Saturday, October 6, 2007
If John Waters directed a murder mystery with Edith Massey as the murder victim, it would be SINS OF RACHEL. This twisted 1973 ultra-low budget whodunnit takes place in the picturesque setting of Lake Elsinore, CA - a quaint town littered with fine boutiques!
Rachel Waring (played by Massey doppelganger Ann Noble), a plus-sized, terminally bitter, washed-up nightclub entertainer has returned to her hometown to write her memoirs, which promise to reveal the sinful secrets of many people in the small town - basically PEYTON PLACE. But Rachel also has some sinful secrets herself - including an inappropriate relationship with her studly young son, Jimmy! (Sin #1) In addition, we soon learn that slutty Rachel had an affair with a local married doctor (Sin #2) - who soon became a widower.
Meanwhile, Peter - the doctor's son -a violent, often-shirtless, motorcycle-riding ex-con (who knows Kung Fu) has also returned to Lake Elsinore. He blames shrew-ish Rachel for his mother's death. (Sin #3). The plot thickens! Next we meet Hank, who Rachel seduces... with the help of some cash. (Sin #4).
Then there's Reverend Taylor and his daughter, Shirley. Shirley pines for Jimmy. The Rev. loathes Jimmy. Shirley loathes Rachel. Jimmy loathes himself. Turns out Jimmy might be gay - and who's gonna help him find out if he is? How about our shirtless drifter Peter? Remember, Peter laothes Jimmy's mom, Rachel (the Sinner). There's alot of loathing going on in Lake Elsinore - especially when somebody ends up preggers!
All these sudsy soap opera plots would normally be a lot of fun, but whenever Noble isn't on screen, the whole affair becomes a giant snooze. Noble (who also wrote script) is so unusual that you can't look away. She's got a Mrs. Slocombe/Mrs. Naugatuck/Sister George/tragic drag queen thing going on. The supporting actors all actually make her look good, which I guess is the job of a supporting actor.
So Rachel ends up dead - she's a big bloody pile of wig and blood. Detective Jennings intends find out who killed her and why, after all he was helping her write her memoirs!
I've waited a long time to see this flick because the trailer looked so good (the way it keeps showing tighter and tighter close-ups of Rachel's bloodied face is genius) - but I have to say I was greatly disappointed. Except for the amazing Tom Jones- inspired theme song - and some brilliantly wacky dialogue about wanting an abortion, SINS OF RACHEL is sinfully dull. Whodunnit? Who cares? Rent THE LAST OF SHEILA instead. I hate to do it, but 6 out 10 "Huhs?" for the lady.
Something Weird has packaged it with the equally awful SHE-MAN.