Saturday, August 16, 2008

Diary of a Mad Housewife & Tower of Evil

Recently I had the very good fortune of being a guest at the home of a pair of Movie Queens that gave this old Movie Queen a run for his cine-fanatic money - in fact, they did outrun me - no matter how long I chased them around the coffee table. Though, I have to give myself props - I didn't spill a drop of my cocktail despite some of the tight turns in their well appointed living room.


My presence was requested to join in a viewing of yet another movie in the VERY long list of movies that raises the question, "If 'Meatballs 4' can be on DVD, why can't this???"

Hilarious and brutal- "Diary of a Mad Housewife" is a study in masochism set in the urban nightmare that was late sixties/early seventies New York - back in the days when it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy - back before the Disneyfication of Times Square. Back when it was still a little scary. I loved the shot of the two rats Tina (Carrie Snodgress) stumbles upon early in the film. In one shot, director Frank Perry perfectly captured the City itself and the general mood of our nation at that time.

Did the rats somehow represent Tina's husband Jonathan (Richard Benjamin) and her lover (Frank Langella)?

Well, why not?

Amazing editing by Sidney Katz that include some brilliant jump cuts - stunning sound design - a great overall look and top-notch acting. Richard Benjamin might be overplaying the tiniest bit- but, then again, there are a lot of the people in the film who sort of declaim their lines in a near hysterical - nearly shouting out to the cheap seats tone. The scene with the baby sitter asking Jonathan to sue the city for her as she raises her skirts to crotch level is everything this movie is all at once- disturbing, unsettling, annoying and weirdly mysterious.

See it however you can and then pine for the beautifully transferred DVD sometime in the future.

In the meantime, you might want to check out a DVD that I fell asleep to late last night. "Tower of Evil" was released in 1972 and is a prime example of that blend of supernatural horror and titillation... and I do mean breastitude. Some people get killed on a mysterious abandoned island with a decrepit lighthouse. The ladies mostly walk around with bare breasts when they are not sewn into swinging late sixties early seventies hipster get-ups - the rust colored velvet jumpsuit with all those white zippers is 1,000 times greater than anything you might see on any season of "Project Runway" (especially this season). The guys do the same in an array of turtlenecks, tight tees and hip hugging crotch enhancing trousers. There are coy junk obscuring camera tricks (think Austin Powers here) - but, in consolation there are a fair number ass shots that almost make up for the teasing.

The plot isn't worth paying too much attention to- but, there are several key moments that really floated my boat:

1. The first shot of the hypnotizing light boxes in the full light of day.
2. A sequence that I think just might be the longest scream sequence in all of cinema history clocking in at a full minute. And ending with a panicked flurry of, "KILL!! BLOOD!!!"
3. When the guys go off to investigate they tell the women to stay behind and, "If anything happens, just scream." People usually do when they're impaled, thrown off lighthouses or chased by hideous malformed creatures.

There's some not-very-scary ancient mumbo jumbo devil worship crap (with some kind of storky looking 'golden' idol that looks to me to be flipping off its worshipers) to keep the plot in motion- but, over all this is is more of a cavalcade of terrible acting, fine fashion and excellent shoe foley.

Fall asleep to it. I did and woke up just in time for the explosive, flaming finish.

~ David

No comments: