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|Index||13 reviews in total|
The working title was: "Don't Spank Baby".
Wayne Crawford went on to become a successful producer, films like Valley Girl, Night of the Comet and others, even though he wasn't too terrific in this little Gem. And little known Abe Zwick should have gotten tons of work from this film but didn't. Filmed at Moberly Studios in Hollywood Florida, on the same lot the early Tarzan movies were filmed. This film is definitely for those who appreciate the abstract. The movie was originally shot with much more bloody graphic slasher scenes. For reasons only known to Tom Casey the Director, the bloody slasher scenes were given a tab of LSD, and replaced by Flash Editing. Even though this version is worthy of a look for those so inclined, in my opinion the original version would have packed the punch needed to make this a full on Slasher 70's Cult Classic.
Very strange, and quite funny little movie about a gay couple hiding out, one of them wanted for murder, which the other one is responsible for. One is a coke snorting hippie, the other one a Psycho killer in drag, mayhem and b.movie weirdness follows. Give it a chance if you like obscure 70´ movies.
Don't be deceived by the misleading title, because the truth is that
Aunt Martha CONSTANTLY does dreadful things. In fact, "Aunt Martha" is
one baadaass brick of a Bea Arthur lookin' transvestite, on the lam
after a bank robbery and living incognito with Stanley, "her" virile,
but dope-addled lover. And while she may seem like a charm-schooled and
self composed hostess, Aunt Martha's infernal hostilities are often
roused by the winsome young girls that follow Stanley home from time to
time. Quick to exterminate these potential threats in a variety of
gruesome ways, Aunt Martha proves herself to be a most formidable
adversary when it comes to competing for Stanley's affections.
Delightfully off-hand weirdness, AUNT MARTHA is archetypal of the anything-goes craziness of low-budget 70s cinema...a film so abstractly imagined and impulsively realized, it alights with a desultory otherness so reverently sincere that it steals a place in your heart usually reserved for awkwardly cross-bred puppies. Forgivable of its general inelegance, this is a fine specimen of a most exiguous film species.
The idea of this film seems interesting enough. Paul and Stanley are two gay jewel thieves. Paul dresses up as "Aunt Martha", Stanley's supposed aunt. This is done to evade authorities, as it happens to be they are wanted for murder. Stanley is also a big time hippie who drives a colorful van, picks up the girls and does a lot of coke. Paul hates it when Stanley brings home girls and goes psycho each time, killing the female guest. The premise is original and entertaining enough to be a classic yet the movie misses it's mark. It's not really the fault of the cast, they do a good job. It's the screenplay and the development of the plot, after the initial set up, the film falls a little flat and fails to live up to it's potential. I would still recommend this one though, if you enjoy obscure strange films.
Haha, what a great little movie! Wayne Crawford strikes again, or
rather this was his first big strike, a deliriously entertaining little
ball of manic kitsch energy masquerading as a psycho killer movie. It's
actually a **brilliant** satire on post-hippie American culture in
flyover country, though the movie was actually filmed independently in
Miami. It defies any kind of studio oriented convention or plot device
that I can think of: SOMETIMES AUNT MARTHA DOES DREADFUL THINGS may not
be a very technically adept movie, but it is a wonderful little slice
of Americana, made on the cheap by people who were honest, ambitious,
imaginative and had balls made out of steel. It took guts, nerve and
guile to make this movie, which amazingly appears to have stood the
test of time. This movie is fresh, vital, alive, unforgettable, and
charmingly weird enough to recommend to just about anyone with a sense
I dug up last year during a period of time when I was fascinated by "star" Wayne Crawford (here billed under his pseudonym Scott Lawrence), a maestro of what can only be called regional film-making, usually of the B grade variety. He's a writer, producer, director, and actor all in one, probably best known for the 80s teen apocalyptic favorite NIGHT OF THE COMET. Here he plays Stanley, the pants wearing half of a couple of truly marvelous characters, apparently homosexual spree killers on the lam after knocking off some old lady in Baltimore for her jewelry. Unsung screen legend Abe Zwick is completely convincing as Paul, who poses as Stanley's Aunt Martha, the cross dressing brains of the outfit who has conned Stanley into thinking he's committed murder to ensure his loyalty. Martha looks about as feminine as the sailors from SOUTH PACIFIC's supporting choir in their coconut bikini tops, yet somehow nobody seems to notice -- or care? -- that she is a he, has no visible means of income, seems to spend all day fretting about where Stanley is, and scurries around the neighborhood in her bathrobe carrying a butcher's knife. Only in America ...
As the film opens the two of them have just arrived in Florida and set up residence in what looks like Ward Cleaver's old house, a garishly lit & designed television home that is so cliché as to be surreal. During one memorable scene Martha and an unwelcome house guest sit on the couch, talk problems and drink cans of Budweiser in what is one of the most mesmerizing, subversively ordinary sequences I've ever seen outside of a John Waters movie. Then there's Stanley, always getting into trouble as he is a mop topped hippie with an STP patch on his vest who drives a psychedelic painted van that's about as subtle as the Batmobile, drinks his milk straight from the carton, snorts drugs with blond bombshell bimbos, and hoards donuts in an old cigar box for a quick snack. Opposites attract, I guess.
But Stanley also has a thing about not liking it when the young ladies he gets stoned with try to remove his pants, and it always seems to be up to Aunt Martha to get him out of the trouble that inevitably results. The bodies pile up, a nosy junkie blackmails them into using their house as a flop, Stanley's birthday cake gets squashed, and everybody meets down at the local pizza shop before heading to the wood shed on the back property for a hookah hash party where the girls dance in their underwear. Things get out of hand when one of the neighbors tries to get a bit too chummy with Martha, who naturally prefers to keep people at an arm's length when they rudely invite themselves over for a nice chat. And this is a woman who carries not just a butcher knife but a loaded .38 in her slip. Eventually the strange duo find themselves stuck with a body, a baby, and no place to go, and end up taking refuge at an abandoned movie studio where no doubt the technical crew borrowed the equipment used to make the film. I just hope they politely asked for permission first and cleaned up after themselves.
A word of course must be said about Stanley and Martha/Paul's relationship, since to dance around the fact that the two are at least suggested to be a homosexual couple would be to miss the primary gist of the plot. We never see the two of them get intimate and indeed even though Stanley mockingly refers to being "balled" in one scene, their relationship is more symbiotic than sexual. It certainly isn't a "gay" movie, with abundant female nudity and an air of 70s misogyny that cannot be denied either. Stanley & Paul never consummating their implied sexuality on screen, even though the movie certainly would have had the guts to do so if it were important. It isn't, the story isn't about their sex, it's about the bond they share, and how weird it is. Not their being gay, but their being the distinct individuals they are, who are two of the strangest movie creations ever to inhabit my TV set.
The film is unique. It was made for only a few thousand dollars on what look like borrowed studio sets, the occasional location work, and an couple of public locations they managed to sneak a camera crew into when nobody was looking. The dialog is completely bizarre, mundane and delightfully esoteric. It's a movie that will take you by surprise, not everyone will like it but for those with a taste for low budget American horror/thrillers like THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED, HELP ME! I'M POSSESSED, BLOOD & LACE and CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, you've got yourself a winner here.
8/10: Usually I'd say something like "Deserves a DVD restoration" but somehow I think doing so would ruin the movie's tacky ambiance. And Wayne Crawford, you, sir, rule.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very delightful film that should appeal to horror fans and
searching for offbeat and forgotten gems. POSSIBLE SPOILERS
Two small-time Baltimore crooks flee to Miami to hide out in a rented home in the suburbs - only, they aren't your ordinary petty thieves! No, sir! Instead, director/writer Thomas Casey has masterfully cast them as a gay couple, Paul (aka Aunt Martha) being the domineering, cross-dressing chief-boot-knocker, with Stanley as the callow, somewhat-submissive teen-hippie. Stanley (played by Wayne Crawford) is a child-like idiot (just turning nineteen) who, despite being wanted for murder, drives a colorful attention-grabbing van around (that actually has the word `door' painted on the door). And while he may indeed have a few character inconsistencies (a homosexual, coke-snorting hippie with hang-ups who knows how to deliver babies via C-section?), Paul (played beautifully by Abe Zwick in his only known role) is simply killer! He's got that over-the-top delivery that sometimes sounds ad-libbed, reminiscent of the many memorable characters of John Barrymore and Gene Wilder - mixing deadpan humor with over-enunciated words and psychotic facial expressions.
Partly to throw off the heat, Paul dons the guise of Stanley's "Aunt Martha," dressing in drag and doing the cooking and cleaning while Stanley jacks around with the Woodstock generation (drugged-out dudes in leather vests and skanky nude chicks). Extremely jealous (and tipping a hat to Hitchcock's `Psycho'), Aunt Martha then attempts to slice-and-dice any girls (referred to as whore, sluts, or bitches) trying to get in Stanley's snakeskin pants (which he never takes off throughout the film's entirety). Zwick's performance is a joy to watch and his dialogue is absolutely hilarious. He embodies elements of Vaudevillian slapstick, making even the subtle act of smoking a cigar a work of art! And the scene where Martha yells at the phone then throws darts at a poster of a girl's ass while swigging beer is priceless!
Another character, Hubert (Don Craig), shows up toward the end to make things even more baffling - he's a double-crossing heroin junkie in his 60s who once worked in a drug-store in Baltimore but, for some unknown reason, has followed our dynamic duo all the way to Miami (through the power of the Zodiac) because he has nowhere else to go (in reality, he's just another petty thief with horrible rationalization skills after some jewels). And, to make things even more bizarre, he's a junior astrologist bordering on analytical psychology.
The film drags on a little at the end (really, what's with that Caesarian section scene?) -- and should have been edited down a bit or reinforced with more crucial scenes, but director Thomas Casey has essentially (and effectively) crossed Truman Capote's `In Cold Blood' and `Psycho' with TV fare like `Bosom Buddies,' `The Odd Couple,' and `That '70s Show.' Now, he needs to turn this into a weekly series for HBO, or make a prequel that explains the whole odd arrangement. Or he could make a sequel that finds Paul surviving the gunshot wound and being released from prison thirty years later as a rehabilitated man (or so you'd think). The possibilities are endless!
`Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things' is easily one of the most interesting B-movies I've ever seen!
Ordering movies by odd titles has always been a thing with me. Imagine my surprise when I got this one in the mail! You're never really sure at the beginning if Abe Zwick is supposed to be a man or woman. Then when he answers the phone at his house he says in a soft, feminine voice, "hello?" He repeats it once more. Then his face contorts into a frown and in a deep, bass voice says, "STANLEY!" (Stanley being his boyfriend who always ends up hooking up with women, even though he's gay). That scene sets the tone for the film and it's the two leads, Paul and Stanley who set the energetic tone of the film. This is a must see for any lover of bad films. On an interesting side note, Paul (played by Abe Zwick) looks a lot like a young Andy Kaufman.
Abe Zwick perfected the one-off, beautifully. He never made another
film, but created a brilliant portrait of homosexual self-hatred in
this film that is both caustic and affecting. He commands the screen,
presenting the crumbling debris of a man breaking down under the strain
of an increasingly meaningless life.
Paul (Zwick) is an aging queen who's somehow convinced Stanley (Wayne Crawford), a doe-eyed idiot with no sense of the future, to follow his star. He's a petty thief who's seething hatred has escalated recently. He's been forced to skip town and move to a suburb in Miami. As a disguise, he dresses up like a dried up old blue-stocking with as much seething sexual torment as the Church Lady. He tells Stanley to tell his friends that he lives with his "Aunt Martha". Paul himself has no friends, spends far too much time alone in the house, and has to deal with Stanley's dissolute lifestyle. It would be enough to make any man cross the line into transgendered homicidal mania.
Again, Zwick portrays Paul as a tragic figure who has utterly lost any understanding of how to relate to other people. Nevertheless, there is a certain poetry in his anguish, which burns slowly over the course of the film. He's tragic, but also elegant. This is, ultimately, a very sad film. It certainly has many hilarious moments, but there is such an undercurrent of hopelessness and despair, that the humour is bittersweet. This film is worth watching for the performance of Abe Zwick. He could have really built his career on Martha. She's quite a gas, once you get to know her. Just make sure you cut your hair and stop your horsing around. She really hates that!
A 70's B-movie about a transvestite from Baltimore, who's on the run from the law??? Sounds good to me. Actually, Aunt Martha (Paul) is only wearing the female garb, as a disguise. It's not like he's really into it, or anything... Alright, fine, maybe a little. Aunt Ma-I mean Paul pretends to be the possessive aunt of his partner-in-crime (Stanley), but when nobody's around, he drops the "aunt" but flat-out refuses to drop possessiveness. So, it's pretty obvious this high-strung fellow has a few problems. Or maybe they're just boyfriends, I'm not sure.maybe Paul just thinks they are, or maybe Stanley just isn't a very good one. Stanley is a bit of a rascal. Always rebelling against his "partner"-in-crime/pseudo-aunt, who's either screaming at him about smoking weed, or chasing him around with scissors, since he refuses to get a hair cut. Seeing Paul get so worked up amuses Stanley to no end, which is what makes this movie so entertaining. Well, that and all the murders. Not exactly an epic, but terribly over-looked, considering this movie is apart of the Florida Exploitation boom of the 60's and early 70's, which gave us such inept gold as Blood Freak and Two Thousand Maniacs. Yet another potential classic still not released on DVD. I would think Something Weird Video would have stepped up long before now. It would just seem right. Perhaps Subversive is interested. Anyone who digs Herschell Gordon Lewis Exploitation from the 60's and John Waters trash from the 70's seriously needs to see this. Not that there's any gore or anything really, really disgusting involved. I guess you'll just have to settle for odd and hilarious, which totally beats boring and dull any day of the week. Anyone itching for some obscure/vintage cult cinema will be more than satisfied with Aunt Martha. And that, B-movie fans, is a guarantee. 8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Overbearing Paul (superbly played with unbridled ferocity and intensity
by Abe Zwick) and his infantile dimwit partner Stanley (an amiably
dopey portrayal by Wayne Crawford) are a pair of jewel thieves on the
lam from the law who decide to lay low in a small Florida town. Paul
devises the ingenious idea of pretending to be Stanley's dowdy Aunt
Martha as a clever means of eluding detection. Problems arise when
Stanley threatens to blow their cover by hanging out with several local
Writer/director Thomas Casey concocts an arrestingly off-kilter plot that offers a jarring and peculiar, yet still absorbing and enjoyable unholy mix of raw sudden violence, seething homo-eroticism (domineering homosexual Paul is clearly carrying a torch for the hopelessly awkward and inept Stanley), raging jealousy, freaky cross-dressing, and even some tasty gratuitous female nudity tossed in for trashy good measure. The fraught relationship between Paul and Stanley gives this picture an extra deliciously demented kick; the scenes with an enraged Paul scolding Stanley for being such a dope-addled screw-up are positively hysterical. Zwick and Crawford do sterling work in the leads; they receive sound support from Don Craig as bothersome down his luck junkie Hubert, Robin Hughes as alluring brunette Vicki, and Yanka Mann as pesky neighbor Mrs. Adams. Edmund Gibson's stark cinematography boasts a few funky psychedelic visual flourishes. The groovy film library score hits the sweet far-out spot. A delightfully singular doozy.
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