Wednesday, April 1, 2020

You're Just Gonna "Love" This...

Yes, my loves, I know you had probably given me up for dead, but I am back, at least for the time being. Our new normal with the viral concerns has me working from home and five people doing the work of twelve. So, there's precious little time any more. Nonetheless, I had to find a way to get to work on a new post and, at last, here it is. I hope you enjoy it. It's a (very!) little-known thriller from 1972 called Love Me Deadly, which was an attempt by the recently departed Lyle Waggoner to shift his image. Unfortunately, more than a little of this picture still qualified as unintentional comedy! But it's a real hoot to watch and there's a pretty good rendition of it here if you wish to partake of its peculiar charms.

We start at a funeral service, where Mary Wilcox is decked out in her finest little black dress and hat with veil. As the service progresses, she's clutching her pearls, which is something that several people probably did when this flick hit theaters (briefly, I'm sure!) back in '72.

Declining to visit the casket when called upon to do so, she waits until the place has emptied out before making her way up to the deceased. (The body, in this case, is played by the writer of the script - a fringe benefit of the job?) With a combination of apprehension mixed with intense desire, she bends down to the casket to lay a passionate kiss on the mouth of the corpse!
She doesn't realize it, but the chief mortician on site (Timothy Scott) is observing the whole sordid situation from behind a sheer drapery, yet does nothing to interrupt the moment. As she's absorbed in her bit of deadly affection, she flashes back to when she used to climb atop her daddy in much the same way and plant one on him.
She seems to prefer it on top...
Next we see that Wilcox is a well-to-do young lady with plenty of friends. She knows how to dude herself out in the latest fun fashions and loves to hobnob and flirt amongst her guests, one of which is one Christopher Stone, a blond hunk who has an aversion to spending the nights alone.
She goes upstairs to freshen her makeup and hair and he brazenly follows. Ever the coquette, she chides him about heading into a lady's bedroom uninvited to which he replies that he has invited her to his bedroom several times.

His approach is rather forward - LOL - as he steps behind her and grabs her tit. Initially disint- erested by this bit of handsiness, she soon acquiesces and is in his arms, making out. That's not going to be enough for the blond wolf, Stone, so he backs her onto the bed and begins nibbling on her nipple!
She cannot proceed any further and screams for him to stop, but now he's all revved up and won't. So she scratches his face and finally he backs off.

Once he's gone, she cuddles an old teddy bear she keeps handy, recalling how her father had given it to her when she was a little girl. The next morning, she - like my grandma always did, but for a different reason - peruses the obituaries until she finds one she likes!
Now we cut to a seedy section of town. Scott, the mortician, is cruising around in a mammoth car, looking for a young hustler. He spies one who fits the bill, leaning against the entrance to a gay adult cinema.
Best of both worlds; girls on the left, boys on the right. Make sure you pick the right door!
Don't miss the hilarious bit of advertising on the left, "The World's Smallest Theater." Sounds nice and cozy, don't it? Ha ha!
Before Scott can gain the attention of the young man he's after (I. William Quinn), another swishy queen saunters up to the car to offer his own services. When Scott, as politely as he can under the circumstances, declines the offer, the hustler hilariously counters with, "...well up yours, Mary!"

Quinn wants $15.00 in order to get it on in the car, but Scott wants to head to his workplace instead. That raises the price to $25.00, which Quinn is more than happy to get. Up front.

Meanwhile, Wilcox is at a late-night visitation. She's found herself another mid-thirties daddy replacement and does her usual routine of slinking up to the casket and readying herself for a big, sloppy kiss. This time, though, when she goes to caress the corpse's face, his nose begins to come off!!

Horrified, she backs away in dismay and winds up in the arms of handsome Lyle Waggoner. He is the brother of the deceased and explains that he didn't want to have an open casket because of all the facial damage from the accident, but his mother insisted. (Appropriately enough, this body was played by the movie's makeup man!)

She is quite taken with the charming and good-looking Waggoner who reminds her of her own departed father (apparently anyone does!), but declines to stay and chat with him any further, racing out the door into the night.

Now in the bowels of the mortuary, Scott has brought his prey through a back door to the embalming room...! He explains away all the medical style equipment by telling Quinn that he is a "vetinarian." He instructs the young man to undress and climb up onto the examination table.
Quinn complains about how cold the metal is on his back (and whatever else!), but Scott won't have it any other way. He presses Quinn down on the icy table while the young man foolishly insists that "afterwards" Scott will have to drive him home. After what?! Scott soon begins strapping Quinn to the table with large bands, leaving him unable to move.
Why do I need a seat belt for this?!
Though this scenario is similar to that in the recently profiled The Night Digger (1971), I assure you I am not a bondage freak. In fact, even though I enjoyed Love Me Deadly quite a bit, I thought this sequence went altogether too far and was incredibly disturbing.
Diehard, hardcore horror fans will probably eat it up and some (in the wake of Saw, Hostel, etc...) might not even be bothered by it, but I found its grind-house, hyper-realistic, immediate style to be more than a little unsettling. Even so, today's moviemakers with all their technology are completely unable to recreate that gritty verisimilitude that movies like this achieved on a $14.93 budget.

The scene goes on (and on!) as Scott begins to drain male prostie Quinn of all his blood while simul- taneously embalming him alive! Quinn's realistic screams only add to the horror of the scene. (No other part of Deadly is this graphic or convincing in its violence.)

The next day, Wilcox cannot seem to get Waggoner off her mind. She heads to the cemetery for the burial of his brother and surreptitiously watches from afar through a pair of binoculars. For the occasion, she sports a loud lilac ensemble because, you know, when you're trying to sneak up on someone's graveside service, that's what you would pick!
It's a frequent cinematic conceit that showing the view through binoculars is similar to the view above-left, though when one actually uses them, there's only one round image!
Now she's looking up more than obituaries. She's got the phone book out and is searching for Waggoner. She discovers that he is the proprietor of an art gallery, so she determines to go there and see if she can get another good look at him that way.

Off she heads downtown to the gallery Waggoner owns and she glances in the front window. I will say now that this movie, in the person of Wilcox, is a fun, frolicsome fashion show of all the clean, kicky, poly-whatever concoctions one could hope for. And she also demonstrates a lot of versatility with her hair. Anyway... Waggoner is clearly interested in her as well, but she is hesitant to come inside and runs off again.

It's funeral day again (aren't they all?!) and Wilcox is back at the parlor/ mortuary for another viewing (and more, if possible!) This time she's closely watched by the creepy Scott. As she's about to close in for another of her make-out sessions, he interrupts her!
He explains to her that if she were to wish to get closer to the dead than this, he could help her out. She's utterly, well, to use the correct term, mortified and once more goes fleeing out to her Rolls-Royce to make a clean getaway.

Scott, however, cuts her off and even gets into her car, pressuring her to follow the procession to the grave site! Along the way, he continues to explain his position to her, offering that there are others like her in the world, necrophiliacs, who are drawn to making love with the dead! She still wants no part of it, but he looks at the registration on her window visor and notes her name and address before she goes tearing through the mourners with her car.
This blurry, hastily-shot scene (of Scott picking up a female victim/hooker) was filmed after the movie wrapped in order to pad out the running time.
Sure enough and true to Scott's word, a letter soon comes in the mail for Wilcox, in which heoutlines a way in which she can get a little closer to a friendly neighborhood dead man!
Oh, wow, it's bring a friend night!
Desperate to alter her own fate, she calls up the previously spurned Stone (who, thank God, hangs around the house with no shirt on) and asks if he will take her out that night. This way, she may be able to resist the temptation to take Scott up on his ghoulish offer.

After their date, Wilcox wants to end things out in the driveway while Stone, predictably, wants to come inside. (In more ways than one!) She politely begs off, claiming a headache, and tells him she'll be up for more fun next time.

Once inside, there's still time for her to make it to the 11:30pm ghoul-, er get-together. She dolls herself up in another rendition of her funeral-wear and heads to the mortuary. (In her 1920s-ish hat, she is more like "Thoroughly Morbid Millie!") After a lengthy journey through various rooms and corridors, she finally reaches the promised land...
Oh, pardon me... is this corpse taken?
She's repulsed at what she finds, but Scott attempts to indoctrinate her into their furry little group. After taking it all in, she decide that she can't go through with it and does her best Jessica Tandy at Dan Fawcett's place in The Birds (1963), flailing down the hallway and dropping her handbag.
Once again, Scott is able to head her off (she still doesn't know the shortcuts at this place!? Ha ha!) and tells her that her only problem is that she needs privacy for her ritual and that it was wrong for her first time to be in a group setting such as this.

Back home, she is stunned to find Stone there waiting for her! He had called to check on her headache and was concerned when there was no answer, but now is angry that she actually went out again rather than be with him. She tries her best to wriggle out of it and ultimately charms him into going out on another date.

But where do they go? To the art gallery, where Waggoner is hosting an exhibit! Once there, Waggoner wastes no time in trying to get to know the elusive blonde who he's seen briefly a couple of times. Initially very perturbed, Stone eventually finds other fish to fry and allows Waggoner to cut in on his date. I mean, she's not putting out anyway!
Soon they are all friends again, enjoying occasions at a local Japanese restaurant and getting along like gangbusters.
Waggoner and Wilcox embark on a fun and frolicsome courtship, albeit a chaste one. They hike, picnic, but unfor- tunately never go swimming... it would have been fun to see ol' Lyle in his Speedo again! Every once in a while, something will trigger Wilcox and her unusual ideas of love...
Try our new outdoor dining with hearse-side service!
Lyle has a couple of kinds of meat to offer, but she won't bite...!
Waggoner, who feels as if he's found "the one," a pretty, sexy, blonde dream girl with whom he shares so many great times, is immensely frustrated that he can't take it to the next level. Every time they start to get romantic, she begs off. (She crazy??)

After one disturbing night of thwarted romance, she gets a call from Scott that he's found another live one, er, dead one. So she's back at it again that evening. She has adapted her funeral attire this time, wearing a sheer black top with only a couple of pockets hiding the goods.
No, that isn't a young Regis Philbin on the slab...!
Unfortunately, Stone has followed her to the mortuary, having been using a pay phone on the street to score with another chick when he caught her white Rolls-Royce going by. He goes on his own room-by-room search of the facility.

Meanwhile, Wilcox is getting busy with her man. At last she's alone with a daddy figure and can proceed with her warped plans.

Stone stumbles upon a mortuary assistant in the middle of an embalming procedure. He innocently asks where Wilcox might be found and soon lives - or not - to regret it!

His screams cause Wilcox to abandon her current conquest and run into the room where she is stunned to see Stone. Once again thwarted in her pursuit of a nice dead man, she heads home, but is haunted by dreams which may or may not have occurred in reality.
Stone is hoisted in the air and the naked necro- philiacs begin cutting at his clothing, tearing it away bit by bit (although never to the extent that we viewers might have liked!) We do like some naked Christopher Stone...

Unnerved after the incidents at the funeral home, Wilcox is being seen to by Waggoner who really wants to build a life with her. She wants a normal existence, too, if that's possible. Finally, he asks her to marry him...

...and she says, "I will." In a candlelit ceremony (with what appears to be a large, white artichoke on her head), the two exchange vows and are officially man and wife. Now, nothing can stand in the way of their lovemaking.
This is your chance if you ever wanted to see Waggoner gyrating on someone with his buns in the air.
Or can it?
Waggoner is perplexed and frustrated by his wife's apparent frigidity. She's not happy about it either, but remains unable to seal the deal.
Waggoner didn't show his rear end even in his Playgirl shoot, so this is as close as we'll ever get. Love the skimpy tan lines!
Ultimately, he determines that they cannot share a bedroom and that he will wait until she finally comes to him for lovemaking.

The next day, she appears on the patio with a flower for him, just the way she used to bring one to daddy. She's flirty and appreciative of his charms again, but it doesn't lead to anything physical between them.

During her latest foray into the world of funerals, Waggoner spots her driving by and follows her. He watches her enter the infamous mortuary, but doesn't go inside. That evening, she has a new golf bag for their "three week anniversary" along with a new hairdo, but denies having been downtown when he quizzes her about it.
One day, he comes home early from work with a gift for her, but she isn't there. Instead, the twice-a-week house- keeper is there cleaning up. She begins to reveal some of Wilcox's past to Waggoner, having been the household servant since his wife was a little girl. She directs him to the cemetery, where Wilcox is a frequent visitor.
I wouldn't dare spoil the zaniness that Waggoner finds at Wilcox's father's headstone...!
The morning after a confron- tation at her father's grave site, Wilcox is livid that her housekeeper revealed her private information the way she did. In a hilarious moment, she begins disparaging the old woman.
Later, the doorbell rings and Waggoner answers it. A special delivery letter has arrived for Wilcox.

He takes it upstairs to her and, even though they have a planned get-together that evening at his mother's house, they decide to reignite their relationship by taking an impromptu picnic.

When it's time to head to the party, she begs off with another one of her headaches, but insists that he go ahead without her and not come home early because she'll be taking some pills and going to bed. Before he leaves, he finds the letter on her bureau and sees that she actually has a little party of her own planned for that night!

At his mother's dinner party, a clearly dejected and distracted Waggoner has to make excuses for his new wife's absence and accidentally lets it slip that the two are sleeping in separate bedrooms!

He leaves his mother's early and decides to stake out his own home to see if Wilcox does in fact leave for her late-night assignation. He's confused and disappointed when he spies her car zipping out of the driveway and headed to the dreaded mortuary. There, the necrophiliacs are in full swing again, with another handsome victim on the slab...
Watch it with the wax, y'all, I'm only playing dead!

Clearly, by now, Wilcox has gotten over her shyness about group activity! (The bald man, by the way, was one of the producers of this movie and not Edward Norton in American History X, 1998! Ha ha ha!) How does it all wind up? Well... you can click the link in the first paragraph to find out.

I heartily recommend checking the movie out. It's loopy as hell - part gum commercial level romance mixed with creepy horror elements and with an insane musical score. The title number is a scream, too. As it wears on, it sounds like someone might have an embalming nozzle pressed into the vocalist's back! It almost has a Dinah East (1970) feel to it with its low-rung production quality striving to be more and its focus on the male of the species. The poster at right, though, couldn't be more incorrect in several areas!

Wilcox was a shapely, leggy soap opera actress from Canada who graduated to prime-time TV guest roles and movie bit parts. Next, she won movie leading roles in low-budget fare like this. Then she began scoring supporting parts in more expensive movies like The Big Bus (1976), which we profiled extensively some years back. Her big break came when she took part in the SCTV shows and Maniac Mansion, where her comedic skills were utilized. Ultimately, however, she stepped away from show business and became an Anglican minister! One surmises that Love Me Deadly isn't shown in the basement cafeteria for social night...! She is now seventy-two.
Sometimes a prettily frosted young lady and other times you almost look for the telltale Adam's Apple!
You didn't think I was kidding, did you??
Throughout viewing the movie, I couldn't talk myself out of thinking I was watching another blonde, 1970s TV actress, one Christina Crawford - shown here. The resemblance is considerable. Same blonde locks with dark lashes, narrow face, toothy mouth...!
We recently did a tribute to Mr. Waggoner upon his passing and happened to discover this film while doing research for that. While this movie didn't have the career-changing effect he was going for when he accepted it (nor did his only semi-revealing Playgirl spread the year after), we enjoyed seeing him essay another type of part than we might be used to from him. Sometimes, when we are used to someone as a comic actor, it's hard not to expect them to break into something hilarious when they are in a serious role. That doesn't happen here, though it comes close! He was really trying.

Stone was a handsome TV actor (costarring just prior to this in The Interns) who toiled as a guest on countless series before finally landing a significant movie role. That came with 1981's The Howling, which is an enduring werewolf thriller. Having wed Dee Wallace in 1980, they costarred in that as well as 1983's Cujo. He continued to work in TV shows (including three dozen episodes of The New Lassie), TV-movies and films, with and without his wife, until his untimely death at fifty-three of a heart attack in 1995.

Scott was a theatre actor who began appearing very frequently on TV series as a villain, hippie or outlaw. I just happened to see him on an episode of Mannix (as a sinister kidnapper) just before viewing Deadly. He appeared in movies such as In the Heat of the Night (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Days of Heaven (1978) The Electric Horseman (1979) and Footloose (1984) among others. A very prolific career came to a premature end in 1995 when he died of lung cancer at only fifty-seven.

I was going to use this image as my typically snarky "The End," but after dwelling upon Chris Stone for a while, decided what the hell... I'm gonna put his rump at the end of this post instead of the more torturesome one of Quinn, even though the picture is from another movie from this same time period, 1970's The Grasshopper, and not Love Me Deadly. We like happy endings, right?!
The End!


BrianB said...

Considering I've been renting the 2nd floor apartment in a funeral home for 17 years I think I'll give this one a pass! I worked downstairs for several years in the office, greeted people for services and even found myself pushing a casket down a church aisle more than once. It was actually wonderful work helping people through difficult times but I drew the line at the thought of touching the "clients". This movie looks definitely too touchy feely for me!

I do have to laugh at the shots of the love corpses because their skin tones are just as rosy and full of life looking as their "suitors"! Someone has some awesome embalming and makeup skills!

I saw that wedding veil and I knew there was a hilarious description waiting. Mary's costumes and hair were really good but so were the guys. Except for the artichoke!

I don't remember Mary Wilcox on SCTV but maybe in the very early days I might have seen her? I know after Loni Anderson got big with WKRP in Cincinatti, I saw her in a Johnny La Rue sketch with John Candy from an early episode. But thanks for running the more recent picture of Mary, if I see anyone downstairs that looks like her I'll be sure to get the hell out of the building! Oh wait, I don't look anything like he father!


rigs-in-gear said...

Thanks for the hilarious review. The grindhouse morgue is littered with forgotten delights. That this one has been dusted off for fresh eyes to discover makes me smile. There should be an organization like AFI for the preservation of tacky, low budget flicks. Maybe there is but they're just on the down-low like your local necrophilia enthusiast's club.

hsc said...

Sorry to hear about your working conditions, but I'm relieved to hear you're still okay and still posting!

I had to scan through the review quickly, because this is one that I've wanted to see ever since I heard Lyle Waggoner followed up CAROL BURNETT with a necrophilia-themed horror cheapie! Thanks for posting a link to the film itself!

This looks like it largely lives up to expectations, so I'm sure I'll enjoy it-- and I always enjoy your reviews!

Thanks, and be safe and well!

Shawny said...

What a messed up, completely deranged movie that could have only come from the mind of a shamelessly sick individual bent on corrupting the minds of the public. I’m definitely gonna see it!

loulou de la falaise said...

Is it me or is the leading lady ringer for Liv Ullmann?

Gingerguy said...

Thoroughly Morbid Millie! big laugh for that so thank you. Boy did I need it. What I also needed during this wacky time is a trashy movie to watch for ultimate bad taste. I keep getting lists of highbrow streaming and wellness tips. I think this will help the most!
This looks absolutely vile with fun clothes and hair thrown in. Like in "The Fan" getting picked up by strangers not a smart move for gay characters. What a filthy/creepy idea for a movie, I can't wait to watch it! Bravo

Poseidon3 said...

>>I do have to laugh at the shots of the love corpses because their skin tones are just as rosy and full of life looking as their "suitors"! Someone has some awesome embalming and makeup skills!<<

Oh, Brian, surely you're familiar with the phrase, "He looked so natural.. just like he was sleeping..." LOLOL! BTW, I also don't recall Mary from SCTV, but I have only seen a limited number of those (and with Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara around, it would be easy to become overlooked!) In fact, I didn't even remember her from "The Big Bus!"

Thanks, hsc, it's been a ride...! Friday afternoon, an ominous e-mail came out with the subject "Job Cuts" and, sure enough, a large raft of people were let go. I'm still plugging along, but - again - I don't know how much I'm going to be able to post here under the circumstances.

Ha ha ha, Shawny!! Love it.

lou lou, to me she looked like a smash up of Christina Crawford and early Suzanne Somers, but there is a little dash of Liv in there. I don't think Liv was ever quite that tan or quite that blonde!

Gingerguy, I agree... our entertainment these days needs to take us AWAY. I can't believe some people are actually watching "Outbreak" and bragging about it! LOL I haven't done so, but many people are watching "Tiger King" and exclaiming how bad/good it is. I hope you like it when you see it!! Thanks!

Jack said...

We watched this last night and laughed our asses off. I particularly liked the costumes and the music score, especially the Love Theme from Love Me Deadly. We both bust a gut at the queeny hustler...we did actually call each other "Mary" back then? I think Husband and I will get some traction out of that in future weeks. Thanks for pointing out this lost classic! I can't believe I've never seen this, before...did you know there's also a Kiss Me Deadly? I guess it was Cloris Leachman's first movie role.

Poseidon3 said...

Mary, er, Jack, wasn't that title song a scream?? I think one reason why I never really had "Love Me Deadly" on my radar is because any time it came up I probably confused it with "Kiss Me Deadly" and left it at that! I'm sure one is NOTHING like the other....! Thanks for commenting!

Ken Anderson said...

Hi Poseidon
Hope you're all hand-washed and safe these days. I love that you covered this oddity! I acquired back when I was dumpster diving into '70s grindhouse with "Toys Are Not For Children," and couldn't believe clean-cut could involve himself in such a only-in-the-70s sleaze fest. I have no memory of its original release, and I only discovered personal fave-rave Chris Stone was in it after I purchased it.
I enjoyed its weirdness, but like you, that scene with the hustler was too much and went on for far too long.
Lead actress used to take my dance class back in the 80s, but then I only knew her for her hilarious turn as a "teenager" in an episode of Love American Style with Adam West. Understandably, she never mentioned this little opus to me. Very much enjoyed your post on this film and especially the trivia and factoids. Had no idea Wilcox had become a minister!

Poseidon3 said...

Ken, of course you've not only seen this, but own it on video!! Ha ha! Love it...! I went and watched "Toys Are Not For Children" after reading about it on your own fabulous site and it was really something, too. I love these types of movies and even though there were many, there are only a finite number of them in existence and their quality absolutely CANNOT be duplicated today. So much fun whenever I find one. You must have been delighted to pop the movie in and then find Chris Stone listed with a sizable part! Fascinating that you knew Ms. Wilcox. Peoples' lives take such unusual turns and, even though you are in L.A., it's such a small world! Thanks for commenting!