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Anatomy Of A Psycho/The Lonely Sex

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Release Date: 
Vinegar Syndrome
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Arthur Byrd
Mark Haggard
Barbara Mills
Lori Rose
Sandy Dempsey
Bottom Line: 

When drive in films are vintage enough they often comes in double feature form for one low special price.  Vinegar Syndrome seems to be establishing quite a name with its twofer assortments.  Let us go back to the early yesteryear of suspense and review two films based on the premise of obsessed troubled young men.

Let it be said while I have no problem reviewing black and white films, and certainly have never kicked a film out of bed (before having my way with it), suffice to say I wasn’t looking forward to this double feature of teen juvenile delinquency, which was one of the most pressing social issues of the day back in the late fifties and early sixties.  For my money, the drive in theater never reached its apex until the age of 70’s grindhouse where unrated films played everywhere and then never anywhere again in public by the late seventies.  These films are quaint, almost cute by comparison in their polite look at teen angst, almost fit for Mystery Science Theater accompaniment straight out of the box. Let’s lose ourselves in the adrenaline fueled tales of two B movies about a couple “Rebels without a clue”.

Anatomy Of A Psycho (1960)

Aside from being a forgotten film, this probably also has the distinction of being the only film in history where the main, mean, antisocial teen character is named “Chet”.  How very street is that? You just know he was doomed from birth to be a badass with a name like that, even if only from getting his ass beat every day by the younger kids.

Surely enough this seems to be an almost prophetic observation in the film because in the beginning moments, we see an inmate sent to the gas chamber, a man who later turns out to be Chet’s father, Duke.  This event immediately puts Chet into an obsessed, angsty “me against the world” mindset which is further complicated by the fact that it is revealed early in the film that his father was a thug who was completely guilty of the crime which he was committed.  So the rest of the film is just watching this dysfunctional, pompadour wearing douchebag generally harassing ex-girlfriends, starting a fire and eventually secretly aiding and abetting a much more serious crime.  How much of a tool is Chet, even by 1960’s standards?  See it for yourself and you will have to agree that Fonzie could have probably kicked his ass, I am guessing even Henry Winkler still could, today at age 70.   There is something of an intriguing subplot involving Chet’s sister Pat and her engagement to Mickey, none other than the son of the eyewitness who rightfully helped send Chet’s father Frank to the chair.  This was too little too late from a film that could be broadcast in its entirety on network TV with no cuts for content, which is the one measurable the mark of a film that lets me know early I will find no ultimate enjoyment in it. This “anatomy of a psycho” was in dire need of some onscreen viscera. Even the final confrontation between Chet and the kindly policeman who knew his game all along is based on a heated exchange of emotional words instead of bullets and the stark, welcome finality they usually bring to any film detailing teen hoodlums facing ultimate justice.

The Lonely Sex (1959)

A shy, troubled, deranged young loner with an inability to so much as openly speak to the opposite sex commits at least one known murder and ultimately kidnaps a young woman named Annabelle Greene, who is none other than the daughter of the psychiatrist he ultimately seeks out in order to stop his perverse, sexually deviant obsession.  Will Dr Greene be able to reach his daughter in time?

This was cut and dried for an old thriller film, aside from one brief scene of exposed breasts, the meaty moments of this one always seemed to be happening off-screen somewhere whether being detailed in front page newspaper stories, discussed by the characters or just genuinely expressed as legend. As is often the case, I imagine the reasons for the conspicuous omissions of this films more sinister moments have much to do with censorship and keeping under budget, which must have been every bit as difficult in 1959 as they are today in modern B movies. The one real peculiar facet of the film, that confounds sure to confound an audience now just as much as back in the day was the doctor’s middle aged manservant named Wyler who happens to be kind of a pervert as well, often sneaking in women’s rooms “accidentally” and at least one occurrence where he watches a woman dress through her window.  Yet aside from these peculiar foibles, he ultimately proves himself as true blue an assistant to Dr Greene as Watson was to Sherlock Holmes.  I was hoping that the two perverts would square off, maybe even have a secret violent, “behind the scenes” confrontation over which one of them was now truly going to be the true “boyfriend” of poor captive Annabelle.  But all of this is a red herring.  Wyler’s strange flesh fiend proclivities are never explained, confronted or justified.  This just smells like shoddy character padding, and sadly since the running time of this film is only 58 minutes; this film sadly could have used more of it. This Lonely Sex was an exercise in solitude and self-debasement for all but the most nostalgic viewers.

As everything Vinegar Syndrome does the print of this release has been remastered, and probably looks as good as it ever will. Teen orientated B movie thrillers were still in their infancy at this time, and in this case this volume will be primarily of interest to vintage, teenage film enthusiast who must have every movie from the 50’s/60’s about greaser crime and delinquency. If that is your taste, this is certainly your box set.

As for me personally, I am going to have to watch CLASS OF 1980 for the fiftieth time and use the modern R rated onscreen depictions of “teens causing trouble” to wash away the ennui caused by this vapid volume, restoring my film going faith in the youth of my own generation, if not the lurid future of all modern movies about evil asshole teens unleashing themselves upon society.

Special Features include nothing.

Safe for work trailer available here!

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