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The Stepmother 1972
Description: Returning home from a business trip, an architect assumes that a client is having an affair with his wife and murders the man. His feelings of guilt and attempts to conceal the crime lead to more complications and death.
Released: 26 Oct 1972 Director: Howard Avedis Writers: Howard Avedis Actors: Alejandro Rey, John Anderson, Katherine Justice, Larry Linville Genres: Drama
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See Il saprofita (1974).

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The Stepmother Reviews:

I like weird 70's films a lot, but this is weird even by weird 70's standards. It takes about half the movie, for instance, to even figure out why it's CALLED "The Stepmother"--it, at first, seems to be a film about a jealous middle-aged, Mexican-American architect who murders a business associate after he finds him in bed with his younger gringa wife (and unbeknownst to the wife). By a weird coincidence other more lower-class Mexican also murders his wife in the same zone and is framed for both murders. But the cops starts to suspect the architect, and his continuing jealously causes him to accidentally slay his partner and greatest mate (played by "MASH's" Larry Linville). He then has to fend off the amorous advances of the friend's widow before the cops grow even more suspicious. Got all that so far? So why is it named "The Stepmother"? Well, about halfway through the man's son shows up from Mexico City, and he also begins messing around with the young wife (his stepmother)and the off-kilter plot REALLY goes into over-drive.There are a several reasons to see this. First, if you're a weird 70's movie completist. This movie is type related to early 70's bizarro flick "Swinger's Massacre", which was equally ridiculous but had a less random plot. Second, if you're a fanatic of Larry Linville, he's now cute nice here and acts circles around the rest of the unknown cast. The greatest reason perhaps though is this was the first appearance of cult drive-in queen Claudia Jennings. Jennings has a cameo role as a stoned-out hippie chick who has one hilarious line where she say the cops she was "way too ripped" to remember what happened the night of the murder. (And if that isn't worth the price of admission, she also has her typically gratuitous full-frontal nude scene). Weird, weird movie, but if any of this sounds interesting to you, check it out.


Stressed-out middle-aged Mexican-American self-made millionaire architect Frank Delgado (a solid performance by Alejandro Rey) ain't having a nice time of it. First off, he murders the lover of his hot young second wife Margo (lovely brunette Katherine Justice) and buries the body at a nearby beach. The police initially think other guy who killed his girlfriend on that same beach on the same night might have committed the dastardly deed, but no-nonsense Inspector Darnezi (a properly crusty portrayal by John Anderson) is certain that Frank is the true culprit. Things go from terrible to worse when Frank accidentally kills his own laid-back greatest mate and business partner Dick Hill (an engaging turn by Larry Linville of TV's "M.A.S.H." fame). To add further abject insult to already terrible injury, Margo seduces Frank's teenage son Steve (handsome Rudy Herrera Jr.) and Hill's widow Sonja (nicely essayed by Marlene Schmidt, who also co-wrote the script) makes advances on Frank. Director/co-writer Hikmet Avedis whips up one doozy of a deliciously convoluted and ridiculous plot and further spices things up with a decent amount of tasty female nudity. Popping up in cool helping roles are familiar hero actor Duncan McLeod (sleazy lawyer Porter Hall in "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls") as a hard-nosed police chief, John D. Garfield as hipster smut film director Goof, and luscious 70's drive-in exploitation cinema goddess Claudia Jennings as stoner hippie porno starlet Rita (Claudia naturally does one of her customary yummy full-frontal nude scenes). Jack Beckett's snazzy cinematography goes overboard on the dewy soft-focus, strenuous slow motion, and, especially, plenty of gloriously tacky freeze frames. The groovy Oscar-nominated theme song "Strange Are the Methods of Love" is a finished sappy hoot. An entertainingly loopy potboiler.


It isn't so much that The Stepmother is a weird story--it should be the plot of any made-for-cable late night erotic thriller. But the method the storyline unfolds feels unusual, and that--along with some hammy acting--is probably why this film has been largely forgotten.The main hero looks like a younger Al Pacino after two months with no sleep. The film gets right to the action before we even know who any of these folks are. The characters explain everything eventually, but for a while, we don't really know their backgrounds or their relationships to every other. Not that it's complicated, but you expect to know something about Frank before he strangles the guy messing around with his wife.Even the ending is handled strangely. Moments before the credits roll, things happen that seem to set up other half hour of drama, but then the conclusion hammers down, and we are deprived of the conflict that the storyline seemed to be building towards.I found The Stepmother on an 8-movie collection named "Drive-In Cult Classics" for only $7 at Greatest Buy. This was the first of the eight I watched, and it was exactly what I was looking for: weak budget, goofy, obscure 70's trash. I didn't think it was all that good, but as a fanatic of terrible movies, I enjoyed it.



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