Blood Mania

Skanky Business
Released: 
1970
Director: 
Robert Vincent O'Neill
Starring: 
Peter Carpenter, Maria De Aragon, Vicki Peters, Reagan Wilson
The Setup: 
Guy starts affair with woman expecting that she'll inherit money.
Discussion: 

So after a few movies I was looking forward to failed in my DVD player, I'm left with nothing to watch, when I peruse my Horrible Horrors collection and recall that it boasts ANOTHER movie by the same people that brought us the delightfully sordid softcore soap opera Point of Terror, and it promises to be an almost exact carbon copy. Both share a star and story by wannabe 70s hunk Peter Carpenter, who maybe overestimates his attractiveness the slightest bit, a fairly similar sordid and steamy quality that no episode of Dynasty could hope to match, and more amazing 70s touches than your mind is probably prepared to process. The other movie is actually a bit later than this one, and while I wouldn't have thought it possible to top that one in terms of shocking 70s visuals, virtually every shot here is guaranteed to kill off several layers of your retina.

We open with these credits that show a woman, who will be revealed to be Maria De Aragon as Victoria, running from an unseen assailant, the shots freezing for moments as a credit appears. During this time we learn that we are to enjoy music by Jimie and "painting by Menij." Victoria is then caught and killed by--HER FATHER! We see that it was her father's dream. We then join the real Victoria, alive and well, as she sullenly serves breakfast to her father, alive but unwell. Bedridden, in fact. Victoria has dismissed the nurse who was ordered to care for him, insisting on doing it herself, which is not appreciated. She's obviously up to something, as her constant po-faced demeanor betrays, and her father openly accuses her of wanting to kill him. Not a lot of family harmony here.

Meanwhile we join Peter Carpenter--who thought up this whole story as a vehicle for himself, keep in mind--as doctor Craig Cooper. His girlfriend is in their large tub with a big scrub brush, and invites Craig in with her. He obliges, and they have a "sensual" bath lightly scrubbing each other with the large and ridiculous brush. At Victoria's house, she removes her clothes and attempts to seduce the pool boy, who gets freaked out and runs away. Cooper arrives, as he is the personal physician of her father, and asks that she reinstate the nurse, but Victoria insists she can take care of her father herself. She comes on to Cooper, hard, but he too is freaked out by her, as indeed pretty much anyone would be. She makes quite clear that she wants a slice of that man on her toast, and he is pretty much repulsed. By now we've had numerous occasions to note the constant softcore lounge music, which, you'll recall, is by Jimie.

So then Cooper's girlfriend is brushing her hair (leave off the brushes, already!) by the radioactive YELLOW bedspread (see photo) when Cooper receives a visit from his old associate Larry, all smugness and tiny cigars. Larry wants fifty thousand clams (not actual clams) or he will expose that Cooper used to support himself by giving illegal abortions. Cooper is forced to consent. And suddenly Victoria, who looks likely to become an heiress any day now, starts lookin' REEEEAL good.

SPOILERS > > >
So Cooper promptly let's Victoria charm his love snake, and you see her taking some little capsule and sticking it under his nose. You're sitting there like "WHAT is that?" because you know full well that straight people don't use poppers, but sure enough, it is poppers, although back in the day it was real amyl nitrate and came in these little capsules. Cooper informs Victoria that they can induce stroke, especially in someone with a preexisting condition, and a virtual thought bubble appears above her head saying "Oh, that's what I'll kill my dad with!" You see, modern chemicals provide simple household solutions. Cooper lets on that he needs fifty thou, and Victoria says that she can get it real easy, as long as he's her man for ever and ever and ever. Cooper says no prob.

Meanwhile Cooper's girlfriend has Larry over, offering him a taste of her tang (not the breakfast drink) if she'll only leave Cooper alone. He agrees, then rapes her violently. Upon conclusion he says "You're good, but not THAT good," which you kind of have to side with, as she's a bit presumptuous to think a shot with her is worth fifty thousand. She then VANISHES entirely from the film, never to be seen or heard from again, which is a pretty cold way to treat a character who just voluntarily got raped all for Cooper's sake. Especially when you again recall that Cooper himself thought of this story. These people are all overvaluing their sexual attractiveness.

That night, Victoria gives dad the amyl, then does what any of us might do next, goes and admires her boobs in the mirror. Sudden cut to dad sitting up violently in bed, mouth red with blood. The next morning Cooper finds the old codger dead, and Victoria won't exactly deny culpability. She finally admits that she did it for Cooper, so he could get him his money. "For ME?!?" Cooper exclaims. Come on, buddy. Don't play stupid. Around now it's dawning on you that Victoria doesn't actually have an evil plan, you thought she MUST, but really is just desperately in love with Cooper. Who thought of this story, I must again remind you. This guy really thinks he is one hot slice.

By this point in the movie you think you won't see too much that will rattle your mind, but oh, how wrong you would be. After a brief appearance by the delightful Alex Rocco as the family lawyer, Victoria's long-lost sister Gail shows up, accompanied by her tart older friend, Kate. Gail has this helmet of blonde hair and that most closely resembles Magneto's helmet upon first appearance. She is in the company of Kate, who has gray hair all weighted to one side, the arch, supercilious delivery of a drag queen, and appears first in this pantsuit I swear was a castoff costume from Space: 1999.

They all gather round for the reading of the will, where it is revealed that dad left nearly his entire fortune to Gail, and nothing to Victoria. This causes Victoria to pitch a fit, and in short order Cooper has confined her to her room and I insisted that she be locked in! Downstairs, Kate tells him he'd better just stay away from Gail now, since she can see what kind of low-down dirty scoundrel he is, not to mention that she can see plain as day that he had something going on with Victoria. He tells her to mind her own skanky business.

Well, sure enough, the conniving bastard's eyes have dollar signs and they're set on Gail, who is frankly so stupid she deserves what she gets. This woman is presented as having the demeanor, and quite possibly the intellect, of a five year old, and speaks in lispy baby talk. Cooper takes her to a Renaissance Faire(!!) and before you know it, they're making out on the beach. Boy, that dude packs a lot of seducing into one day. Later that night, Victoria, who is engaged in painting, sees the two of them cavorting by the pool. By the way, you might take note of the innovative painting's-eye-view we get at about 104:55. Yes, we see what the PAINTING sees.

So Kate sees what's going on, and decides she can have no part in it. Gail catches her packing up and asks her where she's going, and Kate is totally smiling-bitchy in her responses. Then--wait, did Kate just reveal that she's a lesbian? I think she did, but didn't care to go back and make sure. But wait, there's been another major, MAJOR revelation, that is just tossed on like so much empty narrative spice: that Gail was molested by her father! You don't just drop that into the mix as though it's on par with her being from Cincinnati or liking spaghetti, yet that's exactly what the movie does. We see Cooper and Gail making sensuous love by the fireplace, yet when he kisses her she has flashbacks of dad forcing himself on her. Then the movie just moves along, and never mentions any of this again!

So then Gail goes into Victoria's room and offers to give her half the money, and they make nice, then Victoria asks her to leave the door unlocked--she'll be good. Idiot Gail believes her--and gets a statue to the cranium for her kindness. Go Victoria! Let's KILL! So Cooper comes over and finds the body in short order, staggering around going "Why? WHY?" while you at home are like "Why do you THINK, you stupid ass?" But I think the movie is supposed to be making it out like he really loved Gail, it's just that the whole movie is too inept to convey that. He takes her body down to the car, but before you know it--it's back in the bedroom! it was set up there by... LARRY! He was the smug blackmailer, recall. Cooper then stares at Victoria's painting, which shows him, holding a corpse, a stricken look on his face, and then the real Cooper tries his best to make that face in real life--only he shouldn't set himself up for acting challenges he can't meet.
< < < SPOILERS END

Ah, it's like a cool drink of lemonade on a hot summer day. This is softcore sleazy trash the way it was meant to be. I remember really liking Point of Terror (neither of them are remotely horror films, despite their names), but I think I liked this one even more. This one is just really sleazy from moment one, with insane lust happening in Southern California communities (why is movie lust seemingly confined to Southern California?), greed and murder afoot, people who bear only the slightest relation to real humans, and decorating and fashion atrocities every few seconds. Not to mention the underlying fact that this story was thought of by Cooper, who apparently thinks it quite plausible that every woman would fall for him, be raped for him, or murder for him, while he's a not exactly wealthy doctor without a lot to recommend him.

OK now STOP. Emergency. I'm a little lax with looking up my stars to see what else they've been in, but I decided to take a quickie look for this, and was rewarded with a gem--although one I still can't entirely believe. It would seem that Maria De Aragon, who plays Victoria here, also played GREEDO in fucking STAR WARS. Again, I just can't believe it, but there it is on the IMDb, and there's a video of her talking about it. That one pretty much takes the cake.

Anyway, this is a good choice for you to gather a bunch of folks around, get super drunk, and just make fun of. Plus it has the decency not to exceed 90 minutes. If you like sleazy and lurid melodrama with an appealing low-budget vibe, Blood Mania is for you.

Should you watch it: 

If you like it sleazy. REAL sleazy, baby.