vt 3 Loves of a Psycho Cat
US / 69 minutes (expanded exploitative version) / bw / World Wide Dir & Pr: Eve (aka Herb Stanley) Scr: Bill Boyd Cine: Paul Guffee Cast: Eileen Lord, Ed Garrabrandt, Frank Geraci, Dick Lord, Jake LaMotta, Arlenne Lorrance.
A horror/sleaze-influenced riff on movies like The MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932; vt The Hounds of Zaroff) and more particularly WALK THE DARK STREET (1956), this was mangled by the stitching into it of sexploitational material some while after the movie proper had been completed; it’s easy enough to tell which were the additional scenes because their sound recording seems to have been done in a bathroom, and not a very large bathroom at that. It’s obviously not possible to determine how much the original was chopped and changed around to incorporate the softcore elements, but the resultant movie has a really quite interestingly sophisticated narrative structure.
In the start we witness rich Virginia Marcus (Eileen Lord) seeing off her brother Anderson (uncredited) as he departs for his annual month-long big-game-hunting safari in South Africa. Normally Virginia would go with him but her psychiatrist, Dr. Maxwell “Max” Schram (uncredited) of the Beachwood Sanitorium, has recommended that she stay at home to recover from her latest nervous breakdown.
Cut to the apartment of Ronnie (uncredited) where something close to an orgy is in progress. Of course, it’s a remarkably decorous orgy, the decency laws being what they were at the time, and most of the participants appear monumentally bored by the proceedings: one actress does her best to simulate abandoned passion while seemingly worried in case her wig falls off, while one of the men manages to have intercourse with two women consecutively without so much as unzipping his jeans.
Buddy (uncredited) has difficulty scoring.
There’s consternation at the orgy because Buddy (uncredited) has failed to turn up with the barbiturates, as he promised he would. What’s happening to Buddy is not just that he’s being his ordinary unreliable self: instead, in an excellently and imaginatively filmed sequence, he’s fleeing for his life across Central Park, chased by Virginia, riding crop and crossbow in hand, and her manservant Bey (uncredited). At last he does reach Ronnie’s orgy, but without the drugs and with a broken-off crossbow bolt in his leg.
Buddy (uncredited) tries to explain.
In a succession of flashbacks, Buddy tells Ronnie and some scantily clad chicks what’s been going on.
A few weeks ago, Virginia summoned Buddy and two other men to her apartment—actor Charles Wheeler (uncredited) and retired pro wrestler Rocco Bonito (LaMotta)—and, in her trophy-stuffed sanctum, made them an offer. There had been a magazine article describing the three of them as killers who’d managed to gain acquittal. It’s only reasonable that, deprived of her big-game hunt in Africa, Virginia should devise an equivalent at home and who more appropriate than these three, as killers, to be her prey? She offered each of them $100,000 if, for 24 hours after receiving a message that the game has started, they could stay alive in Manhattan. A cocksure Buddy responded: “I once hid out from the cops for one month. I can hide out from you for 24 hours.”
Buddy (uncredited), Charles (uncredited) and Rocco (Jake LaMotta) in Virginia’s trophy room. Subtle stuff, eh?
Still in flashback, we see the murders they committed: Charles killed in a brawl the wrathful husband who caught him in incriminating circumstances with the man’s wife; Buddy accidentally gave a girlfriend a heroin overdose; and Rocco got carried away in the ring, jumping up and down on an opponent to fatal effect. Again in flashbacks we witness the deaths of Charles and Rocco, the former having been tricked into returning to the Broadway stage to appear in a revival of one of his old plays, Trial by Fury, and Rocco having been taunted out of hiding by accusations of cowardice.
. . . and pompous thespian Charles (unidentified) thinks much the same.
Buddy of course has survived . . . so far. However, as a junky, he’s been getting increasingly antsy about the lack of “stuff” at the orgy and, despite all efforts to dissuade him, he goes back out on the streets in search of a score. Well, we can all guess how that little venture ends.
Virginia (Eileen Lord) with Broadway producer Drake (uncredited).
Although Buddy falls victim to Virginia’s crossbow, the other two men die according to an earlier fancy of hers: that Charles should represent a lion, Buddy a jackal, and Rocco a bull. Thus Charles is speared through the heart like a lion (well, the connection’s a little loose) and, much more effectively, Rocco dies at the culmination of a protracted rooftop bullfight, with a manically cackling Virginia as toreador. The subtext here is that of course LaMotta, who plays Rocco, was in his professional life a boxer known as The Bronx Bull or The Raging Bull; years later he’d be the subject of the movie Raging Bull (1980), in which he was played by Robert De Niro.
Virginia (Eileen Lord). Wot, me nuts?
Toreador Virginia (Eileen Lord) is humble and quite clearly perfectly in control of all her faculties after her triumph.
Yet another flashback tells us briefly why Virginia is so nuts—and, by all appearances, growing hourly nuttier. When she and Anderson were kids (both uncredited), he grabbed her darling yappy little puppy and threw it to its death from the top of a high building.
The young Virginia (uncredited) looking extremely sane after the murder of her dog.
Although the credits list the crew they don’t give any actor names. It’s assumed that most of the cast are amateurs, and only Eileen Lord as Virginia and LaMotta as Rocco seem to have been identified for certain. Lord overacts gloriously, making Jack Nicholson’s turn in The Shining (1980) look positively demure, while LaMotta does surprisingly well. So, too, do the actors playing Charles Wheeler, Broadway producer Drake Johnson, and to a lesser extent the junky Buddy—although the latter’s portrayal of withdrawal symptoms, and their amelioration with a fix, drags out so interminably that one almost starts wishing for a return to the orgy.
Schram (uncredited) and Anderson (uncredited) discover the terrible truth that in fact Virginia (Eileen Lord), despite all appearances to the contrary, actually is, well, y’know, perhaps a tad unstable.
It’s not known if any unbutchered copies of Confessions of a Psycho Cat survive anywhere—the assumption is not—but, even despite the tedium of the sexploitational sequences, the movie is an interesting minor curio.
NB: If anyone can help me starting filling in a few of all those missing cast-names, I’d be ever so grateful!
On Amazon.com: Confessions of a Psycho Cat (Special Edition)