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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
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.