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A fun but twisted “trash” film from the 70s, “Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things” is a wild camp classic you have to see to believe.

The title and synopsis of this film were irresistible. 

“Two eccentric fugitives, one dressed in drag as the other’s aunt, are plunged into a pit of deception and murder while going into hiding in Miami.”

Described as a horror comedy, the film wasn’t disappointing. Writer and director Thomas Casey delivers typical 1970s exploitation and camp.

The film follows fugitives Stanley (Wayne Crawford under the name Scott Lawrence) and Paul (Abe Zwick), who fled Baltimore to hide, or try to, in a Miami suburb. Paul poses in drag as Stanley’s Aunt Martha. Paul and Stanley are portrayed as a same-sex couple which is surprising for the early ‘70s. Paul and Stanley even share a bed in one scene, which I wouldn’t expect in a movie during this period. 

Stanley and Paul have a toxic relationship. Paul is possessive, controlling, and demanding. He disapproves of and is bothered by Stanley’s bisexuality.

Throughout the movie, Stanley hangs out with a group of hippies, doing drugs and seducing or attempting to seduce women. However, Paul takes his disapproval to homicidal extremes.

For fugitives, neither is doing a good job of hiding.

Overall, the film is entertaining in a campy and twisted way and eventually goes way off the rails.

I kept watching it to see what would happen next.

Will the authorities catch up to Paul and Stanley? Is Paul gaslighting Stanley to make him believe he’s a serial killer?

I saw shades of Norman Bates in Zwick’s Paul/Aunt Martha.

Once Paul puts on a wig and a dress, he morphs into a psychotically jealous alter ego, usually whenever Stanley is with a woman. Similarly, Stanley freaks out whenever he’s getting high with a group of hippies and about to have sex with a woman.

To top it all off, they have a nosy neighbor (Yanka Mann) poking her nose into their business. 

Stanley and Paul are caricatures of the worst LGBTQ+ stereotypes.

Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things

Paul is a criminal and psychotic gay man. Stanley is a criminal, hedonistic, and promiscuous bisexual. However, the film’s darkly comedic camp makes it come across as more satirical.

I was curious about the film’s writer and director, Thomas Casey. According to IMDb, Casey was co-writer of both It’s a Revolution Mother (1969), a  documentary about the ‘60s “wild swinging youth scene,” and Flesh Feast (1970), about Nazis in Florida attempting to reanimate Adolph Hitler to take over the world. 

Paul and Stanley’s toxic relationship is oddly entertaining. Paul nags Stanley incessantly. When he nags Stanley about getting a haircut, and Stanley refuses, Paul becomes Martha and chases him around with scissors. However, as the two main characters spiral more and more out of control, the film takes a very dark and uncomedic turn at the end.

Overall, I would describe the film as Ed Wood meets John Waters.

If you have a twisted sense of humor, I suggest you give Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things a shot.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4

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