Lindsay Finch (Mary Charlotte Wilcox, The Beast of the Yellow Night and Psychic Killer) loves to go to funerals, where she mourns and then kisses the dead men passionately after everyone else leaves. Throw in a theme song that sounds like it comes out of James Bond while we see flashbacks of her relationship with her dead father and visiting his grave and pigtails and I’m all in.
She has swinging hippie parties at her pad and her friend Wade (Christopher Stone, the late husband of Dee Wallace who appeared with her in Cujo and The Howling) tries to get with her. Just when it seems she’s giving in to his makeout moves, she screams at him to stop and he calls her a bitch, because this is 1973. She dreams of her father in yellow hued flashbacks and hugs a stuffed animal.
Later, she goes through the funeral notices to find the services for young men. We then meet Fred McSweeney, a mortician, as he picks up a male prostitute. That job is just a cover for his true love — a Satanic coven that meets at night, inside the mortuary, where they have orgies with dead bodies. McSweeney takes the young man to his workplace where he pumps the manwhore full of embalming fluid while he’s still alive, all while Lindsay goes to another funeral where she tries to make out with Bobby. She’s surprised by Alex (Lyle Waggoner, TV’s The Carol Burnett Show and Wonder Woman, as well as the honor of being the first nude centerfold in Playgirl and the appointed mayor of Encino, California), the man’s brother.
Speaking of that embalming scene, it goes on and on and on, with the young man screaming, “I’m blind!” over and over. It’s nearly campy instead of frightening. To say this film has an issue with tone is an understatement.
Lindsay sneaks out to Bobby’s funeral, where she starts to associate Alex with her father. He’s a rich gallery owner and they begin a romance — one she refuses to consummate, even after they are eventually married. Every time she sees him, we get yellow hued flashbacks with a music box soundtrack of her playing with her father. But more about that in a little, OK?
McSweeney speaks to Lindsay after he catches her at a funeral, telling her that he has a group that she should join. Yet she tries to remain normal, even going on a date with Wade that fails. That’s when she decides to see what McSweeney’s group is all about.
She walks into an orgy with the dead, which freaks her out enough to go back home. Then she and Alex fall in love with no dialogue, just a montage. It’s a strange part of an incredibly strange film, with this happy go lucky relationship coming out of nowhere in a film otherwise about sex with dead people.
Lindsay keeps talking to the cult and ends up getting a dead body of her very own. But Wade follows her and is killed by McSweeney. She screams in horror. This scene wasn’t n the original script, nor was the Satanic group in the one that follows, but were used to pad out the film and add more horror elements so that it would potentially play drive-ins better.
Again — tone being all over the place — we’re treated to a nude cult disrobing Wade’s corpse and having their way with it before Lindsay awakes screaming. But the marriage isn’t working out well, with Alex following her all over town and their maid — complete with the most stereotypical Irish accent ever — telling him that his wife spends her days at her father’s grave, wearing pigtails and dressed like a little girl. You should see the look on Alex’s face when he catches her as she yells, “This is not your place, go away!”
Alex tries to get Lindsay to go on a holiday to visit his mother, but he discovers a registered letter from McSweeney to his wife for a meeting at 10 PM. He follows her to the mortuary where he discovers his wife surrounded by nude devil worshippers as she makes love to a dead body. She looks frightened and then McSweeney murders Alex, which calms her.
McSweeney drugs her as she lies in her bed, then brings in her husband, now embalmed so he can last forever, finally a man who she can be attracted to: the combination of her father — who we see in flashback being shot accidentally by her — and the man she fell in love with. The editing here — combined with dissonate instruments and a remix of the title theme — is crazy, like this film has suddenly become Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
We see intercut shots of Lindsay getting under the covers with her dead husband and her getting in the coffin with her father as everything goes sepia tone and the theme song returns.
Love Me Deadly isn’t for everyone. It’s one of those films that I hesitate to recommend to normal folks. But it is the kind of movie I text people about in the middle of the night.
Code Red has released this film on DVD, but it’s still rather hard to find. It’s up on YouTube, where I found it. It’s…well, it’s something. If you enjoyed The Baby, well, then you’re on the right wavelength of this one.