People always act like movies were so much nicer in the ’50s and early ’60s before those heathens arrived with R-rated films. They seem to ignore that there were filmmakers making movies that weren’t ready to double feature with the latest Doris Day vehicle. Independent filmmakers were pushing the envelope at theaters and drive-ins on the fringe of polite society. Such is the case with Anatomy of a Psycho and The Lonely Sex when they were released during those Happy Days. This double feature is bound to make your grandma rethink what was projected during her teen years.
Anatomy of a Psycho (1960 – 74:06) is a classic from the juvenile delinquent genre that was popular. The kids really dug seeing bad boys gone wild. Vic Morrow rose to the top in Blackboard Jungle. They even liked seeing misunderstood boys be considered juvenile delinquents by the law such as James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Anatomy of a Psycho features a wicked boy on a rampage. Chet (Darrell Howe) can’t handle the fact that his brother is being executed. On the night his brother gets executed Chet goes after all the people responsible for the death sentence. The judge and the district attorney feels his wrath. Things get worse when he uncovers the true identity of the prime witness. When will it end?
The Lonely Sex (1959 – 57:34) promises a roughie about sex slayings in a town. But it delivers way more on the screen. Director Richard Hillard deserves to be mentioned in the same tones as David Lynch (Eraserhead) and Guy Maddin ( The Saddest Music in the World). He ought to be considered their cinematic godfather. The movie is hard to explain yet captivating. He creates a strange little world where sex perverts are ready to prey upon innocent and not so innocent women. The film must have been semi-shocking at the time since it does feature a topless dancer changing outfits while a peeper stares through a window. While some films of the time got away with nudity by being educational, The Lonely Sex must have gotten away with it’s exposed breasts by just being too damn freaky for censors. At the end of the hour, the nudity gets obscured in the pure weirdness. The black and white images elevate the strangeness. If anyone told you that this was Guy Maddin’s latest film, you couldn’t prove them wrong. The quirky performances, dramatic lighting and iris adjustments make this grindhouse fare ready for today’s art house.
Drive-In Collection: Anatomy of a Psycho & The Lonely Sex is a fine trip back to an American that rarely gets remembered in grandma approved nostalgia. Anatomy of a Psycho is rather vicious with Chet’s trail of blood. He’s no Bowery Boy. The Lonely Sex is hypnotic as it undermines the expectations of a sexploitation flick. This is a perfect double feature for a semi-nostalgic drive-in night.
The video is 1.37:1 full frame for both films. The folks at Vinegar Syndrome have made new 2K scans of the films that really brings out the detail in the black and white cinematography. The audio is mono. The sound on The Lonely Sex was done in post production doesn’t quite match the lips. This adds to the arthouse flavor.
There are no bonus features.
Drive-In Collection: Anatomy of a Psycho & The Lonely Sex takes you back to a time when perverts and teen troublemakers started to rule the cinema. Even though both of these films have been available on public domain tapes and DVDs, they’ve never looked as good this release.
Vinegar Syndrome presents Drive-In Collection: Anatomy of a Psycho & The Lonely Sex. Directed by: Boris Petroff and Richard Hillard. Starring: Darrell Howe, Don Devlin, Pamela Lincoln, karl Light and Jean Evans. Boxset Content: 2 movies on 1 DVD. Rated: Unrated. Released: April 9, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.