October 20th, 2008

LILA (1968) * ½

Lila (Susan Stewart) is a stripper who gets picked up by some swinging guy who takes her to an abandoned warehouse.  He gives her some LSD and she decides to do a striptease for him.  When the drugs take hold though, Lila goes totally bonkers and she stabs her lover to death with a Phillips head screwdriver.  The next night, she picks up another dude at the club and it’s pretty much the same deal:  psychedelics, sex, and screwdriver.  The third night, Lila picks up the bartender and you guessed it:  more acid, ass grabbing and assassination.  Then she… well, it just kinda goes on like that for 90 painful minutes. 


I know a lot of people look back fondly at the 60’s but I say that any era that was filled with strippers tripping balls and hacking up people with a screwdriver was NOT a time worth reminiscing about. 


All of this sounds a lot better than it actually is.  The premise was solid.  I mean who wouldn’t want to see a stripper all hopped up on acid murdering dudes with a screwdriver, right?  At least that’s what I thought.  What makes the movie a chore to sit through is that it mostly consists of nothing but long badly choreographed strip acts (one girl just kinda jumps up and down and lets her goodies jiggle a bit), long badly choreographed sex scenes (there are lots of shots of Lila’s hands running up and down her sweaty partners’ backs) and long badly scripted scenes of two clueless detectives trying to figure out who the murderer is. 


The only thing that director William Rotsler gets right is the murder sequences.  Naked chicks stabbing guys to death with a Phillips head is pretty hard to fuck up and Rotsler does a pretty good job with them.  You can even get some unintentional laughs from the constant use of inane hippie gibberish (“What’s your bag?” “I think you’re turned on!”) and the horrid 60’s fashions (get a load of her first victim’s earring) too.  I also had fun noticing the similarities of the opening striptease to that of the one in Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. 


Usually I bitch about movies being remade, but I think that Lila would be a prime remake candidate.  If there’s a director out there that knows how to film sexy stripteases, hot love scenes and involving police procedural stuff, then I say go ahead and make a Lila “reboot”.  It can’t be too much worse than this one. 


Pat (Orgy of the Dead) Barrington and Stuart (Faster, Pussycat! Kill!  Kill!) Lancaster co-star. 


AKA:  Mantis in Lace.


A married couple gets invited by the sultry Diane (Celeste Yarnall from Beast of Blood) to stay the weekend at her desert mansion.  Most of their days are spent riding around the desert in dune buggies and at night the couple has bizarre dreams in which Diane tries to seduce them.  Eventually Diane really does seduce them and hops in the sack with the husband and chomps down on his jugular and then she goes after the wife and tries to nibble on her neck.  Unfortunately for the audience it takes FOREVER.


The flick doesn’t follow the traditional rules of vampirism as Diane goes out riding around in her dune buggy in the middle of the day.  The seduction scenes are also lackluster, although the dune buggy footage is quite breathtaking.  My favorite part though was the laughable scene where Yarnall compares her You Know What to a dune buggy.  Seriously folks; this movie has so many pointless scenes of people riding around in dune buggies that you’ll start wondering if it was financed by the Dune Buggy Counsel or something.


Whenever The Velvet Vampire wasn’t showcasing hot dune buggy action, it did feature a serviceable amount of Celeste Yarnall naked.  She’s dead sexy alright; it’s just too bad that all the lesbian stuff was merely implied.  Daughters of Darkness this was not. 


All of this is thoroughly dull and not very erotic.  Occasionally director Stephanie (The Student Nurses) Rothman will show a scene of a knife going through somebody’s hand or a guy accidentally impaling himself on a pitchfork or something to keep you awake.  If you’re a fan of rubber bat attacks though, you might get a kick from this one scene in a mineshaft. 


“Star” Michael Blodgett also appeared in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls the previous year.


AKA:  Cemetery Girls.  AKA:  The Devil is a Woman.  AKA:  The Waking Hour.  AKA:  Through the Looking Glass.