Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things: Strange Relatives

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Review by: Rich Rattlesnake

Director: Thomas Casey

Cast: Abe Zwick, Wayne Crawford, Don Craig

Vinegar Syndrome / All Region / Unrated / 1.85:1 widescreen / English mono / 95 minutes

Extras: Commentary track with cult filmmaker David DeCoteau (rapidheart.com) and film historian Nathaniel Thompson (mondo-digital.com)

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When you hear a title like Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things, you would be forgiven in thinking this is probably a film that belongs to the psycho-biddy (or hag horror) genre of films that includes such classics as What Ever Happened To Baby Jane and William Castle's insanely underrated Strait-Jacket. What you probably won't expect is a bizarro film that feels like the bastard love child of Andy Milligan and John Waters. Well, boys and girls. I'm here to tell you that's exactly what you get with this completely insane little gem.  Vinegar Syndrome truly are the most interesting genre label out there right now. While the majority of their releases are adult films, they also churn out releases of some of the more obscure horror and exploitation titles out there.

Releases like Runaway Nightmare, The Telephone Book, and Night Train To Terror are a testament to their love of all things strange and unusual. Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things is easily one of the strangest films they have ever put out, and that's truly saying something. Written and directed by a man by the name of Thomas Casey (sadly, his only directorial credit), this little-known opus is the tale of two convicts trying to lay low after a murder/robbery. Seems like a typical set up for your usual crime film, right? Well, did I mention that the two men are also lovers, and that one of the men disguises himself as the sweet old lady Aunt Martha? Do I have to tell you that he is the most unconvincing woman in the world? I didn't think so. While, at first, the film seems fairly innocent, it isn't long before it becomes abundantly clear Casey is pulling no punches. This is a film that borders on madness at every turn.

Even as the bodies start piling up, it seems like everyone involved is confused as to what sort of film they are making. The performers are all game (exagerrated, but committed), yet the bland look, confusing music cues, and constant bickering feel like a failed pilot for the sort of thing you'd see on TV Land, and not in an old drive-in. The final act throws in a plot twist, that while far fetched, does bring the film to its inevitable conclusion. By that point, if your jaw isn't completely dropped to the floor, that you are a better man than me. If I was your typical film critic, I would completely trash on this film. It's riddled with holes, completely inept at times, and almost unbearably amateurish at others. However, those are all part of what made this film so unbelievably entertaining. This is outsider art. It's a film made with vigor, heart, and I imagine a dose of piss and vinegar. I would love to have a drink with everyone involved here. Exploitation fans, do not miss this one.

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