Deadly Weapons (1974 USA)

deadly_weapons_chesty_morganWritten, directed, and produced by the pseudo-pornographic pioneer Doris Wishman, she was a leading figure in soft-core porn/exploitation flicks during the 1960s/70’s. She helped to fill the local ‘grind house’ cinemas with such fare as Keyholes Are For Peeping and Nude on the Moon where astronauts traveling to the moon are surprised to discover nudists are living up there. But she is most notorious for creating this dilapidated freak show about a woman who uses the only two weapons she has to hit back at the men who killed her husband.

The whole movie is like a big car accident: you can’t look at it, but can’t look away either. So you look at it and keep wondering is this a valuable way to spend my time? The most creepy aspect of both Chesty Morgan’s infamous hits (this & the worthless sequel Double Agent 73 ) is the unusually ugly cast that surrounds her. In fact ugliness seems to be the main theme of this crappy ‘film.’ The hideously garish clothing and hair – dig that platinum shag wig! – ugly. The men around her…very ugly, particularly the neanderthal who plays her father. The rock music soundtrack is more interesting, but again, it mostly seems creepy, seedy and cheap.

Some actors ‘call in’ their performances: Chesty never picks up the phone. Maybe the blood raging through her enormous sagging flesh bags hamper much needed oxygen from reaching her brain. It looks like she’s either stoned out of her gourd or she woke up 5 minutes before the day’s shooting. When Chesty does manage to speak a line or two, her thick Polish accent forced the editors to ham fistedly dub over her dialogue. Needless to say, the quality of the dubbing is in line with the film’s over all shockingly low standards, eg, the dubbing is rarely in synch with Chesty’s lips. Furthermore, there are even lines dubbed over shots when Chesty’s mouth is firmly closed. Maybe she’s an amateur ventriloquist.

Wishman’s camera work has many distinctive eccentricities. One of which is meandering from actors having a conversation to zooming in on the wall behind them. Or a lamp. Or their shoes. Yes, there are a quite a few shots of people’s shoes which was maybe aimed at the foot-fetish crowd. Don’t ask me. Another odd trait is noticeable during ‘over-the-shoulder’ conversation shots: the camera will often focus on the back of the actor’s head nearest the camera instead of the face of the person actually being spoken to. Furthermore, I suspect part of the cost-cutting tactics was forgoing the purchase of a camera tripod because the only scenes that aren’t noticeably shaking are the stock-footage inserts.

defaultChesty arrives in Vegas and immediately sets out to find a job as a stripper. A quick glance in the newspaper reveals an enticing want ad: “Burlesque strippers wanted…” And well, she decides to answer the ad, because, deep breath…she’s an advertising exec who’s going to impersonate a stripper so she can murder her dead Mafioso-boyfriend’s killers who whacked him because he didn’t turn over an address book to a guy who has a cross-shaped scar on his hand. Naturally, we have to sit through Crystal’s striptease, and it’s indescribable. First of all, if she had any less energy she’d be asleep. As she perfunctorily slings her groot borste, shots of window curtains can easily be discerned because the walls and carpet are exactly the same as was seen in her house. So every interior shot was filmed in the same house.

She suffocates a one-eyed guy because he confirms that he knows a dude named Tony. I mean, how many men could be named Tony in Las Vegas? This is all the proof she has to convince herself that he is the shadowy Captain Hook who teleported (from her imagination probably) into the front row of her audience. One more thing, if you’re going to use stock footage of a ‘crowd’, and use it as strip club clientele, maybe you shouldn’t use a shot where 90% of the people have gray hair. It looks more like a local Rotary Club meeting.

The pièce de résistance is her final destination. At her father’s house. She tells him about her late hubby giving her a book that she believes was the cause of his murder. Her repulsive daddy understands. He suggests that she get some rest and that he’ll escort her to the police in the morning. That night our Polish heroine is awakened by a strange noise downstairs. The viewer is subjected to a bowling – ball – crashing sound whenever something dramatic is about to happen. She heaves herself out of bed (in an extremely sheer nightgown…everything rude is hanging out for daddy to see) and goes downstairs to investigate.

She discovers dad is searching for her book with a gun in his hand plus the cross-shaped scar on his hand. As she begins to ring the police, her father shoots her…where else…between her boobs. But she’s not done for yet. She should be dead of course as the bullet would have pierced her heart. But no, she is capable of gunning him down before she expires. Only trouble is, he immediately dies from a shot to his rear end. Yet she lived for a minute or two after taking a slug in the heart. This disaster of a movie also felt oddly claustrophobic. To repeat: all, and I mean all, interior shots were obviously filmed within somebody’s house, so I felt like I was sitting inside a stuffy room throughout the whole schmear. Talk about gross!

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