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The Roommates 1973
Description: Serial killing makes summer holiday more exciting!
Released: 01 Mar 1973 Director: Arthur Marks Writers: John Durren, Arthur Marks (screenplay) Actors: Marki Bey, Pat Woodell, Roberta Collins, Laurie Rose Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
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The Roommates Reviews:

This super-obscure film was recently shown at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, TX as part of its "Weird Wednesday" feature, and it was well worth doing a tiny traveling to catch it (if I remember correctly, the last time this film played in theatres was as part of a double-bill with THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS, so you KNOW it's been a long, long time!). I play grindhouse/drive-in ("Joe Bob Briggs-type") films from the '70s, and THE ROOMMATES certainly fits the bill. The film begins off as a cheesecake romp with four lovely college coeds finishing the school year and getting ready for some fun in the sun during their summer break. They have the requisite wild party (described by some as an "orgy" but consisting mainly of binge drinking, massive petting, a strip chess minigame and the aforementioned sit-up contest) then go off on their summer journeys (more or less separately, but all at or near Lake Arrowhead). Heather (Pat Woodell, the original Bobbie Jo Bradley from PETTICOAT JUNCTION) takes it simple at the family summer home along with her visiting younger cousin Paula (Christina Hart). They explore a young boy camping out on the property and let him to stay in a shed in exchange for chopping and gathering firewood. Carla (Marki Bey) works at a local library and catches the fancy of the deputy sheriff (not to mention some leering library patrons), Beth (Roberta Collins) works alongside a waterskiing instructor and pursues a relationship with a married man, and Brea (Laurie Rose) is a nurse at a summer camp and takes a somewhat sheltered teenage man under her wing. As mentioned in another reviews, giving every woman her own separate storyline line was cute much standard formula at the time for these movies, then once the summer journeys were well underway the movie veers sharply and introduces a crazed assassin who begins bumping off pretty girls at the lake. The individual stories continue as the summer goes on, leading to a frenzied climax at a country club gathering. Fanatics of '70s films will love the wild clothes and hairstyles, and while the melody is rather simplistic and minimal (reminiscent of background melody from an early 70s diet cola commercial) it's still fun. Throw in some super-cheesy dialogue, a rather dysfunctional family who run a resort hotel, some biker thugs and few lecherous middle-aged boys with a preference for jailbait and you've got one far-out, funky flick! THE ROOMMATES drew a cute decent crowd at the Alamo Drafthouse (mainly college-age and mid-to-late 20s) and although the print was quite scratchy and the color didn't age well at all it got a cute favorable response from everyone. It was nice seeing everyone enjoying and really getting into a freewheeling film from a bygone era, and they certainly don't create 'em like THE ROOMMATES anymore! Looking forward to the DVD release in 2009 from Dark Sky Films!


It's a shame that Arthur Marks' THE ROOMMATES is for the most part verrrrry difficult to come by because it's one of his best! It's a hell of a lot better than CENTERFOLD GIRLS, that's for sure, and while it's no BONNIE'S KIDS, it is a special blend of pretty women and 70s drive-in elements. While the four leading ladies only share one or two scenes together, this is typical of the four-independent-and-beautiful-twentysomethings subgenre of the drive-in. Fresh World's NURSES and TEACHERS films, as well as THE STEWARDESSES and Al Adamson's rip-offs, featured pretty women who were friends, but their individual stories were followed more closely. The social politics of the time (the sexual revolution, women's lib) also enjoy heavily in hero development, as in the aforementioned films.Marki Bey, who would later become SUGAR HILL before becoming a featured user on "Starsky and Hutch", gives probably her finest performance as a smirking librarian who makes no apologies when she jumps from one boy to other who catches her fancy. Pat Woodell, besides contributing a tiny nudity in a shower scene, is given tiny to do despite her star billing. She was the only established star of the cast, yet she's obviously not the hero Marks was most interested in. Laurie Rose had the most varied career of the girls, from David Friedman skinflicks (ADULT VERSION OF JEKYLL AND HIDE) to Lee Frost sleaze (POLICEWOMEN) to Filipino action pics (THE HOT BOX). Here she is given probably her most interesting and sensitive character. Today she is a professional bellydancer and doesn't look on her past too highly, but she could at least be proud of her work in this film. Roberta Collins is the most vivacious of the quartet, and as evident in most of her films, is an adept comedienne who fully endears herself to the audience. How should anyone watching her movies NOT fall in love with her? One of the strongest actresses of the 70s drive-in, she also handles dramatic scenes astonishingly well. Unbelievably, she never graduated to the bigger and better Hollywood roles she so richly deserved.Also on-hand are two more famous drive-in beauties. Christina Hart (THE STEWARDESSES, JOHNNY FIRECLOUD) is a seemingly innocent cousin of Woodell's who turns out to be a conniving tiny sexpot who plans on having the swingingest summer of her life. Connie Strickland, the blonde bombshell from BUMMER!, appears in a tiny role as a vacationing water-skier who is the killer's first victim. Strickland didn't receive to star in too many films, usually in tiny hero roles; Marks would test her again in CENTERFOLD GIRLS. Look quick for Uschi Digart in an orgy stage and Albert Cole (THE INCREDIBLE TWO-HEADED TRANSPLANT) as a biker!! ROOMMATES is a tiny slow-going. The first 15 mins set-up the four greatest friends, who have lots of dialogue discussing their private politics and establishing the two goofball comediennes (Marki Bey and Roberta Collins) and the more serious lasses (Pat Woodell and Laurie Rose). Following a wild party where Rose beats a jock in a sit-up contest, the women take off for their summer holiday at a lovely resort. And all of a sudden, a charming comedy in the vein of SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS becomes a twisted killing-spree-whodunit with pretty women falling dead left and right (very much like the Sebastians' THE SINGLE GIRLS from the same year, or Fresh World's NIGHT CALL NURSES and STUDENT TEACHERS). All four gals manage to pair up with respective male partners in-between the murders, and the movie successfully jumps back and forth between these two very various parts.I think The Hoyk's review below is a tiny off; Tarantino probably never saw this movie (which was never accessible on home video and is still near impossible to find) so its influence on him is zero. Hopefully some DVD company will come along to rescue this one from obscurity and release it with appreciative extras with Marks and the six featured actresses and the tender loving care it deserves. It's not a four-star, solid 10 exploitation feature, but there is still plenty here to hold fanatics of 70s drive-in fare happy.


This film has been unavailable in any form for many years. Short of driving down to the original Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas when they did the occasional repertory showing, there has simply been no method for most folks to see it. Actually that has changed with a long-awaited DVD release. And it was now worth the wait. It isn't that this is a brilliantly conceived film by master filmmakers, or conversely, that it's one of those largely mythical "so-bad-it's-good" films, but it's one where all the elements just happily gel together in a near-perfect exploitation romp.The format of the storyline involves four sex college-age girls, who are not all technically "roommates", but are spending summer holiday together in two lakeside houses. The women every have individual adventures. The black woman (Marki Bey) works at a library and is torn between two lovers, a jealous white stud and a heroic black sheriff's deputy. The blonde woman (Roberta Collins) has a fling with a newest divorced older man. The brunette (Pat Woodell) is supposed to be "babysitting" her younger cousin (Christina Hart), but they BOTH receive involved with a middle-aged womanizer and his troubled teenage son. The last and sexiest woman (Laurie Rose) becomes a nurse at a boy's camp where she supports out a bullied male virgin (although not so much with the bullying part). These separate stories follow the formula established by Roger Corman/New Line in the early 70's with his "Nurse" movies, but this movie does not have the ham-handed attempts at humor or the dated and often annoying faux-feminist politics of the Corman-produced films. Instead it has a giallo-esque assassin wandering around picking off the secondary female characters--which is now a lot more fun.The film now spends more time creating different red herrings than it does on the murders (they could have named the lake Lake Red Herring), and the identity of the murderer ends up being rather perfunctory and obvious. But the mystery-killer plot does avoid some of the borderline misogyny that mars some of the another movies produced by Arthur Marks in that era like "Centerfold Girls" and "Bonnie's Kids". This falls between the pseudo-feminist preaching and the sleazy misogyny of the low-budget 70's era into a satisfied medium of truly enjoyable exploitation.The five girls, of course, really create the movie. Marki Bey is the greatest actress. Roberta Collins would have the most substantial exploitation career (although she is somewhat wasted here). TV actress Pat Woodell is serviceable. The greatest two though are Laurie Rose and Christina Hart. Rose is probably the closest to being a purely softcore sexploitation actress, so not surprisingly she has the most nude scenes, but her acting is now quite nice here. Christina Hart plays a hero that alternates between a naive innocent and a malicious young tease (similar to Robin Mattson in "Bonnie's Kids"). She is incredibly sexy even with her clothes on. I'd highly suggest this one.



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