I recently screened 1975's Poor Pretty Eddie for a small group of friends, but now I'm not so sure that they're still my friends at all! One person just sat shaking his head from side to side with his mouth hanging open, and my partner (who had a look of grave concern throughout the whole movie) warned that if I wrote this post, readers of this blog will never forgive me. "I'M HORRIFIED" sighed the other viewer.
Poor Pretty Eddie, aka Black Vengeance, aka Redneck County Rape, aka Heartbreak Motel stars Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams, Academy Award winner Shelly Winters, and Ted Cassidy (Lurch from The Addams Family). Rounding out the established cast are the hilarious character actors, Slim Pickens and Dub Taylor, and Michael Christian - who perhaps never worked again after this movie - is "Pretty Eddie".
"Try Indescribable...a cross between an (Ingmar) Bergman dream sequence, Hee Haw, and Deliverance...It's dazzlingly atrocious."
"Some films you wonder why they were made. Some films you wonder how they were made. Poor Pretty Eddie is a film that you just can’t believe was made at all..... how did well known actors get involved in something so sleazy?"
"It's vile, disgusting, and despicable. This movie displays everything that is worst in the character of human nature particularly as it relates to the historical interaction between the races. It's just an ugly movie to watch. The scenery is ugly, the people were ugly, their personalities were ugly, and even Leslie Uggams is a bit too full of herself."
Leslie Uggams portrays prim and proper Liz Wetherly, a famous black American singer who just finished singing the national anthem at a football game. Having two weeks left before her next singing engagement, she decides to take a solitary road trip through Georgia in her white Rolls Royce. That was her first mistake! The car breaks down on a rural back road, and Liz finds herself stumbling through the Georgia pines to discover Bertha's Oasis, a rustic backwoods inn run by a deranged Shelly Winters. Winters character is a drunken ex-stripper dressed like a drag queen impersonating Phyllis Diller. There are only three other people on the grounds, including Bertha's delusional young boytoy Eddie - a pretty but poor Elvis impersonator, and Keno (Cassidy) a maniacal mechanic with a fondness for slaughtering chickens.
Miss Wetherly is told that her car will be repaired in the morning, and she is forced to spend the night at the inn. And that's when the real nightmare began.
Eddie has an instant hard-on for Liz, and alternately sees her as his stepping stone toward stardom. During a strange dinner with the perverted town sheriff (Pickens) Eddie convinces himself that the singer also has the hots for him, and later that night, Liz discovers Eddie half naked in her bed ready to consumate their supposed lust. She ends up kneeing him in the nutts, and he ends up raping her, and that rape scene has to be one of the most unusual in film history. Wetherly's ugly assault is interspliced with a scene of two dogs humping in heat to the soundtrack of a Country love song!
If only she had played it cool, played it off, and played him for a fool, she may have escaped the events of the next morning. Instead, she is held captive by Eddie and Bertha, and endures one degree of torture and humilation after another. Finally, she escapes. Well, kinda! She gets as far down the road as possible until she's pulled over for speeding, taken to the town sheriff where she files rape charges against Eddie. "Did he bite you on the titties? I need to see suck marks!" the sheriff asks in what has become one of the film's most famous lines.
Poor Miss Wetherly is eventually delivered back into the hands of her captors where she becomes immune to repeated rapes, blow-jobs and beatings. In a sick attempt at redemption, the demented Eddie plans a mock wedding and invites the whole town. A near-comatose Liz is led to the slaughter in an old wedding dress once made for a young and virginal Bertha. There, she encounters the twisted justice of the peace (Dub Taylor) and a wedding singer who looks just like Amy Winehouse! Everyone who is anyone in town (and that's not saying much) shows up for the wedding, and Bertha crashes the event in her own matching gown and veil. I didn't see a wedding cake, but it's here that everyone gets their just dessert with a double serving of shootings, stabbings, screaming, blood, guts and gore!
Most people that I've talked to have NOT heard of this movie! I'm not surprised. In fact, it was only earlier this year that I'd ever heard of it myself when it aired overnight on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I have a friend who claims to know Leslie Uggams and I asked her about the film. "Miss Uggams will probably cuss your black ass out if you stepped to her about this movie" she replied.
Poor Pretty Eddie was filmed in Athens, GA., and they weren't particulary too thrilled about it either! Click on the text below, and consider this article I found in a local paper published in 1975....
Some call it Blaxploitation, and some don't know what the hell it is, but Poor Pretty Eddie was written by B.W. Sandefur & Richard Robinson, and produced by David Worth. As I understand it, these names mean different things to different people! It was also a product from Michael Thevis Enterprises. Throughout the 70's, Thevis operated "one of the nation's largest networks of adult book stores, x-rated movie theatres, and peep show machines."
Through that enterprise, some say Thevis earned up to $100 million a year. He was eventually jailed and convicted on charges of sending obscene materials through the mail, but in 1978 escaped from an Indiana prison and landed on America's Most Wanted List. By the time they caught up with him, his laundry list of crimes included extortion, tax evasion, bombing, attempted murder and the actual murder of a witness who testified against him in an earlier trial. Michael Thevis is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
If you're not worried about being emotionally scarred, or loosing your friends, I advise that your order a copy of Poor Pretty Eddie today. IT IS AN EXPERIENCE!