Friday, October 9, 2015


USA, 1972
DIRECTED BY: Chester Fox, Alex Stevens
Starring: George Spencer, John Moser, Sandra Peabody

Reviewed by Michael Hauss

This film is odd. It is so unbalanced and bizarre that it jolts your sensibilities at times. It has scenes that lead nowhere, it has some good acting performances and some downright awful acting at times, badly framed and edited shots, murky camera work, but, the bottom line is it is a dirty, gritty, sleazy, funky, fun romp.

The story revolves around murders that are being committed at some New York City massage parlors, and the detectives who are trying to solve the crimes. The detectives are intertwined in the murders because they have relations, both sexually and relationship wise with two girls who worked at the massage parlors. The only women who are depicted in this film are either massage parlor workers, or the wife of Detective Rizotti who is portrayed as a cold fish and is constantly firing a barrage of bitchiness at the frustrated angry Rizotti.

Detective Rizotti is played by George Spencer ( GOMER PYLE: USMC, 1964-1969), who plays the seasoned bad cop along with his partner Detective O' Mara, who is the young inspired, good cop, played by John Moser. Detective Rizotti has a regular girl at the massage parlor and she happens to be the first girl killed who is named Rosie (Chris Jordan). Detective O' Mara goes to talk to Rosie' s roommate Gwen, whom O'Mara eventually becomes romantically involved with. Gwen is asked by O' Mara about anybody that might be a suspect and she tells him of a guy that Rosie used to call Mr. Creepy (George Dzundra), who used to leave Rosie black and blue after his massage sessions. The detectives find out where this Mr. Creepy lives and see him exit his building, they follow and eventually after a short foot chase, catch him, administer a little police brutality and tell him not to show his face around town again. George Dzundra is a prolific character actor who is also credited with being the assistant director on MASSAGE PARLOR MURDERS, his credits include DEER HUNTER (USA, 1978) and SALEM' S LOT (USA, 1979) among many others.

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I suggest you try the sloppy hot salami with cigarette butts 

The murders continue and are always brutally depicted on screen, the killer is described as just an average guy, average build, average everything, the killer is given the pov treatment when he enters some of the massage parlors and chooses a girl and pays the always sleazy looking desk attendants. So as Rizotti does the violent slow burn and O' Mara and Gwen get to shagging, the killings continue. Gwen who works at the Lust Lounge massage parlor does not ball her clients there, she tells O' Mara and acts more like a shrink to these poor fellows.

There are scenes that are basically filler including an opening with a massage parlor client named Irving who is actually director Chester Fox in an uncredited role, deciding that the massage parlor was not for him, comical yes, a plot movement scene, not at all, but the cowboy wallpaper was a nice touch. Another filler scene is of detective O'Mara and Gwen at a nude indoor pool party shagging until a pervert tries to jump a woman's bones and runs from the pool with O' Mara only in a towel in hot pursuit. After a well staged and exciting car chase the scene ends with O' Mara letting the suspect go and then dies an anticlimactic death.

The film boasts good performances from Spencer, Moser and Sandra Peabody who plays Gwen, the ravishing Peabody is best known for her role of Mari Collingwood in the film LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (USA, 1972).

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I can't believe I was raped, murdered, my parents killed Krug & his cronies and I never got to see Blood Sausage!

The film also includes a scene of the insane Brother Theodore ( NOCTURNA, USA, 1979, THE BURBS, USA, 1989) who absolutely rambles some inane shit to the detectives, who have visited him because a medallion that two of the slain girls were wearing had been purchased from him. Brother Theodore is a horoscope reader who is fucking stupid and offensive towards the cops, he gets punched in the gut by frustrated detective Rizotti, a well deserving punch, I might add.

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I was also in GUMS but anyone who saw that film went blind from the hideous sex inserts

This film also has many scenes with voice overs, as if some scenes were possibly done illegally or non union, or the budget was not there for the onsite sound recording. The detectives are at a loss for a suspect until detective Rizotti is dragged to church by his wife and the priest is preaching about the 7 deadly sins. The light goes on in the main protagonist's brain and he springs from the church pew and yells out " the guys a religious nut." Rizotti races to pick up Detective O' Mara and they go to a book store and look up the 7 deadly sins and start to put two and two together. The killer is slaying the girls of the massage parlors because their place of employment had a correlation with a deadly sin, Mad Hatter for anger, the Everybody's Envy massage parlor for envy, and the Lust lounge for lust. The cops race to the Lust lounge where Gwen works, only to find her dead, O' Mara is devastated but has precious little time to grieve as the killer is striking again. The movie ends right back at where it began, this time though without Irving, the massage parlor girl who he refused services from is being attacked by the killer whose face wasn't shown during the film until now, she fights back and stop...No spoilers the fantastic disc from Vinegar Syndrome and find out how it ends.

New scenes were obviously shot after the initial filming had concluded, like the nude swimming pool scene and edited in by director Stevens, other later on inserted scenes show John Moser sporting a bit longer hair style. Rosie the first massage parlor girl murdered is played by the petite, perky Chris Jordan, who appeared in a number of adult films including CONFESSIONS OF A YOUNG AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE (USA, 1974), DEEP THROAT 2 (USA, 1974) and TEENAGE HITCHHIKERS (USA, 1975).

I wonder what Al Goldstein says about my horoscope?

The score was well done and had an interesting assortment of music to accompany various scenes, over blown rock n roll at times, lounge music at other times, but a nice mix all in all. The murder set pieces were graphic in nature and a bit psychedelic in scope. Some scenes are surreal at best, the one with four massage parlor girls speaking about their boyfriend's sexual hang ups are so badly acted and give you the impression they were shot on acid, it just defies description. Two of the dead girls blink which adds a bit more to the odd mix. A scene is also thrown in at a peep show of a man and a woman that I will not spoil, it made me say "what the fuck was that" to myself.

Shit! I spilled nail polish on my forehead again

The director's Chester Fox and Alex Stevens only have this co-directing credit on their resumes, though Stevens was a stunt coordinator on many films including HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS (USA, 1970), SHAFT' S BIG SCORE (USA, 1972) and SCANNERS (Canada, 1981).
The Vinegar Syndrome disc is a beauty, there are some technical issues but the film is a product of its time, cheaply filmed and edited. There is at times an audible hiss but any technical issues can be over looked just to have this sleazy film in your greasy little palms. I can't recommend this film enough as a testament to 70's exploitation film making, and a time capsule of New York City and especially Times Square from the early 1970's. The film was also released under the title MASSAGE PARLOR HOOKERS. The liner notes by Chris Poggiali are very informative, detailing the film and its participants. The Vinegar Syndrome release boast two versions of the film which include the original and the rereleased film under the title MASSAGE PARLOR MURDERS.

Vinegar Syndrome- 2 disc set. Blu Ray and DVD
Features Include:
+ Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack | Region Free | 1.85:1 AR | MONO
+ Restored in 2K from original camera negative
+ Original theatrical trailer + alternate MASSAGE PARLOR HOOKERS trailer
+ Rare outtakes
+ Special edition lab card
+ Extensive historical liner notes


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