Monday, October 23, 2017

Keep My Grave Open (1977)

Ignore the provocatively ambiguous title of this low-budget shocker, because the title has virtually nothing to do with the storyline. Instead of concerning the undead, Keep My Grave Open is a mildly kinky thriller about a deranged woman obsessed with her dead brother, with whom she once had (or imagined she had) an incestuous relationship. If director S.F. Brownrigg and his collaborators had leaned into the perverse aspects of this premise, they could have conjured a grungy little psychological thriller. Instead, they opted for cheap jolts thanks to the presence of an unseen axe murderer, the true identity of which is so obvious there was no reason for obfuscation. That said, leading lady Camilla Carr deserves a certain respect for the intensity of her performance, because while her acting isn’t necessarily skillful, it’s sufficiently uninhibited to create the desired queasy mood. Of particular note is a long scene during which she imagines being ravaged by her sibling—the camera shoots closely from the POV of the phantom lover, lowering toward Carr’s face with each trust, and Carr never breaks her illusion of twisted reverie. The other semi-noteworthy aspect of Keep My Grave Open is the presence of supporting player Stephen Tobolowsky, later to emerge as one of Hollywood’s most reliable character actors. (Among many familiar roles, he’s Ned Ryerson in 1993’s beloved Groundhog Day.) Tobolowsky doesn’t do much of interest here, but it’s a kick to see him youthful and hirsute. As for the movie itself, Keep My Grave Open consistently underwhelms, with fleeting moments of lurid nastiness lost in the haze of dull and repetitive storytelling.

Keep My Grave Open: LAME

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