Friday, January 06, 2017

Momma's Boys and Daddy's Girls -- Grindhouse-style!

The all-time winner when it comes to dysfunctional children in cinema would have to be Norman Bates. The main character in the classic and iconic Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, displays all types of poor coping skills and an inclination to act out which results in hurt feelings and dead people. A poster child for the "This is why I don't want children!" crowd, you might say.

What could have brought poor Norman Bates to such a lowly state? Why, his obsession with his dear, sweet mother, of course! Something about a mother figure that has been messing with boys and their minds since before the days of Oedipus.

Well, Norman isn't the only person who is obsessed with one parent or the other. You have them working beside you. They ride the same bus as you. Sadly, you may have dated/married one of these adult children types. We tend to refer to them by the school ground slurs of momma's boys and daddy's girls as that tends to be the general distribution. Boys willing to do anything to please Mommy, and girls who idolize their Daddy to distorted lengths.

As we aren't on a first-name basis with every human on the planet nor are we intending to do an exhaustive dissertation on dysfunctional children in cinema, let's limit ourselves to a few odd films that may not readily pop up in conversations about momma's boys like the Friday the 13th films. Hopefully these selections will bring greater understanding to you while you puzzle over why your significant other keeps telling you that you aren't half the man/woman that Dad/Mom was.

The Baby 
Directed by Ted Post

The Baby is possibly one of the most twisted and under-appreciated films from the 70s sleazy cinema. 

Anjanette Comer plays Ann Gentry who shows up at the home of Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman) stating that she is the new social worker assigned to Mrs. Wadworth's child simply called Baby. The special situation with Baby is that he is a full-grown man who has never "grown up". Baby is played by David Mooney (using the name of "David Manzy").

We find that Baby had been kept in an infantile state by his mother, with the help of her two daughters, Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Susanne Zenor aka Suzanne Zenor), as well as psychological/emotional torture and a cattle prod. Ann fights for Baby's freedom from torture.

Ruth Roman is a great actress, and she looks like she could win a bar brawl without smearing her lipstick. Having this woman running my life would reduce me to tears and messing in my pants, so Baby is just doing what comes natural. Still, he is a pawn in a strange game being played in this film, and his dear mother is fully in charge of the hometown team.

But why is Ann so obsessed with this family and...The Baby?

Sins of Rachel
Directed by Richard Fontaine   

Directed by a man who had previously directed gay-oriented shorts and the film I Am Curious Gay, Sins of Rachel is an odd grab-bag of a film. You have a murder mystery. You have something like a love story. You have another sub-textual theme along the lines of Brokeback Mountain, just without the mountain, cowboys, and bankable star power. You have a sort of coming-of-age story. 

Ooh, and let's not forget lots and lots of ugly clothes and bad acting.

Rachel Waring (Ann Noble) dies right around the beginning of the film. The rest of the film is flashbacks and lots of inept police work. We find that Rachel is rather routinely disliked in her California community. She bedded many men and not all of them were single. Her craving for men extends to her own son, who she attempts to seduce.

Of course, the son, Jimmy (played by Bruce Campbell, but not that Bruce Campbell), is a prime suspect, but can he deal with incest, the death of his mother, AND his growing attraction to his good buddy who always has a place for Jimmy to sleep over?

Yes, they seem to be saying that Rachel's emasculating presence and trashy sexual behavior may have prompted Jimmy to be gay. Just wait until you find out all the answers in this tempest in a tiny tea cup.

Schoolgirls In Chains (aka Girls In Chains, Abducted, Come Play With Us, Let's Play Dead)
Directed by Don Jones

You can't go wrong with a title like this. That is, if you're looking for sleazy films about boys still wrapped up in Mom's apron strings and the girls they invite over for play time.

Frank (Gary Kent) and Johnny (John Stoglin) are brothers of the same mother. Johnny likes playing games, and Frank is there to watch out for and help his not-all-there brother. He's so helpful that he picks up playmates for his brother. He even makes sure the playmates stay locked up in the basement, and he patiently tracks down the ones Johnny misplaced or allowed to run away.

Johnny likes to play doctor with his new friends. Oh, there are other games, but playing doctor is the best because the patients have to take their shirts off. All the patients are young women, but it's okay because Momma says so. Just don't break them.

Yup, this one is sleazy and creepy. The highlight of the film is the great flashback scene of Frank attempting to introduce his fiance to dear Mother. You'll laugh: you'll cringe; you'll be glad you didn't grow up in that house.

This one borrows a few tricks from Psycho with a slight sprinkling of Last House On The Left. Yup, sons only a mother could love. Often.

Baby Rosemary
Directed by John Hayes (as Howard Perkins)

Just to make it clear, Baby Rosemary is a porn title. 70s porn. Like that excuses everything. Actually, it kinda does. 70s porn films were full of hairy people and hairy crotches, but unlike a lot of recent porn, stuff from the 70s actually tried to have a story. Rosemary has a story full of weirdness and violence and a little girl trying to please her father. 

Remember that description for later. 

Rosemary (Sharon Thorpe) has a steady boyfriend that she allows enough sexual contact to get him going, but then she turns the emotional and sexual ice water on him. She is wanting to live a life that would make her daddy proud of his little princess.

The bulk of the rest of the film is a toss up whether it really happens or if it is a deranged dream. Rosemary ends up in a three-way relationship in which she is raped and beaten. She naturally finds this to be the perfect thing for her. Pleasure and pain in equal measures allow her to enjoy sex and then be punished for enjoying it. I think.

The whole shooting match ends up with an orgy during the funeral for Rosemary's father, and Rosemary plays the cookie all the boys are aiming for in a circle jerk.

Yeah, I don't get it either, but at least it wasn't the same boring pattern of suck-lick-bang this way-bang that way-money shot that we have these days.

Now I sound like I watch a lot of porn. I don't. 90% of porn is boring. At least with the 70s porn films, I have plenty of opportunities to go get snacks while not missing any of the story.

Dream No Evil (aka Now I Lay Me Down To Die, The Faith Healer)
Directed by John Hayes

If you are thinking the director of this film sounds familiar, you are correct. John Hayes also directed Baby Rosemary under a pseudonym. He even decided to borrow the basis of this film to create Baby Rosemary.

Remember I told you to remember the description of Baby Rosemary? Insert it here.

Grace McDonald (Brooke Mills) is an orphan who swears her daddy is gonna come for her. One day, Grace is adopted by a kindly lady. We then leap ahead 10 years or so.

Grace has a boyfriend who is studying to become a doctor. She works with his brother, a traveling faith healer (Michael Pataki), in a fire and brimstone sermon that ends with Grace falling into Hell from a 30 ft tower! When her boyfriend drives out to meet them, Grace can't be troubled to spend any time with him as she has a lead on where her daddy might be.

Again, we end up in a film that could be real or could be fantasy. Instead of sex, we get a few nasty killings as people attempt to violate Grace's long-held virginity and/or come between her and her loving daddy.

Gee, can you tell that most of these daddy's girl movies are written by men?

Toys Are Not For Children (aka Virgin Dolls)
Directed by Stanley H. Brassloff 

This film is one of those that you see the ending coming not too far into the whole affair, yet, when you get there, you are still floored by what happens. I love a movie that kicks you in the teeth just when you think it's done with you.

Jamie Godard is a grown child. Throughout her real childhood, she listened to her parents attack each other and shout and scream. Her father would leave for weeks, but he always sent her toys to show his love. Her mother would rant about Jamie's father and how he loved his whores and that all men were worthless.

Content with snuggling her toys in inappropriate ways to feel her father's love, the grown-child Jamie works at a toy store where she meets and decides to marry a young co-worker. You guessed it; the relationship tanks due to Jamie's weirdness and zero sex output.

Jamie takes off with a customer who becomes Jamie's friend. The lady is also a call girl. Next thing you know, Jamie is turning tricks and loves it because all her clients treat her like her daddy, giving her gifts and expressing their love for her.

If you don't feel dirty at this point, you'll want to use a wire brush and Lava soap after the ending. Just--wow.

The Witch Who Came From The Sea
Directed by Matt Cimber

In our last visit into the world of Daddy's Girls, we go one step darker and one step seedier, if that's possible, in the tale of a father's love that still sends boat-sinking ripples into the lives of two sisters.

Molly (Millie Perkins) lives with her sister and her two nephews. When she isn't working at a local bar, she is fascinated by TV and spends the rest of her time telling grand stories of her father, a great sailor who was lost at sea.

Molly's father loved her very much. He enjoyed playing games like hiding stark naked in the hall closet just so he could surprise little Molly. Then there were those games he liked to play with her under her bedsheets at night.

Molly drinks too much and keeps losing blocks of time. Men she has lusted after begin showing up dead and castrated. And she keeps having these bad memories of Daddy that can't be true because he was always so sweet and loved her so much....

Where did I leave that wire brush?

Blood Song (aka Dream Slayer)
Directed by Alan J. Levi

We all remember Frankie Avalon, right? Him and Annette Funicello in all those Beach movies? Showing my age? Okay.

Just trust me, Frankie Avalon was a teen heartthrob back in the early 60s. Spit polished and squeaky clean. He has been married to the same woman since 1963, and they have 8 children.

It's only natural that he would take on the role of a daddy-obsessed psycho who hurts people when he gets cranky. He gets cranky a lot, especially when they get tired of hearing him play the only song he knows on his wooden flute. His daddy gave him that flute and taught him that song. Sadly, he didn't have time to teach him another song because he shot his wife, her lover, and then himself, all in front of poor, young Paul Foley.

Now Paul (Frankie Avalon) has forcibly checked himself out of the psycho ward and is cutting a path towards a young girl (Donna Wilkes)who can see through Paul's eyes when he kills because she received his blood when she was crippled in a accident caused her drunken father. Daddy issues all over the place.

Compared to other films in this posting, Blood Song is almost quaint. Not too sleazy, but you do get a nice shot of young Paul, with a face splattered with Daddy's brains and blood, playing that damned flute because he doesn't know what else to do. Still, it is a nice twist to see the son obsessed with a father who seemed to have actually been a decent person. Well, if you don't count shooting his wife and her lover.

There you go. A few slices of the exploitation pie to keep you off the streets while you ingest them. Be quiet, though. Baby is sleeping.

Remember, if you know a momma's boy or a daddy's girl, don't follow them into a basement, don't let them play with sharp objects, and never, ever, ask them to stop playing that same tune for the 200th time. 

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