Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things

Lava Lamp
Our rating: one lava lamp.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things
Aaaah! If you're anything like us,
you're going to need therapy now.
Wow! The pilot for Bosom Buddies was a lot different than the show! Sure, they left in the cross-dressing when the series aired, but what happened to the drug use, the naked women, the sex, the hippies, and the multiple murders?

In sunny Miami during the early 70's, Paul (Abe Zwick) and Stanley (Wayne Crawford) are on the run from the law. Like most outlaws, they have rented a large house in a suburban neighborhood, and Paul now dresses like a woman and pretends to be Stanley's Aunt Martha. Stanley, for his part, continues to live the hippie lifestyle, so he does a lot of drugs and drives a van painted like a scene from the Beatles' Yellow Submarine.

We are introduced to Paul and Stanley's unique relationship when Stanley, stoned as usual, brings a young woman home. The woman promptly disrobes and begins to get a little fresh. Stanley freaks out, and then Paul rushes into the room, dressed as Martha, and stabs the woman to death. It seems neither Stanley nor Paul are really good at dealing with women, although they occasionally share a bed with each other for mutual, uh... comfort.

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things
"So! What did you think of Man on the Moon?"
The next day Stanley hangs out with more of his stoner friends, and Paul fusses about the kind of company Stanley keeps. When a woman snuggles up with him, Stanley goes crazy and tries to strangle her. Later that day Stanley runs into an older man named Hubert. Hubert knew Paul and Stanley back when they lived in Baltimore (Fun fact #1: All the freaks come from Baltimore), and now that he's a junkie with an astrology fetish (Fun Fact #2: According to Hubert, you should consult an "astrologist"), he wants to live with them. After some tense negotiations involving guns, Paul agrees to let Hubert stay. It's just like The Real World, but with (slightly) more crime. And just like any given season of The Real World, the situation soon spirals out of control.

There are two assumptions that we are asked to make while watching this film. The first is that Paul could convince anybody more aware of his or her environment than Helen Keller that he is a woman. For the record, the Andy Kaufman-like Paul makes Tom Hanks look like Drew Barrymore. And apparently the reasons for this ludicrous disguise are supposed to be obvious, because Hubert never comments on Paul's appearance.

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things
"...and when the movie becomes too boring,
we'll throw in some naked chicks dancing!"
Secondly, we are supposed believe that Stanley is nigh irresistible to women. In the course of two days we see no fewer than four women blatantly hit on this loser. Even the next-door neighbor woman is trying to set him up with her nursing-student daughter. It's possible that Stanley was supposed to be retarded, considering that he spouts dialogue like, "I know a lot about babies, I came from a baby family!" But Wayne Crawford plays the role straight.

Making these two assumptions is like being asked to believe that gravity has reversed itself and then being told to walk on the ceiling as proof: it just ain't gonna happen.

If you've never experimented with hallucinogenic chemicals, we suggest you rent this movie for a taste of what that might be like. Although we're no stoners ourselves, we have a hard time imagining that any drug trip could be further from reality than the events presented here. Since Stanley is convinced that he is committing the murders himself while stoned, Paul begins killing city residents more or less at random, but usually because they have threatened his hold on Stanley. Hubert discovers the stash of jewels hidden upstairs, and so Paul does away with him too. And for a last-minute sharp left turn into Looneyville, Stanley performs a Caesarian section procedure on his new girlfriend's pregnant-but-recently-deceased mother -- with the knife that Paul used to kill his first several victims. It was enough to make us consider trying to hammer nails into our own foreheads, on the grounds that it would have to be less painful than finishing the movie.

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things is more than just a bad movie; it's a bona fide classic of crap cinema with reality-warping properties. Friends and family who wander in during a screening will ask, "What in God's name are you watching?" before scurrying out again. Household pets exposed to the film may act strangely for a short period afterwards. Normal folk will probably want to shower by the time the credits roll. Those of us who actively seek out these movies, however, will shake our heads, smile to ourselves, and say: "I watched Aunt Martha. It did not kill me. Today I am a little bit stronger."

Review date: 1/27/2000

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