Saturday, August 27, 2011

Midnight Intruders (1973)

... aka: Wife, The

Directed by:
Gary Graver

Striking metaphors abound in the deeply artistic opening sequence as shots of a couple making love is inter-cut with airplanes rolling down the runway, blasting off into the air and yes, finally landing. Or is that just an easy way to eat up six minutes of screen time in a film that runs just shy of an hour? You be the judge. After the hilariously dubbed-in "ewws!," "ahhs!," "uhhs" and "oh yeahs!" subside, the man heads straight for the bathroom and is shown shutting the door no less than four times. Why? I have no clue, but doing it four times certainly takes a little longer than just doing it just once. We learn that the love birds are actually a married couple; Alan (Alain Mayniel) and Alice (Francoise Darc) Savage, and they're having some problems in their relationship. Alan is about to head out to San Diego on a business trip, and makes sure to chew Alice out on the way to the airport for not pressing his sports jacket. What's a woman to do? Well if you're Alice, you find solace in the arms of one of L.A.'s biggest man-whores (Alexandre Chapuies) while hubby is out making sure the bills get paid.

Upon returning home, Alice phones up lover boy (who happens to be in bed with two other women when she calls), starts talking dirty to him and convinces him to come over. The two have sex in the sauna, then move on to the bed where he rubs lotion on her feet and then simulates sex by sticking his finger in between her greasy toes over and over again (seriously? yuck). The two start going at it again in front of the mirror and then go at it a third time ("Let's do it Roman style!"), little realizing that her husband has finished up his meeting early and will be catching a midnight flight home. While Alice and her lover are having sex for a fourth time in the shower, Alan barges in on them. The two men get into a fight, Alan smashes the gigolo in the head with an ashtray and stuffs the body in the closet. He then comes after Alice and tries to stick her hand down the garbage disposal, so she stabs him to death and sticks his body in another closet. And then something truly amazing happen... the film actually becomes interesting for about fifteen minutes!

A pair of cat burglars, a man (Tom Hart) and a woman with the craziest, biggest hair I've ever seen (Lyllah Torena), break into the home through a sky light on the roof. They steal money, terrorize poor Alice with a gun, stick her arm under scalding hot water and then shoot her up with heroin. These sequences completely stand out from the comparably boring soft porn first forty minutes by employing distorted sounds, strange music and even stranger experimental camera angles to capture a truly demented, nightmarish feel. Some shots are out of focus, the camera bobs back and forth right into characters faces and even tilts backwards 180 degrees at one point. Unfortunately, once the burglars are out of the picture, the film becomes dull and inept once again. Special cautionary note to all you psychos: It's probably not a good idea to speed when you have a dead body in the trunk of your car.

Aside from the burglar sequence, this movie is all about sex. The lead actress (who seems like she's about to burst out laughing during all five of her sex scenes) is fully nude throughout the film and the extremely deep, slowed-down male lover's special sex voice is hysterically funny on lines like "You sure do have a nice ass, baby" and "Hang on lover, you're gonna go for a ride." There are tons of super-tight close-ups of kissing and the dialogue is so porn-level raunchy at some points I'm not going to repeat it here.

Director/writer/d-o-p Graver (who passed away a few years back) had a long, diverse and very interesting career, which involved acting in numerous horror and exploitation films (including several for Al Adamson) and being an extremely prolific cinematographer on various B pictures (such as THE TOOLBOX MURDERS) and even most of Orson Welles' later projects. In addition, he worked steadily as a assistant/second unit director and editor. Under the name "Robert McCallum," Graver also made nearly 100 hardcore porn features, some of which garnered him top adult film awards and are now considered classics. He didn't direct quite as many mainstream films, but did leave us with the terrorized-babysitter chiller TRICK OR TREATS (1982), the slasher-on-a-boat mystery-thriller MOON IN SCORPIO (1986) and the very entertaining Karen Black vehicle EVIL SPIRITS (1990).

I don't recognize any of the cast and the three leads all use (probably fake) French-sounding names, possibly to try to give this some artsy cred. MIDNIGHT INTRUDERS is often listed online as a 1987 film, though that year is simply the year it was issued on VHS (in a very misleading slasher-style box) by the not-very-well-known company Even Steven Productions. The same company released SWINGERS MASSACRE (1975), the porn-star-cast ROBOCOP rip-off DROID (1988) and the shot-on-video horror anthology SATAN'S STORYBOOK (1989), hosted by porn queen Ginger Lynn Allen.


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