Sunday, June 23, 2013

"The House by the Lake" (1976) d/ William Fruet

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Tonight we focus on another rape/revenge number from our northern brethren of the back bacon and golden toques variety (four pounds worth and five, respectively), the sophomore effort from director William Fruet (who would go on to helm such cult genre fare as Funeral Home (1980) and 1983's Spasms), as produced by Ivan Reitman, fresh from Cannibal Girls(1973) and Cronenberg's They Came From Within (1975). Brenda Vaccaro stars as the plucky heroine run afoul of a particularly scuzzy bunch of road hogs, as led by a convincing Don Stroud who runs the goon gamut from common wise ass to gun-toting psycho with ease here. I still remember the re-release on a triple bill with Last House on the Left and House on the Edge of the Park in the early eighties, you know, back when they still did cool things like that.

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"Whattaya mean you don't wanna see a Don Knotts movie ?!!? We are going to see 'Gus', goddamn it !!"
Diane (Vaccaro) is a model who's about to embark on what she thinks will be a groovy get-together at a young doctor's decked out digs, but her date turns out to be a Sneaky Pete pervert of an oral surgeon named Harry (Chuck Shamata) whose impressive bachelor lay out is rife with two way mirrors, and worse still, she's just made a mortal enemy in a denim scuzz leadfoot named Lep (Don Stroud) and his three unwashed cohorts by outdriving them on a country road in Harry's convertible Corvette. "Jesus, that broad can drive...that pisses me off!" ,  grunts Lep. After dropping the 'vette off with two local toothless shine-addicted Bufords at the gas station, the duo excuse themselves for the weekend. While the band of denim brigands hunt down the couple, Harry shows Diane an unpleasant, selfish side that turns her off, and after discovering that she was his only guest, calls it quits prematurely.

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First word...sounds like sideways tracheotomy?
Of course, Lep and company show up at the doorstep and muscle their way inside as Harry's guests for the weekend. The thugs drink booze, smoke reefer, and abuse Harry and Diane, when they aren't drunkenly running over the gas station hayseeds with the surgeon's speedboat in the lake. Soon, Harry's secret perv stash of illicit photos is uncovered, his date is sexually assaulted, he's physically beaten by Lep's booze-soaked sidekicks, but he doesn't go for his gun until the men begin trashing his expensive belongings, earning himself a shotgun blasted face for his selfish vanity. Meanwhile, Diane begins on her destructive path of vengeance, cutting throats with broken glass, blowing up boat houses, and sinking henchmen in quicksand (doesn't it seem like every movie had somebody eating it in quicksand in the seventies? I dunno)
before her final square off against Lep. A policeman investigates the ruins of the gas station and disappears. Nice one, you hoser. In the end, she hotwires a Jeep with Harry's corpse in the front seat and treats Lep like a grinning human rumble strip. Inexplicably, she stops afterwards to remember how Lep touched her and smiled in a flashback. Only in the seventies, I tell ya...

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That's what you get for being a great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jelly, Harry.
You can sift through the well composed frames of this one and find a little bit of  many other films of its ilk, from Straw Dogs(1970) to Last House, but it still offers solid performances by Vaccaro, Stroud, and  Shamata, and I had to appreciate the nuance of the multiple scumbag angle, though the ending was as typically poorly thought out as the films it surpasses, otherwise. On the scale, a respectable deuce for a seedy Canadian cult classic. Worth a look.

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Excuse me, but it looks like you've stepped into a seventies B-movie cliche'.
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mottikod said...

You are right about the quicksand, but its hard to remember any of them.

beedubelhue said...

At least you remembered that I was right...hahaha.


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