Saturday, 19 February 2011

Die! Die! My Darling! - A Wonderfully Wicked Final Film from Tallulah Bankhead!

Dahling......Tallulah Bankhead playing an insane religious fanatic, smiting the thought of wearing "the devil's colour" red, being against smoking and drinking was obviously out of the question...HA!!!!  Too wonderful for words!  I say this of course because Tallulah Bankhead was THE EXACT opposite of this in real life, haha.  For a woman whos dying words were "Codeine.....bourbon.." and who smoked around 150 cigarettes a day, this really was the performance of a lifetime.  Especially seeing as how she was still apparently drinking heavily at the time.

 I don't care what you say, but the woman is a LEGEND!!!  Tallulah was one of the original bad girls, the thing is, this was in the 1920's and 30's which made it even more taboo!!!  Despite all this she was also a wonderful actress who spent most of her life performing on stage however still did a number of films, including Alfred Hitchcock's LIFEBOAT, the film that I first saw her in...what can I say, I learnt a lot from Hitchcock. :D

 Anyhoo, now you know a little bit about this wickedly awesome woman I bring you to Die! Die! My Darling!(or FANATIC as it is also known.)  As I said, Tallulah plays the every so slightly crazy mother of Stephen Trefoile, deceased finance of American chickadee Patricia Carroll (note to the fab performance from Stefanie Powers) who has just arrived in London and is all set to marry her new man Alan!  Before she can do this though and move on with her new life, she feels pertinent that she pays her respect to Stephen's mother, Mrs Trefoile, namely due to the horrible way in which Stephen died.  (I won't spoil you with details, it's so much more fun to imagine!!!)  Alan tries to sway her in doing so but Patrica won't listen and tells him that she'll be gone overnight as it was a bit of a distance away, and will probably just check into a pub for the night (not in the Jen way of just staying in the pub all night drinking, as in getting bed and board or whatever!) and shall be back the day after.  But, bwahahahaha, unbeknownst to Patrica, she was about to get bed and board alright, but in a crazy old religious freak lady kind of way!!!  :D  

At first Mrs Trefoile seems quite harmless, just a bit strange.  Nothing unusual for someone who lived a largely isolated life, with only two creepy servants and a retarded gardener (played most awesomely by Donald Sutherland) for company.  Patrica tries to leave but Mrs Trefoile insists she stay the night and then go to church in the morning to pray for her el corpso fiasco Stephen!  Again, this seems harmless enough and seeing as how the kooky old lady is hearing nothing of her leaving, Patricia agrees to stay.  When shown up to her room, first signs of weirdness pop up when she realises that the mirror has been removed from its frame and when she goes to see Mrs Trefoile in her room she sees that all the mirrors in her room have been removed from their frames as well...WEEEEEEEEEEEEIRDO!!!!!  I mean at the very least this screams VAMPIRE but you know what, vampire probably would have been a safer option to the crazy antics of this old Norma!  Without giving you line by line details, basically, it turns out that Mrs Trefoile used to be an actress who got up to all kinds of ungodly things *insert REAL Tallulah* until she discovered the Lord and like Norman's mother...turned into a total nut job who the term matricide or suicide from child's perspective, would be more than highly likely!!!

So yay, woot woot, Mrs Trefoile used to be a bad girl but has now gone all freaky two shoes and is imposing her crazy ways of thinking of the woman whom she thinks should be seen as belonging to her son for all eternity!  And therefore she must cleanse her wicked ways such as wearing red lipstick, or as I said before, anything to do with red.  Haha, even a Mini-Cooper. :D What a whore car!  Haha.

After putting up with Mrs Trefoile's insane rules, i.e. NO salt or anything preservative is allowed in food as it is destroying GOD's food....although she did also say they were Vegetarian's which made me smile...all the BEST people don't eat meat, haha.  Being told that she needed to see the way of the Lord and that she wasn't to leave until she had.  It wasn't until they went to the church and then had to leave due to the appearance of the wicked minister, the one who had committed the ultimate sin.  Due to her hateful rants, Patricia assumes that it must have been adultery that gave Mrs Trefoile such reason to despise him, however when she discovered that what actually happened was that he married someone else years after his wife died alarm bells FINALLY start to really go off.  It is at this point that Patricia learns that in Mrs Trefoile's eyes, once married...or even engaged (like she had been to Stephen), that's it.  You are with that person forever!!!!  Which is a very sweet statement and being the nut job that I am, I kind of agree with it.  Patricia then makes the mistake of telling Mrs Trefoile that even had her Stephen lived, she wouldn't have married him and that she had lied before when she said she needed to get back to London to meet up with a girl friend, that it was actually a man she was referring too.  DING, DING, DING......mission, ESCAPE crazy lady and her weird ass servants!!!

Patricia runs away from Mrs Trefoile at the church and back to the house to get her things, asking the creepy man servant to get her car out for her.  Before she can grab all her stuff though, super psycho has suddenly caught up and locked her in the room.  And herein lies the rest of the story, Patricia is held captive and deprived of food...for as long as it takes Mrs Trefoile to cleanse her sins.  Now taking on super gran herself wouldn't have been so much of a problem but insert creepy servants and Patricia is pretty much buggered!

Now obviously the domineering mother story is a well known one in the beautiful world of horror with Norma Bates pretty much ranking as the number one in the crazy stakes...well until I met Mrs Trefoile, haha.  The director obviously knew this and I'm assuming it's a homage to Psycho that one of the scenes is a near replicate, the one in the basement, you know when Norman comes jumping in on Lila Crane, hitting the overhead light...swing, swing, swing...if you don't know what I mean then WTF, get off my blog you vile creature, haha.

Like Norma, Mrs Trefoile clearly is a slightly unhinged woman.  Any woman who has that much of a freaky deaky relationship with their son clearly has a few screws loose.  The thing is...she wouldn't have been nearly as much of a nutter if it hadn't been for a man...yes people, it was her late, religious fanatic husband...the man who had "saved her", who made her that bonkers in the first place!  So hear ye, hear ye...sometimes it maybe ISN'T a good idea to save the party girl from herself, haha.  The fact that she still keeps things from her "old" life, hidden away like a dirty secret, I dunno, it's something we can all relate too...and if not, whatever!?!  We all go a little mad sometimes.  We just have to say fuck it, I accept my crazy ass self and all the shit I have done...and now I am happy to move on with my life.  The end.  Haha.

Now even though the screenplay for this was done by I Am Legend scribe Richard Matheson, the book was actually written by prolific crime writer Elizabeth Linington who was writing under the pseudonym Anne Blaisdell for this novel, which was in fact entitled Nightmare, released in 1961.

While not the greatest Hammer Horror film ever released, it's a downright enjoyable one.  Performances are great all round and I think for a final feature performance, it was a great choice for Tallulah.  It's a shame that she didn't live to be older, but I think 66 was a pretty damn good age, especially for someone who played as hard as she did throughout her life.

She was never afraid to be herself , say what she thought and do whatever the hell she wanted to, and dahling...she lived life the way she wanted too and ended her film career on a truly wonderful, horrorific note!!!  GO TALLULAH!!!

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