Homebodies (1974)

“A Murder a Day Keeps the Landlord Away!”

Synopsis:
A group of elderly people facing eviction from their dilapidated apartment building take drastic action by murdering anyone who tries to force them to leave.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “weird little sleeper” by independent filmmaker Larry Yust effectively blends “horror, comedy, and social drama” while showing “true respect for the resourcefulness of the elderly.” Peary laments the brutal nature of the murders, but I found them in keeping with the rest of the film — these folks aren’t fooling around! The final scene of the movie is surprisingly satisfying.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • A rare film (pre Cocoon) with spunky, uncliched elderly people as the leads

Must See?
No, but this unusual film is definitely worth seeking out.

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One Response to “Homebodies (1974)”

  1. First viewing. A must, for Paula Trueman’s memorable performance as Mattie, the leader of the elderly pack. She raises the level of this unique yet odd/flawed film enough to make it worth a watch.

    Director Yust (who, unfortunately, does not get much beyond a flat, presentational style) employed an equally economic approach to his earlier (also odd/flawed yet watchable) con flick ‘Trick Baby’. Both films benefit from good pacing and effective editing. (There’s a very fluid sequence of shots in ‘Homebodies’ in which the old people seem to be finally removed from their home, into other quarters.)

    With ‘Homebodies’, Yust is more conscious of how to build tension. The film has one sequence in particular (involving the ‘removal’ of the last two tenants) which becomes increasingly unnerving before reaching its peak.

    This very curious cult item also has a surprising amount of black humor – best left unrevealed, but it’s particularly amusing near film’s end.

    On the whole, though, it’s a shame the script wasn’t thought through a bit more. It has enough elements to make it work, if you’ve suspended disbelief from the start, but one wishes it were tighter somehow and more convincing. (Why, for example, are the tenants getting along in the building reasonably well after their furniture has been removed and they have candlelight but no means to cook or bathe?)

    Throughout, Trueman holds our attention, giving the film a sturdy thread. I was creeped out just hearing her knock on a door (often) with “It’s me. Mattie.” I kept wishing she had more actual lines to say – she has a wonderful bit early on in which she quotes her husband as saying their stay in the building would only be temporary; years later, he’s long gone but she remains. Trueman’s Mattie is very similar to Ruth Gordon’s Minnie in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’; Mattie is what Minnie would be anyway if she weren’t living in the Dakota (where ‘RB’ was filmed) and in league with Satan.

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