Monday, November 16, 2015

The Roommates (1973)

Sexploitation trash that feels like a watered-down version of Russ Meyer’s pervy classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), The Roommates tries to include a little bit of everything—generation-gap drama, hard-punch-line jokes, soap-opera romance, twisted violence, and so on. None of it works. As such, the only viewers likely to genuinely enjoy The Roommates are those who savor gratuitous nudity, since nearly every starlet featured in the cast gets naked at some point. And if there’s an actual plot driving the movie, it’s nearly undetectable, because The Roommates unspools as a series of largely disconnected vignettes, with the only throughline stemming from the housing arrangement that the nubile leading characters have in common. Twentysomethings Beth (Roberta Collins), Brea (Laurie Rose), Carla (Marki Bey), and Heather (Pat Woodell) travel to scenic Lake Arrowhead, California, for a summer-vacation getaway. Once there, the ladies get into mischief. One of them dates a younger boy whom she meets while working as a camp counselor. Another experiences a humiliating one-night-stand with an older guy. Most of them get stalked by a cross-dressing wacko who eventually escalates his torment of Lake Arrowhead denizens from stabbing people to opening fire on a crowd with a rifle. (The shooting scene, which blends homicide with psychosexual elements, is the closest the movie gets to being interesting.) Making the whole enterprise especially distasteful is the way cowriter/director Arthur Marks opens and closes the movie with clunky one-liners, to say nothing of the bumper-sticker politics that permeate the brainless dialogue. If watching pretty young women deliver insipid lines while nonsensical things happen around them is your bag, then The Roommates is for you. Otherwise, steer clear.

The Roommates: LAME

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