Sunday, February 12, 2012

Psychos in Love (Gorman Bechard, 1987)

A blotchy pap smear masquerading as filmed entertainment, this movie is not only a blight on cinema, but a stain on humanity as a whole. The people who made this should be ashamed of themselves. I mean, we all want to meet someone who has similar interests, but this is ridiculous. Hi, what you are currently watching me do is something I like to do from time to time, and that is, feign outrage over the film I just watched. You see, I want to be shocked and appalled by the stuff I look at, but I just can't seem to muster any genuine indignation. What can I say? My parents were non-practicing Satanists who forced me to make high end bean bag chairs out in our nonexistent garage. While I'd like to pretend my moral compass was irreparably damaged after seeing what transpires throughout the low rent horror comedy Psychos in Love, I was too busy wading in a warmish pool of my own giddiness to care what my fake conscious thought of the film. A combination of everything I hold dear as a moviegoer, or, I should say, "moviewatcher," as I don't exactly "go" anywhere anymore, the film is surprisingly witty, wonderfully gory, and totally sexy. Yeah, that's right. It's a triple threat. Wait a minute. Are you trying to tell me that it's funny, grisly, and titillating? Is that what you're saying? Hey, man, that's exactly what I'm saying. In terms of comedy, it takes the hatred of grapes and all other grape-related products to levels of absurdity that even I didn't think existed. Gore-wise, the fake blood budget must have been through the roof, because the red stuff flows quite liberally from start to finish. Well, actually, they must have had some cash left over, because the clothes worn in this movie, especially some of the frilly numbers the female characters wear from time to time, were downright delicious with a capital delish. Oh, and before you start thinking to yourself that this sounds like yet another slasher flick about a man who kills women in order to satisfy his psychosexual bloodlust, you should know that men and women are both murdered in equal measure.

Men get slashed, stabbed, and, on rare occasions, bludgeoned to death with rocks just as often as women do. However, it doesn't start off that way. We're barely ten seconds into it, when a woman in a striped blue and white dress played by Carrie Gordon is strangled to death just as she was about to deface the walls of a bathroom stall (the way her white panties dangled helplessly around her supple ankles as she expired was oddly appealing) and another woman with mysterious eyes (Carla Bragoli) is killed in a similar fashion, but she gets strangled out in the woods. And it doesn't stop there, a naked woman (Patti Chambers) is stabbed and/or slashed in bed, while another, who actually has name, Dianne (Angela Nicholas)–the others in this sequence are credited according to where they were killed, for example, the woman who who was strangled while urinating is credited as "Girl in Toilet"–is repeatedly stabbed while taking a shower. As all this mayhem was taking place, I thought to myself: I hope the entire movie isn't going to be like this.

It might start off like your typical slasher film, but Psychos in Love takes a bit of a left turn at around the five minute mark. Would it surprise you to learn that this film, co-written and directed by Gorman Bechard (Galactic Gigolo), is actually quite romantic? It's true, on top of being funny, gory, and, of course, sexy, it's got a sweet and tender side. I don't know why I'm acting all surprised; after all, the word "love" is in the freaking title. It's just that I was genuinely moved by the film's love story, as it touched me in places I haven't been touched in years. And, no, I'm not talking about my genitals, I'm referring to my heart.

Extolling the physical virtues of a woman named Dianne (yes, the same woman from the shower), Joe (Carmine Capobianco) suddenly switches to the subject of Kate (Debi Thibeault), a woman with similar physical attributes to that of Dianne (he describes their legs as "long" and "sensuous" and their eyes as "deep" and "penetrating"). Lying in the exact same position as Dianne (on her stomach in pink panties), and reading the exact same book ("21 Abnormal Sex Cases"), the way Joe talks about Kate as she lay on her bed was borderline poetic. Hold up, you mean Joe isn't going to kill Kate in the shower, too? I don't think so. While the "Girl in Woods" and the "Girl in Bed" were attractive and junk, Kate is downright gorgeous. There's no way he would kill a woman that lovely, especially one who was able to pull off the short hair look while still managing to retain her femininity; it just wouldn't make sense.

In a way, by comparing Dianne and Kate, Joe was soothing the sciatic aches and pains of his crippling depression. You see, being a psychokiller isn't all chocolate giraffes and low-cost cunnilingus, it can be a rather lonely vocation. In a world filled with people who like grapes, Joe sees Kate as the anti-Dianne. Sure, their organic structures boast a lot of the same nooks and crannies, but does she like to kill strangers? Or more importantly, how does she feel about grapes? Now I've seen love blossom over a number of different things, but never have I seen it bloom because the two parties involved shared a mutual animosity towards grapes.

When he's not killing women at random, Joe tends bar at the strip club he owns; actually, to call his establishment a "strip club" is a bit of a stretch since he only has one dancer, Nikki (Cecelia Wilde). But, on the other hand, she does strip. Anyway, Joe's life changes the moment Kate (who is wearing a black lace tank-top and a matching skirt with a slit down the side) walks into his strip club one Saturday night. Grabbing a seat at the bar (the slit on her aforementioned skirt allows her to sit with an added degree of comfort), Kate asks Joe for a light. After lighting a customer's cigarette, it's customary for bartenders to ask them what they want to drink. However, instead of suggesting a beer or a shot of bourbon, Joe decides to test Kate's mettle right out of the gate by offering her a glass of grape juice. Does she pass his grape test? You bet she does, and with flying colours, I might add; she expresses her grape disgust by reciting Joe's anti-grape mantra word for word.

Since we have already seen what Joe can do– murder-wise, that is–it's only fair that Kate get her chance to shine as a murderous fiend. Keep in mind, though, Joe still doesn't know that Kate is a serial killer; this sequence is strictly for the audience watching at home. It turns out that Kate is a manicurist, and usually comes across her victims through her nail beautifying service (she makes house calls). I'm confused, what kind a man gets his nails done in the 1980s?!? It's best you don't ask questions like that, and just go with the flow. We're shown Kate dispatching two men, well, three men, but let's focus on the two I remember. One is a sleazy swinger, and the other a picnic enthusiast who likes grapes. But more importantly, this when we get our first real peak at Debi Thibeault's sexy legs. True, we do get to see them during Joe's fantasy sequence and again when she's sitting at the bar, but it's only when she's in the throes of murder that we begin to fully comprehend the magnitude of Debi's irrefutable legginess.

When it came time to kill the swinger, Kate forgoes the whole frying pan routine (the cooking utensil of choice when it comes to eliminating pesky swingers with one fell swoop), and instead shoots him in the face with a shotgun (my kind of woman). The picnic guy is killed in a more spontaneous fashion, as he's rewarded with a knife to the stomach (complete with projectile blood vomit). Either way, both are an excellent showcase for Debi's stems: the swinger gets to see them encased in a luscious pair of black silk stockings, and the picnicker gets to rub suntan lotion all over them in the light of day.

Somewhat apprehensive about dating the short-haired goddess, Joe tells the audience, "Sure, she was gorgeous and she didn't like grapes. But come on, a manicurist?" Nonetheless, they agree to dinner, a movie, and a manicure ("a manicure is the best way to end an evening"). After the movie at the drive-in is over (this scene, by the way, has a funny bit about Taiwanese plastic forks), the two go to his place to assumedly engage in sexual intercourse. Well, actually, Joe was planning on killing her. But instead, confesses to Kate that he is in fact a psychokiller. Yet, to his surprise, he has no desire to kill her. The scene's adorableness, which is already at the breaking point, gets even more adorable when Kate tells Joe that she's psychokiller as well, and like Joe, does not want to kill him, either.

After their body disposing discussion runs its inevitable course (while he likes to chop his victim's up into little pieces, she prefers to toss her's in rivers, in dumpsters, or wherever is convenient - Hello, New Jersey Turnpike!), Joe and Kate decide to continue seeing one another ("I'm so glad I found you"), and, of course, stick with the murdering. Seriously, just because they don't want to murder each other, doesn't mean they're going to stop murdering others.

Now murdering as a couple, Joe over poisons a woman in a sauna and Kate kills some random dude with a chainsaw as synthesizer music throbs effectively on the soundtrack. All of a sudden, the camera starts to slowly pan up a pair of shapely legs. Who's legs are these, I wondered. Electra-wow! They belong to none other than LeeAnne Baker! You know, the actress who played the Pleasure Droid in Mutant Hunt. And, get this, it looks like she just walked off the set of Future-Kill, as her face is covered with globs of irregular make-up.

While it's obvious that LeeAnne Baker, who is credited as "Heavy Metal Girl," is going to be Joe's next victim, I didn't seem to mind. Instead of bemoaning the fact LeeAnne's presence in the Psychos in Love universe is probably going to be short-lived, I have decided to celebrate the little amount of time she has onscreen; treat it like the gift that it is. Of course, given that LeeAnne Baker is one of the most compelling actresses of her generation, she was able to make a lasting impression as the spiky-haired metal groupie with an alarming ease. Whether uttering inquisitive lines of scripted dialogue pertaining to coitus and cocaine, or singing the lyrics to vulgar heavy metal songs, LeeAnne Baker displays a wonderful sense of comic timing, which is an essential skill to have when acting alongside Carmine Capobianco, who, despite the fact that a lot of what he says in this movie was groan-worthy, is no slouch when it comes to delivering the funny.

I think most people will agree that it will take more than a cannibalistic plumber (Frank Stewart), a video store membership, Eric Lutes from TV's Caroline in the City (he plays a mechanic with dirty fingernails), Lum Chang Pang's alcoholism, and a thousand cans of Diet Slice to prevent Joe and Kate's love from changing into the warped butterfly it was always meant to be. In order to commemorate the majesty of their love, a montage is created. And not just any montage, this one comes fully equipped with one of the most maddeningly addictive songs ever created. In case you haven't figured it out yet, the song I'm talking about the theme from Psychos in Love, as sung by actor, writer, composer Carmine Capobianco and actress/costume designer Debi Thibeault (yeah, that's right, on top of being a leggy delight, she's the film's costume designer as well). Clawing its way into your brain and refusing to leave no matter how much Nitzer Ebb you spray on it, the film's theme song proves once and for all that you need to make a catchy song are some deadpan lyrics about hating grapes and a properly motivated Yamaha RX-15 drum machine.

Even the most stable of unstable relationships has its ups and downs, and Joe and Kate are no different in that regard. While a chatty yoga instructor named Heather, played by the alluring Donna Davidge, is talking about her aura, Joe realizes that he's just not that into killing anymore. He tries to re-energize his homicidal tendencies by bringing home Susan (Ruth Collins), a stripper Joe is thinking about hiring–you know, so that both of them can kill her as a couple–but she's too tired. It was interesting to see ennui portrayed from the perspective of a couple of psychopaths. Nevertheless, just because their first attempt at a threesome failed so miserably, doesn't mean they're gonna stop trying. Bringing home a stripper they're more familiar with, Joe and Kate (who is dressed in her sexiest lingerie yet) try again with Nikki, but ultimately end up killing her four times, or wait, was it five? It doesn't matter. What does matter, however, is that Joe and Kate are losing their killer instinct, and losing it fast.

Regaining their itch–albeit, briefly–when Kate stabs a weatherman in the eye with one of her manicure tools and Joe slashes the throat of a woman who spoke with an accent that sounded vaguely familiar, but it's still fading. Getting back to the woman with the accent that sounded vaguely familiar for a second. Curious to know where I had heard that mellifluous voice before, I decided to check out the rest of her filmography. And you won't believe what I found. Her named is Kate McCamy and she played "Dottie" in Bad Girls Dormitory. You remember her, she delivers the classic line, "Don't make me get up. If I do, I'll be twisting some tits"with a saucy assuredness. At any rate, the reason I didn't recognize her was because she looked totally different. In the Tim Kincaid-directed, Manhattan set women in prison flick, she's got spiky red hair and is wearing hardly any make-up, whereas in the Waterbury, Connecticut set Psychos in Love, she's all dolled up like a Long Island princess, or, to put it another way, a vision of Massapequan loveliness.

Since killing sprees don't last forever, can Joe and Kate's relationship survive without murder? It's a question that all serial killing couples will have to answer at some point during their marriage. Oh, didn't I mention? They get hitched; you should have seen the honeymoon (a wild night of clubbing, complete with Liquid Sky-style dancing, and fishnet stockings). Anyway, Psychos in Love tries to answer this probing question, and I think it ultimately succeeded in the end. I don't know 'bout you, but I felt enriched, even, dare I say, moved by the experience.

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  1. Netflix still hasn't sent me the movie I was planning on reviewing for Valentine's Day; so when I saw this review, it reminded me that I have my own VHS copy and inspired me to use it for my substitute. Don't worry though, you get full recognition for it. Happy Day of Evil and Suffering aka. Valentine's Day. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you for those kind and inspired words. Much appreciated!

    -- Gorman Bechard, director

  3. @Nine-Fingered Menace: I love full recognition. :)

    And a belated Happy Day of Evil and Suffering to you, too.

    @gorman: Thank you for making such an inspirational movie.

  4. Wow! I feel like we succeeded after reading this review!
    Thank you for liking it, getting it and laughing. You certainly put a smile on my face.
    All the best!
    Carmine Capobianco

  5. Thanks, Carmine Capobianco (great name, by the way).

    On the one hand, I'm mildly horrified that you had to see the words "blotchy" and "pap smear" used so unnecessarily in connection to something you helped create. Yet, I'm tickled pink that actual smiles were generated because of those very same words. :)

  6. That's awesome you have folks involved with the film commenting. :)

    In more somber news, Wheels from Degrassi died...five years ago! Just announced today. I was inspired to listen to some Zit Remedy in his honour.

    I hope you had a good Valentine's Day. And a good Canadian Flag Day.

  7. Tell me about it. Waterbury, Connecticut in the house!

    It's weird that it took five(!) years for people to find out Wheels had died.

    Canadian Flag Day?!? When did that happen? ;)

  8. "I'm a psychokiller."
    "Omigod... ME TOO!" I love this movie.

    This piece brought smiles to an otherwise poopy day. You have excellent taste, Yum, and totally rocked this one.

  9. Thanks, Jerry. I dislike mid-February.

  10. Disgust at mid-February is pretty standard for life.

    But I'm glad to see my home state represented by this film