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Monday, May 31, 2010

Love Me Deadly (1973) review


Mary Wilcox (Lindsay Finch), Lyle Waggoner (Alex Martin), Christopher Stone (Wade Farrow), Timothy Scott (Fred McSweeney)

Directed by Jacques Lacerte

The short version: A sometimes disturbing, but ultimately unsatisfying foray into taboo territory about necrophilia. The subject matter never becomes too distasteful, but is sporadically unsettling in its depiction of a woman incapable of loving a living man. Some added exploitation value is present with its cult of dead hoppers, but a reliance on flimsy characterization keeps the film from becoming too revolting.

***WARNING! This review contains pics of nudity***

A young woman, traumatized over her fathers death, tries to maintain a normal relationship with living men. Her affinity for necrophilia lures her to a funeral home in her search for fresh dead males. Her activities attracts the attentions of the attendants of the parlor, who belong to a bizarre sect of necrophilic practitioners.

This sometimes surreal, but occasionally boring horror tale about loving the dead a little too much has lots of potential. Director Lacertes squanders much of it on the relationship quadra angle between Lindsay, her various stiff consorts, the man who loves her and another man who is a bit more forceful in his attraction for her. Wedged in between all this are scenes of nudity and all too infrequent nasty business that somewhat betrays the luridness of the films title.

The pacing lags terribly in places and the warbling soundtrack reinforces the romanticism that kind of pushes the grim subject matter to the backseat. Probably more time is given to Lindsay and her "problems", both living and dead than any actual horror elements. That's not to say there's nothing here to interest sleaze fans. The necrophilia angle isn't handled to the extremes of NEKROMANTIK (1987), but it is unsettling and if the acting were better, the film would be far more successful regardless of how much time is spent on the dramatic aspects of the script. There are also a few scenes where dialog is being spoken between the main characters, but we never hear what they're saying. Instead, music plays over the soundtrack.

The most disturbing sequence would most probably be the one wherein the main villain picks up a gay male prostitute and takes him back to the funeral parlor. He then proceeds to get the man naked and coerces him to lie down on the embalming table. From their, the poor transient is strapped down and embalmed alive. There are several other mildy gruesome bits spread throughout and the ending is depressingly grim, but these are few and far between.

Some of the conflict between Lindsay battling with her "addiction" and trying to maintain a normal relationship works well, but it's clumsily handled much of the time. However, there is a fascinatingly morbid twist in the script in that those that love Lindsay, or bear a sexual attraction to her end up dead. That she can now love these individuals the way she couldn't when they were alive is barely explored. There is another rather nasty scene that may, or may not be a dream wherein the cult of necrophiliacs hoist a corpse from a rope, strip away his clothes, strip away their own clothes and proceed to slash the skin from the dead man.

Actress, Mary Wilcox gets undressed a couple of times and does reasonably well with what she has to work with. She had a relatively short lived career in exploitation movies. She did put in small roles in the humorous pimp comedy-drama, WILLIE DYNAMITE (1974) and a strip teasing role as a naughty nurse in the star studded PSYCHIC KILLER (1975). Possessing a rather long face, her body is toned and well proportioned. She's a very nice looking actress.

The most curious addition to this movie is the co-starring role of Lyle Waggoner of all people. Although exploitation movies weren't alien to his resume, Waggoner will probably be best remembered for his ensemble roles on the classic sketch comedy favorite, THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. I remember him best as Major Steve Trevor on the popular television series, WONDER WOMAN. Horror fans will also recognize Christopher Stone from THE HOWLING (1981) and CUJO (1983) and also his marriage to actress, Dee Wallace.

Sleaze fan-addicts will likely be disappointed in this exercise of sex with the living and the dead. The storyline has so much going for it, but the director wastes far too many opportunities for me to recommend this to anyone other than die hard 70's horror film completists.

This review is representative of the Code Red/Media Blasters DVD


dfordoom said...

Sounds like it had the potential to be quite an interesting movie.

venoms5 said...

It's worth a look, D. You might like it. I found myself liking a little bit more the second time around. Still nothing spectacular, though.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Im with D, sounds like an interesting enough premise, somehow I have never even heard of this one? Necrophilia is such a strange and depraved taboo I am always instantly attracting to films that are daring enough to take on the subject

venoms5 said...

It never gets into territory explored in NEKROMANTIK, but is very sleazy in places. A decent enough movie, but in ways, a missed opportunity.

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