At a random funeral, we meet a woman named Lindsay, whose presence there is indeed just as random; she’s never seen the person in her life, yet finds herself drawn to funerals due to an odd fascination with the dead. It’s an interest that’s so strong that she often end up caressing the corpse’s face and going so far as to kiss them. This draws the attention of the funeral home’s undertaker, who shares her obsession. He invites her to a gathering, one taking place after-hours at the home. Equally wary and intrigued, Lindsay shows up, but when she sees the group of people literally worshiping a corpse, in full-on cult-style robes and taking part in a strange ritual, she decides she’s not ready to give into her cravings this deeply, and flees the scene.
After the incident, she attempts to lead as normal a life as possible. One of her best friends named Wade, who previously pushed himself onto her, ignoring her protests, has recently apologized (he was only drunk!), and a relationship begins to bud, one where Wade wants something more but Lindsay isn’t so sure. Lindsay still finds herself drawn to funerals though, and at one she bumps into the deceased's brother, who has more than a passing resemblance to her father, who died when she was young and was her most dearest loved-one. She’s drawn to the man’s aura and the way he reminds her of the one she lost, and a deep love affair begins which leads to marriage. But as much as Lindsay loves him, she can’t bring herself to consummate the marriage. It doesn’t help matters that the undertaker continually sends her letters, attempting to lure her back into their coven of necrophiliacs. Torn, Lindsay must decide whether she wants to overcome her fears in the world of the living or embrace the inviting acceptance of the dead.
The biggest gripe I have with Love Me Deadly is it just doesn’t go for the jugular in the way that it should. Lest we forget, this is a film about necrophilia, and as such it’s apparent that its main goal is to shock and bring attention to itself. Yet the film is anything but depraved; it’s actually quite tame. Having seen films like Jörg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik series and Joe D’Amato’s sleaze masterpiece Beyond the Darkness, Love Me Deadly just can’t compare. Granted, Love Me Deadly predated these more extreme displays by a number of years, but it’s not like 1973 was a time for timidity, with The Exorcist and Don’t Look Now shocking audiences. Maybe this was considered degenerate, filthy cinema upon its release, but now it seems rather pedestrian, and it’s hard to look at it in a discerning light after having experienced similar films that take things much farther that have been released since.
If you’re able to overlook these qualms and put yourself back in 1973, there are still some glaring flaws in the film, one of the worst being director Jacques Lacerte’s heavy reliance on the montage. Not only do many of these scenes have little to do with the overall story, serving only to bog down the pace, but the tone used is shockingly jarring. The one used in the middle is the most offensive, as we get to see Lindsay and her new beau Alex frolic around the sunny locales of California during their first week together. The music is mind-numbingly bad, and the entire affair feels like it would be much more at home on a cheesy primetime TV show from the era than a supposedly outrageous horror flick. It’s too bad I don’t have a soundtrack to Team America: World Police, as I could have cranked up that “Montage!” song during these scenes to try and squeeze just a bit of fun out of them. The film also feels way too long at 94 minutes, due to some unnecessary padding in the middle, but that isn’t particularly surprising when taking into account that this is Lacerte’s first (and seemingly only) film. Lindsay’s obsession with her dead father seems a little hackneyed and underdeveloped too; we’re never really given much information on why she feels such a connection to him and can’t let him go; sure, he seemed like a good father, but what did he do that was SO special, special enough to make her feel more comfortable with the dead than the living?
I’m being pretty harsh, and maybe that’s because I expected something different, as I really wanted to like the film since it definitely sounded like something that would be up my alley. And to be honest, not everything is bad. Well okay, it is, but in that “so bad it’s good” vein. Near the beginning of the film, a male prostitute is murdered to be made into a new plaything for the necrophiliacs. I guess I should have been disturbed, but the scene made me laugh my ass off. The actor playing the prostitute turns it to 11, pouring forth a tidal wave of theatrics that is simply masterful! Witnessing him yell “Oh, my blood! MY BLOOD!!!” is one of the top cinematic achievements of a hapless victim being portrayed in a horror flick. Also, while Mary Wilcox isn’t the hottest woman in the world, her body is sick, and when you finally see the goods, it was totally worth the wait. It’s too bad there wasn’t more bewbage on her part, but what you do get is pretty good.
All told, Love Me Deadly is a middling film that has a few good ideas (and wonderfully bad acting) that get lost amidst a lot of nonsense and extra fat. For those that like tame films about necrophilia (just leave this site and never come back if that’s you), maybe Love Me Deadly will be the “Genuinely, Deeply Shocking!” experience that the blurb on the front of the DVD cover claims it is. For everyone else, this is basically PG13-level sleaze, and well, that sort of goes against everything sleaze is supposed to be about, doesn’t it?
Please feel free to discuss "Love Me Deadly" here, in our forums!