Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971)

Stanley and Paul. Paul and Stanley. Paul Stanley. Back in the day, he played guitar in KISS. He sang about “Room Service.” Sometimes, he looked like a woman. Do you see what I’m getting at?

In Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things, Paul (Joseph Bracci) dresses up as Aunt Martha. Stanley (Wayne Crawford, God’s Bloody Acre) is his man-child lover. Since fleeing Baltimore, they’ve left a trail of blood, sex, and death, but room service is nowhere in sight. Unless, of course, you count a butter-knife Cesarean in a cruddy shack. Now we’re talking! Harry Kerwin, Brad Grinter, William Kerwin, Thomas Casey; this is the Miami Exploitation Club reunion we’ve been waiting for. Best of all, Paul Stanley is positively not invited. He’d hog all of the cocaine.

Brawny, bitchy Paul/Aunt Martha and sniveling Stanley have recently rented a house in a ‘burb of Miami. They robbed and murdered in Maryland, so it’s time to lay low. Stanley doesn’t get it. He keeps partying with girls (pot, brewskis, cocaine), driving around in his painted VW, and collapsing at any hint of straight sex. Aunt Martha is on it. Auntie Paul disposes of the women that Stanley brings home with a swift slice of the butcher’s knife. Sadly, the guys’ heavenly bliss can’t last forever. When Stan brings home a slobbering male junkie, the world begins to unravel. Brad Grinter (Blood Freak) and William Kerwin show up as cops. And it’s gonna get ugly.

Aunt Martha is one of the most bizarre concepts ever presented by a narrative exploitation picture. It feels like Glen Or Glenda under the guise of Andy Milligan (on a good day). Sure, this all seems very humorous and outrageous to us . . . but what about THEM? The coin flips. Hateful spirits, go-for-broke performances, and the constant disruption of innocent expectations all push the film into startling, confined madness. As presented, this exaggerated slice of life becomes the norm for 95 minutes. That’s how it grabs you. So along with the mismatched 60s sitcom sets and music cues, hilarious dialogue (“That . . . BASTARD!”), and frequent beer drinking scenes, you’re left with a rattled set of nerves and the smirk to match.

All sorts of people do dreadful things, but Aunt Martha takes the cake. Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things is a little-known cog in the interesting 1960s/70s Florida exploitation clique. See it once and it’ll stick with you forever.

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