LOVE AFTER DEATH
B&W, 1971, 71 mins. 37 secs.
Directed by Glauco Del Mar
Starring Guillermo De Córdova, Roberto Maurano, Carmin O'Neal
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD),
Image Entertainment (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
1970, 78 mins. 44 secs.
Directed by Robert Canton
Starring Harold Herbsman, Janis Young, Jennifer Welles, Allen Garfield, Robert Heinz, Osgood Scott
AGFA / Something Weird (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)
Among its many joyous assaults on DVD-buying consumers' sensibilities, Something Weird caused a few heads to spin when people got to the centerpiece of an outrageous 2003 triple feature that started off with the insane The Atomic Brain (a.k.a. Monstrosity) and wrapped with Jerry Warren's head-scratching The Incredible Petrified World. Stuck in the middle was a mystery film called Love After Death, taken from what is apparently the only 35mm print around and bearing the on-screen title of Unsatisfied Love. Boasting a visual style so close to Doris Wishman it hurts (right down to the disembodied dubbing and random feet shots), this one's been passed off as an Argentinian import right down to its enigmatic director, Glauco Del Mar. Exactly where it came from was anyone's guess [edit: mystery solved!] with the one-shot actors offering no help either, but it's an outrageous treat courtesy of a fly-by-night outfit called Charles Abrams Productions whose output is almost entirely represented on this double feature Blu-ray from the kind folks at AGFA and Something Weird.
As mourners prepare to bury him, the cataleptic Montel (Córdova) remains very much conscious and internally pleads to be left above ground. After being buried (under about an inch of soil), he finally regains his motor skills and climbs up in a disoriented state that spurs him to slap on a pair of sunglasses and go on a sex crime spree. Meanwhile his two-timing wife, Sofia (O'Neal), is cozying up to the family doctor (Maurano) and claiming she's still a virgin due to her late husband's sexual dysfunction, which has now been cured by what amounts to premature burial Viagra. As Montel stumbles from one bizarre would-be carnal encounter to another, it's only a matter of time before his path crosses once again with his conniving spouse.
The very thin excuse for a plot here is mostly a device to deliver lots of nudity and random plot twists, including a crazy detour involving a drag queen and the obligatory lesbian interlude that almost every softcore film around this time needed to provide. The horror elements are mostly confined to the opening and closing five minutes, with the Poe-inspired curtain raiser recalling the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Breakdown" (which in turn more or less inspired Short Night of Glass Dolls). That doesn't mean the bulk of the film is any more normal though with a flood of inscrutable dialogue and wild library music tracks (including an early one that'll make George Romero fans smile) making this a prime example of sexploitation insanity that still hasn't quite found the cult following it should've earned. The transfer here is obviously limited to what survives but looks quite good overall with nice black levels and crisp detail; there's a substantial amount of minor damage throughout including a handful of scenes that turn into speckle city for a few seconds, but it's a big upgrade over the DVD and likely the best this will ever look unless some maniac decides to mount a full-scale restoration attempt.
Tucked away in the special features is a second movie from the Abrams stable, The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, which looks at the seedy underside of New York politics like you've never seen it before (or since). While running for the state senate, Bruce Harrington (Herbsman, a.k.a. "Harold Retlow") gets ready for a big photo shoot with his wife, Helen (Young). His chain-smoking manager, Michael (Heinz), wants to make sure the couple is "clean as a whistle" despite the fact that Helen had a severe breakdown not too long ago... and now she's being blackmailed by the sleazy Ralph (Scott), who has some nasty pre-nuthouse photos of her at a drug-fueled orgy and makes her strip in the vestibule for good measure. At the same time, hard-boozing family chauffeur Moreno (Cry Uncle!'s Garfield) is having trysts out in the woods with the maid, Elizabeth (Welles), a subplot that intersects with a nasty accidental scissors slaying and more dark family revelations that could put the Harringtons' political aspirations on ice for good by the time the journalists show up. Hugely entertaining and packed with weird plot turns all the way to the nicely ambiguous closing shot, this one's definitely not to be overlooked and a nice opportunity to see Wells (with a very dark hairdo), one of the busier softcore (and later hardcore) actresses of the era who also had some admirable acting chops to boot.
Previously available as a VHS and digital download from Something Weird, this one's gotten a fresh scan from what's cited as the only 16mm print in existence. Unavoidably, it looks softer than the main feature but is still quite watchable overall and a nice leap over what we've had before with damage limited to just minor wear and tear in a few spots. Both features also come with optional English SDH subtitles, which can come in very handy with some of the more muffled dialogue deliveries. Also included is "One Woman's Opinion" (25m13s), a promotional color 1961 short film from Denver, Colorado's Eastlawn Memorial Park about average American couples figuring out how to work together to determine their final resting places -- just like choosing their "new home, their new car," which leads to a broader look at the importance of taking care of this final obligation. Interestingly for '61, the short (listed as "Cemetery Sales" on the extra menu) actually splits its running time looking at how white and black couples approach the task, including how it impacts their religious practices. Pulled from the seemingly bottomless supply of obscure Something Weird student films is 1973's "The Greening of Willie Gobblee" (7m18s) from New York's Kirkland College, about the surreal impact an anniversary present of a big plant has on the bespectacled husband of the title. Watch this with the tree segment from Tales That Witness Madness for extra plant-loving fun. Finally you get the usual trailer reel, this time featuring the live spook shows The Crawling Thing from Planet #13 and The Man Buried Alive, The Game People Play, Housewives and Bartenders, and Infidelity American-Style.
Reviewed on May 2, 2021.