Saturday, July 12, 2014

THE PENTHOUSE - Lisa Shane - "World Full Of Lonely Men" (1967)

After a long absence, due to a thing called work, Greg Goodsell has returned to The Dungeon! Tonight's feature is a British bit of psycho-babble called THE PENTHOUSE from 1967! This very 1960s poster seems to give away a good part of the film's story, and this installment may have quite a few spoilers. You should see it anyway!

And so it begins -- THE PENTHOUSE is a psychological horror film without blood or physical mayhem. Think it will work? You bet your boots! I've always felt that this feature had a J. G. Ballard-ian vibe to it. For further information, read his novels High Rise and Concrete Island. An interpretation from director David Cronenberg on his novel Crash rattled quite a few cages back in 1996.

With a cast of five, it's important that we introduce all our players and give them justice! The blonde beauty you see before you is popular Eurotrash starlet Suzy Kendall. She's appeared in such fare as TO SIR, WITH LOVE, worked with Dario Argento in THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE and is perhaps best known for her participation in the proto-slasher TORSO! She appeared, if that can be the word, in BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO as recently as 2012 -- a film which gently mocked Italian horror films of yore.

Very little is known about Terrence Morgan, who had a mere four other acting roles after appearing in this film! To cut to the chase, Morgan plays Bruce, and Kendall plays Barbara, and they're having a clandestine affair in the aforementioned structure.

As a certain cartoon dog would exclaim, Ruh Roh! It's Tony Beckley as Tom and Norman Rodway as Dick! The two, after taking the stairs all their way up to the penthouse (puff, puff, puff) insinuate themselves into the domicile and begin a long session of sadistic fun and games. We'll get to Harry, who compliments Tom and Dick later.

Brunet Beckley was a durable British character actor who worked with Peter Sellers in RE-VENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER in 1978. He would rejoin Kendall in 1971 IN THE DEVIL'S GARDEN. Blond Rodway has an acting career in TV and movies more than a mile long, and in his own way makes this film!

Ruh Roh indeed! Things go pretty south really fast as one of the disgusting duo produces a knife! Such begins one of the most harrowing home invasion scenes this side of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE! -- which has some surprising similarities with this film.

The odious pair are unafraid to wave a knife around, but no worries -- they have no intention of marking up Kendall's lovely face ... wink, wink, nudge, nudge. On a more serious note, THE PENTHOUSE was the first feature film for TV director Peter Collinson. He would go on to direct one of my very favorite Hammer horrors, the tragically misunderstood STRAIGHT ON ‘TIL MORNING. Tragically, he dropped dead of a heart attack – at the far too young age of 44 – in 1980.

Yes, the scumbags want to get Kendall good 'n' drunk first! Candy is dandy but liquor, as they say, is quicker --

C'mon love, you're not going to decline some hospitality from two dangerous psychopaths who've crashed your illicit love shack, are you? DRINK UP!

An avant-garde cover for a jazz album. The crocodile pictured here figures into a later conversation -- wait for it!

All tied up with nowhere to go, in the manner of Jerry Lewis at the hands of Sandra Bernhard in Martin Scorsese' THE KING OF COMEDY, Bruce puts on a brave face -- but his inherent cowardice begins to become very evident!

Its little wonder why Rodway had such a lengthy career in movies and TV -- oozing menace, he could conceivably play Mr. Hyde without makeup! Based upon the play “The Meter Man” by Scott Forbes, the film takes swipes at Britain’s classist system, as well as the British practice of “molly-coddling” prisoners.   

Ms. Kendall gets down to the business of showing some skin and substantial nudity -- rather daring for the film at the time of its release, 1967! We'll be seeing a lot more of Kendall later on in the film!

BANG! What did I tell you? 

Beckley waves his trusty switchblade at Bruce, while Bruce keeps up his stiff upper lip resolve! It is here that Beckley begins his long, eloquent soliloquy -- concerning the crocodile, as referenced by the record cover. Beckley waxes eloquent on how baby crocs were onetime popular pets by children, and how parents flushed them down the john, where the poor, benighted crocs had to stay alive in a sewers to survive, becoming even more savage and a threat to society as a result. Do we hear a reference to Britain's notorious class system going on here?

Kendall, reborn from her boozy ordeal as a Venus in furs, decides she's sick and tired of Bruce's crap -- she knows he'll never leave his wife and kids for her -- and begins to wave that switchblade around! YIKES!

And now the fun really begins! Harry, who Tom and Dick have referred to repeatedly through the siege appears -- and Harry turns out to be horror movie icon MARTINE BESWICK! If you need an introduction to this fantabulous Seventies scream queen icon -- you're on the wrong website. Beat it…

Usually cast in dominatrix-styled roles, Beswick is devastating -- and wonderful in a gray business suit and glasses, in lieu of the slinky get-ups featured in her other roles. This confirms that Beswick was criminally underused during her brief acting career!

ANYWAY ... Beswick informs the couple that she is Tom and Dick's parole officer, and that they have failed her! In fact, she's bringing them back to personally apologize! I tell you, Beswick is only in the film's last 13 minutes, but her eccentric, hilarious performance is the perfect payoff!

Tom, Dick and Harry lean in for a personal exchange, and --

-- the laugh is on the adulterous couple, as well as the audience! Was there any doubt that she was one of them?

The terrifying trio mete out their final verdict! The thing is -- they know full well Bruce isn't going to say anything that would reveal his affair, costing him his career and marriage! Tonight's fun and games has BEEN ON THEM!

Tied up again with no place to go, the adulterous couple are sadder -- but wiser! They escape unharmed, but things aren't going back to what they once were, that’s for sure!

Kendall dumps her loser boyfriend as a torch song plays ... So much for being the other woman! The “World Full of Lonely Men,” as Lisa Shane croons, but the way Brucie acts, he’s destined to be a very lonely man!


TABONGA! said...

Yes, bang indeed!!!

Anonymous said...

Martine Beswick is worth waiting for; the contrast between her beauty and her hair-in-a-bun-with-glasses look is delicious....You'll have to search the hard-to-find sites for a copy of this film, and it won't be Criterion quality by any means, but you'll want to see it.

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