Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Woman's Torment (Roberta Findlay, 1977)

We all have racially ambiguous, mentally unstable women in our lives. They live in our attics, they blather incoherently in our parks, and they teach our children to read. It's a testament to our growth as a liberal society that we allow racially ambiguous, mentally unstable women to roam free across this great land of ours. However, in the mid-1970s, attitudes were much different. In most cases, people kept their racially ambiguous, mentally unstable women hidden from view. Sheltered from the prying eyes attached to the faces of small minded sycophants and hopelessly out of touch reprobates, racially ambiguous, mentally unstable women (or "R.A.M.U.W.," as they're sometimes not called ) were unfairly maligned by a world that wasn't quite ready for their sexually liberated brand of gesticulation-heavy psychosis. In the erotic horror masterpiece, A Woman's Torment, we get a highly compelling look at the plight of a dark-haired R.A.M.U.W. named Karen (Tara Chung), as she struggles to make sense of a society that shuns her kind with a moderately extreme form of abandonment. Wielding her low centre of gravity like it were a serrated dildo made out of three different types of cheese, Karen uses her moist pussy (the crown jewel of her organic structure) to woo those who are still on the fence regarding R.A.M.U.W. rights. As each penis plunges deep inside her carnivorous cubbyhole, the scrapping sound the cocks make as they rub against her labia grows louder with every thrust. In fact, if you listen carefully–and I mean, really carefully, so carefully that your ears might disown you and move to Moldova–you can almost make out the sound of a crowd chanting: We're here, we're racially ambiguous, mentally unstable women, get used to it!
Let me get this straight, you heard a crowd chanting that? No, actually, you know what? I'm going to let that slide; much in  the way Maestro Fresh Wes instructed us to let our backbone's slide in the late 1980s. You wanna know why? Sure. It's because you're the one who's starting to sound like they're mentally unstable. These racially ambiguous women you keep referring to are coming off as perfectly sane compared to the extra-strength batshit you're putting out there.
While I might sound unwell in the brain department, make no mistake, Karen is racially ambiguous. I mean, what is she? Is she Chinese? I'm confused. How about Indonesian? Danish, maybe? Either way, she's definitely mentally unstable. Look at her, she's trying to hump the beach. And you what else Karen is? That's right, she's a woman. How do I know this? You kidding, right? Well, for starters, she masturbates in the shower. And you wanna know why she masturbates in the shower? No? Whatever, I'm going to tell you anyway. Two words: Shower nozzle.
Need further proof that Karen is a woman? No, I'm good. Okay. Do you need further proof that Karen is insane? Yes. Yes, I do. Just look into her eyes. And, thankfully, writer-director Roberta Findlay gives us plenty of close-up shots of her eyes whilst in throes of madness.
Oh, that reminds me. Do you know how I knew A Woman's Torment was written and directed by a woman. Um, because the director's name is Roberta? No, actually, she's credited as "Robert W. Norman." The exact moment I knew A Woman's Torment was directed by a woman was when  Estelle Vorel (Jennifer Jordan) tells her husband, Dr. Otis Vorel (Jake Teague), "you didn't make love to me, you masturbated inside of me," as no man would write a line like that. You see, Estelle tries to point out the substandard quality of her husband's thrusts during sex, but her mid-hump concerns fell on deaf ears as Otis continued to insert his chemically unassisted penis into her silky smooth vagina with a self-indulgent glee.
Cleaning his nonexistent wad off her stomach with the sheets (get this failure stain off my stomach), Estelle starts to cry. He may be a lousy lover, but Otis is one hell of a psychiatrist. Or, at least he thinks he is. Placating Estelle's misery with a pat on the head and a "there there," he tells her to "get dressed" (they're supposed to go to a party later on). Totally seeing through his attempt to calm her down, Estelle eventually agrees to get dressed. But not before accusing him of having an affair. She thinks the woman Otis is having an affair with will be at this party. And you know what? She's probably right.
We get our first glimpse of the real reason Otis wanted to go to the party so badly holding court in the middle of the living room. A chichi force of nature if I ever saw one, Francis Compton (Crystal Sync) is one of the most alluring women 1970s has ever seen. Unfortunately, Francis, who is wearing a tight, sparkly gold dress, decides to end her affair with Otis mid-grope. It's for the best. Besides, there's no way Otis deserves to be with a woman who is that stylish and elegant.
The other topic of conversation at the party is the whereabouts of the mysterious Karen, Francis' step sister-in-law. A nosy party-goer asks about her at one point, to which Francis responds, "she's resting." We all know that's not entirely true, as we get the occasional shot of Karen sitting in a rocking chair holding a pair of scissors in a poorly lit room upstairs.  
You want to know who else agrees with my assessment of Francis Compton? Her husband, Don Compton (Jeffrey Hurst), a hirsute fella with exceptional taste. When Don calls Francis a "beautiful...cock-stirring sight" after the party, I nearly strained my neck as a result of nodding too much in agreement. Of course, as the foxy Francis reluctantly hops aboard her husband's cock, we notice that Karen is still rocking back and forth in an adjacent room.
You want more proof A Woman's Torment was written by a woman? As Don and Francis are schtupping, they discuss whether or not they should have a baby (procreation is the last thing on a male director's mind when shooting a sex scene). In hindsight, though, I don't think ejaculating sperm all over your wife's stomach is correct way to conceive a child. But then again, they didn't really make a clear cut decision regarding the baby.
Now that I have established that A Woman's Torment was written and directed by a woman, we finally head out to the beach house. Located on a remote island somewhere off the coast of Long Island (Fire Island, perhaps?), the beach house will be the film's primary location from now on. Staggering along the beach, Karen dumps her suitcase in the ocean and makes her way to a house that presumably belongs to Francis and Don. The first thing Karen does is turn on all the lights and open the curtains. As she wanders the house in a daze, we start to hear the voices in Karen's head. While taking a shower, Karen imagines herself being stabbed by a masked assailant. It's clear that Karen, on top of being racially ambiguous, is mentally unstable.
I just hope no one decides to drop by unannounced, as Karen's brand of mentally deranged lust isn't really meant for public consumption. Of course, someone does decide to drop by. If they didn't, it wouldn't be much of a movie, now, would it? Though, I could watch Karen shower and act deranged for hours on end. Well, most people don't think like you, so Larry the Lineman (Michael Gaunt) shows up in Karen's kitchen. Grabbing a knife and clutching the top of her bathrobe, Karen is visibly shaken by the sudden appearance of a man in a green hardhat. As Larry the Lineman pokes around a bit (chatting her up as he does so), Karen starts to hear voices.
The sight of a R.A.M.U.W. holding a knife with a disturbed expression on her face would cause most men to run for the nearest exit, but not Larry the Lineman. In fact, he becomes even more aggressive. While making a fire in the fireplace, Karen's eyes become less wide-eyed and more focused. You know what that means? Throwing her robe off like it wasn't even there, Karen is tosses a couple of couch cushions on the ground and instructs Larry the Lineman to start fingering her pussy. Which he does.
After his fingers become stiff and achy, Larry the Lineman decides it's time for his cock to get some attention. In no mood to be penetrated by Larry the Lineman, Karen resists his attempt to mount her. Unable to stop him, Karen eventually stabs Larry the Lineman with a knife just after he finished spewing cum all over her stomach. Seeing a man convulsing as a result of being stabbed while his urethra was still moist with jizz was pretty awesome. Funny thing, just as Larry the Lineman is being stabbed, we get a quick shot of Francis, Don, Estelle, and Otis having cocktails on the roof of their building. You have to laugh when the line, "there's nothing seriously wrong with Karen" is suddenly uttered. Nothing wrong, eh? I don't know about that.
Channeling Edith Prickley and Little Edie, the immensely talented Marlene Willoughby (Waterpower) dons a head scarf, a yellow raincoat, sunglasses, white gloves, and smeared lipstick to play Fannie Grudkow, the nosiest neighbour in movie history. Her loud knocking at the door causes Karen to move Larry the Lineman's body underneath the deck. After awhile, Miss Gudkow gives up waiting for someone to answer the door and leaves. But not before shaking her fist in the beach house's general direction (she's upset over the fact that all their lights are on in the middle of the day).
Just as I was thinking that this film could use more Marlene Willoughby, Fannie Grudkow returns later that evening. Proving that she is a terrific actress, Marlene recites a huge chunk of dialogue, as a confused-looking Tara Chung looks on. Bullying her way inside, Miss Grudkow continues to badger Karen, mostly about the energy crisis. Am I seeing things, or did Fannie Grudkow just steal one of Karen's lightbulbs? Anyway, Karen's wide-eyed indifference soon turns to homicidal rage. Informing Miss Grudkow that her "cunt is on fire," Karen tries to grope the garrulous busybody with mixed results. It should go without saying, but the area underneath Karen's deck is starting to get a tad overrun with corpses.
Itching to fuck something, Karen heads out to the beach to hump the sand. As she's doing that, we're introduced to a young couple, Tom (actor unknown) and his fiancee, let's call her Stacey (Clea Carson, also from Waterpower), floating in a small pleasure craft out on the water. It's not quite clear yet what these two have to do with Karen. But you know something sinister is afoot.
If you had any doubts about A Woman's Torment and its status as a horror film, you need look further than the confrontation between Karen and the young couple.
Dripping with equal amounts of blood and cum, A Woman's Torment is probably one of the best erotic horror films ever made. And while I love Marlene Willoughby and Crystal Sync, who are not only two of the most attractive actresses working the fuck film circuit, their acting is top notch, I have to say, I was deeply impressed by the performance given by newcomer Tara Chung. Giving crazy a much needed shot in the arm, Tara's fearlessness is evident in almost every scene. Whether masturbating in the shower or stabbing Larry the Lineman in the back, Tara Chung is the queen of the R.A.M.U.W.-style of acting, and the main reason this film is the non-classic it is today.

video uploaded by MarleneWilloughbyFan (sorry, I couldn't find a trailer for the film)


  1. OOOOOOooooooo! And I thought people only dry humped beaches in Jess Franco movies.

    This looks all kinds of fun.

  2. It's got everything one could want in a motion picture.

  3. Promptly posted in the Findlay Fan Group! I love your writing.

  4. Thanks for reading. :)

    More Roberta Findlay to come.