It opens with two men from opposite ends of life's spectrum one looks posh as he struts down the avenue with umbrella and bowler, the other is shrouded in shadows as he trots across rooftops, they are both socially part of life's loosers, both looking to satisfy an urge with the same hooker, both will get what they want, but only one of them is stark raving lunatic with stains on his pants and serious mommy problems.
The un-cute meet - Hooker Ginny with switchblade about to avenge the murder of her gal pal.
So where did noir go after 1959? There was a definite decline in Crime Genre films (of which Film Noir was, in great part a sub-genre though it did infiltrate other Genres also). If you check the year by year Genre lists its obvious that they were in decline, in 1959 there were 5, 1960 and 1961 had a last spike of 8 and 6 , 1962 had none, 1963 had one, 1964 had 3, (these are from Wiki so there may be some omissions) add in also that Hollywood was closing down "B" productions. A good portion of Crime migrated over to TV, but there it was still sanitized by the Television Code and its "Seal of Good Practice" which functions much like the Hayes Code. Interestingly though, there were some independent productions that combined a Film Noir style with the looser restraints in the industry that brought along the advent of the sexploitation films, that were the mainstay of the Grindhouse theaters .
"FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…
THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!" The Last Drive In (thelastdrivein.com)
Aroused (1966) is one of those directions, and it's a real gem. Directed by Anton Holden, written by Holden and Ray Jenkins from a story developed by Holden and Robert Shull. It stars for all intense and purposes nobodies, Janine Lenon, Steve Hollister, Joanna Mills, Fleurette Carter, Ted Gelanza, and Tony Palladino, and these nobodies do a pretty good job of keeping it all believable. Janine Lenon is great as hardboiled Hooker/Femme Fatale, Ginny Neff or Ginny Smith. It takes two homicide detectives to wrestle a switchblade out of her hand while she does her best to stomp their feet with her stilettos, before she realizes they are cops and not killers. She swears to a cop that she will castrate whoever killed her lover Pat. Watch for her touching monologue about her lesbian relationship with Pat , it's very well done and a nice contrast to her hard as nails hooker persona.
A good log line would be "Psycho meets a female Mike Hammer."
There is another great sequence with Fleurette Carter that I call The Streetwalker she struts her stuff down Broadway and it looks like a hidden camera is following her catching candid come ons from men, its a nice slice of 1966 NYC.
The Femme Fatale heroine Ginny (Janine Lenon) with Detective Johnny (Steve Hollister)
The story is simple, a peeping tom psycho with a mother-who-was-a-prostitute fetish follows NYC hookers around, kills them and then violates them. Detective Johnny of NYPD is assigned to the low publicity case (who cares about hookers) The latest dead prostitutes hard as nails bi/hooker girlfriend Ginny teams up with well meaning but screw-up Detective Johnny to track down the psycho. The whole story plays out within a subculture of streetwalkers who live and die against a backdrop of an inky black Manhattan.
The peeping sequence - sex through the window
The Nosferatu quote
This is the second Neo Noir in the vein of as a friend put it "Noir meets sexploitation flick" that I've seen (there are probably more out there) the first being Satan In High Heels a leather fetish Noir (1962), but the sex isn't anything you don't see nowadays and the film is artistically done with beautiful chiaroscuro Noir stylistics, a shout out to Gideon Zumbach director of photography (as Anibal Paz, I wonder if Argentinian cinematographer Aníbal González Paz was visiting NYC in 1965-66). This film is exponentially better, it's highly stylized, with a wonderfully Noir aesthetic. It's on the cheap but has good direction and a descent plot both furnished by Director Anton Holden.
Chiaroscuro screen caps
Below, Ginny tailing Louis on 3rd or 9th Avenue, the distinctive rod like (now long gone) street lights were Westinghouse Whiteways put up on 3rd and 9th Avenues after their els were torn down
Below Dutch Angle screencaps
Angela (Fleurette Carter)
Aroused is extremely Noir styled with not much sex and no full frontal nudity (sexploitation is probably a misnomer in this day and age). It's a cheap production with no name actors albeit, but if I had to compare it to a similar flick I would say Eastwoods Tightrope (1984) has the same aesthetic.
Titillation Ginny & Johnny
Another reviewer on IMDb states that it references the 'shadow hand' running down the window from Nosferatu, eine Symfonie des Grauens, the shower scene with curtain (and the face that is behind it) fromPsycho and the use mannequins in Killer's Kiss and I'd also say Experiment in Terror.
The Psycho quote
Louis (Tony Palladino)
Killers Kiss - Experiment In Terror quote
"We're gonna have a party" Ginny (Janine Lenon) and Lou (Tony Palladino)
The way the street shots are shot suggests that possibly it was shot guerrilla style with no permits but they look great and bring back memories of that time period. I noticed a street location from The Incident(1967) that I just recently watched which used the Bronx Biograph Studios so some of it may be shot also in that borough and studio. The whole piece is also enhanced by its bargain basement low rent Jazz score. It's possibly an inspiration for Frank Miller's Sin City-Old Town Hookers. I'll give it a 8/10 for accomplishing so much with so little.
It could be on a triple bill with Blast Of Silence and The Incident ;-). Available on DVD from Something Weird Video.