Saturday, December 8, 2012

Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968)

... aka: 3 Loves of a Psycho Cat
... aka: Three Loves of a Psycho Cat

Directed by:
"Eve" (Herb Stanley)

At one point, Confessions was just a MOST DANGEROUS GAME-inspired crime-horror-thriller that probably had a completely different title (some claim to have seen it as Three Loves of a Psycho Cat). It either had too short of a running time, or wasn't able to book many theatrical showings as is, so somebody added loads of soft-core sex scenes to the film so it could be marketed as a sex flick. Unlike many other low-budget films from this era, this is one instance where the original footage is not at all improved by the addition of nudity and sex. Quite the opposite actually. Unable to accompany her brother Anderson on an African safari trip ("I'll just have to have nervous breakdowns with better timing!"), jealous, wealthy nutcase Virginia Marcus (Eileen Lord) decides to just have one of her own... in New York City! She invites three men with sordid pasts to her luxurious apartment (an amazing place filled with animal skins, furs and stuffed animals) and offers each the chance at 100,000 dollars. So how do they earn it? Simply by letting Virginia hunt them down and kill them! If they can stay alive in Manhattan for 24 hours, then the money is theirs.

The three men; low-life junkie Buddy, struggling, washed-up theatre actor Charles Freeman and pugnacious professional wrestler Rocco (real-life boxing champ Jake LaMotta; subject of the classic RAGING BULL); all three of whom had killed someone in their past but were acquitted, take one look at the tiny woman and laugh at her proposal. Thinking she'll be no match for them and they'll be able to easily elude her, each agrees to the wager. The rules are then established. Some time over the next month, they'll each receive a certified letter in the mail with a check inside postdated for 100,000 dollars that can be cashed 24 hours after they get it. At that point, the game is on. If they manage to survive, they get to keep the money. Virginia warns them she doesn't intend to lose... and the guys clearly have no clue what kind of nutjob they are dealing with!

Flashbacks reveal what evil deeds the men have done to deserve their fate. Buddy gave a girlfriend an overdose of heroin, Charles slashed his married lover's husband to death with a razor after he walked in on them and Rocco celebrated a win against one of his opponents by stomping his head in. While visiting her shrink Dr. Schramm, who pleads with her to get back on her meds pronto, Virginia has her own traumatic flashback. As a child her brother tossed her puppy off a rooftop, to which Virginia replies "I was glad when it died!" Virginia may be completely crazy, but she's also clever in how she lures her prey and uses the men's egos, desperation, pride and / or addictions against them. For the actor, she sets up a comeback and then shows up backstage afterwards armed with a spear. For the wrestler, she taunts him over the phone until he's willing to show himself for a hilarious bullfighting match (complete with Virginia dressed as a matador!). As for the junkie, she knows his need for a fix will be enough to get him out and about.

Since the junkie frequently visits a swinger's bachelor pad, whoever spiced this thing up decided that was the perfect time to wedge in some gratuitous T&A. The newly-shot scenes go on for too long, detract from the suspense, are often poorly spliced in (especially in a scene with LaMotta on the phone) and have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the film. They take down what is otherwise a surprisingly solid little 'B' flick. Still, this has enough going for it to merit wading through all that stuff. The main storyline is entertaining and there's some really superb camerawork here, with especially great use made of wide angle and fish eye lenses. However, the absolute best thing about this (and perhaps why it got a stand alone release from double and triple feature DVD specialists Something Weird) is its leading lady. In her only known film appearance, Eileen Lord (which is quite likely a pseudonym) goes for broke in her portrayal of the unhinged femme fatale; crackling, screaming, crying and finally lapsing into a childhood persona when her brother and doctor discover what naughty things she's done. Her final scene alone, locking in a nuthouse in a straight jacket screaming at the top of her lungs, makes this worth a look.

No cast is credited on the version I watched and the director and producer is listed simply as "Eve." On the original poster, all of the cast names appear to be fake (there's not even any mention of LaMotta), but the director and producer are credited there as Herb Stanley, so that's what I'm going with. Soft-core regular Rita Bennett is in the new footage.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...