I’ve got a fondness for movies in which characters build a doomed cocoon against the outside world. I’m thinking THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE, SECRET CEREMONY, and now STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING. I know it never ends well but there’s inevitably an eye of the hurricane moment of serenity where I want to stay and set up camp. Sometimes these cocoons involve two people connecting and sometimes it’s just one person building a shelter against the hurricane of psychosis (PIN, BAD RONALD, and REFLECTION OF FEAR). Either way something about these precariously built nests strikes a nerve. Maybe it’s due to my family moving a lot when I was little. I remember wanting to be a beaver or a turtle because they both had homes. While my brothers drew racing cars, I drove the interiors of vans. It’s beyond simply having a nice place to hang out in and a roof overhead. The most important thing is that not everyone is invited and different rules apply.
Brenda Thompson (RITA TUSHINGHAM) is a skittish, mousy type who leaves her mother behind to brave an ultra-groovy, early seventies era London. Her head is stuffed with fairy tales of her own invention and she’s looking for a prince to share in her delusions. She finds a cool job but doesn’t quite fit in and after being overlooked in favor of her prettier roommate, she stalks the streets until she finds an abandoned dog. The dog’s owner is Peter (SHANE BRIANT of DEMONS OF THE MIND) and once Brenda gets a gander at him, she kidnaps the dog so she can return it and play hero later. Unlike Brenda, Peter was not born yesterday and instead of being pissed at her deception, he invites her to live with him. Peter is not a prince so much as a gigolo serial killer who regularly slashes up his benefactors. Because he believes he is only valued for his looks, he hates anything beautiful. If you are pretty, he will cut you up with a box cutter and record the whole thing.
Obviously this relationship can never work out and things are going to go south real soon. Be that as it may, for a while there, these two kooky kids almost have it all. Brenda changes her name to Wendy and they hang out in a really excellent apartment sitting on the floor inventing and recording fairy tales. And check out that Peter Pan reference! There’s Wendy and Peter and the dog’s name is even “Tinker”! All that needs to happen is Wendy must not discover that said dog has been murdered for wearing a nice bow on its head and that Peter screwed and killed her ex-roommate. She also must never go to the room upstairs, always clean up after him and never try to look too pretty because that will drive him completely insane. Unfortunately, one day Wendy decides to get a new hairdo and well, everything unravels.
STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING is an unlikely HAMMER film directed by PETER COLLINSON the same guy who did that FRIGHT movie I recently reviewed (although he’s best remembered for THE BANK JOB.) It’s got a bunch of severe funky edits, some spooky voiceovers and it bounces around in time a great deal. Some will certainly find it as annoying as I found it fascinating. It’s also got a cameo and a theme song from ANNIE ROSS of BASKETCASE 2&3 and WITCHERY fame and that’s nothing to sneeze at either. Even if you don’t care for the story or the frustrating characters, I think I’d have to recommend this one for the time period alone; the London shown here has got to be seen to be believed. It’s a shame about what befalls poor head in the clouds Brenda/Wendy but at least she got to learn the lesson (albeit too late) that life is no fairy tale in such killer covet-worthy digs.