Friday, April 6, 2012

THE THREE BADDEST FILM FATALES YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF

[5-8-2010]


Diane Jessup, ANGEL FACE (1952)


Jean Simmons is an actress who was always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Though decent supporting roles in films by Lean, Kubrick and Powell (and Pressburger) came early, Simmons never quite achieved the success her talents demanded.

It is these talents which are most definitely on show in Otto Perminger's underrated 1952 noir, in which she plays the deeply disturbed child-woman Diane.

Both alluring and immature, the barely-legal heiress quickly ensnares Robert Mitchum's incredibly unprincipled ambulance driver into a plot to do away with her wealthy stepmother.

Unique among classic screen femmes, she actually loves Mitchum. However, it is the infatuation of a teenage girl, and as anyone with a member of that unique tribe in their family knows, they can be pretty unpredictable (I'm not talking to you Zoe, my lovely, lovely sister. Please don't kill me!). Too bad since it appears Bob's character is an only child.

When he decides to turn himself in, he foolishly agrees to let Diane drive him to the bus station. Uh oh. And you'd think he would have learned about taking a drive with an evil, crazy woman after his experience with Jane Greer in OUT OF THE PAST. Ah well...

Space Girl, LIFEFORCE (1985)

"She's totally alien to our life form. And totally dangerous..." Anyone who has met me since the beginning of this year will be well aware of my recent obsession with Tobe Hooper's gloriously demented space vampire/zombie erotic scifi thrill ride, and much of the credit must go to Miss Mathilda May as the film's Big Bad.

There are a lot of things completely, hilariously wrong with LIFEFORCE, but May's Space Girl is not one of them.

The personification of male lust, May is the hottest, baddest femme fatale never to grace a pulp detective book cover. Like some kind of sexed-up Terminator she comes to Earth and proceeds to suck the titular energy out of any man or woman that strikes her fancy. The fact that her victims are transformed into soul-sucking zombies and proceed to overrun the city of London is just the topping on a very funky pudding.

Oh, and did I mention she's naked? The ENTIRE MOVIE! It's a jaw-dropping gambit that actually works (thanks to the obligatory shadows and image-obscuring props) as both the (male) characters and the (probably male) viewers are constantly reminded that she is merely a projection of their own basest desires, a fact highlighted when she transforms into a giant alien bat thingy halfway through the movie.

Z-Man AKA Superwoman, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (1970)

"Prepare to taste the black sperm of my vengeance!" Yeah, Z-Man is safely the most... idiosyncratic broad on this list. Played by John LaZar at full throttle intensity the man/woman also known as "Superwoman" is the scariest denzien to emerge from the Age of Aquarius.

With the clipped diction of Laurence Olivier’s Richard III, Mick Jagger's sideburns and renegade nazi Martin Bormann for a butler, Z-Man is the mephistopholian figure behind the rapid rise and equally rapid fall of super-girl band the Carrie Nations.

Whether spewing pseudo-Shakespearean verse, professing his/her love to a chained stud wearing Tarzan's loin cloth, or strutting around his outre mansion in a form-fitting purple body suit complete with crown, cape and sword, Z-Man is ready for any and all occasions.

Unbelievably, this ridiculously disturbing apparition came from the revered pen of everyone's favorite thumb-er, film critic Roger Ebert. Originally a mean-spirited take-off on uber-music producer Phil Spector, Z-Man now seems strangely prescient in light of Spector's recent fall from grace.

Expect Cillian Murphy to take the role in the remake.

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