It’s a psycho-sexual smorgasbord of cinematic thrills & filmic frissons! As women are in peril and perilous are some women!
RACHEL, RACHEL 1968 directed by Paul Newman.
Rachel Cameron: “I’m exactly in the middle of my life. This is my last… ascending summer. Everything else from now on is just rolling downhill into my grave.”
Joanne Woodward is the dowdy-looking emotional time bomb Rachel a 35-year-old school teacher who lives with her mother and needs to either break free or break down. Kate Harrington is fabulous as her mother, James Olson who was often cast as the male figure of desire in the 60s & early 70s psycho-sexual thrillers plays her lover Nick. The marvelous Estelle Parsons is her well-intentioned misguided friend Calla who has a budding lesbian attraction for her and Donald Moffat plays her dad.
I almost included this film with my compendium of cult films, though it is more melodrama than a crossing of noir, or psycho-sexual horror. The film works on the underlying premise that establishment culture has become like a sort of imprisonment to Rachel, reinforcing a repressive landscape and marginalizing the character of Rachel thus creating her own counter-culture reflecting the eroding of the American Dream and crumbling Idealism. (source American Cinema of the 1960s Themes and Variations Edited by Barry Keith Grant).
Rachel is the archetype of the repressed New England girl from a small town. Where everyone knows your business and it becomes impossible to breathe. One reviewer on IMDb called it “deep-level collective cultural phantoms” I particularly like that phrase. A suffocating lifestyle or stasis of life more aptly, Rachel is trapped by caring for her overbearing mother. and pulled to one side by the desire she has for Nick. Haunted by memories and collected damage over the years, she carries her emotional baggage til it is too heavy to bear.
A few very memorable scenes come to mind. Of course when Calla has the awkward revelation that she is in love with Rachel. But there is the bizarre church scene and several flashbacks that allude to her childhood trauma.
Will Rachel decide to free herself from the shackles of stifling conformity and become a liberated individual?
The film also co-stars the great Geraldine Fitzgerald as Rev. Wood.
Who was she? Sometimes she was a child skipping rope. Sometimes she was a woman with a passionate hunger. And one day the woman and the child came together…
who cares about a 35-year-old virgin?
VENUS IN FURS 1969 directed by Jesús Franco
In Istanbul, a jazz trumpeter Jimmy Logan (James Darren) finds the corpse of a beautiful woman named Wanda Reed (Maria Rohm–House of 1,000 Dolls 1967. The Blood of Fu Manchu 1968, Eugenie… Her Story into Perversion 1970, Count Dracula 1970) washed up on the beach.
Jimmy remembers her from the night before when he saw her at a party and then later as she was assaulted by the party’s host and two of his friends.
He winds up in Rio where he hooks up with Rita, played by Barbara McNair a singer who invites him to live with her and help him shake the nightmare off and stop thinking of Wanda.
Jimmy Logan: “She was beautiful, even though she was dead.”
Suddenly a woman appears who looks exactly like Wanda. Jimmy becomes obsessed and pursues her trying to get to the bottom of this mysterious woman.
The woman returns from the dead to take revenge on the group of wealthy sadists responsible for her death. The film also stars Margaret Lee, Dennis Price, and Klaus Kinski.
Frenzied, dream-like colorful excursion into the psycho-sexual mind of Jess Franco.
The coat that covered paradise, uncovered hell!
A Masterpiece of supernatural sex!
THE MINI SKIRT MOB 1968 directed by Maury Dexter
Driven by jealousy, Diane McBain plays Shayne the jilted leader of a female motorcycle gang whose sociopathic and ruthless nature instigates a sadistic reign of terror against her ex-lover Rodeo Cowboy Jeff Logan and his new bride Connie (Sherry Jackson)
Stars Jeremy Slate, Diane McBain, Sherry Jackson, Patty McCormack, and Harry Dean Stanton.
Patty McCormack not beating a little boy to death with her tap shoe.
THE SORCERERS 1967 directed and screenplay by Michael Reeves (Castle of the Living Dead 1964, Witchfinder General 1968).
Set in the atmosphere of the mod 60s of London —Boris Karloff is a subtly imposing looking more time-worn elderly Professor Marcus Monserrat scientist and hypnotist extraordinaire who has discovered the secret of mind control, and the ability to become empathic with the object of their desire.
Monserrat and his wife Estelle (Catherine Lacey-stage actress who was a regular performer with the Old Vic Company from 1951-went on to play eccentric spinsters-) can literally share sensations, thoughts, and feelings of the subjects they wish to control.
Ian Ogilvy is the shady swinger Mike Roscoe who falls into their trap and allows them the excitement of experiencing what he does, virtually enjoying the self-indulgence of being young again. But as usual, power corrupts and greedy Estelle begins to crave devouring Roscoe and the pleasure it gives her. Roscoe begins to lose control of himself, mind, and body as the battle of wills ensues with the power-hungry old bird trying to experience ‘kicks’ vicariously through the unlucky chap. Co-stars Elizabeth Ercy and Susan George.
Boris Karloff, He Turns Them On…He Turns Them Off…to live…love…die or KILL!
PRETTY POISON 1968 directed by Noel Black
When a mentally disturbed young man Dennis Pitt (Anthony Perkins) tells a pretty girl that he’s a secret agent, she believes him and murder and mayhem ensue. Anthony Perkins’s character of Dennis Pitt is every bit more of an emotional enigma as the young man with a pathological imagination who is an outlier in society. Released from an institution he gets a regular job at a lumber yard. But he meets the All-American Cheerleader squeaky clean blonde apple pie Sue Ann Stepaneck (Tuesday Weld) who just might be even more disturbed than Dennis. He informs her that he’s working undercover for the CIA and enlists her in helping him on his case. Dennis cannot help but live in his fantasy world. She is a stone-cold sociopath with ulterior motives.
As she manipulates his vulnerabilities into committing acts of dangerous vandalism and eventually murder, she is in control of this Folie à deux
Co-stars Beverly Garland as Sue Ann’s Mama.
PEEPING TOM 1960– directed by Michael Powell–
Powell had been known for his very barbed visual style.
The background story behind Mark Lewis’ madness/murder compulsion.
Mark Lewis-focus puller on Arthur Baden’s new film The Walls Are Closing In-he also moonlights as a photographer of racy pictures on the West End. He is smitten with 21-year-old Helen Stephens (Anna Massey) and they are carrying on a very civil and sweet courtship. Almost child-like which is probably what kept Helen safe from Mark’s darker side.
What Helen doesn’t know is that Mark has a blade hidden in the armature of his tripod, and stabs the object of his desire, filming their deaths, as a surrogate for his past abuse. When he was a young boy his father, a biologist researching the effects of fear on children, ‘the physiology of fear’ used to film Mark continuously like a mouse in a maze, throughout his childhood, subjecting him to various fear-inducing incidents as his experimentation.
Voyeurism and psycho-sexual compulsion drive this very startling horror/suspense film starring Karl Böhm, as Mark Lewis who works as a cameraman at a British film studio. His fetish is to kill women with his camera tripod while filming their death. It’s not hard to envision that the tripod is a surrogate for his phallus, and the act of stabbing them with it is his act of penetration. A mirror is fixed to the tripod so that the women can see the expression on their own faces right before death, to witness their own fear.
Unfortunately in the way, Psycho with its subversive themes propelled Hitchcock’s status to auteur, the controversial Peeping Tom ended Michael Powell’s career with all the reviled reviews.
Nothing, nothing nothing… has left me with such a feeling of nausea and depression as I got this week while sitting through a new British film called Peeping Tom… Mr Michael Powell (Who once made such outstanding films as Black Narcissus and A Matter of Life and Death) produced and directed Peeping Tom and I think he ought to be ashamed of himself. The acting is good. The photography is fine. But what is the result? Sadism, sex and the exploitation of human degradation- Daily Express
Mark has had a very traumatic upbringing by his father who used his own son in experiments of the effects of fear and self-loathing. Well, they produced a son who is a sexual sadist who makes his female victims watch their own deaths-specifically the expression of terror on their faces right before death. Co-stars Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, and Brenda Bruce as Dora. Absolutely chilling for 1960. Bohm’s Mark Lewis almost elicits sympathy due to his childhood psycho-trauma. Much like Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates and his fateful childhood.
The gist of why this film shook up the British film industry at a time when they were trying to tone it down was the idea of this gruesome ‘snuff’ filmmaker getting off on sublimating his own sexual impotence by finding victims to penetrate with his camera or gaze. The way Otto Heller sets up our participation as voyeurs make it doubly uncomfortable to watch the killings. For example. Mark takes a red-bloused prostitute up to her room. His camera with its several lensed eyes like an insect about to prey is concealed, the whirring is cloaked inside his duffel bag. See they even had kill bags back then. As she leads him upstairs he throws an empty box of Kodak film in the garbage. Not cigarettes, or a box of condoms, but still the very sexual instrument in his mode of arousal + fixtion+ object/spectacle +gaze =murder. Also turning their own destroyed images back on themselves is quite disturbing–It’s a kinky and interesting little detail. Otto Heller also added a wonderful detail to the film as Mark’s private ‘viewing room’ was bathed in a sanguinary red tone.
Director of Photography was Otto Heller, Art Director- Arthur Lawson, and Editor Noreen Ackland.
Anna Massey plays Helen Stephens, Maxine Audley is Helen’s mother Mrs Stephens who while blind senses that there is something off about Mark, Moira Shearer is Vivian, and Nigel Davenport is Sergeant Miller.
Can you see yourself in this picture? Can you imagine yourself facing the terror of a diabolical killer? Can you guess how you’d look? You’ll live that kind of excitement, suspense, and horror when you watch “Peeping Tom”.
THE WOMAN EATER 1958 directed by Charles Saunders
A mad scientist Doctor Moran (George Coulouris) captures women and feeds them to his carnivorous tree with tentacle-like branches that only have a taste for the ladies preferably young ones, this in turn gives him a serum that helps bring the dead back to life.
Because the tree gets fed its nourishment, it provides the evil doctor with a liquid that restores life to the dead. So naturally the first woman you would want to be resuscitated would be a good housekeeper, right? No… She goes all Rochester’s crazy wife Bertha on the place, you know the violently insane first wife of Edward Rochester; moved to Thornfield and locked in the attic and eventually commits suicide after setting fire to Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre., that sort of way! and ruins everything…
It’s really just a silly B movie from the 50s that finds unique ways to destroy beautiful women by way of mad science or mad obsession.
The film also stars Robert MacKenzie, Norman Claridge, and Marpessa Dawn as a ‘native’ girl. Jimmy Vaughn as Tanga, Sarah Leighton as Susan Curtis, and Vera Day as Sally.
Your Everlovin’ MonsterGirl saying hope you stay on the good side of the camera and watch out for those strange large plants at Home Depot!
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