The Stepmother (1972)

Hikmet Labib Avedis may not be considered one of the best directors of all time, but he should be known as one of the most entertaining. Throughout his films, I’m never anything but into the story and wondering what happens next.

Take The Stepmother, a film which prefigures the adult world of today by presenting the story of, well, exactly what you think a stepmother is going to do. Just take a look at the tagline: “She forced her husband’s son to commit the ultimate sin!”

Architect Frank Delgado (Alejandro Rey, TerrorVision) returns home to find the car of his client Alan Richmond (Mike Kulcsar, Raise the Titanic!) in the driveway. Thinking that his wife Margo (Katherine Justice) is having an affair, he follows the man home and strangles him, then buries him at the beach.

But now, he’s taken a whole group of people — his business partner Dick (Larry Linville!) and his wife Sonya (Marlene Schmidt, Miss Universe 1961, who was also Avedis’ wife), as well as porn director Goof (David Garfield) and his wife Rita (Claudia Jennings! — to the home of the man he just killed.

Of course, all manner of shenanigans ensue, but the movie never goes as far as you’d expect a 70s exploitation movie to go. Trust me, Avedis would eventually find his way to better work, but hey, we should all be so lucky to watch Claudia Jennings in a movie.

Despite this being a drive-in film, composer Sammy Fain and lyricist Paul Francis Webster were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Strange Are the Ways of Love.”

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