Saturday, April 30, 2011

American Nightmare

(Don McBrearty, 1983)
Anthony Kramreither is back in the producer's chair, and he brought the strippers with him, in this Argento-style whodunit-with-gore (which actually predates "All In Good Taste"). But this time he also brought a director, and the result is an interesting, watchable movie. The most fascinating thing about it is its single-minded class consciousness - the cops, the media and the millionaires on one side, the strippers and sex workers and queers on the other, with a lapsed bougie pianist poking his nose into the underworld on our behalf. The underlighting is ugly instead of evocative, people do stupid things to make themselves available for slaughter, and things fall apart at the end - the crazed killer yammers on for SO fucking long about his motivation you want Eli Wallach to pop out of a bathtub and shoot him. But the women (and the gay guy) are extremely sympathetic and detailed, and the rather pathetic gore effects (a prop knife that squirts blood and that's about it) have the effect of de-emphasizing the sadism that comes with the genre. Someone on the writing team did some kind of research, that's for sure - from the authentically awful stand up comic to the anxious husband to the idle talk about forming a stripper's union, this sure ain't "Exotica".

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