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Two women attend a party in a barn, where they meet Mr. Bradley, a strange middle-aged man with a British accent. He saves one of them from an attempted rape in a hayloft, so she introduces him to her friend Terry. After chatting a while, he leaves and drains the gas from their car. Finding their gas tank empty, Ann and Terry walk until they come to Bradley's isolated house, where he lives with his sister Myla and a servant named Freddy. It turns out that Bradley is actually an insane mortician and that he have certain plans with his guests. Written by
This ultra-rare 1969 sex/thriller/horror film deserves immediate re-release and high-profile exposure. Directed by Charles Romine BLD is a tale of a spooky old house, the two girls who are trapped there, and the weirdos who inhabit it. "A palace of PLEASURE or a pit of PERVERSION?" screamed the voice-over, while two women who looked like they'd failed the audition for Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! were subjected to various tortures by a psychotic middle-aged brother and sister combo.
Behind Locked Doors is the tale of two female "swingers", Ann (Eve Reeves) and Terry (Joyce Denner). They go to parties, held in out-of-the-way barns apparently, and dance to bad lounge music. It is at one of these parties that they encounter gate-crasher Mr Bradley (Daniel Garth), an unattractive tubby man with thick glasses and a posh accent. He saves Ann from being raped in a hayloft, and later offers hospitality to the girls when their car mysteriously won't start.
My favourite character in the film is Mrs Bradley - a sadistic house-keeper with short greying hair who makes Mrs Danvers from Rebecca seem like Mother Theresa. Many of the film's best moments come from lingering close-ups of Mrs Bradley's evil face, Mrs Bradley listening at doors, Mrs Bradley with her whip! We want more Mrs Bradley!
The muscle-bound handyman (played by Ivan Hager) is one of the least perverted characters in the film - and that's saying something. And as this is a Harry Novak presentation, we have a lesbian subplot involving the two main characters and quite a bit of nudity, including a few unneccesary shots of Mr Bradley rubbing baby oil onto his lardy body (stop the horror!). He's been conducting these strange "experiments" you see, and like it or not, Ann and Terry are about to be recruited as his latest subjects. And if they make a fuss, they'll end up like the previous victims in the cellar...who in many ways are better actresses than our heroines - even though they aren't supposed to move or speak. I think that Mr Bradley is a good representative of this film's potential audience, where no doubt it was shown at the "Pussycat" or other similarly named flea-pit, where unattractive, bespectacled men fiddled for mints under their raincoats throughout the whole film. But oddly, this is more than simply sexploitation. Plot appears to be central, and little nudity is present. The majority of the violence is off-screen too. The film does have an interesting sound-track and occasionally makes good use of lighting. However, it seems a little short on props. Various bits of furniture keep turning up in different rooms, as the budget is stretched to its limits.
I also like the clothes that the girls wear throughout the film. Ann is dressed in a tacky black and white leopard print top with frills down the front, while Terry is forced to wear an ugly brown patterned sweater that's right out of a 1970s knitting pattern. No wonder the poor things keep taking their clothes off at every opportunity - you would too! Actually, the lesbian subplot is handled almost delicately (or perhaps I've just been desensitised by watching too many adverts for other Harry Novak films), and although it's clearly just there for a little bit of extra titillation for the raincoat brigade, at least it's resolved in a gentle way. Terry was not "punished" in the storyline for being attracted to Ann, and it's suggested that she's in a relationship with another woman at the end of the film. Ann, on the other hand seems content to go back to the man who wanted to rape her at the beginning. Rape isn't really handled very sensibly in the film. Both Terry and Ann are subjected to unwanted sexual encounters, which while they find rather distressing, they both seem to take a rather matter-of-fact attitude to it all. It's a case of "oh well, now it's my turn. I suppose you'd better get it over with if you must," beforehand. And then "Well, that wasn't much fun was it?" afterwards. Germaine Greer was probably not consulted on the script.
The suspension of (dis)belief is required throughout the film. Although much of the action is supposed to happen at night, it is always day outside. Are we really supposed to believe that the two girls wouldn't be able to get away from a fat middle-aged man and his frail-looking sister? Why are their attempts at escape so pathetic? Why does Ann seem in denial about the danger she's in one minute, and the next pushing Terry into making a run for it? And for that matter, why does she appear so sexually naive? If she's not going up into a hayloft with a potential rapist, she's suggesting to Terry that they undress to their underwear and get into bed together. Talk about mixed messages. And as for the final scenes - well, even you're able to discount all of the above, there are still a few suprises left, which defy explanation...
Still, for all its (many) flaws, this one goes under the genre of camp/cult classic. I'd like it to be revived, with audiences shouting the lines back at the screen, dressing as the central characters and acting out key scenes.
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