Saturday, December 31, 2011

Death Game (1977)

The most whacked out and impulsive women you'll ever meet!

This wasn't a rape/revenge feature per se--more like sex/revenge if there ever was a genre--as no one actually gets raped. But it still plays on sex and violence after the fact from one man giving in to urges but quickly regretting the decision when the women use it against him in a series of long, terrorizing mind games. This came out well before "Fatal Attraction" and I'm sure if mainstream audiences would have seen it, it could have made some men second guess which loose women they choose to take on the side that initially look to give it up so easily.

Two young women named Jackson and Donna turn up soaking wet from storms at the door of a family man named George's house when looking for someone else. He's home alone with his wife and kids out of town and allows what he thinks are nice ladies to use his phone inside to get a ride. This leads to using his bathrobes, bathroom and eventually they seduce him in his bathtub no less. He reluctantly goes along to what looks like guilt free gratification, though morning comes and they still haven't left. They begin to take advantage and act rambunctious to the point where he sees red and wants to call men in blue. He drives them to San Francisco but when arriving back home, they're hiding in wait. They tie him up and play a series of sadistic, psychological games while George squirms and pleads for them to let him out.

This has a simple story that plays out somewhat straightforward with no complex layers to get in the way. It's more about atmosphere, which set out to make one uncomfortable as the unpredictable women push buttons and get under one's skin. It's supremely irritating and can cause one to tap their foot or cross their arms but that seems to have been the point. This has more hyena-like cackling and incessant calling of George's name than memorable dialogue. Even most of their bizarre actions are so out there that it can't be described rationally. Some of the scenes are supposed to be nothing but just weird, sadistic fun, with a number of them that look improvised by the actresses. There are some scenarios that play on natural interaction rather than doing anything significant or substantial. It makes it feel like a loosely connected series of events in a bad dream with no chance of waking up.

There are a few quick nude scenes with tops and behinds of the pretty but dangerous women--you can see why he got tricked. The sex scenes use more rubbing and kissing and quick cuts to get around showing penetration shots. Seymor Cassel, playing George, feels like a caricature of the everyday guy with standard look and dialogue that's the epitome of getting the message across to the point of not generating a spark of interest. However, the two performances of the women have areas of standing out. One of which includes Donna acting out a prior molestation in her mind or that really happened while beating on George and simultaneously screaming like a lunatic--must have been fun to make this film to be able to let loose like that. The camera angles and quick edits can be jarring, not to mention the lighting set-ups can be strange in certain areas, with the music even odder due to being so upbeat and contrasting. The film eventually starts to lose a driving point and wane on tension--apart from him getting his mock verdict by the women and an hour glass counting down--but even then it feels like padding. It turns over to an incredibly abrupt, unsatisfying ending that makes you think the filmmakers either ran out of money or ideas--possibly both.

Rating: 5/10

Director: Peter S. Traynor
Stars: Sondra Locke, Colleen Camp, Seymour Cassel
Link: IMDB

No comments:

Post a Comment