ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO (1961)

ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO

EXTRA PADDING: where TOKEN HOMO momentarily strays from admiring DeCoteau’s well-stuffed briefs.


ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO lobby card

A cautionary tale… THE VIOLENT YEARS (1956) on Amazon Prime Video UK is not what you think it is… Select “Watch Now with Prime” on your Fire TV Stick and instead of the Ed. Wood Jr. penned girl gang movie, you get an Ed Wood Jr. part-penned – possibly under the pseudonym Larry Lee (1) – boy gang movie. Regardless of what you came looking for, ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO (1961) is a fun take on trad juvenile delinquency themes.

Hunkered down in a shack with his buddies, Chet (Darell Howe) vows revenge for the death row execution of his big brother, the man who kept his younger siblings from the orphanage whilst pursuing a career as a murderous hoodlum. Ignoring his sister Pat (Pamela Lincoln), Chet starts out blind to his brother’s shortcomings (“He didn’t do it, he told me!”), before going off the rails – and ultimately up a pylon – driven by the titular emotional unravelling.

Directed by Brooke L. Peters (aka Boris Petroff) and shot in inky B&W with beyond paygrade exteriors by Joel Colman, the acting occasionally misfires. There’s some deliriously diva-ish pouting from otherwise handsome Howe and a jail cell encounter between father (Russell Bender, we kid you not…) and pretty boy son (Ronnie Burns) that gets twisted out of shape: the line “I’m scared Dad” is delivered with too quivering a lip and the buttward glance of a correctional officer as “Dad” leaves the cell caps off a curiously cruisy vibe…

Such a film wouldn’t be complete without the delicate whiff of a sissy boy subplot, and here Bobby (Frank Killmond) protects the man he “loves” – landing an innocent-ish man in prison – before finally cracking under ‘intense’ police pressure (“I think I know that boy better than you do, let’s wait a few more minutes…”). Fearlessly escalating it’s own excess, our favourite moment involves an (anti-)heroic reveal of Chet’s facial scar from an earlier scrap which surely prefigures John Waters’ own juvie crime drama – and TOKEN HOMO fave – FEMALE TROUBLE (1974).

Of course, this is a chaste tale from another era, where a hoodlum waits outside for his “girl” to slip into a nightdress whilst sporting his own retro J Crew combo of pressed shirt, creased chinos and fuck-me pumps. But there are some handsome sites to behold… Hang around long enough and you’ll be rewarded with a few glimpses of Chet’s exposed midriff as he scraps his way to hell. Come the final confrontation – and echoing his fall even as he rises – Chet’s sagging jeans slip further as he mounts a power pylon, tantalisingly revealing the band of his tighty whities as he clambers to crisis (“Get away from me!! I didn’t do nothing!!”).

Swerving a retributive firestorm, ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO ends with an attempt to reassure us that, despite his crimes, mentally ill Chet will be taken care of by the same criminal justice system that recently gassed his bro… “You can trust me boy. I’m not gonna hurt you, see?” Now, where have we heard that before…?

In brief? A scarred but still handsome hoodlum pursues a downward spiral of insanity leading to mayhem and murder

In boxer briefs? 1 out of 5. Like lingering too long in the locker room before you finally catch a glimpse. But it’s a tantalising peach.

Streamed late from Amazon Prime Video UK, 28 DEC 2018.


READING (between the lines…)

(1): Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomy_of_a_Psycho

1313: BERMUDA TRIANGLE (2012)

The third in our look at the 1313 “unexplained phenomena” trilogy. Treasure hunter cum murderer, wannabe reality TV star and perpetual dickwad, Sean (Stefan Gatt), recruits a cohort of youthful scientific “experts” to join him on an adventure in the Caribbean (although the majority of the film is still shot in the titular Malibu mansion).

The gathering also includes one of David DeCoteau’s several serial muses, Michelle Bauer, who makes an appearance here as Echo, island blogger and investigative reporter extraordinaire (“I deal with facts not theories”). Promised an ‘access all experts’ exclusive on Sean’s find of the century, she helps unravel his criminal backstory but, overcome by his general assholery, misses the real scoop and skidaddles before we discover what’s really going on…

I couldn’t help noticing that all of Sean’s experts are…” “…Young? Yeah, we’re cheap too.

The setup is full of the soft core traditions familiar to fans of the 1313 series, with DeCoteau’s Boys serially arriving for duty in their board shorts before stripping down for a playfully seductive swim scene or two. The twinks here give good Esther Williams, cavorting gaily in the sparkling waters of the Malibu mansion, their splashing gently underscored by Harry Manfredini’s elevator electronica (the same porny muzak gets rinsed and reused elsewhere in the series whenever the 1313 underwear gets wet). For admirers of musclemass, protein-friendly Sean takes a tasteful shower, revealing the kind of abs you are forced to imagine running your tongue over.

Throughout, Sean’s barely dressed team members utter their scripted pseudo science with varying degrees of plausibility, but their expert credentials are the least of his concerns… The geek squad has been infiltrated by an unscrupulous Atlantis hunter (Tom, Scott Jordan) and a time travelling agent of the lost city (Clay, Kip Canyon) who is hellbent on seeking revenge for stolen artefacts. As this is a 1313 movie, ‘revenge’ is enacted by means of kinkily stripping and strapping the twinks to various items of gym equipment – as well as bedposts, bannisters and shower heads – before ‘experimenting’ on them with in-camera lighting FX (and occasional flashes of post-production whimsy).

Sacrifice is necessary to advance.

The jaunty music, attractive location shots, and torture-porn-lite burlesque routines make this one stand out from the 1313 crowd, as does the more varied than usual smorgasbord of talent. We get musclebound Sean (Gatt went on to play a character called The Hulk in his next/last film, FUN SIZE), a skinny twink (Joshua Blake Shiver, playing himself), acned jock (David Baracskai, now Meza, sans acne) and Jamel King (playing doomed local fixer, Francisco).

Just as the unexpected ending sucks wind from the plot’s sails with a sudden, revisionist explanation of the Bermuda Triangle, so DeCoteau rewards us with extra run time via some classic exploitation ‘padding’; an(other) anonymous washboard twink enters the mansion only to get zapped and tied to the shower head… Extreme low angle shots of his writhing, clenching buttocks serve to perpetuate the eternal mystery.

In brief? A treasure hunter’s hubris is punished by a fishy menace from beyond the 4th dimension.

In boxer briefs? 4 out of 5. Plenty of underwear work here as DeCoteau’s Boys get tied up and ‘tortured’ for our pleasure.

Michelle Bauer has a long and distinguished exploitation career, with plenty of previous DeCoteau, including: 3 SCREAM QUEENS (2014); 2: VOODOO ACADEMY (2012); 1313: COUGAR CULT (2012); 1313: ACTOR SLASH MODEL (2011); PUPPET MASTER III: TOULON’S REVENGE (1991); DR ALIEN (1989); MURDER WEAPON (1989); NIGHTMARE SISTERS (1988); and, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA (1988). She also appears in equally prolific Fred Olen Ray’s extensive filmography e.g. ATTACK OF THE 60 FOOT CENTREFOLD (1995) and HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS (1988).

Stefan Gatt went on to appear in Josh Schwartz’s FUN SIZE (also 2012) before disappearing from IMDb. Jamel King has made a minor career in DeCoteau’s latest franchise, the WRONG series: THE WRONG FRIEND (2018); THE WRONG STUDENT (2017); THE WRONG CHILD (2016); THE WRONG ROOMMATE (2016). David Baracskai also reappears in THE WRONG ROOMMATE (2016) whilst Kip Canyon appears in BADASS SHOWDOWN (2013) as well as hopping franchises to appear in Charles Band’s PUPPET MASTER X: AXIS RISING (2012) and PUPPET MASTER: AXIS TERMINATION (2017).

Streamed late on Prime Video, 03 DEC 2018 .

1313: UFO INVASION (2012)

1313 UFO INVASION

UFO INVASION is the last of David DeCoteau’s 14 films from the titular “address of terror”. Inspired by Oakley Court, Hammer’s own house of horror, the mansion is very much “part of the brand” like DeCoteau’s boys and their boxer briefs, giving the series consistent flavour: “I wanted a very similar modern castle on the hill, which is what that mansion is in the Malibu area of Los Angeles” (1).

Most of the guys are here and I’d hate for you to see us accidentally naked or anything.

On the one hand, UFO INVASION is a Beckettian nightmare, with twink after twink searching in vain for his buddies within the sterile interiors of the Malibu mansion: “Anybody home?!” On the other, it’s classic exploitation cinema, serving up a banquet of fresh meat (2). DeCoteau’s boys take turns performing a burlesque dance of death, each exploring, getting captured, stripped and strapped to the bed, flexing to break free.

Come on guys, you know I don’t like being strapped.

This is enjoyable, if silly, science fiction. Following his previous look at toxic masculinity in BIGFOOT ISLAND, DeCoteau grapples here with the genocide of indigenous peoples (yes, really…). Plot wise, Adam (capably handsome Aaron Thornton) has hired a mansion in New Mexico to pursue a Roswell research trip with his buddies. The owner is a cougar/MILF (Monique Parent) who is both sensitive to sunlight and committed to evil. Over the run time, boys are harvested and tension builds to the quite shocking (for these films…) climax.

Throughout, Harry Manfredini’s music does a good job of creating atmosphere, DeCoteau’s camera moves gracefully down the mansion’s marble floors (and over the bodies of his young cast…) and we actually have actors in the same shot (which helps with the overall sense of threat). If you haven’t sampled the 1313 movies before, you could do worse than stripping down to your tighty-whities and taking a dip with Willyboy (Christian Lake).

In brief? Alien invaders harvest assorted jocks, hunks and twinks for their valuable natural resources.

In boxer briefs? 5 out of 5. This is the whole cotton-clad enchilada.

Aaron Thornton came from 1313: COUGAR CULT (2012) and went on to TEEN WOLF on TV (2015-16). Monique Parent’s extensive career as “The Thinking Man’s Sex Symbol” includes 1313: BOY CRAZIES (2011) and Fred Olen Ray’s VOODOO DOLLZ (2008). Christian Lake has DeCoteau previous with 1313: ACTOR SLASH MODEL (2011).

Screened late from DVD, 07 NOV 2018.


READING (between the lines…)

(1): 1313: UFO INVASION (2012), DVD Commentary Track, David DeCoteau, Rapid Heart.

(2): “BOLD! SHOCKING! DARING! TRUE! A history of exploitation films, 1919-1959”, Eric Schaefer (1999).

1313: BIGFOOT ISLAND (2012)

1313 BIGFOOT ISLAND

The thoughts of slender young actor Alex Fox as he stands in a shower cubicle (playing Peter, but not with his peter…), water glistening over a fresh outbreak of hives on his face and back, are lost to time. We do learn from director David DeCoteau’s DVD commentary (1) that Fox’s dedication saw him power through an “allergic reaction to some meds he was taking” to deliver the “very tasteful, yet sexy” shower scene required of all 1313 films. A game player in DeCoteau’s rapid-fire exploitation regime – one actor, one day, no makeup artist – Fox delivers that old adage: “the show(er) must go on”.

Need some sugar? We have sugar for you.

BIGFOOT is DeCoteau’s comment on campus rape culture. A group of young men head to a remote island for a break in their studies before being picked off one by one by the titular creature. The ancient forest spirit is at the meditative command of Danielle, wronged by the guys on previous trip.

BIGFOOT constitutes a break in the 1313 series from the otherwise ever-present Malibu mansion and is one of a trilogy of titles given over to unexplained phenomena (the others are UFO INVASION and BERMUDA TRIANGLE). There is none of the perverse tied to the bed sado-masochism to be found in other titles. Instead, we get “Abercrombie frat boys go back-packing”, complete with a cast of mostly objectionable idiots who say things like: “Kiss my butt, you bum”.

For production reasons, DeCoteau adopts a free-form spatial elasticity throughout that gives BIGFOOT a rather trippy vibe (2). Multiple location shoots – hot-swapping the arid scrub of L.A. for the lush Canadian backwoods – mean that key actors are often in entirely different forests. As if to reinforce this bizarre continuity, the lumbering threat is never encountered directly by its victims – lunging into camera as they, reverse shot, react – and the thriftstore monster has the same shade, and menace, as a Banana Split.

In brief? A riff on contemporary campus rape culture where a wronged island maiden summons supernatural fur to bring balance to the forest.

In boxer briefs? 3 out of 5. By DeCoteau’s own admission, there’s less “underwear work” here.

Alex Fox went on to appear in DeCoteau’s 2: VOODOO ACADEMY (2012) before disappearing from IMDb. Kathryn Collins has appeared in DeCoteau’s HANSEL & GRETEL: WARRIORS OF WITCHCRAFT (2013) amongst other fine work. Charlie Meadows gets a writing credit.


READING (between the lines…)

(1): 1313: BIGFOOT ISLAND (2012), DVD Commentary Track, David DeCoteau, Rapid Heart.

(2): “BOLD! SHOCKING! DARING! TRUE! A history of exploitation films, 1919-1959”, Eric Schaefer (1999) pp48: “Sparse sets and errors in continuity contribute to the bizarre timeless and placeless feel that is conveyed by many exploitation movies.”