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Aroused

USA 1966
produced by
Ray Jenkins for Plaudit Productions
directed by Anton Holden
starring Djanine Lenon, Steve Hollister, Joanna Mills, Fleurette Carter, Ted Gelanza, Tony Palladino, Adrienne Mann, Sharon Green, Marlene Stevens, Ann Rutherford, Lucy Becker, Art Miller, Stephanie Anders, Lisa Simpson, Rick Widmark, Fredrica Daniels, Anthony Rocco, Pete Dejoia
story by Anton Holden, Richard B.Shull, screenplay by Anton Holden, Ray Jenkins, music by Edmund Mitchel

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A killer is loose in the streets of New York City, killing exclusively prostitutes ... and the police have no clue who it could be. So Ginny (Djanine Lenon), a hooker with a heart of gold and lesbian lover of the last victim (Marlene Stevens), teams up with Johnny (Steve Hollister), a young cop much to idealistic for his job, and the two soon figure out the killer has to be a man afraid of hookers - so they recruit Ginny's fellow streetwalker Angela (Fleurette Carter) as decoy for the killer, and Johnny follows her around all night for protection. However, while Angela and Johnny are out fishing for killers, Ginny finds out that Louis (Tony Palladino), barkeep of her favourite dive, seems to have a mortal fear of hookers, so she secretly follows him home and breaks into his apartment when he goes out once more, finding ... multitudes of mannequins, and scattered between them some photographs that strongly suggest that he indeed is the killer.

Meanwhile, Angela returns home, not having picked up a killer all night. She asks Johnny up for a drink and/or a fuck, but he turns her down (he's a married man after all), so the two part at the elevator of her apartment building, Having gone only one floor up, Louis joins Angela in the elevator, stops it, slays her, then rapes her dead body. Johnny gets alarmed by the elevator's alarm, tries to enter the cabin from above, but all he finds in the cabin is dead Angela, Louis has long beat it.

Johnny meets his wife Ann (Joanna Mills) in front of the bar Louis works at, but since he knows he has to deliver the news of Angela's death to Ginny, he asks Louis to escort Ann home, of course not knowing that he's indeed the killer.

At Ginny's apartment, Ginny (understandably) complains that Johnny hasn't done more to guard Angela's life ... which for some reason leads to the two of them having passionate sex. It's only after this that Ginny tells him that she thinks Louis is the killer - much to the shock of Johnny of course ...

Back at Johnny's apartment, Ann is fixing Louis a cup of coffee - and somehow he comes to the conclusion she's a hooker, too (he has a childhood trauma you know, his mother was a prostitute after all), and starts stabbing her. He doesn't manage to quite kill her as Johnny and Ginny come rushing in, but Louis gets away.

While Johnny is still trying to figure out where Louis even lives and organize a squad to arrest him, Ginny gathers her fellow whores, and when Louis returns home, Ginny and company are already there, hiding amongst his mannequins, and finally they attack him, sexually harrass him to traumatize him even more, then cut off his penis. Only then the police arrive - but it looks like they are more shocked about the castrated man and adamant to restore the patriarchal order of things than they are shocked about Louis' hideous deeds and are happy to put an end to his crimes.

 

Aroused, a roughie from the mid-1960's, is a weird film: For one thing, there's the movie's content that seems to be slightly ahead of its time (especially when it comes to some Freudian sexual symbolism and its ambiguous ending), and on the other hand, this is rather elegantly made for a film that must have been considered pure sleaze in 1966 - there are beautifully mapped out sequences, interesting (and suggestive) camera angles, a very fluid camerawork, a pretty decent slightly jazzy musical score.

All that said, it would be wrong to call Aroused a masterpiece, it's far from it: The acting is wooden mostly, the film's psychological undercurrents are rather far-fetched, the suspense is not properly built up, and there are several leaps of reason (first and foremost, why doesn't Ginny tell Johnny about her suspicions concerning Louis right away, instead makes love to him even though he has just gotten a friend of hers killed?).

Now I'm not saying that isn't still an interesting film within genre confines, because it is, but despite the best efforts and being ahead of its time, it's several yards away from being a genre classic.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD