Saturday, January 17, 2009

Film Review: Die Screaming Marianne

I figured with my enjoyment of Frightmare and House of Whipcord that I must have judged Die Screaming Marriane too harshly the first time around. As a result, I headed for the trusty movie rack, determined to give it another watch. What I found leads me to issue the following apology:

Dear Pete,

In my review of Frightmare, I repeatedly questioned your film making ability based on the quality of Die Screaming Marianne. I have now descovered that I've never watched said film, and the film I was disappointed by was actually the Amicus flick The Flesh and Blood Show. As a result I owe you a huge apology. No words can express my self disappointment for making such a foolish and careless mistake. I do not expect you to forgive me, but please humbly accept this review as a means to amend the damage I may have caused to your psyche.

Now that we have that out of the way, I think we can start this one with a renewed sense of good will. I know I sure feel better unburdening myself and as a result am ready for some dyed-corn-syrup fueled good times.

Die Screaming Marriane
Director: Pete Walker
Starring: Susan George, Barry Evans

The menu music sounds like a death match between Traffic and The Ides of March. While I would pay good money to see that, I'm also cool with the shot of skimpy bathing suited Marianne frozen in a watusi of gore...

We open on top of a hill, overlooking a house. A scary house if the frenetic violin soundtrack is to be believed. To me it looks like the only thing creepy about this place would be watching it slide down the hill in a heavy downpour. Then again, looks can be deceiving, while violins typically are not...

As we make our way down the hill, we find that this is no home at all, but a dance club. A dance club featuring Marianne (The Hips) McDonald and two other performers who look vaguely like cartoonish drawings. That aught to make for one sexy show!

Just then, a jeep pulls up and it's a couple of Navy boys, there to collect their wayward comrade who apparently decided to put 'The Hips' to the test. When Marianne awakes to find her salior had shipped out, her disappointment rings out on the strings of a spanish guitar. Why must they always leave you Marianne? Was it your hips? Were they not all they were advertised to be? Alas, I'm sure there will be other sailors, or, as it turns out, balding greasy Spaniards in comically wide neck ties...

Turns out baldy and his pal Steve McSpain have something other than hips on their minds. Time will tell if they're hoods, looking to collect owed money, or the fuzz looking to collect Marianne and turn this into a women in prison film. Luckily for Marianne, she makes her escape just before baldy can nab her and finds herself on the lamb, being chased not just by Spain's latest casting of The Odd Couple, but also by a horrid Judy Collins style ballad... IMDB tells me that this horror is being inflicted by Kathe Green, who I can only assume was 'giving the hips' to dear old Pete to land herself this number...

Just as Marianne, who's theme tells us... REPEATEDLY... that 'love is not for', thinks she is free and clear of both the Spaniards of questionable integrity and the smoulderingly loungy self-ballad, she damn near gets run over by a Monkee in a hot rod.

Marianne is understandibly upset, having almost gotten smashied and all, and poor old Peter Tork is none too happy either. Here he was, driving along in his kit car, wearing a pair of silvered dinner plates over his eyes, and out of nowhere a tiny-dressed blond jumps right out in front of him? I mean what are you going to do right?

You do as Tork does, you offer her a lift...

As Marianne seems to have no problem shacking up with, and 'hipping' random military personell, she certainly has no qualms about accepting a ride from a mop headed young sports car enthusiast, so the two set about on their merry way...

We are treated to an odd driving-with-voiceover scene in which we find out Marianne and her new Monkee aquaintance are going to make their way from Spain, through France, and into England. This is where Peter is headed, obviously to spend some time with band mate Davy Jones, and Marianne is fine 'going all the way'... I'm not sure, but I think Pete is trying to tell us something...


It's time to stop what your doing and enjoy the Credits Dance!

Pete even throws in a little Bond 'grooving in negative', just so we know the film we're watching is British

Tork's sonic sportster apparently travels at the speed of credits, because by the time the dancin' is through, we find Marianne and her main squeeze, who's legitimate film name is Sebastian (though I still prefer Peter Tork), living in a British flat, and Sabes talking marriage! We'll Ms. Hips McDonald will have none of that sort of foolishness... I mean, marriage means not 'givin' the hips' to assorted strangers, or galivanting in the countryside in mini dresses accepting rides from pop-star look alikes. That's not a life for our Marianne, she's a free spirit. Besides, you don't propose marriage in a shirt like that.

Regardless, Sabastian's good friend, Eli Frome is already waiting down stairs with a car, all tricked out with 'Just Married' ribbons. He's got a ring, and can get it done today, which sounds like a good enough reason to get married, so Marianne puts aside her convictions and goes along for the ride... That is, until she hears they'll be standing before a judge!

As they make their way into the courthouse, Marianne again raises her concerns about sharing nuptuals, only this time, we know her real fear is having to stand before a judge. She's just about ready to call off this sham wedding to a man she doesn't love and only met two weeks ago based more on her fear of arrest than anything else when 'best man' Eli utters the words no bride to be can resist. "C'mon, it won't kill you."

That's enough for Marianne to risk her future happiness and possibly her freedom! They grab an old lady peddling flowers to be the second witness, and make their way inside. As the ceremony begins, we find that Marianne has faked her last name, going by Marianne Evans, rather than Marianne McDonald. She also avoided including the knickname 'hips' figuring it just wasn't appropriate for a wedding. As the judge is doing his 'marriage is sacred, yada, yada, yada' Marianne begins to connect the dots. Eli is snickering, and she recalls a hushed phone conversation Sebastian was engaged in at an earlier time. Something is rotton in Denmark, or Sussex as it where. Yet, for no apparent reason, Marianne continues with the wedding.

The ceremony is complete, but there seems to be some sort of confusion as to which of the dashing wide-tied duo the teeny-dressed Marianne actually wed. She goes over to the registrar to set him straight while the boys go to secure a table at their Local, yet, we are not privy to Marianne's answer. Could she be turning the tables on these scallywags?

Whilst drowning her true feelings at the pub, Sebastian asks to see the marriage certificate, and our suspicions are proven. Marianne has married Eli, not poor old shaggy-headed Sabes. Sebastian is again, rightfully agitated, and drags Marianne back to the courthouse to make the change.

Seems that the court will require an annulment of the first marriage and then will need to re-perform the ceremony, which will take much too much time of our Mr. Sebastian Smith. The drunken flower lady thinks the whole bloody mess is quite a laugh, and Smith's white hot anger sure isn't making Marianne want to swap hubbies. Oh what WILL they do?

It seems that Sebastian, feeling jilted, no longer loves Marianne like he did, say, THIS MORNING, yet he cannot understand why she's packing up and leaving. Could it have been when you called her a cow? Perhaps when you dragged her against her will to the courthouse in the first place. It may have even started way back before the credits when you tried to run her over. Who knows how these things happen, but what's done is done, and Marianne is ready to start her new life with a husband she met earlier in the day, Mr. Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago.

Wait... wrong movie... Frome.. ELI FROME...

Marianne admits on the way out the door that she was on to Sabes and his little scheme, and she's back on her own again, chosing to ditch hubby Eli as well. Something tells me we haven't seen the last of Fromey though... Maybe it's that whole 'they never got the annulment' thing...

Still, you have to feel for our poor dejected Mr. Frome. Here he was minding his own business, when suddenly he's married to a blond looker, and is planning on 'getting some hips' on his honeymoon. Next thing you know, she skips town, leaving him to stuff his own boot... He even wore his fancy ascot...

Eli, not willing to take 'I barely know you and I think you and your friend are creepy pervs' for an answer, follows Marianne to a local coffee shop. Despite the fact that his friend tricked her into marriage apparently to steal her family's money from her, and despite the fact that she managed to get the hell out when she was sure of the plot against her, Marianne has no problem accepting Eli's offer to crash at his pad. After all, he promised he wouldn't tell Sebastain, and they ARE still married and all...

Meanwhile, our dear jilted Sabes hops aboard the the cheapest and dirtiest flight he can find and makes his way back to the Portuguese countryside where he first met his never-quite-bride.

Wandering alone on a Portugual road, the violin chorus reminds us that we're supposed to feel bad for him. Meanwhile, the heartless floozy Marianne is back in Britian, her mellons bouncing in the breeze...

Seriously... she's holding a mellon.

Marianne heads inside, mellon in tow, and we find that Eli likes to spend his time alone pretending to play the saxaphone. When Marianne comes in he stops the charade and desides to share a mellon. The two have a common tenant/landlord conversation regarding paying for rent in the form of sexiness and Marianne get's to 'showing the hips' in exchange for her board.

Now before you go thinking that Eli is some slime ball, Marianne offered... all he did was feign suprise and then get down to gettin' down. He may be a lousy saxaphone player who doesn't know how to dress himself, but our Eli is a gentleman...

So while Eli is 'cashing the rent check', we return to Sebastian and his trek across Spain, or Portugal, or some penninsular country... He comes to a home occupied by Senior Baldy Wide-Tie and tells him he has news of Marianne. Know we're on to Sabe's little game. Marianne wouldn't take him as her husband, so now he's going to bring her world crashing down... My Sabes, you're quite the little douche bag aren't you?

We find that Sebastian's new friends are Marianne's family, her half-sister Hildegarde and daddy, The Judge. As Sabes shares a dinner with his never-quite-in-laws, Marianne uses the 'hips for rent' exchange as an opportunity to share her life story with Eli. He tells her in so many words to shut the hell up, and I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a romantic 'your past doesn't matter' gesture or an 'I'm tired and want to take a nap' gesture. Either way, Marianne's secret goes untold... For now...

I feel it's important to make a plea here as a concerned human being looking out for his fellow people. Hildegard, you have a problem. Get some help. I'm not sure what drugs you are on, but if I had to guess, I'd say all of them.

After dinner, a very creepy father-daughter-hair-brushing-and-neck-massage scene tells us the true intentions of the clan McDonald as to the fate of dear Marianne. In two weeks she will turn twenty one, at which time she will come into a great deal of money left to her by her passed mother. Hildegard and The Judge were using Sebastian to try and get Marianne to marry, and give them access to the funds. Now that the plan has gone astray, Hildegard thinks the best option is to give Marianne a proper killin', while the judge feels that something more boring and painstakingly long winded should be the next course of action. I kind of zoned out at this point and started to check my e-mail, and see what was going on in the news. I'm sure when I get back nothing will have happened, because what I'm learning about Die Screaming Marianne so far is that nothing ever really happens...

Oh Pete, just when I give up hope that you're going to give us anything at all interesting, you have coked out Hildegard tell HER FATHER that she's often considered taking him to bed... I think I may have put my finger on why Marianne got away from these fruitloops... Cooler heads prevail as The Judge reminds dear Hildy that incest is a crime. He also urges her to 'use our young friend' if you 'cannot control your baser instincts.' What a loving and supporting father...

So the night goes by with Hildy getting a little Sabes action and Marianne taking another turn on the Fromeinator whilst poor daddy is forced to sit alone in bed with a book and a cigar. Despite all the freaky bedding down going on, nothing more than a wimper and a mewl is ever seen on camera. C'mon Pete, if you're not going to give us any gore, at least give us some lovin'... Otherwise this is turing into a Lifetime Original awfully quick...

Eli finishes another round of 'hip examination' by falling asleep while Marianne tries to bare her soul, and the next thing we know it's morning. Sabes and Hildy are enjoying breakfast by the pool. During a friendly lovers chat about murder and profit sharing, Sabes lets slip that Marianne has hitched her wagon to a shining Eli. Hildy doesn't miss the slip of the tounge and asks Baldy El Combover to soften him up for her next question. Apparently that involves a little bit of fully clothed pooltime grabass.

Sebastian spills the beans, Hildy telss The Judge, and the three all inexplicably go out for a horse ride across the Spanish countryside. I could be way off base here, but I think old Pete is getting as bored with this flick as I am. While on their ride, The Judge offers Sabes three thousand pounds to bring Marianne back to him. He is aware about her newly weddedness, so he requests that Mr. Smith returns with Eli in tow. Sabes seems pleased with the offer and sets out on his quest.

Meanwhile, the police make contact with Eli back in Britian. It seems that his bride and...ehem... 'renter' may be in some trouble with the authorities. This interrigation brought to you by Milmar Tailors

We've reached the forty minute point and it damn well feels like we are into the sixth hour. I wouldn't blame you if you stopped reading. At this point I'm considering switching over to CSPAN just to witness a little more fast paced action. The next few minutes are dedicated entirely to Eli sitting on the couch while one of our suppsoed police inspectors wanders the shanty apartment they are using for the 'interregation' looking for impliments in which to quietly and cleanly murder Eli. Our man Frome has a pretty good idea what is going on, so he does what anybody fearing for their life would do. He slowly rises and takes a look out the window.

Eli, now thouroughly convinced that rug is going to be used to wrap up his body once he's been offed, makes his grand move to escape! Oh, no he doesn't. He slowly walks back over to the couch and sits down. OK, I guess thats another way of handling the situation...

Ok, he just wanted to finish his smoke. Eli snuffs his butt, slams the door on the wandering assassin who is waiting in the kitchen, and dashes out the front door. The rug weilding baddie is on his way up the stairs, so Eli's 'fight or flight' instincts kick in, and he retreaves the 3/4 inch pocket knife from his jeans. The professional killer and the moron with a pocket knife stare each other down, in a moment that could not be filled with any less tension. Eli makes his move to bolt past Rugman, but Ruggy has other plans and puts Eli in a headlock. If professional wrestling has taught us anything it's that no one gets out of a sleeper old. Then again, professional wrestlers aren't usually carrying tiny pocket knives.

Marianne comes home to find the bloody Eli brooding in the dark and presses him for details. Eli tries to hide the fact that them men were after Marianne, but The Hips knows the score. All of a sudden Eli is interested in nothing more than to hear ALL about Marianne's past. Funny, you had every opportunity to hear the story LAST NIGHT pal, but you decided to go to sleep instead... Sheesh.. MEN...

Marianne give him the rundown she already tried to last night, and Eli tries to play the nice guy and tell her to take her time.


Marianne leaves in the middle of the night as Eli somehow manages to sleep through the caterwalling of Ms. Green and I wish the sweet release of sleep would wash over me, but alas, I'm wide awake...

Sabes has returned to London and brought a sinister horn section with him. Marianne hitches a ride, and Sabes heads to Eli's flat. Sebastian's knocking wakes Eli, who is not yet aware that Marianne has left. Marianne hitches to a random field where she decides to take a nap and have a smoke. Yeah, I don't know either. Eli and Sabes have a heart to heart and Sabes convinces Eli he has no feeling any longer for the woman who jilted him and they head off to find the young Ms. McDonald.

Eli tells Sebastian about the murder plot and Sabes tells Eli he's been in Portugal, or Spain, or mayby Italy, all he knows is there's water on both sides, with The Judge. Eli, despite the fact that he thinks The Judge is trying to kill him, is cool with this fact and they take off in search of the runaway bride.

Marianne looks for work, but now that she's found the love of her Eli, she can't go back to a life of floozy dancing, 'giving the hips' to any strange sailor she meets, so she leaves after being offered a spot at a local gentlemen's establishment. The hopeful violins tell us she's back on her way to Eli's to reunite with her love. Awww... Isn't that sweet. Good lord I couldn't care less about ANY of these people...

Marianne brushes her teeth, removes her pants, and heads for bed, where she finds Eli sleeping with the newspaper over his head. She begins to profess her undying love for him when he reveals he's not Eli at all, but Sebastian! The two exchange insults, and Eli returns home. He asks Marianne to put on the kettle for tea, Marianne gets pissed, and then she's taking a bath while Eli looks on. Seriously, it happened just like that. Pete obviously thinks we've all tuned out and are just looking for a little more naked Marianne, which is pretty much correct. Unfortunately, this is as close as we get.

OK. I'm just going to give the last forty minutes of this a quick watch, and I'll catch you up after. I get the feeling you're not going to miss anything.

Marianne and Eli go to see The Judge.

Marianne wears a rediculous white pants suit.

The Judge distracts Eli with his HUGE polka dotted ascot.

Hildy matches Marianne's all white ensemble with an all black one of her own.

Marianne tells Eli she knows the number of a Swiss bank account with a half million pounds in it.

Marianne frolicks in her bikini

Hildy tries to kill Marianne in the sauna

The Judge Dies.

Marianne escapes the sauna through a roof hatch.

Only thirteen more minutes until I get my life back

Sabes falls out a window, breaks leg.

Marianne finds out Eli is dead too

Hildy goes nuts, Rodriguez kills her. Oh, Baldo De Hairless is actually named Rodriguez...

The Awful ballad comes back... AGAIN...

The End


Earlier I issued an apology for dismissing the merits of your film unjustly. Now I come to find that it was actually worse than I could have possibly imagined. I'm not sure what you were going for here, but I am positive you failed. The only bright spot about the film is the fact that it ended. May God have mercy on your soul.

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