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Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971) - Blu-ray Review

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Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971)

A crossdressing criminal who’s paranoia causes him to become fully committed to his matriarchal role in a hideout from the cops?  Something this wild - two gay pyschopaths assuming the identities of nephew and aunt - could only come out of Florida in the 1970s, especially when you see just how “into” their roles they get as their domesticated “bliss” spirals out of control.

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things is probably not a film that you have heard of before.  I mean, why would you have?  This domestic-situated comedy/slasher/hideout thriller about two gay criminals - Paul (Abe Zwick) and Stanley (Wayne Crawford) - playing the part of controlling Aunt and wild nephew is something that could only of happened in the 1970s.  It’s a maniac slice of early queer cinema that is free-spirited, completely bonkers, and DEFINITELY Must-See TV.

"a deliciously flawed film that never once takes itself seriously.  Low in budget but full of some hilarious moments"


And, now, thanks to AGFA, you can see writer/producer/director Thomas Casey’s thrasterpiece of cult cinema. 

Concerning itself with two gay jewel thieves hiding out in a Floridian beach town - one disguised as the other’s Aunt Martha (Zwick) and the other (Crawford) free to roam about and do lots of cocaine with whomever he pleases - Sometimes Aunt Martha Dowes Dreadful Things is completely unhinged from the moment is starts.  From comments like “that dirty bitch has filled you full of drugs” to the nosy, cake baking neighbors, it takes very little pressure for Martha to ditch the wig and start slitting throats.  

Yeah, Stanley - with little regard to his partner’s feelings - does little to calm Paul’s nerves.  He drives him completely batty with the way he treats everything.  Hell, even the way he munches on a banana drives him batty.  Paul has little to do except keep the house clean and worry that Stanley is going to give them up to the cops.Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971)

The domestic situation (after an evening of butchering Stanley’s new girlfriend) gets turned on its heels constantly as Paul - dressed up like Aunt Martha - actually becomes a parent figure to Stanley, asking him if he’s started smoking pot again, telling him he has to get a haircut, and so on.  Moments like this are both hysterical and absolutely insane, yet Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things pulls it off with a style that leads to fascination; the damn thing works to be MORE than just a curious piece of cinematic schlock.

And things routinely get more and more out of control.  Soon Aunt Martha is drinking, yelling, and full of regret for yelling at the poor “boy”, but the moment that an apology is decided upon, Stanley shows up with yet another “little bitch” and Aunt Martha has to kill again!  

Written, produced, and directed by Thomas Casey, this manic and marvelously AWFUL film has everything as nude, dancing hippies enter the scene (you know, more of Stanley’s friends), more drugs are consumed, and a houseguest arrives.  All of this forces Paul to dive headfirst into Aunt Martha’s closet, finding the perfect robe to match his blush.  Both men are getting way too into their disguises from the law and, yes, it totally consumes them, leading to a warehouse SLUT-tastic brawl.

And the results are like an acid-driven episode of Bosom Buddies - especially when a baby unexpectedly arrives on the scene. It’s hilarious, horrifying, and EXACTLY what cult cinema is all about.  Co-starring Don Craig, Robin Hughes, Yanka Mann, this is an unforgettable movie that puts Archie Bunker in drag and then gives him a shovel to smash over the head of everyone he has a problem with.

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things is a deliciously flawed film that never once takes itself seriously.  Low in budget but full of some hilarious moments of domestication gone AWOL, Casey’s little-known film is effortlessly entertaining and completely unhinged as Stanley finds that living with his Aunt Martha, who is spinning out of control with paranoia and malice, is literally Hell on Earth.  

Miami gets its murder on when Aunt Martha comes to town.

5/5 beers

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: AGFA
Available on Blu-ray
- September 29, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
:
Audio:
English mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Dropping somewhere between Pink Flamingos, Blood Feast, and an episode of The Brady Bunch on acid, Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Awful Things is a histrionic psychodrama that could only have originated in the alternate dimension known as Florida. After robbing a bank in Baltimore, cross-dressing Paul (aka Aunt Martha) and his partner Stanley hide out in a Florida town. But it's only a matter of time before Paul's paranoia forces him to embark on a demented killing spree. AGFA is thrilled to present one of the most unforgettable exploitation movies of all time -- and an overlooked chapter of early queer cinema -- preserved from the only 35mm theatrical print in existence.

Video:

This region free Blu-ray presents Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things in 1080p with average results due to the low budget limitations of the original shoot.  Don’t go in expecting gold and silver.  The 2K transfer has been minted from the only 35mm theatrical print in existence and preserves the 1.85:1 experience of the cinema.  While brown and greens pop, reds are a bit washed out and scratches and pops appear from time to time.  Details in the costumes are noticeable from time to time, but - as this is a low budget affair - nothing is consistent.  The truth of the matter is that AGFA’s release is probably the best the film is capable of looking.

Audio:

A Dolby Digital Mono English soundtrack accompanies the film.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is a good commentary with Queer Film Historian Evan Purchell and AGFA’s Bret Berg.

Special Features:

Okay, so along with Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things, fans who pick up this release get The Drag Queen’s Ball (a bonus movie), and the shorts: Gay-In III, Caught in the Can, as well as trailers for other classics from the queer cinema scene. These have all been ported over from the original DVD release from Vinegar Syndrome.

  • Bonus Movie: THE DRAG QUEEN'S BALL
  • Shorts: GAY-IN III, CAUGHT IN THE CAN
  • Trailers: GAY LIBERATION, LUSTING HOURS, MY THIRD WIFE GEORGE, THE QUEEN, SINS OF RACHEL

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971)

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
94 mins
Director
: Thomas Casey
Writer:
Thomas Casey
Cast:
Abe Zwick, Wayne Crawford, Don Craig
Genre
: Horror | Crime
Tagline:
A twisted mind snaps and a wave of terror begins.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I know a lot about babies. I come from a baby family."
Theatrical Distributor:
McLeod Films Inc.
Official Site:
Release Date:
1971
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 29, 2020.
Synopsis: a histrionic psychodrama that could only have originated in the alternate dimension known as Florida. After robbing a bank in Baltimore, cross-dressing Paul (aka Aunt Martha) and his partner Stanley hide out in a Florida town. But it’s only a matter of time before Paul’s paranoia forces him to embark on a demented killing spree. AGFA is thrilled to present one of the most unforgettable exploitation movies of all time -- and an overlooked chapter of early queer cinema -- preserved from the only 35mm theatrical print in existence.

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971)

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