Monday, May 8, 2017

Massage Parlor Murders (1973)

Massage Parlor Murders is actually fairly restrained, given what sort of images its moniker calls to mind, but that’s not to say the picture is made with any skill. The combination of bad acting, skuzzy locations, and ugly photography gives the vibe of a cheap porno movie, and the plot is a tiresome loop—nude scene, murder, boring interlude featuring police detectives, another nude scene, another murder, and so on. Yet the movie provides a minor cinema-history footnote because it features the screen debut of the fine character actor George Dzunda, who is also credited as the project’s assistant director. It should also be noted that some might find Massage Parlor Murders interesting as a time capsule, thanks to ample location photography throughout the grungier parts of New York. What’s more, the movie is edited so badly as to generate a certain traffic-accident allure, especially when the story devolves into chaos during the finale. The highlight of the picture, at least from a so-bad-it’s-good perspective, is the moment when the cop investigating the murders goes undercover in a massage parlor, then races out of the parlor to chase a suspect—while still wearing only a powder-blue modesty towel roughly the size of a dinner napkin. One can’t help but wonder if some TV writer encountered this scene and later channeled the image into the infamous Starsky & Hutch sequence featuring the studly detectives wearing just towels and shoulder holsters. (The scene was reprised in Ben Stiller’s 2004 Starsky & Hutch movie.) Anyway, you get the idea—talking about a silly scene that Massage Parlor Murders might have inspired is infinitely more interesting than talking about Massage Parlor Murders itself.

Massage Parlor Murders: SQUARE


Unknown said...

Strange that the poster is so nicely done.

By Peter Hanson said...

Indeed. Although I strive always to find the original release poster, this feels a bit too slick and modern, so I wonder if it was created for a video release or even by a fan. In any event, it was the cleanest artwork I could find, and some titles merit only so much detective work.