October 11th, 2008

CRIMINALLY INSANE (1975) ***

Before there was Freddy, before there was Jason, there was Crazy Fat Ethel.  I’m not saying the woman was in the same league as her male counterparts, but boy does she know how to hack up people with a meat cleaver. 

 

Poor old Crazy Fat Ethel gets released from the insane asylum (Even though she's still “Criminally Insane” and whatnot.) to go live with her grandmother.  Granny gets pissed cuz the 250 pound Ethel likes to raid the fridge at all hours of the day, so she locks up all of the food in the cupboard.  Crazy Fat Ethel doesn’t cotton to that and stabs grandma a couple dozen times with a butcher knife.  After Ethel eats everything in the house, she has to order more groceries.  The delivery boy tells her the bill is $400 and because Ethel only has $4.50, he says no way Jose and goes to leave.  Ethel quickly dispatches him with a broken beer bottle. 

 

Folks, if you are anywhere in the vicinity of Crazy Fat Ethel and food is involved, just let the woman have the damn food.  Your life is not worth it. 

 

Anyway, Crazy Fat Ethel’s hooker sister comes to live with her for a bit.  Ethel doesn’t mind if she turns tricks out of the bedroom as long as she doesn’t mess with all the bodies that are piling up in the house.  Of course, her pimp has to come spend the night and when he starts wondering about the funny smell coming out of the next room, Crazy Fat Ethel has to cut everybody up with a meat cleaver.  By this time there ain’t no food in the house, but there’s a lot of dead meat sitting around and it’s only a matter of time before Ethel is chowing down on human flesh.  Thank God that George “Buck” Flower is there to stop her. 

 

I don’t know what I was expecting when I put this flick on but I certainly didn’t think this was going to be the fun little chiller that it turned out to be.  The film moved like greased lighting (the running time is just over an hour) and the murder scenes left me cackling.  I really didn’t mind that most of the kills got a little repetitive after awhile because they all featured a lot of cool looking 70’s blood (you know the kind that resembles the paint you get from Sherman Williams).

 

Criminally Insane had no budget, one setting and one demented fatty hacking up people.  That’s all it really needed though.  What this movie did well, it did very, very well, which namely was Crazy Fat Ethel butchering people with various kitchenware.

 

And let’s talk a minute about Crazy Fat Ethel.  She gives one of the most memorable screen psycho killer performances of all time and it’s a shame she isn’t as well known as say, Candyman or something.  This bitch maybe crazy and kill people and stuff, but you sort of sympathize with her because after all, a girl’s gotta eat.  She also gets the best line of the movie:  “My heart is fine as long as my stomach’s not empty.”

 

Ethel returned twelve years later for the sequel, Crazy Fat Ethel 2. 

CRAZY FAT ETHEL 2 (1987) **

The mental institution where Crazy Fat Ethel has been locked up for the past 12 years has gone through a lot of budget cuts (yeah, so has the movie) so she gets released to a halfway house where she continues her rampage.  First she hangs a mean orderly and when one patient witnesses it, he blackmails her for her dessert.  We all know what happens to people when they get in the way of Ethel and food, don’t we?  They end up with a butcher knife in their back, that’s what.  Then her caretaker stupidly tries to take her pretzels from her and Ethel bludgeons her to death.  Crazy Fat Ethel kills a couple more folks until she totally loses it and sets things up for another sequel.  (Death Nurse, which was filmed back-to-back with this mess.)

 

I liked the first Criminally Insane a lot, which is a good thing since this sequel is almost entirely made up of scenes from the first film.  (It even steals the credits from the first movie, how cheap can you get!)  It’s no exaggeration on my part when I say that over half of this movie is nothing but recycled scenes from Criminally Insane used as either dreams or flashbacks.  To add insult to injury, the new footage is mostly scenes of Crazy Fat Ethel either eating or sleeping; not the most cinematic of goings-on to be sure.

 

If you thought the first movie was cheap looking wait until you see this one.  Whereas the first one was atmospheric; CFE 2 was shot on video and looks worse than most pornos made around the same time.  Also, the murders are all thoroughly lame and lack the gore and pizzazz of Criminally Insane.  And while the first flick’s 62 minute running time flew right by, this one makes for a long, long 68 minutes.  (Which is especially telling since the movie only consists of about 35 minutes of new footage.)

 

What is worthwhile?  Namely another stellar performance by Crazy Fat Ethel.  She may not be nearly as crazy, she may not be nearly as fat, but boy she still has a lot of screen presence.  Not many people can hold their own in a zero-budget, shot-on-video, decade-after-the-fact sequel, but I have to give props to my girl Ethel.  Even though she isn’t given a whole lot to work with, she still makes this shit sorta/kinda fun.

 

If you’ve seen Criminally Insane, then there’s no real reason to see this one.  That is unless you’re really dying to see all of the best scenes from the first movie shown over and over.  Then again, the new scenes aren’t much to brag about.  Oh well.  You make the call.

 

AKA:  Criminally Insane 2.

SATAN’S BLACK WEDDING (1975) * ½

An actor with Elvis sideburns returns to his hometown of Monterey, California for his sister’s funeral.  He hooks up with his sister’s co-worker and starts to snoop around to find out what really drove her to suicide.  Turns out that this Ron Jeremy looking priest is actually a vampire and has turned the guy’s sister into a vampire as well.  It seems that the devil wants her to marry her brother so they can spawn a satanic offspring. 

 

If this had happened in West Virginia it would’ve been no trouble at all.

 

Director Nick Millard (who also did the Crazy Fat Ethel movies) paces this sucker as if he just downed two bottles of Nyquil.  The fact that the flick only runs 62 minutes is irrelevant because I swore it felt like a goddamn mini-series.  The whole movie is cheap looking (get a load of the vampires’ oversized plastic fangs) and the story is slight and uninvolving.  The music is also some of the worst since Manos:  The Hands of Fate.

 

And what was up with the vampires in this movie?  I mean they drank blood and had fangs sure, but they also ran around during the daytime.  Last time I checked that was a big no-no for vampires.  The whole thing was convoluted if you asked me.

 

At least Millard got things started off nicely.  The opening scene where the chick slashes her wrists about a gazillion times with a razorblade was kinda cool.  Too bad nothing else in the flick lives up to that part.  Oh yeah and Satan doesn’t even RSVP to his own wedding.  What an asshole.   

 

Bridezillas is scarier.