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April 9, 2013

One Minute Review - Massage Parlor Murders

(1976, Directed by Chester Fox and Alex Stevens.)

The title pretty much sums up this American sleaze picture with a decidedly Italian feel. A madman wanders the streets of New York killing young women who work (and "give a little extra") in massage parlors. This allows for victims in various states of undress, lots of fake blood, and two determined cops on the killer's trail.

If there's anything spectacular about Massage Parlor Murders, it's the film's willingness to be completely bizarre. The director lingers on odd sequences like a massage parlor ballet number and a wonderful rant by The 'Burbs co-star Brother Theodore as a fanatical suspect, which leaves the film with a few moments that stand out as unique, if not ambitious.

Indeed, there's little more to the film than its sleazy premise and a whole lot of goofy non-stop action. The film often plays like it was written one scene at a time - and the abrasive and constantly changing musical score makes the film feel more disjointed - but this incompetent style probably makes it more appealing to sleaze fans. If the title tickles your fancy (and if you don't expect art) then Massage Parlor Murders should work as a grindhouse diversion.

Items of Note: Plenty of topless and dead women. Exposition scene that teaches about the devious massage parlor girl and her money grabbing ways. extended nude pool party. Car chase with cop wearing only a towel. Bizarre massage parlor girl who shows her pleasure by licking her lips in the most awkward way possible. Plot twist that matches up directly with a far more famous (and more accomplished) cops and killer film that came about 20 years later. Abrupt and ridiculous finale. Little to no actual tension.

Also of Note: Massage Parlor Murders is new to blu-ray/DVD combo pack thanks to the folks at Vinegar Syndrome, who have restored the film very well and put together a nice (and reasonably priced) package. The picture quality isn't really worthy of the blu-ray treatment, but I don't imagine that the movie needs to look any better than it does here. It's nice to have the rare movie (it has 9 ratings on IMDB!) back in circulation, even if it's just an ordinary grindhouse film.

The Score: 3 dead masseuses out of 5.

For Trailer (NSFW) click here.

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