Keep My Grave Open (1977)

I’d love to have heard what people in the 1970’s felt like when they encountered a movie from S. F. Brownrigg at the drive-in. Something like Don’t Look in the BasementScum of the Earth or this truly inspiringly strange affair, a movie that riffs on Repulsion while presenting a woman who is in the grips of madness — or maybe not.

Leslie Fontaine (Camilla Carr) lives in a mansion with her husband Kevin — or maybe she doesn’t or maybe Kevin is her brother, this movie isn’t going to give you any easy answers — who is locked in their bedroom and doesn’t want to make love to her, no matter what she does. Finally, she allows herself to seduce a local teenager — a scene that is the Wikipedia definition of awkward — before “Kevin” emerges and kills the guy with a saber.

Everything proves that Leslie and Kevin are the same person, but at the end, after she consumes pills and broken glass in equal measure, we see her funeral. And Kevin’s there, ready to move into the mansion. There’s no explanation at all for this, but I’m not certain there’s one that will suffice.

I’ve often discussed that the difference between a film seen as art and one seen as exploitation really comes down to the theater that shows the film. This is a movie that aspires to the former while emerging from the muck of the grindhouse and drive-in, a burst of strangeness even amongst the other movies that it would play with.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

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