Love Me Deadly (1973)
By: Mr Intolerance on November 5, 2009  | 
DVD
Shriek Show (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0 Mono. 95 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Jacque Lecerte
Starring: Mary Wilcox, Lyle Waggoner, Christopher Stone, Timothy Scott
Screenplay: Jacque Lecerte
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
There must be something wrong with me. I can't tell you why, but for some reason films about necrophilia hold a strange attraction for me, whether they're Buttgereit's splat-tastic NEKRomantik series, D'Amato's gloriously loopy Beyond The Darkness, even Kissed, for crying out loud, it doesn't matter – the idea that someone would want to fuck something that's dead really gives me the creeps, and yet fascinates me at the same time. And the fact that it's represented almost solely in a range of low budget horror films and bad death metal songs ain't some symptom of how modern life has gone to hell, necrophilia is as old as Old Kingdom Egypt at least, where the bodies of the recently dead rich and powerful had to be guarded until they started to rot, so that the embalmers wouldn't try to fuck the corpses – true story; it was that widespread. So why the fascination with the dead? I can't tell you that, as I guess it must be on a case-by-case basis, but it can sometimes make for pretty arresting viewing.

Open casket funerals are unpleasant experiences for most, foreplay for Lindsay, our protagonist. She likes to cruise funerals the way some people like to window shop. She doesn't know the folks who are about to get planted in the dirt farm, but she loves death. Once the mourners have left, she likes to plant a big ol' kiss on the mouth of whoever the poor soul in the box is, getting her gratification from that act alone. So far. However, unbeknownst to her, there's a creepy undertaker nearby who likes to watch...

The first of our flashback sequences ensues, with Lindsay as a small child rolling around with Daddy-dear in a scene that's about twelve different shades of wrong (the images of the relationship have overtones of a paraphilia reviled by all and sundry – the soundtrack's reasserting of the protagonist's "secret love" ain't helping matters either), but as the film progresses, these intermittent flashback sequences give at least some small idea of why she suffers under the mania that she does. That might sound a little cryptic, but if you watch and learn, all is revealed, albeit somewhat gradually, and not until the end of the film.

Lindsay attends a pretty swingin' party, and some cut-rate suede-clad Lothario tries puttin' his moves on her, but she is most definitely not interested in his attentions – let's face facts, you can't blame her, his pick-up technique is akin to a caveman clubbing a woman over the head and dragging her off by the hair – and gives him some duelling scars to send him on his way, cradling her teddy-bear after he leaves, contemptuously calling her a bitch for not allowing herself to be raped. The teddy-bear (and the resultant and inevitable sepia toned flashback scene with Daddy-dear) helps to emphasise the fact that Lindsay is, as the trailer would tell us, some kind of "girl-woman" - her sexuality is totally unformed, and that leads to all kinds of disasters as the film trundles on.

Lindsay cruises another open-casket viewing, and gets a little more het-up this time, and while enthusiastically caressing the corpse's face, inadvertantly crushes its reconstructed nose – urgh – the body being that of an automobile accident victim. The scene is intercut with that of the creepy undertaker dude I mentioned before picking up a male prostitute (fifteen bucks to make out in a car, if you're interested), and taking him back to his place of work – but lovin' is about the last thing on his mind. At least, while the body's warm... He's certainly got a more DIY view on necrophilia than young Lindsay – it ain't pretty; the scene flips from farcical comedy to absolute white-knuckle horror in a heartbeat. It's genuinely fucking nasty.

It's kind of difficult to believe that Lindsay could be quite as oblivious as she is, but she really has no idea that she's being observed as she goes to funerals uninvited (I did get a laugh when I saw that one funeral home she likes to frequent is called "Morningside" - any Phantasm fans out there? We all know what happens at that particular mortuary) by the Creepy Undertaker Dude, who's started to take an interest in Lindsay (admittedly, she is pretty hot, even if she does remind me vaguely of the chick from Bewitched), as much as she's started to take an interest in Alex (the brother of the corpse whose nose she crushed like a meringue), who ickily reminds her of Daddy-dear. This shit ain't right.

Creepy Undertaker Dude dude gets right up in Lindsay's grille, giving her one of these ones: "I couldn't help but notice your, ah, affection for the deceased...The word is necrophilia... We're quite normal people, just with different passions.... Our drives are not understood by many people." I'll fuckin' say! And I do believe I've gotta call the dude on his use of the word "normal". What the hell is "normal" in wanting to fuck a dead dude?! He tells her that there's a group of necrophiles he's a part of (oh, can you imagine the AGM?), and invites her to join them. Lindsay fucks off tout suite, scared stiff of potential blackmail. Creepy Undertaker Dude goes trolling for whores – you just know what'll happen there.

Lindsay recieves a letter in the mail, postmarked the funeral home: "Dear Miss Finch, We who share your passions and needs, will meet tomorrow evening at 11:30. Our subject is particularly attractive. Bring a friend if you feel you would be more at ease on your first visit. In friendship, Fred McSweeney." It's not every day you get invited to a party for necrophiliacs, and I can only imagine what the finger-food would be like. But look at that last sentence of the letter and think what it'd be like if a buddy of yours gave you a call and tried interesting you in that kind of night out – holy shit! Lindsay's knee-jerk reaction? To call up Wade (the would be date-rapist from the party scene), and ask him to take her out for dinner. Huh? A last stab at feeling normal, perhaps?

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it's certainly got the better of Lindsay – the temptation in the invitation was too strong for her to ignore and she wants to see what kind of folks she's like, and who like the things she likes. But the reality of a bunch of nekkid and semi-nekkid folks with knives standing around a nekkid corpse on a mortuary slab is a little too strong for her, and she flees quick smart. I guess the closest comparison I could make is if you walked into the climactic scene of Aftermath and didn't realise it was a movie. It's by no means as grotesque as that film, but the effect is what I imagine would be similar. And she's not exactly the most stable lady around; imagine if that was what other people thought you were like – you'd put some distance between yourself and them, too.

Creepy Undertaker Dude catches up with Lindsay and assures her that he can arrange a more "private" experience, and she goes home, badly rattled, to find Wade in her crib, playing the whole square-jawed hero schtick and trying to take charge. An attempt at a normal relationship ensues, with a romantic couple montage to match, with the not-so-subtle re-introduction of Alex (who may well be familiar to you from TV series like Wonder Woman or The Carol Burnett Show) into the plot. There is something very definitely wrong about a Daddy's little girl hooking up with a fella who reminds her of her dad while she's trying to suppress necrophiliac urges. There's actually something very definitely wrong with that last sentence...

"Anyone ever tell you what a hot, passionate broad you are?" Not my choice of line, but one Alex seems to think is appropriate after having just criticised Lindsay's non-existent sex drive while rolling around on an animal-skin rug in front of a fire with her. A little contrary, methinks, but nevertheless... Lindsay seems to enjoy the non-confrontational, non-penetrative celibate relationship she has with Alex, until she receives a phone call from Creepy Undertaker Dude (yeah, I know his name is Fred McSweeney, but I prefer my name for him), and all those necrophiliac tendencies come flooding back, rapidamento.

Wade and his improbable haircut seem to be rather stupidly and ignorantly trying to keep tabs on Lindsay (there are AVOs out on people like this), which is all kinds of wrong, especially when she wants to get down and do the nasty with a fella on the slab who should've had the deep six holiday some time ago – she's all nuded-up, sex-mad and retard-strong. His visit to the morgue doesn't end up especially well for him, nor for Lindsay, but the violence is remarkably gruesome and visceral for a film of its time. Oh, it's no All Night Long 2: Atrocity, or Wizard of Gore, but given the 70s daytime soap vibe the film possesses, when the red, red krovvy starts to flow, it's a fair old sucker-punch, let me tell you. And given Wade's sudden appearance as a fresh bit of meat, you'd better believe that the Creepy Undertaker Dude's pack of necro-funsters want a piece of his arse, immediately, in a weird ol' hallucinatory sequence that maybe is a dream of Lindsay's, and maybe isn't.

In a moment that further beggars belief, Lindsay marries Alex, but is unable to consummate the proceedings (maybe he's just not stiff enough, ho, ho, ho...I'd better go before I say something stupid). Her words: "It's not that I don't want to love you, I just can't!" Again, there's that idea of men as potential rapists – you get the impression that Alex would like nothing better than to force himself upon Lindsay, and that there isn't too much holding him back from doing so; what this would do to her house-of-cards grip on reality is up for grabs, it'd certainly destroy the "Daddy-dear" fantasy about Alex she's been building up for quite some time – or would it?

After three weeks of marriage, and still no nookie, Alex has taken to following Lindsay around, and he's seen her going to funerals, although she denies it. That Daddy-complex is getting all the more bizarre, culminating in Lindsay dressing up as a little girl in pigtails and dancing about her father's grave on the anniversary of his death, none of which Alex is exactly ready for. She ain't ready for him to see it either, freaking out and running away. The conditions of the marriage aren't getting any better.

A letter arrives for Lindsay from you-know-who and she starts acting weird, but Alex, not being the sharpest tool in the shed, doesn't start the alarm klaxons going until he reads the letter some time later: "Dear Miss Finch, A meeting is planned for 10:00 this evening. Sorry about the short notice. Unexpected circumstances make this the only time we can meet. Yours, Fred." You can imagine that this doesn't exactly make Alex the happiest camper in the world. She keeps pushing him away with feeble excuses, and now this? He's obviously suspicious.

This all leads up to the final act, which I will not ruin for you, as it's an absolute must-see – seriously, you won't believe that this kinda film was made in 1972, when you see how it all pans out. Holy shit! It's an exploitation master-stroke. If you can walk away from Love Me Deadly unaffected, then there's something wrong with you.

A note for the curious – Karen Greenlee, a convicted necrophile, once famously lauded Love Me Deadly as being one of her favourite films in an interview in Headpress magazine, citing the attractiveness of the corpses as one of the reasons why – I guess that must be some kind of positive criticism from a hands on perspective. Kinda creepy, though...

One final word: on the back cover of Shriek Show's release of Love Me Deadly, it states the following - "BEWARE: This film in which supernatural suspense and terror go hand in icy hand, is not recommended for the emotionally immature!" (Their emphasis, not mine) Well, that rules out me and most of my readership, I'm guessing...
Video
Despite the bold claim on the back cover that the film has been transferred from the original 35mm negative, I'd have some serious doubts as to how much restoration went on prior to that transfer, as it's a little on the soft side, picture-wise, with glitches that rapidly disappear as the film progresses, presenting us with a clear image. All over, I was getting the idea I was watching an episode of a 70s TV soap, which is not ideal when you put on a film with the intent to view sleaze.
Audio
If I ever have to listen to the schmaltzy, piano-bar theme song of this film again, I will cut my own ears off and eat them immediately. That aside, it's a fair enough track I guess, in the original mono with no real surprises, which kind of suits the film, y'know? A 6.1 DTS track would just be ludicrous – this is a small-scale film o' sleaze, the confines of the soundtrack suit it admirably in that regard.
Extra Features
Not exactly an exhaustive package, but given the practically clandestine nature of films on this subject, that's not exactly a surprise. There's a feature length commentary track with producer Buck Edwards, a stills gallery (why, oh why...), two theatrical trailers for Kiss Me Deadly (one of which ends with the warning: "Not recommended for children" - gee, d'ya think?), and then a bunch of trailers for some other Shriek Show fillums: All The Colors of the Dark, Beyond the Darkness (yeeeee-hah!), The Dark Ride, Don't Go In The House, Faceless, Massacre In Dinosaur Valley, One Dark Night, The Redeemer and Shadow: Dead Riot.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Somehow successfully marrying the feel of a 70s daytime soap with the grime of a film about corpse-fucking, Love Me Deadly is a highly entertaining film with all kinds of wrongness imbued in it. Equal parts sleaze and sap, this is a film that wouldn't exactly be the kind of thing you'd put on after Xmas dinner, unless maybe your family was kinda like the one from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. For fans of US 70s sleaze, this is a must-see, for the less adventurous among you, it might be a handy in-road into some pretty heady waters indeed. Regardless, this comes to you very, very highly recommended.

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