Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Summer re-runs: Utter Trash

In the age of Aquarius, the deranged Gemini twins share everything - teddy bears, lovers and murder! Judy Geeson (TO SIR WITH LOVE) and Martin Potter (FELLINI'S SATYRICON) play 20-year-old siblings with an unusually close relationship. Their bizarre fantasy world is shattered by the arrival of Clive (Alexis Kanner) a flamboyant London criminal with a massive gambling debt. As the twins become exposed to the sleazy underbelly of swinging London nightlife, they tumble into a bubbling cauldron of kinky sex, blackmail and sickening violence.

Directed by Alan Gibson (DRACULA AD 1972) with cameos from Freddie Jones and the legendary Sir Michael Redgrave, GOODBYE GEMINI is an unsettling tale of incest, obsessive jealousy and death. Unseen since the early '70s, the movie is one of the most controversial, and taboo-busting, British exploitation pictures ever made. - That's how the dvd cover bigs it up!

Well, there is Trash and there is Utter Trash. I think this qualifies for the latter, or as Pauline Kael used to say "the higher trash" and "the lower trash". This is another key exhibit in how crazy movies went circa 1970 - I coverered the 1970 DORIAN GRAY a week or so ago (Trash label) - here we are back re-visiting the very same drag pub watching the same drag queen as Dorian (Helmut Berger) and pals - this is presumably "the sleazy underbelly of swinging London nightlife" mentioned in the new dvd blurb, above. 

Geeson and Potter don't even look like twins and they don't even look marvellous here. She was just right in HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH and THREE INTO TWO WON'T GO, and had just been in Joan Crawford's BERSERK,  but has lost her glow here and that lank hair doesn't help - he was stunning in FELLINI SATYRICON but has nothing to play with here and is just a fairly pretty pout. Michael Redgrave is certainly slumming as a concerned probably bisexual MP who stumbles on the "stunning" twins at a Chelsea houseboat party. Those houseboats also featured in that other dotty incest drama from 1969 MY LOVER MY SON (also written by the writer of this) which I was interested to get last year as it was a missing Romy Schneider title (review at Romy label).
This one is equally dotty. Our twins Jacki and Julian arrive in London by coach (couldn't they afford the train fare?) with their giant teddybear, and take over a mansion in Cheyne Walk; they soon dispose of the housekeeper who is meant to keep an eye on them - they don't have to bother with work of course - and soon Clive (the odd Alexis Kanner) has them in his sights. Why is he wearing those awful side-whiskers? His massive gambling debt is all of £400! He blackmails Julian by getting those decadent drag queens to assault him at that grubby hotel room while Clive gets his camera out ... he gets more than he bargained for though when the twins cover themselves in white sheets so he cannot tell them apart, then Julian kills him with a sword. Jacki runs away - into the arms of the MP (who has a time capsule '70s apartment all in browns and oranges with lots of white gloss trimmings) while the now deranged Julian hides out at that grubby hotel, where Jacki finally finds him. Do you want to know how this absurd farrago ends? Ok - here we go: he strangles her and then puts a shilling in the meter of the quaint old gas fire so he sits there fondling her hair as he gasses himself .....  (those big houses were similarly effective in those other oddities of that era: Losey's SECRET CEREMONY and of course PERFORMANCE.

Its the actors I feel sorry for - surely this kind of tosh is not what they envisaged when they started out? How do they try to make this rubbish playable or try to find some motivation for what they are doing? Its a mystery. There is another lost one Redgrave did that year, for the same producers: CONNECTING ROOMS, another drab drama which teams him with Bette Davis (her career was on a downturn then) and the same Alexis Kanner, perhaps it had better stay lost. GOODBYE GEMINI could be an entry in the British horror series, but Hammer were doing it so much better. I must also mention that deliriously awful title song "Tell the world we are not in" played over the credits by a group called The Peddlers. It is simply AWFUL. It is fascinating though in one respect - that look into the gay underworld before the gay liberation movement took off in the '70s and then the arrival of that superclub Heaven in 1979 bringing a whole new culture of gay clubbing for the '80s onwards ... back here though people had to be content with these tatty drag pubs.
A shilling in the gas meter

THE NIGHT DIGGER from 1971 is more of the same but a whole lot better featuring Patricia Neal and her mother Pamela Brown sharing their huge dilapitated mansion with Nicholas Clay who may be that murderer on the loose (I shall have to review it....)  Nicholas gets out of his clothes once more, but it is all a lot more dignified than GOODBYE GEMINI ! but British exploitation cinema was going to get a whole lot worse in those early '70s, with those Confessions of Window Cleaners and Taxi Drivers and even more softcore porn, with PERCY (about a penis operation) and THE STATUE (a David Niven disaster) and anything with Hywel Bennett. GOODBYE GEMINI and DORIAN GRAY and THE NIGHT DIGGER were just the tip ....Then of course there were those Amicus horror compendiums, amusing trash to see at this remove, but back in the early '70s respected thespians (Glynis Johns, Terry Thomas, Richard Todd, Sylvia Syms, Daniel and Anna Massey, Michael Craig, Joan Collins, even Raplh Richardson) a decade or so past their prime were queueing up to play in these, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, VAULT OF HORROR, ASYLUM etc.
The dvd of GEMINI though features a booklet, a 'making of' featurette and a commentary by Judy Geeson, as though its some lost masterpiece - and some amusing trailers: another horrorshow of that era MUMSY, NANNY, SONNY & GIRLY (don't ask...), and that Jean Simmons-Leonard Whiting romance SAY HELLO TO YESTERDAY - what no BABY LOVE or UNMAN, WITTERING AND ZIGO ?

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