Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Girly (1970)

The psychotic woman is one of horror's most well known tropes. From the old actress of "Whatever happened to Baby Jane" to the scorned lover of "Fatal Attraction" and the psychosexual madness of Asami in "Audition", hell have no fury like a woman in general. Like in many sub-genres, there are forgotten gems-in this sub-genre, it's Freddie Francis' 1970 Brit Horror oddity "Girly."

Meet Girly (Vanessa Howard). She lives with Mumsy (Ursula Howells-hey, same last name!), Nanny (Pat Heywood) and Sonny (Howard Trevor). Her and the family have a nice little hobby-they like to invite men over for games, and then kill off said men. Well, they meet a new friend (Michael Bryant), whose different than the others. You see, he's a smart, scheming man whose got a few tricks up his sleeve, and it's going to turn everyone's world upside-down.

A strange but intriguing black comedy that received critical acclaim but languished in obscurity, "Girly" is something of a minor miracle that at times resembles an R-rated version of those old Disney movies that starred British thespians like Julie Andrews. Those hoping for gore will walk out disappointed, but that's just fine. "Girly" works because of the way it plays with viewer expectations. In most movies, you'd expect the "friend" to be put through endless scenes of torture, but not here. By making this man much more cunning than characters like this usually are, the film pulls the rug out from under the viewer, proving that like this "friend", it's a lot smarter than other psychotic family movies.

It also helps that the acting is strong. Howard steals the show as Girly, adding a teasing sexuality and mixing it with a not so hidden sense of menace and insanity-ah hell, the girl is nuts, and it's a lot of fun to watch. Bryant is also great, and plays with viewer expectations. Trevor also makes for a fun psychopath, clearly having the time of his life with the role, while Howells and Heywood manage to underplay their characters while simultaneously making them just as mad as Girly and Sonny.

For fans of the odd and obscure, "Girly" is something of an instant classic that has been unknown for far too long. It's on DVD now, so check it out, as it's a real diamond in the rough.

Rating: 9/10

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