Private Parts (1972)

“Look at me — I’m going to pieces! I can’t even work anymore.”

Synopsis:
After being thrown out of her apartment for spying on her roommate (Ann Gibbs), an intrepid young woman (Ayn Ruymen) goes to live in her aunt’s (Lucille Benson) rundown hotel in L.A., where a creepy photographer (John Ventantonio) spies on her.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “kinky black comedy-horror film” — an “interesting debut for director Paul Bartel”, best known for Death Race 2000 (1975) and Eating Raoul (1982) — is “creepy, but perhaps you’ll most remember scenes that are either erotic… or obscene (a transvestite shoots a hypodermic full of blood into the crotch of a plastic female body, which has a picture of Ruymen’s face pasted on it)”. He notes that the “twist ending is confusing and not very satisfying (you won’t buy it), but until then it’s unlike all other girl-in-scary-hotel/motel/inn/boardinghouse pictures”. He ends his review by noting, “Cute Ruymen is most appealing — what became of her?”, and I agree; Ruymen is a refreshingly spunky horror film protagonist, someone who’s clearly enjoying herself and unafraid throughout most of the truly odd proceedings. This cult flick about family madness and sexually confused killers is most certainly not for all tastes, but will be of interest to fans of Bartel’s work.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Effective cinematography

  • Some super-creepy/odd moments

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its cult status.

Links:

One Response to “Private Parts (1972)”

  1. SPOILER AHEAD:

    First viewing. Only for fans of off-beat, quirky, dark horror comedies. As for the ending… As it was approaching, I found myself thinking (not for any concrete reason), ‘Bartel seems to be painting himself into a corner here; I wonder how he’s going to get out of this.’ But then the ending came: a standard wrap-up for a certain kind of ‘spirit of evil’ flick – which, while not “confusing” seems out-of-place somehow (and, yes, you probably won’t buy it).

    As per my post in ‘Revival House of Camp & Cult’ (fb):

    “Cheryl, dear – when you’re old… you’ll realize that the body is a prison that traps and bends the natural spirit to its will.”

    ‘Private Parts’: Paul Bartel made his feature debut with this “sex is the root of all guilt” thriller that has more in common with Brian De Palma than much of what Bartel would come up with 10 years later in his cult hit ‘Eating Raoul’. With a cast of unknowns, ‘PP’ tells the sordid tale of Cheryl (Ayn Ruymen: a cross between Barbara Hershey and Shelley Duvall) who becomes very upset when her best friend accuses her of being backwards sexually. Instead of returning to a staid existence in Ohio, Cheryl tracks down a relative (her Aunt Martha: a very game Lucille Benson) who runs a “respectable” fleabag hotel in downtown LA. ~where Cheryl begins to educate herself, thanks to certain hotel denizens, re: deep, dark desires. As a housemaid, Cheryl snoops in various rooms… thus falling into the path of photographer George (imagine a repressed but still privately adventurous Frank N. Furter). The film isn’t nearly as graphic as one might expect but it does parade in voyeurism, various other fetishes… and periodic murder. It’s filmed surprisingly well, looks good on its small budget, and has an effectively creepy score by Hugo Friedhofer, whose credits include everything from Hitchcock’s ‘Lifeboat’ to sedate classics like ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ and ‘An Affair to Remember’, to William Castle’s ‘Homicidal’. The film was a flop; MGM was so embarrassed by it (did no one there read the script?!) that it did no publicity and dumped it into theaters under a dummy distribution name. Odd on all cylinders, it’s the type of flick that can make you grateful for not personally embracing the outré – if you haven’t already.

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