Psychotronic Challenge 2019 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge: Day 31: American Gothic

DAY 31. THE GOLD WATCH: One set in a retirement home or elderly community. A fitting wrap-up, eh?

John Hough quietly has become one of my favorite directors to seek out. His Hammer effort, Twins of Evil, is one of the best late era films that the studio would make, the perfect blend of Hammer’s sumptuous glamour and style mixed with the coming need for more violence and nudity in their films. There’s also Legend of Hell HouseThe Incubus and Biggles, all very interesting and unique efforts.

Here, Hough brings together Rod Steiger and Yvonne DeCarlo to tell the tale of two old folks and their insane daughter. In fact, everyone in this movie is crazy.

Cynthia (Sarah Torgov, Meatballs) has been destroyed since her baby drowned in the bath. Five of her friends — Jeff, Rob (Mark Lindsay Chapman, who played John Lennon in Chapter 27, which is somewhat ironic, no?), Lynn, Paul (Stephen Shellen, The Stepfather) and Terri — take her on a vacation trip that ends up crash landing on a deserted island. Luckily — but not really — they find a cottage.

The cabin is owned by an elderly married couple known as Ma and Pa (Steiger and DeCarlo). Their weirdness comes out when Pa flips out at Lynn for smoking and gives them the rules, such as no swearing and boys and girls being seperated. Oh yeah — they also have a middle-aged daughter Fanny (Janet Wright, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains) who acts like she is 12 years old.

They also have a son named Woody (Michael J. Pollard), who somehow turns swinging into a death sentence for Rob. And oh yeah — they have another brother named Teddy (William Hootkins, who shows up in everything from Burton’s Batman to Dust DevilHardware and Raiders of the Lost Ark. You’d probably know him best as Porkins from Star Wars).

Fanny has a doll that’s really a mummified infant. And she wants Jeff all to herself, so she uses a statue to stab out his eye and kill him. Actually, everyone dies but Cynthia and then even worse things happen to their corpses, if you can imagine that.

By the conclusion, Cynthia has joined the family as yet another child before the sins of her past cause her to freak out all over again, killing the entire family one by one. This is one of the few slashers I’ve seen where the final girl becomes the killer. This is definitely unlike any other film you’ve seen.

You can get it from Shout! Factory.

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