Poor Pretty Eddie (1975)
By: Mr Intolerance on November 16, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
905 Entertainment (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 92 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Richard Robinson
Actors: Leslie Uggams, Shelley Winters, Michael Christian, Ted Cassidy, Dub Taylor, Lou Joffred, Slim Pickens
Screenplay: B.W, Sandefur
Music: Grant Boatwright
Tagline: "All He Wanted Was a Friend"
Country: USA
"Look, I have two weeks before my next concert. Now, I'm going to get in my car and drive until I find a nice quiet hole to crawl into." So speaks jazz singer Liz Wetherly at the start of this Southern-fried hate-fest. She just doesn't realise how unfortunately accurate her prediction for her destination is.

I've been looking forward to this exploitation nasty for some time, so I hope I haven't set my expectations too high – it was recommended to me by the same people who recommended I watch Fight For Your Life, so I think I was in capable hands when the disc found its way in my direction a couple of weeks ago. But you're coming with me on this little odyssey – I'm writing this as I watch it, and the reactions I write down will stay unchanged (even if other parts of the review are cleaned up later on). Ready? Let's go.

As you can tell from the introductory paragraph, Liz is a famous girl with a hectic schedule, and wants some quality quiet time. She unfortunately chooses the wrong place to try and get it, when her car breaks down (is there ever a right place for your car to break down?). She finds herself in a sleazy roadside hotel, run by the viciously jealous washed-up entertainment has-been Bertha (played like a drunken venomous spitfire by Shelley Winters, who looks like she's enjoying every seething moment of it), and her sleazy kept man, and country and western hopeful, Eddie. Eddie recognises Liz and starts to become more and more obsessive about her because she represents the showbiz success he craves – you can just tell this isn't going to have a happy ending. Bertha wants Liz out, thinking she's after Eddie (great line when Eddie insists Liz stay on account of her celebrity status; Bertha: "I don't care if she farts Chanel No. 5!") – yes, she's that unstable - any regular woman would want a creep like Eddie as far from her person as possible.

One nice surprise was the appearance of Ted Cassidy (that's right, the original Lurch from The Addams Family – always a favourite as a kid), as Keno, the hotel's handyman – I'd always wondered what else he'd been in… And let me tell you, he's a menacing-looking mother-fucker even without the make-up

There is not one likeable character in this film, and that includes Liz, our supposed heroine – if she was any further up herself at the beginning of this film, she'd be inside out. It's only after her violation we start to have any sympathy for her plight. Whereas with the beleagured family in Fight For Your Life there's a sense of sympathy right from the get-go – the father in particular, forced to examine his belief system as a pastor over his feelings as a father – in Poor Pretty Eddie every character is a spiteful wretch, whether it's Eddie's sleaze, Bertha's venom, Orville's (played by Slim Pickens in a memorably squalid role – for some reason reminding me of Rory Calhoun in Motel Hell) genial racism and sexism, his nephew's desire to shoot everything and anything – looking, sounding and acting like the worst redneck hillbilly cliché this side of Deliverance, even down to the bib overalls – Keno comes closest, but still has the potential for violence, established quite early on – they're a nasty crew.

When Eddie finally loses it about half-way through, the film takes a sharp turn into the horrible. And all to the tune of a nifty little country pop song a la Patsy Cline or June Carter – the juxtaposition reminiscent to that in Cannibal Holocaust or Last House on the Left – violent acts and syrupy sweet music with sweeping strings. What makes it even worse is the images of sexual violence being off-set with images of leering yokels watching two dogs fuck – the visual metaphor seeming to be that Liz has been reduced to an animal (Eddie already being one), degraded into a lesser being by being raped, and we're the leering yokels – not a pretty thought; consider our noses being rubbed in it.

To make things worse, Liz gets no pity, or help, being blackmailed by Bertha, and to add insult to injury Eddie becomes even more delusional – and more abusively violent. Sheriff Orville is less use than tits on a bull in the "investigation" of Liz's eventual complaint, being more interested in the prurient details – "Did he bite you on the titties?" is probably not the kind of question asked of you at the rape crisis centre…

And I must say that the dispensing of Southern justice seems to happen in an arbitrary way, with a court being held in the middle of what is little better than a hoe-down (the local JP gets a great line that had me spitting cheap scotch across the room: "It's plainer than an asshole on a goat!"). Liz gets even further degraded before this movie ends – it's grim stuff, and uncomfortable viewing. Slim Pickens becomes even more unlikeable, too – sleaze in human form.

A grimy, nasty and utterly exploitative piece of work (although whether it was meant to be at the outset is another question), Poor Pretty Eddie is a morally repellent piece of filth, with some damn fine performances and a script guaranteed to make you cringe in shame. I watched this and felt like I needed a drink and a shower immediately afterwards (well, actually, during, if you wanna know…). Y'know, I couldn't work out if the slow motion scenes (and there are plenty of them) were meant to emulate Peckinpah's poetic depictions of violence, or were simply there to pad out the run time. Not that it's going to keep me awake at nights…
Video
Awful, no other word for it. Sub-VHS would be a nice way to put it. If this had been digitally mastered as the cover claims, then the picture must have been cleaned up by Stevie Wonder. It's not like a blob in a snowstorm, but it's the kind of picture quality I've come to expect, and dread, from Something Weird – obviously this 905 mob have taken a leaf out of SW's book. Crackle, grain, and towards the end, some big old lines down the fuckin' screen. Whoever re-mastered this should be dragged into a dark alley and pummelled.
Audio
See above. What is the point of putting out a film with this kind of picture and sound quality? In today's market, this isn't going to help sell it.
Extra Features
You want to know what the creeps who released it list as Special Features on the back cover? Here goes: Fullscreen Presentation, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Scene Selection, Digitally Mastered, Interactive Menus. So, in other words: Fuck all, y'all!
The Verdict
The cover makes this look like an early 80s slasher flick, which is further making this a hard sell. Mind you, Fight For Your Life's cover makes it look like a gladiator movie, so the quality of the film is what we're here for. This film deserved better treatment. Indeed, I've knocked off a point for the shitty-arse version on offer here. Instead of a decent release, it's having this indignity heaped upon it – quick, someone call Blue Underground and get a quality transfer of this done, stat!
Movie Score
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