Women and Bloody Terror (1970)

The original poster for Women and Bloody Terror promises “terror that explodes in a wild nightmare,” one where “a love psycho goes berserk” and “women meet sudden brutal terror.” The only thing the poster got correct is the title of the movie.

Mrs. Worthington gets out of the shower and gets it on with her husband. He says it’s the best breakfast he’s had in a long time. I’m pretty sure he’s talking about sex here. Or maybe he thought the waffles were tasty. And by waffles, I mean sex. Mrs. Worthington goes to New Orleans to run some errands, which requires her to wear a very short dress. It’s a dress I would wear as a shirt. A seedy gas station attendant named Jerry makes a pass at her and she shuts him down. He fills her car with gas, but secretly he wants to fill her with penis.

Later a restaurant owner makes a pass at Mrs. Worthington. This is one hot minx who’s driving all the men wild, probably because she’s wearing a shirt with no pants. She tells him off, “You’re a disgusting, no-class pig.” He smacks her and then takes off his belt. But a man who drives a Porsche saves her, only to get beat up by a fat maitre d’. Surprisingly, it is Mrs. Worthington who comes to the rescue, which involves a swift kick to the jewels. She and Mr. Porsche end up at his place, making out on a white shag rug. My coworker has two cats that vomit profusely, and he thought that getting a white shag rug was a good idea. It was not.

Soon Mrs. Worthington heads to “a stupid party,” which is actually a disco where beaded headbands and colored lights are in full assault. Here she picks up a tawny stud and sleeps with him. But something is wrong. Mrs. Worthington feels empty inside. Perhaps it is guilt—she is a married woman, after all. This leads to an extended sequence of her looking off into the distance. There’s a plaintive ballad with poignant lyrics: “Lady of careless passion/You are made a special way/After all the night’s desire/Can you pay the price you pay?” This sequence also includes a voiceover of her whispering, “Why? Why! I’ve got to stop this!” Coincidentally, I asked myself that very same question.

Remember Jerry, that seedy gas station attendant? He returns, this time with rape on his mind. But, before we get into that, Mrs. Worthington sleeps with her daughter’s boyfriend, who is played by Gerald McRaney, aka one of the Simons from Simon and Simon. There is scandal! Extortion! And a scene where Gerald McRaney just wants to order a goddamn Coke, thank you very much.

Women and Bloody Terror is light on violence, gore, nudity, sex, and everything else we want in a movie that played on 42nd Street in 1970. There’s nothing shocking or over-the-top or even mischievous. Every opportunity to explore something lurid is either squandered or avoided all together. In other words, all the spicy stuff happens off camera, so what’s left is a mound of bland, gray porridge filled with boring conversations and far too many musical interludes. It’s flavorless gruel that takes 97 minutes to digest.

Despite the classic exploitation storyline—married woman sleeps around while a rapist stalks her—the film is not classic exploitation. It’s almost as if director Joy N. Houck (Night of Bloody Horror, among others) was trying to create an emotional, character-driven film. Here we have a sexually liberated woman of the Seventies who fights back and refuses to be a victim, only to become a victim of her own weak moral compass. There’s no shortage of melodrama; there’s even a scene where a girl flings herself on to her bed and weeps. There’s also a dramatic dream sequence where the characters wear black turtlenecks and wander around an empty room. Clearly there’s ambition here, just not in the exploitive elements. When all is said and done, Women and Bloody Terror feels more like a mild R-rated movie that’s been edited to play on network TV at two o’clock in the morning.

The best scene in the movie comes when Gerald McRaney throws a spatula on the ground.

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