If it’s possible to imagine an existential fable crossed with a sexploitation flick, Strawberries Need Rain is just such a cinematic experience. Some sequences represent attempts at lyricism, though the would-be visual poetry is mitigated by clumsy acting and slipshod technical execution. Meanwhile, other sequences are unapologetically prurient—leading lady Monica Gayle’s breasts receive so much screen time they nearly qualify as supporting characters. More than anything, Strawberries Need Rain comes across as endearingly pretentious. There’s a certain handmade quality to the piece, no matter how enervated the storyline, how leaden the pacing, and how silly the depiction of death as a walking-and-talking character. By the time the silly twist ending comes around, Strawberries Need Rain attains the vibe of a well-intentioned student film, albeit one with an extraordinary number of topless shots.
The picture starts out in a goofy fashion, with the character representing death—an old dude dressed in black, carrying a scythe, and known as The Reaper (Les Tremayne)—speaking directly to the camera while he wanders through a graveyard. “It is sad to topple a bud before it flowers,” he mopes, “but such is my task.” Cut to Erika (Gayle) skinny-dipping in a watering hole while a neighbor boy spies on her through nearby bushes. If the intention was to visually align Erika’s sexuality with her vitality, fair enough. Later, The Reaper attacks Erika, but she fights back with logic: Because she was thought dead for an entire day during her infancy, Erika claims that she’s owed one more day of life. The Reaper agrees. Again, fair enough.
Thereafter, Strawberries Need Rain begins a steady slide downward, because Erika spends the rest of the movie trying to get laid, the notion being that she doesn’t want to end her mortal existence without knowing physical pleasure. First she tries seducing the voyeuristic neighbor boy, but he’s so intimidated that he can’t make it past foreplay. Next Erika encounters a biker who can’t get off unless he’s committing rape. The nature of the guy with whom she’s finally able to do the deed, and what happens after, provides what little surprise Strawberries Need Rain has to offer. Burdened with many long and repetitive montages, thos picture will test the patience of most viewers. But if Don Quixote references, harpsichord music, and lingering looks at a nubile starlet stimulate your pleasure centers, this one’s for you.
Strawberries Need Rain: FUNKY