Carnal Madness is in fact one of the great examples of how exploitation films can often be a thinly veiled front to indulge in all manner of fetishes on behalf of a needy audience, and Carnal Madness is no cheat jollily delivering episodic fetishes in spades, catfights cum mud-wrestling, women in wet t-shirts, women exercising in their underwear, forced nudity, some light bondage. A sense of equality is established by the fact that the film also gets off on scenes of men being overpowered, clobbered about and karate chopped by feisty women. It all goes on here, to the degree you wonder why the film isn't more well known in exploitation film circles, it really should be regarded as a classic, or why companies like Something Weird Video haven't sprung it from its undeserved obscurity.
One of the most noteworthy aspects to the film, and a legitimate reason why all the female students do have exceptionally large breasts, is because the financiers had ties to a Los Angles company that specialized in cheesecake loops designed to showcase Hollywood Big Bust models. As a result many of the most well known big bust models of that era, Nika Movenka, Rosalie Strauss and of course the legendary Roberta Pedon make up the female cast. The fact that many of these women, ubiquitous of skin magazines of the time, only ever appeared in this one film does give it great novelty value, and makes the film that something bit special.
Of all the women Roberta Pedon makes the most impact, and the film does a particularly fine job at eroticizing her. The infamous 'jumping jacks' sequence clearly held in high regard by the filmmakers given that they repeat it again at the end in slow motion, has rightly entered into legend. Providing eye candy aside Roberta's performance does hint at an appealing exploitation film actress in the making (I'm reliably informed by someone who knew her that the peculiar foreign accent she speaks with in the film is just her acting rather than how she actually spoke). All of which makes it that more unfortunate that fate, personal problems and various outside elements would conspire to make Roberta a one movie wonder. The trouble with Roberta is that its very easy to fall under her spell and become completely enchanted by her, this eventually leads to a need to discover what was beyond the big breasts, the pretty face and the famously alluring, slightly crooked smile. Once you cut through much internet mythologizing of her as a free loving hippy chick pin-up, and get to some hard facts the story of the real Roberta comes across as truly heartbreaking, desperately sad. Yet while being privy to the tragedy behind unhappy starlets does tend to rob you of the ability to ever think of them merely as fantasy figures it does strengthen the resolve that these people should continued be celebrated and make sure they and their legacies never be forgotten. It's the best thing that we can do for the forever lovely Roberta.