September 22nd, 2008

LOVE ME DEADLY (1973) ***

A severely confused young woman named Lindsay (Lisa Wilcox) gets her kicks by running around town and sitting in on funerals of complete strangers and landing smooches on the lucky stiff corpses.  When a shady mortician notices her at one too many funerals planting her lips on dead folk, he decides to invite her into his exclusive club of corpse fucking cultists.  Lindsay struggles to resist her ungodly urges and tries to settle down with a handsome young artist (Lyle Waggoner of Wonder Woman fame), but since he’s not a cadaver, she finds it a little hard to get in the mood.  She inevitably finds herself slowly drawn back into the cult’s clutches and when her devoted hubby tries to stop her from getting busy with a dead dude, he’s killed by the mortician.  On the plus side though, he sorta makes Lindsay hot in the pants now that he’s dead. 

 

Wow. 

 

Love Me Deadly takes a far out premise and makes it wholly plausible thanks to some sharp direction and convincing performances.  It’s definitely the most sensitive portrayal of necrophilia I’ve ever seen.  Wilcox is quite good at playing the more morbid aspects of her character and makes her unnatural attraction to the deceased completely believable.  Waggoner is equally impressive as the put upon hubby who tries in vain to understand his wife’s necrophiliac desires while simultaneously trying to deal with an extreme case of blue balls.  Christopher (The Howling) Stone is also effective in his smallish role as Lindsay’s jealous jilted ex. 

 

This was writer/director Jacques Lacerte’s only film and it’s a good thing that he stopped while he was ahead because this one would’ve been pretty hard to top in the creepy department.  Although he let the scenes of Lindsay’s crumbling marriage play out a little too long for my taste, I have to admit that the man knows how to make his audience queasy.  What’s striking about Lacerte is that he doesn’t rely on any jump scare tactics; rather he lets the atmosphere and admittedly unnerving subject matter do all the work. 

 

There was one scene that freaked me out in particular.  It was when the weirdo mortician picked up a gay street hustler, took him back to his mortuary, made him strip down, tied him up and embalmed him… WHILE HE WAS STILL ALIVE!  Scary stuff.  The scenes where Lindsay was scouting out funerals had a nice black comic feel and made me wonder if maybe Chuck Palahniuk had seen this.   

 

Part Douglas Sirk melodrama, part necrophiliac’s wet dream, Love Me Deadly will certainly fit the bill for any horror movie fan who thinks they’ve seen it all.  Don’t worry if things get a little draggy about ¾ of the way in.  Stick with the film and you will be rewarded with a memorably macabre little chiller.

 

AKA:  Secrets of the Death Room.

DROP OUT WIFE (1972) ***

Angela (The Dicktator) Carnon stars as a depressed housewife and mother who is unsatisfied with her workaholic husband’s performance in bed.  When they decide to join a swinger’s group, he gets insanely jealous when he sees a hot lesbian munching down on her box so he starts a big fight with her.  She’s had enough of his ass so she leaves to go live with her bucktoothed girlfriend who encourages her to go out and have various flings.  First she picks up an engaged guy, then a pilot who double-teams her with his roommate and finally, her and her friend seduce two musicians.  In the end, she has enough of her slutty ways and tries to come home to her estranged husband and kids.

 

Ed Wood wrote the screenplay to this softcore skin flick and it may have been some of the best writing he’s ever done because most of the people in this movie actually speak like human beings for a change.  Director Stephen C. Apostolof (who also directed Woods’ Orgy of the Dead) does a good job at balancing the sex scenes with the melodrama as he always keeps you interested in the “plot” without going overboard with it.  He also films the numerous balling sequences with a bit of panache and really knows how to stage himself an orgy scene. 

 

On the downside, his over reliance on transition scenes will drive you up the fucking wall.  In every scene he’ll zoom in on someone’s wine glass until it loses focus and then cuts to them holding another wine glass in another place and time.  It was okay the first four times he did it but it gets annoying as fuck after awhile.  It’s okay though because the scene where Carnon loses her baby was creepy as all get out.  Apostolof bathes the hospital room in red light and shows the dead baby’s shadow silhouetted across Carnon’s face.  It’s definitely disturbing and not the sort of thing you’re used to seeing in a low budget 70’s skin flick. 

 

While Carnon isn’t much of a looker she’s got a passable body on her and is really energetic during her fuck scenes.  She’s also a dang fine actress too and really sells her character’s plight in a convincing enough matter for you to actually give a shit whether or not she actually gets back with her husband.  70’s porn vets Rene Bond and Candy Samples can also be glimpsed during the orgy scene too. 

 

Apostolof and Wood once again teamed up for Class Reunion the same year. 

 

AKA:  Pleasure Unlimited. 

THE PUPPET MASTERS (1994) ** ½

Fans of 50’s sci-fi should enjoy this flick, based on the novel by Robert A. Heinlein that features bits and pieces from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Brain Eaters, and It Conquered the World.  Even though Heinlein wrote the book before all of those films were released, this was the first belated “official” adaptation, so it only seemed like a retread.  A lot of filmmakers may have cherry-picked most of Heinlein’s best ideas, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking this one out.

 

Aliens that look like slimy manta rays land in a small Iowa town and attach themselves onto the townsfolk’s backs and plug their tails into their host’s brain so they can take over their minds.  Government agent Donald Sutherland rolls into town with his son (Eric Thal) and a sexy doctor (Julie Warner from Doc Hollywood) in tow to stop their numbers from spreading.  When Thal becomes an alien host, Sutherland zaps the little bugger off of his back to cure him.  Now that he’s playing ball for the good guys again, Thal helps his pops to infiltrate the alien’s hive and destroy them once and for all. 

 

The Puppet Masters suffers from uneven pacing and one too many lame finales but it does have one or two moments of invention to make it more than just a sum of its parts.  The scene where the infected townspeople attack Sutherland and company is priceless, and the way he fends them off with his walking stick is great.  My favorite scene though was when one of the alien parasites got loose in Sutherland’s office.  He couldn’t tell which one of his co-workers had the alien on ‘em so Big Don tells everyone to take off their shirt.  Even the women.  Sutherland’s probably looking at a couple of sexual harassment suits but that’s okay though.  Man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. 

 

The experienced cast (which includes Keith David, Will Patton, Richard Belzer, Andrew Robinson and Yaphet Kotto) equips themselves nicely and look like they’re having fun.  Most of the cool stuff is weighted towards the film’s first half hour or so, and things get rather dull as the film plods on to its predictable conclusion, but the “hive” sequence is pretty cool.  It’s not in the same league as Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers remake from the same year, but so what?  There are plenty of worse alien invasion flicks out there you can waste your time with.