Thursday, August 20, 2015

Blood And Lace

It’s been called the “sickest PG (sic) movie ever made,” and while this low-low-budget AIP shocker does contain elements of pedophilia, necrophilia, incest, torture, rape, blackmail, arson, murder, and child abuse, it’s not entirely inconsistent with other PG rulings of the era (think BILLY JACK or JAWS). “Not yet 21” Ellie (Melody Patterson, just four years after F TROOP and dubbed in some scenes by June Foray) is sent to an orphanage run by Mrs. Deere (Oscar winner Gloria Grahame) after her prostie mother is murdered in bed by a hammer-wielding maniac.

Independent and a little messed up by her mother’s killing, during which the assailant also burned down the house, Ellie immediately locks horns with the ultra-strict Mrs. Deere, who talks to her husband’s corpse and orders her drunken handyman Tom (Len Lesser, later SEINFELD’s Uncle Leo) to hunt down and murder kids who attempt to run away. They freeze the corpses in the cellar and bring them up to the “infirmary” whenever social worker Mullins (Milton Selzer) drops by to count heads.

Also in the mix is middle-aged bachelor Calvin Carruthers (Vic “Mel Sharples” Tayback), the town’s only police detective who’s working Ellie’s mom’s murder case and may have more than a professional feeling toward Ellie. A mystery man in flannel and an old-man mask wanders the grounds, and the hilariously overwrought canned music sounds ripped from a Republic serial.

Director Gilbert apparently never made another movie, but he had talent. He handles the sleazy and weird (why are 20-year-olds living in an orphanage?) screenplay by Gil Lasky (MAMA’S DIRTY GIRLS, also starring Grahame) with style, despite little money. The striking opening scene, filmed from the killer’s point of view and surprisingly graphic for a GP, prefigures HALLOWEEN. Character actors extraordinare Lesser and Tayback played comic heavies on THE MONKEES, among zillions of anonymous episodic TV guest star parts, and probably enjoyed receiving their own title cards on a feature. Making his film debut is Dennis Christopher, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for starring in BREAKING AWAY.

1 comment:

Stephen Taylor said...

Awesome movie! I ordered "Blood and Lace" based on your review, and it was worth whatever I paid. Complete trash without even the patina of quality, but fun, fun, fun. And I had totally forgotten about the hand in the suitcase, so that was quite a little shock. And that ending.....

Thanks again.