Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Massage Parlor Murders! (1973)

... aka: Massage Parlor Hookers
... aka: Massage Parlor Murders
... aka: Seven Deadly Sins, The

Directed by:
Chester Fox
Alex Stevens

A religious-fanatic psycho targets frequently-nude massage parlor girls who give new meaning to the term "table service" if the money is right. How could someone possibly screw that up that gold exploitation / trash movie scenario? Just ask the makers of Massage Parlor Murders, who take what seems like a sure thing and turn it all into one big, colossal bore with an aimless and meandering plot, endless filler and time padding, lethargic pacing, a mostly dull cast, a sleep-inducing muzak score akin to what you'd hear in a waiting room and a surprisingly conservative hand when it comes to dishing out the sleaze. Sure, a dozen or so chicks get naked and there are moments of (mild and poorly executed) violence, but you can see better elsewhere in hundreds of other more entertaining films from this era. I always wondered how a film like this could have possibly bypassed the entire video revolution of the 80s and 90s without ever getting released on home video but now I fully understand why: It's boring as hell!

Police Lt. Jimmy Rizotti (George Spencer) and Det. Danny O'Hara (John Moser) are on the case when topless masseuse Rosie ("Kathie Everett" aka porn actress Chris Jordan) has her face smashed into a mirror and is then strangled with her own bra. Numerous other ladies soon bite the dust as the cops try to get to the bottom of things, Jimmy deals with his nagging / uptight wife Emily (Marlene Kallevig) and Danny starts getting cozy with Rosie's more straight-laced roommate Gwen, played by Sandra "I never appeared in another film after Last House on the Left" Peabody / Cassell. Though we hear numerous eyewitness accounts of the killer being a clean cut businessman, the investigators spend most of their time interrogating scuzzball types like a pervy parlor owner who sits around reading Screw Magazine and Rosie's sugar daddy "Mr. Creepy" (George Dzunda, who not only made his film debut here but was also assistant director). They also pay a visit to an insane astrologer, who's played by the inimitable Brother Theodore. He rants and raves about a bunch of nonsense ("My sleeping pills are messing up my horoscope and when I listen to rock n roll my eardrums bleed!") until one of the cops can't take it any more and punches him in the gut!

Some of the victims have acid poured on their bodies and one is sliced up, but these scenes really aren't gory and every scene involving action of any kind is clumsily directed and edited as to remove any possibility of them having entertainment value whatsoever. There's also an extended car chase, long scenes of people walking around in the streets accompanied by pointless narration or voice over, lots of theater marquees (which are at least fun to look at), a male customer stripping down to a one-piece leotard and doing ballet (?!) and an even more WTF scene set at a swinger's party where everyone frolics around nude and have chicken fights in a swimming pool filled with balloons.

There were just two scenes that I found amusing in this one. The first is the opening bit showing one of the girls (Annie Gaybis) fleecing every red cent she can out of a guilty married man and the second was a scene where a bunch of the girls sit around knitting, bitching about how weird and stupid their customers are and talking about going to see Shaft's Big Score. Other than that, my attention was focused more on the clock than the film itself as I counted down the minutes until I'd be put out of my misery.

Massage Parlor Murders was filmed under the title The Seven Deadly Sins; a concept that eventually helps the detectives unravel the mystery, although it makes no sense whatsoever! After a brief and presumably unsuccessful theatrical run under its original title and with horror / thriller advertising art, this was reissued to theaters as a sex comedy under the new title Massage Parlor Hookers , which promised viewers "Small town girls with big city morals!" and that "If you've never been to a massage parlor, this is a visit you'll NEVER forget!" Ironically, I doubt I'll remember a thing about this one a week from now. Porn actress Arlana Blue plays one of the victims and keep your eyes peeled for Frank Henenlotter movie regular Beverly Bonner (BASKET CASE [1982]), who can be spotted for all of five seconds as a massage girl in a red dress.

After spending years deservedly sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust, Vinegar Syndrome finally released this on DVD and Blu-ray in 2013; calling it "an exploitation film lover's dream movie." Their release contains rare outtakes, trailers for both theatrical releases, extensive liner notes and more. Many of the reviews for this one on websites who'd even bother watching it in the first place are positive, so you may want to either ignore me and watch it anyway or take into consideration that a lot of fans of these kind of films will gladly swallow pretty much any obscure piece of crap that's marketed to them as a "lost cult film."


Lord Crayak said...

Also an okay snapshot of the era it was made.

Vinegar Syndrome will hopefully keep up the good work, even if it's on shite films like this one.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Someone's gotta do it!

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