13 January 2008

Death Game

Death Game
United States - 1977
Director – Peter S. Traynor
United Entertainment, 1988, VHS (the cassette label says "VCI Entertainment Presents")
Run Time - 1 hour, 31 min.

I found this thing at the used book store for 3 bucks. I had already found a few VHS refugees, and wasn't sure if I really wanted to drop a big three bucks on something else that looked, well, boring. The box art is fairly uninspired and from the synopsis (most of which I skipped) it sounded like a sleeper and a half. The thing that actually hooked me was the name of co-star Sandra Locke, ex-wife of Sir Clint Eastwood and his shrill costar in Any Which Way You Can, Outlaw Josey Wales, and The Gauntlet, the latter made the same year as Death Game.

I never really thought she was that good looking myself, but hell, it made the concept of Death Game a little more intriguing.
I've seen most of the home-invasion-torture movies out there (I think) and they're all what they are more or less, but they're all the same general idea.

This almost falls in the genuinely shitty category in the first 5 minutes. George and his Karo sweet housewife almost make you puke in your mouth, but then she leaves town for some reason. Good, this is improving quickly. Man alone, thunderstorm, two rain-soaked young girls (Locke and co-star Coleen Camp of HOTS 2 and Apocalypse Now) knock at the door and George lets them in to use the phone and dry off.

With practiced slink, the two ladies quickly have George in the Jacuzzi, and in them. Although the scene is closely edited to reveal very little, it lasts for a lifetime and nearly made me go blind. Blackmail.

Next morning when even I was cringing with satisfied, but crippling adulterous guilt, the girls wake George with breakfast. His guilty recalcitrance doesn't faze them, in fact it seems to strengthen their resolve. No matter how rational or forceful his insistence, the girls won't back down and after tricking him repeatedly, tie him up and subject him to a severe topless beating.

At this point there is no question that these ladies are not so pretty on the inside as they seem outside. What is this, where did this shit come from?
More than physical torture really, is the psychological tragedy they subject this guy to, calling him daddy and telling him horrible child molestation stories then role playing a trial and condemning George to death for statutory rape, all with usually very little on and cloying saccharine innocence dripping from their doe-eyed faces.

With all the creepy sincerity of a deformed baby, moments of predictability are turned on their heads, almost never fulfilled, and followed repeatedly by greater bizarre grotesquery. I have a strong compulsion to watch it again and again and feel dirty for loving it every time.

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