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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rant #1,863: Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday

Yes, Tuesday was a real humdinger, as we were promised over a foot of snow and ended getting about a half foot of slush.

But at the very least, many of us did not have to go to work that day, so I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

Me, I did my due diligence--yes, I shoveled and cleaned up what I could--and then I went back to my comfy bedroom to watch television.

As I often do when I have some free time--usually on the weekend--I watch some movies from the 1940s to the 1970s, the era that I like the most for celluloid treats.

To me, after that span, movies became the same thing over and over again, with a lack of creativity covered over with gobs of special effects and little more.

(No, not every movie from the 1980s, 1990s and the 2000s has been bad, but due to a number of factors, I really have kind of lost my interest in current films.)

And I prefer what used to be called "grindhouse" movies, films that would generally fill out the bottom of the bill in double feature houses and lesser movie theaters, as well as drive-ins.

I just find these films so fascinating, because of their story matter--often as turgid as can be--and what they showed versus what they did not show, depending on the era.

The first film I watched is a Herschel Gordon Lewis film, and although many of you won't have the slightest idea who he was, he was the master of the D-movie, films which promised that you would see things in these movies that you wouldn't see in mainstream fare.

"The Gore Gore Girls" was the name of one of his last films and if it was his final film, Lewis went out with a bang … or a chop, or a tenderizer, pick your poison.

It concerns a bunch of strippers who are getting offed by a crazed killer. A smooth private detective is hired to investigate the case, and he pairs with a comely, and sexually charged, newspaper reporter to uncover just whodunit.

A bunch of no-name actors populate the film, there isn't much nudity but plenty of bloodshed--including the ripping open of heads, backsides and elsewhere with blood spurting all over the place--and one name attraction is in the film, none other than Henny Youngman! He plays the owner of the strip joints where the dancers are being removed, one by one.

The film has sort of a trick ending, but if you listen closely, you will figure out who the killer is pretty much halfway into the movie.

Yes, this movie is pure trash, but for a 1970s splatter movie--it was actually released in 1972, but looks like it could have been actually shot a year or two or three earlier--it never takes itself too seriously, and is at times as comedic as it is hard to stomach.

The other is a much, much better movie from an earlier time period, where you really could not show very much of anything, but the suggestion was surely there, and almost as vivid as seeing the acts themselves, due to strong writing and acting.

Yes, this is another grindhouse film called "The Sadist," starring one of the great non-stars of that era, Arch Hall Jr. This actor/musician was in a number of films financed by his father, trying to make him into the latest heartthrob teen sensation. The ploy never worked, but this film might be the best of the movies trying to accomplish this.

Based on actual events--the saga of Charles Starkweather, who went on a killing spree with his girlfriend just because of the kicks he got from murdering people--the story has been remade at least twice since the 1963 original film, in "Badlands" and later in "Natural Born Killers," but neither of these was better than "The Sadist."

Hall plays the young "sadist" who gets his kicks from knocking people off, and he and his somewhat mute girlfriend meet upon three teachers--one women, two men--whose car breaks down on some back road as they are traveling to see the Dodgers play the Reds at Dodger Stadium.

They go looking for help with their car--the fuel pump has died--and they basically roll into this abandoned service station. No one is around, and things immediately look amiss. One thing leads to another, and they meet up with Hall and his girlfriend, and all hell breaks loose for the next 90 minutes, as the older teacher is murdered, along with two police officers, after the shooter had already shot the owners of the service station.

The two teachers who are left try everything they can do to get loose, but nothing works.

I won't give away the ending, and I won't snake around it either. It is pretty neat.

A standout in the film is the female teacher, played by Helen Hovey. She is prim and proper in the film, but looking at her some 50 years later, she could have been a Playboy model. She has that look and figure, and actually did a fine job acting in this film.

Doing a little research on her, this was her only film, which she disavowed any knowledge of when, right after the shooting of the movie, she found God. She supposedly never talked about the film, except to those close to her, and even then, she knocked it and wished she wasn't in it and that it would just go away.

And Hall is superb as the young killer. I will bet he could have become a star in the later 1960s if he would have remained as an actor--as an antihero, in the Peter Fonda/Dennis Hopper vein--but he found other callings, including writing.

Sure, it is slow in spots, and yes, there are plenty of insinuations rather than actually seeing what they are speaking about, but all in all, this film was a great surprise.

So with two films under my belt on that dreary Tuesday, I consider the day not one that was wasted at all.


  1. The Gore Gore Girls:

  2. The Sadist: