s old man was a biker, which could spell danger: Don’t touch the snatch when daddy’s got the patch.
Not that Stinker was overly frightened. Cause Stinker had the flesh. Lived the standard.
The day was early yet but there was already a string of bubble gum lodged securely within Stinker’s thick and lustrous ’stache. He’d have to attend to that later. Might even have to buy himself a monogrammed mustache wide-comb. Would go well with his monogrammed lice comb.
Stinker slowly made his way to a standing position. He was wearing nothing but his boxers festooned with the Confederate flag, and his authentic felt Stetson cowboy hat. Always with the cowboy hat…
“I’ll be a dirty word!” he cried suddenly. “It’s you!”
Sitting in a broken rocking chair, just next to the broken television, was Stinker’s best friend and all-around loyal adventure comrade, Boner.
Unlike Stinker, Boner was clean-shaven and already duded up in his “Tuf-Nut Tux”: crisp Levi jeans, mahogany red-supple genuine leather python cowboy boots with raised-topstitching, an antique pewter belt-buckle in the shape of an agave leaf, and a dark chocolate brown Biltmore Western cowboy hat raked handsomely to the side.
Southern exquisite. A denim dandy. A hoighty toighty honky-tonky cracker-backer slacker-wacker…
“Well, ain’t you look like a hundred and ten bucks,” Boner declared, smiling. It was an impish grin, one the ladies could never, ever resist. Even the guys had a difficult time ignoring it. Perhaps that had more to do with the discoloration of Boner’s teeth and gums but Boner wasn’t complain’.
“Smoke,” declared Stinker, in a husky voice. “Need a smoke, pal.”
Stinker tried to assume a frontiersman pose but nearly toppled over. He gave up and sat back down.
“Slow it down, jitterbug!” gibed Boner, laughing.
He tossed over a pack of fresh Salems. Stinker coolly caught the pack with one hand and then tapped out a “loose goose.” He flipped it into his sensuous mouth. Boner blazed Stinker’s cig and handed his best friend a pair of torn jeans and a denim shirt, the only style the great man wore. The shirt had a rhinestone peacock on the front giving the “middle finger.” No one knew why.
Regardless, it was glorious.
“C’mon, friend,” said Boner, pushing Stinker into the bathroom.
Boner had known this chaotic cracker for years and felt more than comfortable pushing Stinker into a trailer’s tiny bathroom. “Your buddy is brewing up some strong joe, as well as a pipin’ hot plate of hash.”
He was talking about himself.
“Harumph,” said Stinker, and then burped noisily.
Boner made a face. “You smell like the devil.”
“The devil I know? Or the devil I don’t?”
“Both,” said Boner, even though he wasn’t quite sure what Stinker meant.
He often didn’t. But it didn’t matter. They were best pals.
“Follow me, sir,” said Boner, pretending he was a maître d’ at a fancy, upscale French restaurant in the snootiest of academic northeast cities. He led Stinker out of the bathroom and over to the trailer’s kitchenette area. “We saved your table, monsieur.”
Stinker rolled his eyes. This was a game. Boner was forever playing the role of attendant, while Stinker was forever acting the role of rich, fancy gentleman. It was fun… but Stinker sometimes wished Boner could save it for another time. His entire body hurt!
Make no mistake, Stinker was in shape. But more like beer shape. He had some muscles but they were nothing to write home about.
Meanwhile, what exactly did Lizz and him get up to last night? Whatever it was, he was now paying the full price!
Stinker hated paying the full price.
Boner presented Stinker with a heaping, steaming plate of delicious fried taters. He then plunked down a huge cup of black coffee in a SHIT KICKIN mug, just the way Stinker liked it.
“Can’t,” said Stinker.
“Will,” said Boner. “Don’t let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird ass.”
Stinker took a deep gulp of the strong brew, and immediately began to feel better. “Where’s Rascal?”
“Consumed by a croc?” replied Boner, handing Stinker a fake cloth napkin. “Ain’t my chimp.”
“That there’s one animal who ain’t gonna travel far,” said Stinker. “Not with that big, fat, lazy ass.”
“She reached estrus last week,” said Boner. “Going all types of crazy. Chimp lost her mind. Why wouldn’t she run?”
Stinker retarted, “If she has run, I’m desiring she run off to find herself a male. And best of luck to ’im!”
Boner chuckled deeply and then sat down next to Stinker. All of a sudden, his expression showed one of deep concern. He remembered what he had to tell Stinker. And it wasn’t good.
“Hey, buddy, I hate to be the bearer of bad news and all…”
“Don’t tell me,” said Stinker.
Here it comes, thought Stinker. A big roller-rink pickle.
“I’m telling you,” said Boner. “The Big Man wants to see you. Says it’s of mucho importance. Has another job for you. Says it might be the most significant adventure of your already spectacular life.”
“Of all days,” said Stinker, anus puckering but not exposed. “Lord on a buttery shit biscuit, why today?”
Stinker’s stomach grumbled and he floated out a lively one. A most dishonorable discharge. It smelled of government-issued hot dogs that had “turned” at a particularly depressing July 4th celebration.
“Helicopter is waiting,” said Boner, holding his nose in a funny way and pointing outside to a large grassy area. “Been here for hours.”
“Not going without Rascal,” muttered Stinker. “No way, no how. That’s a big nugatory!”
“I wouldn’t push buttons,” said Boner. “Big Man sounded like he meant—”
There was a loud crash! Both Stinker and Boner jumped. Glass flew and the table was upended.
Before he knew it, Stinker was on the ground. Boner was still standing—barely.
“Speak of the devil I know,” said Stinker, shaking his head. “There’s my chimp now!”
Rascal the chimp roared with displeasure. Ever since she had reached sexual maturity the previous week, the great beast was capable of significant, ungodly violence. Grabbing the coffee pot, she hurled it against the refrigerator.
She bared her big, yellow fangs and then grabbed at her flap-jacked breasts and her freakishly inverted teats. She chewed at the air. She stomped and BMed on the cheap vinyl flooring.
The stinky soft-serve steamed profoundly ferocious.
“Madder than a tic in a tornado,” exclaimed Boner. “Bitch chimp has two speeds: violence or silence.”
Boner and Stinker threw back their heads and laughed uproariously. For Stinker, this was more fun than reciting dirty limericks while high on downers.
Yes, this chimp was off her rocker, there was no doubt about that! But there was also something about the old girl that was endearing. Maybe it was her loyalty. Or that she was always up for an adventure. Or good in a fight. Or free.
Stinker had stolen Rascal from an illegitimate traveling Injun circus in Alabama the previous month. And they were already fast friends.
Stinker wondered how this ol’ chimp was going to do on a helicopter flight. She was scared to death of enclosed spaces. Well, we’ll soon find out, he thought.
He closed his eyes and listened to the damage being wrought.
This should be fun.