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Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things 
Written by: on November 2nd, 2015

Theatrical Release Dates:
USA, 1971
Director: Thomas Casey
Writer: Thomas Casey
Cast: Abe Zwick, Wayne Crawford, Don Craig, Robin Hughes, Yanka Mann

DVD Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Approximate Running Times: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $17.98

Synopsis: Aunt Martha is actually Paul in disguise hiding out from a burglary murder committed with his partner Stanley. Paul has severe emotional issues which are not helped by Stanley’s frequent frolicking with hippie chicks. But what can he do about it?

This delightfully deviant odyssey into Florida-based cinematic obscurity is incredibly ‘out there’, man. From the psychedelic van to the often nude and nubile young women that constantly throw themselves at Stanley it’s truly out-of-sight. Not to mention the large quantities of beer, whiskey, coke, and pot that everyone frequently consumes. Yes, heroin as well. It doesn’t feature much in the way of gore anymore, those scenes appear to have been trimmed and re-edited. Despite all this, deep down it’s actually a serious evaluation of a dysfunctional family situation.

Paul is the possessive mother with a tidiness fixation played to the hilt by Abe Zwick. The son entity is in the character of Stanley, a man child babe magnet that’s not all there upstairs. Take ‘All In The Family’ and remove the women (eliminate might be more appropriate) and put Carroll O’Connor in drag and there you have the basic setup. Instead of the nosey Jeffersons next door you have a pregnant woman with a thing for birthday cakes and her hot teenage daughter across the street. Add an abandoned getaway cabin in a back lot and you have the perfect setting for mayhem. Paul can chomp a cigar as well as Archie Bunker any day.

Abe Zwick gives a standout performance, and Wayne Crawford (God’s Bloody Acre) has charisma and drifts in and out of reality quite well. There’s a great transistor radio topless dance in addition to the occasional slasher murder. The film presents an aspect of homosexuality between Paul and Stanley, but it’s actually ambivalent to the point of irrelevance. They are quite definitely emotionally and mentally disturbed, respectively.

The DVD:

First home video availability in the proper aspect ratio, this print from AGFA has a few minor flaws but overall the image is sharp and the colors are vivid. There is grain, especially in darker shots as there should be. There is some color fluctuation here and there and one brief section of green specks.

This is easily one of the best low budget independent features from the era, helped immensely by a pervasive and perverse sense of humor. Be forewarned that the gore was probably cut to avoid an ‘X’ rating due to violence, profanity, nudity, alcohol and drug use. I might have left something off that list. Outrageous, yes; but I like it too.

Note: The American Genre Film Archive is a not-for-profit organization its mission to save forgotten exploitation fare and transfer to digital format before they are lost forever. http://americangenrefilm.com/ Good save, guys.

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