Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (Lady Dracula, Rape of the Vampires) Directed By Richard Blackburn, Starring Cheryl "Rainbeux" Smith (1973).

I'm not used to seeing Cheryl "Rainbeux" Smith in this non exploitive light, because she's bared her nekidness in all sorts of genre films (sexploits, Women in prison ones and blaxploitation like Drum the sequel to Mandingo). Lemora fits in the rare category of supernatural 50's gangster movies, there's only one other I can think of and that's Ruby with Piper Laurie. 

Lila (Smith) is the symbol of Christian purity, usually this would be stomach turning to me, but I'm used to seeing this actress in such a filthy light, that this kind of squeaky clean pedestal serves to elevate her image. She plays the daughter of a notorious gangster, who all the trash in town seem jealous of. They show headlines that say, "Devil's daughter is a Goodie goodie" or something to that effect (I'm guessing he raised her in a convent).

That's right "Squeaky Clean, got it?"

The creepy reverend in the church played by director Blackburn has got the hots for Lila and makes an example out of her. It seems as if he's using her as a charity case to make himself look better. A group of spooky hooded figures surround her gangster father and as he drives on the road, a pair of hollow sunken eyeballs are excruciatingly close and hover over the car (later on we discover these pupils belong to Lemora the Lady Vampire. It's funny seeing a wise guy being taken down by goths in halloween costumes!

Pardon me, I have to get back to the set of a Lucio Fulci film.

Lila walks downtown in a seedy area. The town is full of perverse sordid characters on the verge of raping Lila, the holy daughter. There's even a hillbilly country bumpkin song they play as she strolls thru the den of iniquity. There's all kinds of sleazy double entendres going on, the ticket taker offers her chocolates and wonders if she likes hard or soft centers!

Now take off your shoes, PU, whoops I mean bra

She gets on a bus with a warbly eyed slimeball who drives her to the next town. The bus driver is played by Hy Pyke, the gay teacher from Hollywood High, there was some welcome unintentionally delightful casting! He seems freaked out by the woods and ghouls start pounding on the doors and rush in and kill him. The makeup is creative and the monsters have coarse Brillo hair and fangs they have the same "Thing Maker" looking features as the zombies in Burial Ground.

Good thing this bus is propelled by my own natural gas!

She's confronted by a haggard witch who stares into the camera and sings an out of tune threatening lullaby, while circling the scared girl.

Just like a white wing dove, sings a song just like she's singgiinnn oooooohh

Everything in this film is stricken by blue lights and the editing and production value is great!
Lemora shows up all dressed in a black cloak, she has a pasty face and a huge forehead. There are some Lesbian tendencies with her character and Lila, I guess it's vaguely Countess Bathory-esque, but not quite. Lila eats raw bloody meat from a bowl (man she should've called for pizza instead)! Everybody bosses the timid pious girl around and treats her like a second class citizen, this is the wrong approach to convert someone over to the dark side if you ask me!

Don't laugh at me, I was born with a eggshell for a forehead

This movie is very surreal and original, but very confusing as well (it's nightmarish for sure). It's one of those films had I seen as a child, I would've been creeped out enough to seek it out and wonder if it held up.
Remember Kids, you can recreate me by using Barber hair clippings and Cold cuts!

Lila sits along with some dead kids who all drink wine, which is really blood and whenever they laugh it's really high pitched and echoey. Lila is forced to sing Christian hymns to the weird kids ( who are dressed like pirates).  Lemora spins her around 70 times as a Victrola plays. She wants the evil to penetrate her obnoxious Christian values.

I'm so good I never went go to detention, I'm the man

Lemora gets her to take a bath in one of those old timey chair tubs as the vampire remarks how exciting her body is! They block it with towels so we don't get to see it yet (she's supposed to be playing a 13 year old but was at least 17 at the time).

I get a Tobe Hooper Eaten Alive swampy vibe from this film, the music and locations are very reminiscent, but it's also kind of like a "Very special Halloween episode of Little House on the Prairie".

Rainbeaux would go onto to B-movie Corman gems like Caged Heat and Revenge of the Cheerleaders, some of my favorite films of hers are Up in Smoke, Massacre at Central High and Laserblast (well the MST3K version that is). Sadly, she died at 47 after complications from an illness related to heroin addiction. There is footage of her playing drums for The Runaways in the trainwreck movie "Du-Beat-e-o" (with El-Duce from The Mentors). This was her only starring role and she mostly played naked hippy chicks just hanging out in the background, (Tarantino allegedly based the Bridget Fonda character from Jackie Brown on her) so it's important to see what she was capable of as an actress. It's fun and spooky for what it is and the director went onto co-write Eating Raoul. Check it out, it's available on Fandor.


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