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LOVE STATUE (1965)
Published by Miranda on 2009/12/7 (964 reads)
LOVE STATUE (1965)
Directed by: David Durston
Review by: Adam Becvar (aka Luigi Bastardo)
Released by: Secret Key Motion Pictures
Running Time: 76 minutes
Color Format: Black & White
Audio/Subtitles: English DD Mono Stereo/None
Region Code: 1
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
16:9 Enhanced: No
Special Features: Alternate Scenes, Interviews, Audio Commentary, Shorts, Trailers, Booklet
Trailer Online: b>Yes
“LSD. It’s the newest thing in dreams.”
There’s something about independently-made, New York City-based bohemian exploitation features of the 1960s that wholeheartedly appeals to me. It’s always a blast to see actors (both professional and novice alike) struggle their way through their scenes, all the while a guy sitting behind the camera struggles with operating the big bulky piece of rented equipment. Music scores ranged from jazz to folk, offering up the best that NYC had to offer at the time. But one of my biggest adorations of indie flicks from New York in the ’60s has to be the often gritty and almost “new wave noir” black-and-white photography most filmmakers used (mainly because they couldn’t afford color stock), filming against both natural and fluorescent lighting -- giving each and every film a rather surreal look to it.
Or maybe I’m the only one that sees it that way. Either way, I still like it.
Another recent addition to my “Like List” is David Durston’s THE LOVE STATUE. Durston, who would later bring us the fabulous I DRINK YOUR BLOOD, was furnished with a story idea for THE LOVE STATUE from a young producer -- which he modified into a screenplay under the alias, Richard Kent (damn Union). The story tells us of Greenwich Village resident Tyler Westin (Peter Ratray), a struggling artist whose lifestyle is afforded to him by his dancer girlfriend, Lisa (actress Beti Seay, who was known on Broadway at the time, and who used the pseudonym Ondine Lisé for this picture).
The relationship between Tyler and Lisa is anything but pleasant. In fact, it borders on tortuous. Lisa constantly belittles and humiliates her beau -- both in public and at home. One night, while attempting to flee from under Lisa’s thumb, the alcoholic Tyler winds up at the home of an exotic entertainer (Hisako “Choko” Tsukuba, a big recording artist in Japan at the time) who introduces him to LSD. Three days later, Tyler’s acid trip is still going strong, and his roommates Lisa and sculptor Stan (Harvey J. Goldenberg) are frantically wondering where he is.
Making his way back to the pad, the still slightly freak-out Tyler finds the place empty (they‘re all out looking for him, you know). He also finds a gorgeous life-sized statue his roomie Stan had created, which he claims is the most beautiful thing ever and dreams about it coming to life when he passes out in a stupor. Later, Lisa returns, finds Tyler, and the proverbial argument erupts -- but this is the proverbial “endgame” argument in which Tyler dumps his baggage and storms out…only to return later to find Lisa DEAD! Yes, what starts off as a sort of Stream Of Consciousness effort turns into an early LSD exploitation flick, and then turns into a whodunit.
And that’s another reason I love independently-made, New York City-based bohemian exploitation features of the 1960s: you never know what to expect!
It may come as a shock to many that THE LOVE STATUE isn’t a nudie flick. There are only a few very tame (and tasteful) sequences in which skin is shown. Nor is it a misguided “educational” feature about the dangers of LSD. In fact, it was one of the first films to even mention LSD -- long before the exploitation gurus started making a quick buck off of it. Co-starring in THE LOVE STATUE is frequent skin actress Gigi Darlene (aka Leonora Rheine) in one of her final films before she disappeared off the face of the Earth completely.
Shortly before THE LOVE STATUE was to be pulled from its extremely limited theatrical tenure at an exclusive NYC movie house, the field of exploitation changed. Suddenly, it was no longer pornographic to feature plain ol’ nudity in films. This prompted the THE LOVE STATUE’s producers to film additional “saucy” footage of actor Peter Ratray (and others), which was spliced in accordingly…which David Durston never approved of (and still doesn‘t). As such, this DVD release from Secret Key Motion Pictures -- which incidentally, is the first official home video release of this gem -- gives us Durston’s original vision. The movie is presented in a Standard 1.33:1 ratio, with a better-than-you’d-expect video transfer and a more-than-acceptable mono stereo soundtrack.
This “LSD Experience” Collector’s Edition also hosts a number of special features, including a few alternate scenes from the feature film (courtesy of David Durston); an audio commentary with the cult director himself; and two separate interviews with Durston and actor Ratray. Now in his 80s, Durston doesn’t look a day over 55, and he remains quite the storyteller. Between the commentary and interview, David relates such accounts as how he brought Japanese singer “Choko” over to NYC to film (as well as how the actress -- whom the IMDb credits as producing the entire PIRANHA series -- didn’t speak a lick of English and had to learn everything phonetically); how he himself dropped acid (with the medical assistance of a certified doctor, of course) to make sure the film had the right look to it; and, how a sudden overnight snowstorm in New York resulted in the film’s last-minute ending (which itself contains one of the most beautiful establishing shots I’ve ever seen in all of B-Moviedom).
Also included on this DVD are two vintage (color) LSD Scare Films. LSD-25 (1967) is actually “narrated” by the drug itself, explaining to us how it works and that it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. The short features some “actual” footage of people on acid -- which, of course, is staged. It’s a pretty good short, nonetheless, since it doesn’t rely on all of the scare tactics that the second short, YOUR AMAZING MIND. Looking like it’s either from the late ‘60s or the early ‘70s, YOUR AMAZING MIND starts by telling us that all of the materials for building modern devices have always been on our planet: it just took some imagination and inventiveness to bring them to light. And then, about halfway through, the Alfred Higgins Productions, Inc. short turns into another anti-drug feature. Both shorts are scratched up all to hell…which is just the way we like ‘em.
Rounding out the impressive disc is a collection of trailers for other Secret Key Motion Pictures releases (here’s where the nudity comes into play, kids) and a collectible booklet with some liner notes on THE LOVE STATUE as well as its cast and crew.
If you’re a fan of I DRINK YOUR BLOOD or any of Durston’s other films (there weren’t that many, which is a pity), and/or you like your ‘60s exploitation movies to be a little “lighter” in nature, THE LOVE STATUE is a good waste of your time. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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