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Sixties sexploitation films with some psychological twists,
This review is from: Day of the Nightmare / Scream of the Butterfly (DVD)
This double feature DVD from the people at Something Weird offers up a pair of sexploitation flicks from the 1960s. In "Day of the Nightmare" (a.k.a. "Don't Scream, Doris Mays") , Jonathan Crane (Cliff Fields) is an artist who makes bad nude sketches of his model. Then she makes the mistake of offering to make love to his "way." The next thing we know the model has disappeared and is presumed dead since her body cannot be found. However, the swingers in the building heard some of what was going on. Fortunately they were playing topless blind man's bluff (pretend that being blindfolded makes your hearing better just for the sake of argument, otherwise there is no reason to have a scene with lots of half-naked people). Detective Sgt. Dave Harmon (John Ireland) is on the case, which gets more interesting when Doris Mays, the missing corpse, apparently shows up and tries to kill Jonathan's wife, Barbara (Beverly Bain). This cannot be good.
"Day of the Nightmare" ends up being a rip off of "Pyscho," and an argument for why you should never see your mother having sex (does anybody need that argument to be made?). Apparently Jonathan's mother and his father, Dr. Philip Crane (John Hart), had an open marriage, which supposedly explains why Jonathan is so screwed up. I suppose the nudity prevented it from being prime fare for "MST3K," because this film would have been a perfect choice, from the comic relief provided by Detective Smith (James Cross) to the awfully convenient way justice is served down at the docks at the end of the film. But the chief affront here is the way psychological problems are exploited to advance the story, which is certainly a fair but obvious cop to make for any exploitation film.
"Scream of the Butterfly" (a.k.a. "The Passion Kit") begins with sexy Marla Williams (Nélida Lobato) being run down by her lover, David (Nick Novarro), after she apparently tried to kill her recently wedded husband, Paul (William Turner). A key detail in the story is that Paul cannot swim, but an even more important detail is that David is a gigolo, which means that he swings both ways. We find out about the twisted love triangle is flashbacks at the office of District Attorney Michael Farmer (Robert Miller) where Phil (John Richards), the assistant district attorney, is arguing for David to get the death penalty and Ron (Richard Beebe), the public defender, thinks he can get David off. Consequently, we get to see the story told with Marla still in love with her husband (the view of Phi) and as a tramp (the perspective of Ron). Not exactly he said/she said, but in certainly a variation thereof.
All of the scenes outside of the D.A.'s office are dubbed (because why record sound at the same time you are filming scenes?), but then the point here is to watch Marla frolic in the suds filled spa pool at the hotel and not really listen to anything she has to say. Actually, that scene is emblematic of the rest of the film, because Marla is a water creature. But I found the scenes in the D.A.'s office more interesting because Farmer is wrestling with a big dilemma. He thinks that David needs to be in a state hospital where he can get help for his illness (i.e., being gay) and everyone involved can avoid having their dirty laundry aired in public, but Phil is pushing for the death penalty and lots of publicity to reinforce the local morality, constantly reminding Farmer of the political consequences of his decision for the upcoming election. True, no one will actually come out and say that David is gay or that homosexuality is a mental illness, but they do dance around the issue, and there is no way you can see the twist that comes at the end of this one.
In addition to the twin features there are the usual collection of thematically related extras. We start with a series of Naughty Nympho Trailers for "Agony of Love," "Cool It Baby," "Death of a Nymphet," "Free Love Confidential," "Fuego," "Justine: The Erotic Excitement of Evil," "Nympho: A Woman's Urge," "The Passionate Strangers," "Sex Obsessed," and "The 7th Commandment" (a minor complaint: you can not just hit a button and see them all, you have to go one by one). Then there is a Gallery of Underground Sexploitation Movie Magazine covers with Audio Oddities (another minor complaint: the audio odditiy is just music and none of those great bits from the drive in). There are a trio of shorts: "The Wife and the Whip" is a curious look at the life of a male prostitute, "L'amour pour une Femme" is a silent short where you see the punch line coming a mile away, and "Nympho-a-Go-Go" is about a troubled woman who has yet to give into her impulses but is sure thinking about it a lot.