Friday, December 4, 2015

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things

Director - Thomas Casey
Starring - Abe Zwick, Wayne Crawford (Barracuda), and Don Craig (Vice Girls Ltd.)
Release Date - 1971
Genre - Horror/Crime
Tagline - "A twisted mind snaps and a wave of terror begins"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     The 70s was an amazing time in regards to cinema.  In 1974 we got one of the first slasher icons, Leathersface, with Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Hammer horror was going strong releasing several of their titular films in their Dracula and Frankenstein series.  Exploitation films were still going strong and branching out into other sub-genres like hixploitation, sexploitation, and my favorite, blaxploitation.  The 70s also saw the release of several unique films that pushed the social norms along with the boundaries of certain genres.  1971 saw the release of Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things which was a strange film but surprisingly entertaining.  The film is an odd mix between a crime drama and an early slasher while mixing elements of homosexuality which was very taboo at the time.  Recently, Vinegar Syndrome released the film on DVD and was kind enough to send over a review copy.
     The film follows two criminals, Stanley and Paul, who fled Baltimore and made their way to sunny Miami where they are living as an old woman, Aunt Martha, and her nephew Stanley.  Paul is very content living with Stanley in the home pretending to be an old woman for the sake of the neighbors but Stanley is a free spirit and would prefer to sneak out and party it up with some of the younger locals.  Paul can't stand for this and becomes angry any time a girl shows him any attention.  He kills them without letting Stanley know.  Stanley is at a bar and runs into an old friend and invites him to stay with them where things go south and their sweet gig is up.
     The 70s saw several genre crossing creating some rather unique films.  Crime collided with horror several times during this period just like another Vinegar Syndrome film, Night of the Strangler.  Sometimes Aunt Martha is a very strange film but at the end of the day it is still well worth a watch.  The acting in this low budget 70s fair was actually pretty good.  Abe Zwick and Wayne Crawford are great together.  Their relationship on camera is what the movie hinges on and they do a great job.  Their chemistry is amazing and their homosexual relationship is very subtle.  If you did not know about it beforehand it could easily be missed.  The remainder of the cast does a decent job at moving the film along but they are nowhere on the level as Zwick and Crawford.  The story for this one is fun with some clever moments but in the end it is the lack of depth that kills the film.  The film begins with the reveal Paul gallivanting around town as Martha.  This was fun and made the film feel pretty light-hearted.  The film then takes a turn into the horror tone of the story where he kills a woman that Stanley was eyeing.  Then the film plays out for most of the film as a crime drama before returning to the horror elements again.  This middle portion of the film was rather boring and did not do that great of a job at feeling like a crime drama.  Finally, the film does have a few kills but they are rather weak and mostly off screen with the viewer only getting the end result.  The practical effects are pretty weak as well which is the obvious reason the kills were not on screen.  Overall, Sometimes Aunt Martha is a pretty unique film especially when you consider the year it was made and the hidden story beneath the film's surface.  The film's leads do an amazing job and the story does have it's moments.  I recommend this one.

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