After her doctors declare her ready to return to society, Ethel leaves the psychiatric hospital and goes to live with her grandmother. She soon develops a few odd habits, in particular a insatiable compulsion to eat massive amounts of food. When grandma locks away the food supply out of fear for her granddaughter's health, Ethel kills her for the keys to the pantry. Left to her own devices, she now indulges her hunger non-stop, murdering anyone who dares to stand in her way. Will anyone be able to put a stop to her? Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CRIMINALLY INSANE is a real treat for cult horror fans. Don't get me wrong, it is no classic and plays like a low rent H.G. Lewis film (yes, you read that right) but there is just something inherently appealing about this film.
The story is incredibly simple (Ethel kills nearly everyone she encounters) with few surprises (the end is a shocker though) but the film is infused with some great moments of black humor. The star of the film is, of course, Priscilla Alden as the criminally insane Ethel. I will stand my ground when I say the film's success rests firmly on her shoulders. Scenes of her repeatedly stabbing her grandmother while yelling, "I want that key! I want that key!" or her taking out a grocery store delivery boy are played perfectly. Despite Millard's claim that the got professional actors from Los Angeles, this is strictly amateur hour (sharp eyed viewers will catch a clean shaved George "Buck" Flower in there though). Strangely, all of this works to the film's benefit, creating some incredibly surreal moments.
The film is filled with plenty of these "what the hell" moments. For instance, Ethel's sister Rosalie and her abusive boyfriend John move in. During a bedroom romp, John explains to Rosalie that he beats her because "baby, sometime you need to be beaten." How does she react to this misogynist viewpoint? Why by embracing him and giving him a kiss! The film is incredibly cheap and Millard makes no bones about it. In fact, he is oddly proud of what appears on screen for his $30,000 ("the biggest budget I have ever had," he claims). Watching this type of "do it yourself" cinema reminds me of the aforementioned H.G. Lewis, the cult films from Something Weird or Frank Henenlotter's debut BASKET CASE. It may not be pretty but it is definitely entertaining.
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