Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Thin - Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things( Blu Ra [101 Films - 2022]
The wonderfully entitled Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things is a mix of wacky sit-com, psychodrama, and bizarre/ badly fated romance. The early 1970s American low-budget film nicely flirts with both sleazed trashy-ness and chuckling-in-the-dark satire of both the formal nuclear family and hippy-ness. As part of 101 Films UK's reissue of the AGFA cult film library, here we have a region B blu ray release of the film- with the disc taking in a commentary track, a bonus film, and a few shorts.
Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (aka Damn You, Aunt Martha, Don't Spank Baby) which was from the year 1971. It was the only feature-length film of Thomas Casey who wrote and directed the film, though he also has editorial credit of Bill Rebane’s Monster a Go-Go (1965), and cinematographer credits for the 1970 films Flesh Bird of Aquarius, Penny Wise, and Flesh Feast- which he also wrote the script for.
The film focuses on a pair of on-the-ran criminals hiding out in sunny US suburbia. We have Paul (Abe Zwick) who has started dressing up as a middle-aged woman as not to cause attention, and Stanley (Wayne Crawford) a dumb/ gangly man-child. Stanley keeps going out and getting stoned, making out with hippy women. While Paul plays the terminal annoyed/ frustrated her indoors. Though there is a twist- Paul is in love with Stanley, and unfortunately, he’s a psycho-killer taking out those Stanley spends time in his stoned state.
The film wonderful slides 'n' shifts between wacky and deranged sitcom, with the pair making for an amusing odd couple. Jarring and disturbing dips in sweaty/ inversed image bloody stalk ‘n’ kiss. Hippy trippy drug-taking and breast-shaking action. And up-scale suburbian satirising.
Both the leads Zwick and Crawford are good, with some great comic timing/ chemistry between the pair. Other worthy mentions go to pudgy and devious heroin addict Hurbet (Don Craig), and nosy air-headed neighbour Mrs Adams (Yank Mann). In its final act, the film takes a decidedly deranged, then sad turn. The picture runs at one hour and thirty-five minutes, and while it lags slightly in places, on the whole Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things is a darkly amusing and unashamedly sleazed slice of trashy satire.
Moving onto this new region B Blu Ray, and the main film's print looks pretty go for a grindhouse film from the 1970s- though it’s far from a crystal clear/ spotless transfer. On the extras side, we have a commentary track from queer film historian Evan Purchell and AGFA’s Bret Berg- it’s fair to say this is much more of a chatty affair, as there seemingly isn’t a whole lot known about the film, its actors, or director. They start off commenting on the film's psychedelic/ deranged credits which don’t really fit the film itself. They briefly talk about the films filming location, which was in and around Hollywood Florida. We get little titbits of info on the director, who apparently was the editor of a Florida magazine called The Outlook, and with his father in the 1950’s he set up a studio in the area to trying and tempt film production down to the state. We get interview quotes from the actor who played Stanley- who said that the initial four weeks shoot zoomed up to sixteen, though there is no explanation why this occurred. They comment on how sweaty pulp paperback the film is, and discuss how much of the campness was intentional. They touch briefly on other gay-themed films of the time, and how the film stacks up to those. Later on, they discuss a few of the supporting cast make on-screen observations and more- it’s an ok track, I guess.
Otherwise, we The Drags Queens ball- this is from the year 1970. It runs at the 47. 37. And it does what it says on the box, so we get a drag variety show- with solo acts, duos, and largely collectives. It’s a largely dialogue-less affair, though we get quite a bit of groove music. Otherwise, there is Gay In III- this run at the 9.53 mark and gives us a look at a gay music fest. There’s Caught In The Can- which runs at 6.59 and looks like it comes from the sixties. It finds two buddies who decided to dress up in drag and go out for the night out. We lastly have a trailer reel, featuring similar films.
Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things really is a wonderful unbalancing and trashy romp- mixing high camp soapiness with psychodrama. I have enjoyed most of this reissue series thus far, but I must say this stands as one of the highlights- as it’s such a difficult to fully classify/ tie down. To pick this up direct drop by here.Roger Batty