Copyright Company/Date: C 1974 Peter Walker (Heritage) Ltd.
Time: 1 hr. 22 mins.
Submitted by: Russell Shiley
Dorothy Yates: Old lady living in a farmhouse with her husband. Spends her time around the house reading tarot cards to people and then killing and eating them (the people, not the tarot cards). Sentenced to a nuthouse in the '50s and later declared legally sane, but we know better. :)
Edmund Yates: Dorothy's long-suffering, spineless husband. He has difficulty coping with her lapses into cannibalism but since he loves her he helps hide/ clean up the evidence.
Jackie: Dutiful daughter to a fault.. that fault being when she discovers her step-mum is still eating people. Things look pretty bad for her at the end.
Debbie: Bad-girl younger sister of Jackie. Daughter of Dorothy and Edmund, and orphaned after birth and hidden from Dorothy. She is more than happy to follow in Dorothy's murderous footsteps and joins in on her sprees when she finally meets her mum and dad in person.
Graham: Jackie's psychiatrist-in-training boyfriend. He investigates her folks by posing as a customer for Dorothy's Tarot card readings. She sees through his ruse and her drill sees through his skull.
Things I learned from this movie:
Cannibalistic Tarot readers have genuine ESP powers.
Well-wrapped packages can bleed on occasion.
Being declared "fit and able to take your place in society again" means diddly.
In a family where cannibalism occurs, a family member must kill or be an accomplice, or they'll end up on the menu themselves.
Crazy old women refer to people hiding in the shadows as "little animals".
Things to watch for:
2:04- Huh? Why are we looking at this?
3:50- Heh heh heh.. No doubt she'll be misdiagnosed upon release.
4:40- An actress with the last name of Butcher? She's in the right film!
7:57- He didn't say you were a tart, but you ARE one. B*tch!
9:31- God, these people are rude. Graham and Jackie look bored, fittingly.
20 minutes- ..Maybe it should've been wrapped in tinfoil?
22 minutes- Please try some.. compliments of the conductor!
30 minutes- What was that? Looked like a pig snout.. and why isn't it mentioned again?
38:50- Say...! That's no 15 year old body! And you ARE a tart!
49 minutes- Little animals?? Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
50 minutes- RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST MONEY!
Also 50 minutes- RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST TAROT CARDS!
51:15- She just stands there.. guess she deserves to die by an old lady's hand.
1:01- She packed some clothes? I don't see her carrying anything while riding on that motorcycle.
1:04- "She's so grown up, isn't she?" translates to "She's a killer, just like her mother!"
1:18- Why DID Dorothy hit him? She's never hit him before..
1:21- That's one downbeat ending!
Dorothy Yates: "It's such fun being a night person, isn't it, Jackie? Some people are day people, but we like being night people, don't we? Night people.."
Jackie: "Just tell me one thing, Mother.. are you well?"
Dorothy Yates: "Am I well, dear? I don't understand.."
Jackie: "You know what I mean.. have you STARTED AGAIN?"
Dorothy Yates: "They come and go.. lonely people. All lonely people, not a friend in the world.. and I help them!"
Edmund Yates: "They said she was well again! They said she was well.."
Jackie: "You knew! You knew! Why did you let them!!!"
This is a rather delightful British horror flick involving the rather novel plot device of a cannibalistic older woman. It's nice to see elders get violent revenge against young whipper-snappers for their loud music, disrespecting elders, causing trouble, and acting like know-it-alls. To see not only an elder offing them, but to EAT them as well?? Go Granny!
We open in London in 1957, at the site of a closed-down carnival. A middle-aged man knocks on the door of a trailer and says he's in a bit of a mess, and he has nowhere else to turn. He's let in and we see some weird camera work inside the trailer, involving picture frames, the floor, a curtain, dirty dishes (the horror!), then finally the man, dead at the sofa. As the unseen assailant takes their leave the man slumps over, revealing a big chunk of his skull missing.
We now cut to a courthouse, where Mr. and Mrs. Yates are declared guilty for this and other crimes and are to be sentenced to confinement at a mental institution until they are declared fit for society. It is clear that the Mrs. is the main perpetrator, and the Mr. an accomplice. Again, Go Granny!
After the opening credits we cut to a disco bar where an underage girl and her biker pals try to start trouble. She is refused a drink and, furious, tells one biker the bartender called her a tart. After the biker accosts him they are 86'ed. Then we cut to a dinner at some rude friends of Graham and Jackie and discuss Jackie's sister Debbie, who was the 'tart' at the bar. Going back to the bar we see Debbie and her buddies harrass the bartender as he gets off work and then rough him over, much to Debbie's delight. She sticks around for some 'extracurricular' activity and her buddies drive off. Jackie heads home and has a shouting match with Debbie over her tardiness. Jackie then drives off to deliver a package to a house in the country. We learn her parents at the house are Mr. and Mrs. Yates. The package bleeds in Mrs. Yates' hands..
The police come to Jackie's house to question Debbie about the bartender's disappearance. Soon afterwards Jackie gets a call at work about Mrs. Yates' "condition" getting worse. She meets Mr. Yates and they drive off. Meanwhile Mrs. Yates entertains a guest (while using a false name) with Tarot card readings. Not surprisingly, the card "Death" comes into play. Mrs. Yates says it's merely symbolic; representing an end to something. Then we cut to ANOTHER scene.. I like this movie, but there's too much cutting! STAY WITH ONE SCENE FOR A WHILE WILL YOU!!! Jackie talks with Dad and he shows her something bloody in the trunk, then we jump to another scene! STOP!!!
She bolts on a date with Graham to visit Dad and Mum again and berates Mum for her cannibalistic lapses. In ANOTHER cut scene Graham visits Jackie's and talks with Debbie for awhile, who flirts with him. Then we go back to Mrs. Yates, getting upset over Jackie's interrogation and Mr. Yates manages to calm her down. Jackie returns to her house and tells Debbie to get to bed. She runs off in a huff. Back at the Yates' Dorothy uses a drill on her latest victim.
Debbie shows a biker friend her handiwork on the bartender (but without telling him she did it), and conspires with him on how to get rid of the body; he chickens out. Meanwhile Graham starts to snoop a bit into the history of the Yates. Also, Mrs. Yates invites another guest for Tarot eatings.. er, readings. After frightening her, the guest notices all the doors are locked from outside. Mrs. Yates then introduces her to a new card game.. POKER! As in, extremely hot and through the gut! Mr. Yates comes home and sees her handiwork. Someone else helped her with the murder, and the locking of the doors..
Graham learns all about the family's dark history, including Jackie being Dorothy's stepdaughter and Debbie being Dorothy and Edmund's daughter, who was put in an orphanage. His discussion with a doctor at the institution on their history ends amusingly with the professor saying "they're completely cured.. just as sane as you or I", and then we cut to the body of Dorothy's latest victim being plopped into a pile of hay! Meanwhile Debbie tells Graham and Jackie about the bartender's death (who says it was a biker bludgeoning him with a chain) and show the police, who understandably have their suspicions. When they return to the flat Debbie has packed up her things and left. She catches a ride with her boyfriend to her folks' house, who meet her for the first time (well, Dad does; she's been helping Mum with the bodies). Her boyfriend snoops around and finds the bodies in the hay, then gets pitchforked by Dorothy while Debbie, who has already followed in her parents' murderous footsteps, watches. She then decides that Jackie is next to die! Edmund refuses to allow this.
Graham finds out the "packages" Jackie's been delivering are brains from the butcher shop. Jackie thought it would be a safe alternative to human flesh, which obviously hasn't cured Dorothy. Graham goes to the Yates' for a Tarot reading. Dorothy, who all along seems to have real psychic powers, suspects he wants to know something. She becomes furious when he lies to her. Debbie and Edmund enter the room and things look pretty bad for our sleuth.
Debbie calls Jackie and asks her to come to the farmhouse. When she arrives she is told by Dad that the family feels closer to Debbie than Jackie. When Jackie turns on the lights she sees that Dorothy has beaten him with a poker. Looking for Graham, she hears some drilling as she goes upstairs. Sure enough, Graham is well ventilated on a table. Turning to leave, Edmund blocks the door. Debbie advances on her stepsister with a cleaver as the film ends..
I would definitely recommend this groundbreaking film with one caveat.. be prepared to see a new scene every 5-6 minutes or so, as the film likes to jump around a lot.
I'm not a fan of Pete Walker (House Of Whipcord and Schizo bored the hell out of me) but this is most likely his best film. And Sheila Keith is outstanding. All the performances are rather good but hers really impresses. Recommended!