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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Stepford Wives

     One of my favorite cult classics of the 70's is "The Stepford Wives"- the infamous shocker based on Ira Levin's delightfully diabolical novel.  It tells the story of Joanna Eberhart, a big city photographer who reluctantly moves with her family to Stepford, Connecticut- a small, picture-card perfect town that seems too good to be true.  She soon discovers a terrifying secret in Stepford, and that's where the fun begins.

      The women, all glowing in beautiful gowns, act very strange- as if they all wandered off the set of a television commercial.  They seem rather spacey, and very fixated on cleaning, cooking, and other "wifely" duties.  Joanna, a die-hard feminist, feels completely out of place amongst the strange Stepford Wives.  She luckily ends up meeting wacky Bobby (perfectly played by Paula Prentiss), who is a proud lazy slob when it comes to housekeeping.  The two end up banding together as they soon discover the sinister plot behind the Stepford Men's Association, which their husbands have recently joined...

      The movie is a razor sharp look at the Women's Lib controversy of the early 70's. It's smart and sly.  But underneath the slyness, there is a definite eerie vibe to the movie.  Director Brian Forbes purposefully chose bright colors and lots of white, cheery scenes to create a "thriller in sunlight"- which counteracts with the dark elements of the story.  And it works perfectly here.  "The Stepford Wives" has atmosphere for days, and has rightfully earned a place in the annals of 70's horror cult classics.

     This is a movie that does require a little something called an attention span, and offers no blood or gore, if that's what gets you off,  But if you're looking for a restrained, eerie little movie, then this is the one for you.  "The Stepford Wives" is a gem to watch, as it slowly and suspensefully builds to its chilling and unforgettable climax.

     The term "Stepford Wife" has became a staple in pop culture,  but sadly many people have never experienced the movie.  It did spawn two sequels and a terrible remake-  and boy, when I say terrible, I mean terrible.  I was appalled...   Like "Rosemary's Baby" (which Ira Levin also wrote), "The Stepford Wives" is quietly haunting and takes its time getting under your skin. And once it does you'll never forget it.  An infamous horror classic!

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