Poor Pretty Eddie-Movie Review

Poor Pretty Eddie Film Review

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Poor Pretty Eddie

Dir. Richard Robinson
USA 1973 92 min. 35mm Rated R

"Best described as Genet's The Balcony as filtered through the warped narcissism of a third-rate Elvis impersonator." (Sleazoid Express)

Variously released as Black Vengeance, Redneck County Rape and Heartbreak Hotel, Poor Pretty Eddie is a curious entry into the rape-revenge cycle that was rampant in the 70s. Populated by legit actors like Leslie Uggams, Shelley Winters and Slim Pickens (although the credit is conspicuously absent from Uggam's website) and support by powerhouse character players Ted Cassidy (Lurch) and Dub Taylor (a man who listed "prairie scum" as his occupation on IRS forms), Poor Pretty Eddie remains one of the most nightmarish examples of backwoods horror in the exploitation film canon.

When a famous black singer's car breaks down in nowheresville USA, she attracts the unwanted attentions of Eddie (Michael Christian), a psycho Elvis-wannabe who makes his living 'performing' (in various capacities) for the aging Shelley Winters. Winters runs a motel -- "a demented hillbilly stronghold" (Sleazoid Express) -- and keeps the much-younger (and did I say psychotic?) Eddie by her side with flattery and the promise of financial stability. But Eddie sees Uggams as his way out.

And she's going to be his girl whether she likes it or not. After being knocked about and raped (I never thought I'd say this, but the rape scene in this film is one of the most stunning sequences you'll ever see), Uggams goes to the local authorities for help. A bad move, since they're dim-witted good 'ol boys who see her as nothing more than fresh dark meat.

The seething sexual repression in this town about to explode - and manifests itself as misplaced race-hate. Financed by homicidal porn mogul Mike Thevis and warped even by 42nd Street standards, Poor Pretty Eddie is nevertheless elevated to high art by the masterful editing of frequent Donald Cammell collaborator Frank Mazzola.

Kier-La Janisse