Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Strange Fiction Double Feature

This post is dedicated to the late Jill Hayworth (1945-2011). Way back in 2009 my dvd player was getting repaired, so I decided to watch a couple of flicks that were sitting on my dvr for the past few weeks. I choose two movies that I thought would have nothing in common. Boy was I ever wrong! The first film was Alan J. Pakula's THE STERILE CUCKOO...

...the other one was Michael Armstrong's HORROR HOUSE (also known as THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR).

Okay, you may be saying, "wait a minute there, Doug - one is a poignant character study and the other is a schlocky horror film - how could these two have anything in common?" And you would be right, because on the surface these two films exist in different universes, but in the Dougsploitation world, they are kissing cousins. I will now present my evidence.

Exhibit A : Both films were released in the same year - 1969.  THE STERILE CUCKOO was distributed by Paramount Pictures.
...HORROR HOUSE was distributed by American International.
Exhibit B : Both films feature a star who is known for musical comedy in a rare dramatic role. Liza Minnelli in THE STERILE CUCKOO...
...and Frankie Avalon in HORROR HOUSE.
Exhibit C : Both films are about a group of experimental college-age young adults. Liza has an awkward sex scene...
...and Frankie has an awkward hex scene.

Exhibit D : Both films feature extensive scenes set at a party where drugs, booze and cigarettes are consumed in great quantities. Liza gets drunk and carries on with her boyfriend's roommate....the HORROR HOUSE gang all get drunk and carry a search for their missing friends.
Exhibit E : Both films have characters that are dealing with tragic childhood events. Minnelli's Pookie had a mother who died in childbirth...

...and HORROR HOUSE's Richard had a family incident from his childhood that left him an orphan.

Exhibit F : Both directors were nominated for prestigious screenplay awards in 1983 for subsequent films - Pakula for SOPHIE'S CHOICE......and Armstrong for HOUSE OF LONG SHADOWS.
Exhibit G : Both films feature scenes of orgy-like behavior. Will Liza cross the threshold of pleasure?
Will Frankie cross the threshold of terror?
Exhibit H : One film features a character named "Dorothy" who looks like Goldie Hawn...

...the other features an actress whose mother played a character named "Dorothy" and co-starred in a terrifically terrible CBS TV special with Goldie Hawn!

Exhibit I : Liza gives a gripping performance which highlighted her acting chops and set the stage for the Award-winning performance in the film version of CABARET...

...while Frankie gripped a flashlight, setting the stage for his role of Teen Angel in the film version of GREASE!
Exhibit J : Both films featured stunning wardrobes......and hair styles!

Exhibit K : Liza's storyline has a tragic ending.

Frankie's storyline has a MORE tragic ending...
I rest my case.


John said...

I survived both films and Sterile Cuckoo was more horrific!

Stacy Helton said...

Thanks for the memory - I remember that opening scene in CUCKOO, where dad is dropping her off (at the bus station?) while COME SATURDAY MORNING is playing being haunted and depressing...that idea in the past that college was this finite thing that made you an adult, and not the bring-the-laundry-home-on-the-weekend college we have now. Excellent post, as usual...I feel like Annie Potts in PRETTY IN PINK, when Molly told her "You're going to OD on nostalgia."