Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love Me Deadly (1973)

          Necrophilia has not been a central focus in many Hollywood movies, so the exceptions to the rule are noteworthy no matter their quality or lack thereof. To its meager credit, the cheaply made horror flick Love Me Deadly presents its perverse bona fides right in the first scene, when tall blonde Lindsay (Mary Charlotte Wilcox) leans down into her father’s coffin and starts French-kissing Dead Old Dad’s unresponsive lips. What unfolds after that startling scene is a turgid melodrama in which Lindsay struggles to hide her fetish from an unsuspecting romantic suitor even as she’s invited to join a coven of crazies who not only get off on defiling corpses but also kill people to provide new playthings. In terms of story construction, Love Me Deadly isn’t terrible, inasmuch as it delivers the creepy goods and moves forward in a logical manner. Every other aspect of the picture, however, is substandard. The characterizations are paper-thin, the dialogue is stilted, and the performances are as stiff as the many corpses featured in the narrative. The fact that B-movie stalwart Christopher Stone delivers the most credible acting in the picture speaks volumes, since Stone comes across as a vacuous he-man in nearly any other context.
          Leading lady Wilcox almost sells a few moments of anguished shock, usually when her character is discovered doing something horrible, but she mostly wobbles between overwrought histrionics and zombified non-acting. Perhaps even weirder than the transgressive storyline is the presence of wholesome-looking leading man Lyle Waggoner, best known for lightweight work on TV’s The Carol Burnett Show and Wonder Woman. Wearing a swinger’s ensemble of leisure suits and scarves, he’s impossible to take seriously, even though it’s jarring to see him in a milieu suffused with sex and violence. (At one point, Waggoner’s character “charms” his lover by saying, “Anyone ever tell you what a hot, passionate broad you are?”) Love Me Deadly scores a few creep-factor points with scenes involving coven leader Fred (Timothy Scott), who uses his funeral home as a psychopathic playground, but the clumsiness of the storytelling and the whiplash-inducing tonal shifts from chipper romantic scenes to ghastly death tableaux mark Love Me Deadly as dead on arrival.

Love Me Deadly: LAME

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