Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sinister Urge (1960)

I'm pretty sure the enigma of Ed Wood will live on forever. If his little b-movies from the fifties and sixties still getting released and appreciated, even in a bad way, until today it mean he was something special. He almost created his own kind of cinema, with hilarious dialogues, fifties kitsch and special effects from hell - but still surprisingly consistent quality. Maybe not THE best quality, but his it shows that he had a specific style and that he tried to refine his storytelling more and more. The Sinister Urge was his last "real" movie, what I've heard anyway, and it's an interesting and not that bad trashy thriller-melodrama about "a smut racket" and a serial killer who lurks on innocent women!

Gloria Henderson (Jean Fontaine) is a cold-hearted and greedy business woman who owns a pornographic film company. Her right-hand man Johnny (Carl Anthony) lures naive women to star in their seedy productions (often against a beefy Hawaiian guy, Henry Kekoanui, with a big moustache - kinda hot actually, if he shaved that facial hair and didn't rolled his eyes like a cartoonish rapist all the time!). This is of course just a small-time business, but everything is owned by a big even seedier company in the background. Anyway, every time one of their actresses is causing problem, they're calling in their expert - a serial killer named Dirk (Dino Fantini) who takes care of them in the most violent and nasty ways! Will the cops stop them? Will Ed Wood get a chance to include a man in drag? The answer is yes on both questions, what did you expect?

The Sinister Urge has all the ingredients we learned to love from Mr Wood: goofy cops, teenagers dancing, men in drag, long dialogue scenes behind desks, tits, fist-fights, over-acting and superb melodrama á la random daytime soap. But here, finally, all of this comes together in surprisingly even mess. It's clearly one of Wood's finer moments as a director and he easily mixes sleaze with a couple of well-staged thriller-sequences. The murders, especially, are nasty and violent and I didn't really expect full frontal boobs, but hey - this movie has it all. I also like the quirky humour, like the porno director who only has an exotic "European" accent when he's directing, but not in private.

Ed Wood always created pure cinema, and there's no chance you ever will believe he's trying to create a reality. This is always set in a very special crazy universe, much like John Waters filmography or much of Ken Russell's cinematic world. An office without anything on the walls could be from any bad movie director, but when the actors start to talk and the storyline becomes more clear it's impossible not to guess that it's the work of another director than Ed Wood. More colour and much of the material could have been written by Waters, but lacking the seriousness that Wood wrote with.

Better than you would think, at trashy, sleazy movie who uses the word "smut" more times than explosions in a Michael Bay blockbuster. When I come to think of it, "smut" could be the perfect drinking game when watching this movie. So go ahead, have fun - and send Mr Wood a thought please.

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