Here’s another installment featuring Joe Dante’s reviews from his stint as a critic for Film Bulletin circa 1969-1974. Our thanks to Video Watchdog and Tim Lucas for his editorial embellishments!
Heavy sex elements will help sell this crude, inept Danish import to the undiscriminating in ballyhoo situations. Makes up in obvious exploitation values what it lacks in quality and suspense. Rating: X.
Cinemation Industries’ promotion for WHIRLPOOL claims the Danish import is “more shocking than PSYCHO, more sensual than REPULSION, more nerve‑ripping than BABY JANE.” Although none of this happens to be true, the picture is far dirtier than any of the above, and this—combined with arresting hard‑sell ad approach—will make it a money picture for all types of ballyhoo houses and drive‑ins catering to less discriminating, voyeuristic thrill‑seekers. The sex stuff, both straight and “bi,” is extensive, detailed and horny enough to atone commercially for WHIRLPOOL’s obvious failures, chief among which is a crude, outrageously contrived and occasionally risible story featuring numerous horror clichés from PEEPING TOM, PSYCHO and various others. These well‑worn, gimmicky elements have no bearing whatever on the asinine outcome, which is as sick as it is pointless.
Stilted dialogue, bad lighting, murky color and ragged editing are also in evidence, with C.H. Child’s unimaginative photography accenting the drab. At times, though, Stelvio Cipriani’s music is a big help. Director J.L. Larrath’s script, based on what is hopefully termed “an idea” by producer Sam Lomberg, has pill‑popping lesbian middle‑ager Pia Anderson inviting her latest crush, pretty fashion model Vivian Neves (who looks great throughout), to her isolated woodland house where she shares an unhealthy relationship with epicene, camera‑mad young “nephew” and part‑time necrophile transvestite Karl Lanchbury. Miss Anderson and Lanchbury inebriate their shapely visitor with gallons of alcohol and some funny cigarettes, then entice her into a strip poker game, which leads to a heavy nude make‑out session between the two youngsters while Miss Anderson nibbles her nails in frustration upstairs. “I get the impression all this has happened before,” Miss Neves remarks, in a flash of insight.
Next day, Lanchbury frantically shoots pictures of her while a lusty friend rapes her in the woods. Compliant soul that she is, our heroine is momentarily miffed at this treatment, but sticks around anyway—long enough for a big, graphic, no‑kidding three‑way orgy, with nephew capturing most of the lesbian stuff on film. Over the ecstatic 20‑decibel moaning and groaning which accompanies all this, Lanchbury hears a twig snap outside and takes time off to go out in the woods and stab a nosy Scotland Yard type. Next morning, plucky Miss Neves finds a few photos in the Forbidden Darkroom which cue a black‑and‑white flashback showing how a previous lady guest was accidentally knifed while Lanchbury and his oversexed pal were letting an old bum rape her during a nude outdoor photo session, and her body dumped in the river. How Miss Neves gleans this whole story from a couple of still photos is anybody’s guess. Lanchbury chases the half‑nude girl through the woods, traps her, kisses her, stabs her to death and kisses her again. She plops, dead, into the mud. The End.
1970. Cinemation Industries (Athena Films Production). 92 minutes. Eastman Color by DeLuxe. Karl Lanchbury, Vivian Neves, Pia Anderson. Produced by Sam Lomberg. Directed by J.R. Larrath [José Larraz].