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Poor Pretty Eddie

Before I start, I should give a warning. This movie shows rape and other sexual abuse and also cruelty to animals. If these things really get to you, you should absolutely not watch this movie or read this post. One thing I have noticed about this movie is that every description of it that you read says that a travelling black singer's car breaks down at a lodge where she is terrorized by a psychotic Elvis impersonator. I don't know if that's because some people think that any guy who has a guitar and sideburns is an Elvis impersonator, but if Eddie is supposed to be doing an Elvis impersonation it's the worst one I have ever seen. I suspect maybe that description is an attempt to make the movie more interesting than it really is. Because, while the movie does have it's moments and a really interesting cast, overall it's kind of dull.

The cast includes Shelly Winters as Bertha, owner of a lodge and has been adult dancer. Ted Cassidy, who played Lurch on The Addams Family plays Bertha's handyman Keno. Leslie Uggams plays the famous singer who gets stranded at the lodge and becomes the victim of Eddie. Eddie is played by Michael Christian, whose biggest achievement was being in several episodes of Peyton Place. Slim Pickens was also in the movie as the town sheriff. Pickens is most famous for his role in Dr. Strangelove, but he also did a ton of t.v. work along with other memorable movies.

The story has Liz (Uggams' character) get stranded at the lodge after her car breaks down. Eddie recognizes her as a famous singer, and convinces her to stay while he gets her car fixed.  Eddie is Bertha's boyfriend, and Bertha is none too pleased to have Liz there drawing Eddie's attention. Eddie has developed a plan to seduce Liz and have her help him with his music career. When she is less than enthused with his attentions he rapes her. This rape scene is disturbing. It's not terribly graphic as far as showing what happens. But the way they shot it, with slow motion sequences and what sounded like animal noises, made  it worse had if they had showed what happened in gory detail.

This is only the beginning of Liz's ordeal. She tries to get away a couple of times, but it always ends disastrously. She convinces a travelling salesman to take her out, but once he has her in his car he takes her to a secluded spot and demands oral sex as payment. As she grudgingly complies, Eddies pops up out of the back seat. For her effort Liz gets a beating and we presume the salesman met with a gruesome end. She also gets away at one point and finds the sheriff. Instead of helping her though, the sheriff and his friends tear her shirt off and try to make her dance in her bra for a bar full of people. Eddie continues raping and abusing Liz while trying to mollify Bertha. Keno's attempt to help Liz ends with his dog being skinned by Eddie.

You expect Liz to snap and get bloody vengeance, because that's the way exploitation movies usually work. Instead she just gets beaten down and goes into an almost catatonic state. I know I used this word earlier, but the only way I can think to describe it is disturbing. Liz does finally wreak some violent vengeance after Keno gets the ball rolling by shooting up her forced wedding to Eddie. But even when she finally takes her pound of flesh it doesn't feel triumphant in any way. The whole thing just leaves you feeling like you need a shower. It's not a movie I would recommend, except as one of the more sordid examples of drive-in grindhouse movies, where this movie apparently enjoyed a decade long run under different titles. Except where most of those movies were over the top, this one is almost too realistic in it's depictions of abuse and the reaction to it. Or maybe I was just disappointed because I was expecting a movie about a psychotic Elvis impersonator, who maybe quoted lyrics after slashing each victim. I would watch the crap out of that movie.


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