Tuesday, February 20, 2024

No Tears For The Damned aka Las Vegas Strangler (1968) Las Vegas Psychotronic Roughie Noir

ere's a cheap very watchable Grindhouse Sexploitation Noir that is all set in Las Vegas. 

Directed by William Collins and written by Oliver and June Drake (Liz Marshall) husband and wife. 

Prolific writer Oliver's last credit was 2017 his first was Cyclone of the Range 1927. 151 writing credits, mostly film and TV Westerns. Liz Marshall appeared in TV Westerns 26 Men and Gunsmoke.

One off director William Collins and Cinematographer William G. Troiano (Scream of the Butterfly, She Freak) give us a neo realist view of a way off the Fremont strip, fringe Las Vegas circa 1967. 

The Last Drive In (thelastdrivein.com)

The film stars Robert Dix (I'll Cry Tomorrow, Forbidden Planet, Mike Hammer TV Series, Live and Let Die) his last credit was in 2021. Dix plays Jeff Murray. Gillian Simpson plays Lori McCall a B-girl hooker. Kay Crooks plays Hatty McCall Lori's stepmother,  Richard Jeffries a bit part TV actor plays Frankie, John 'Bud' Cardos another bit part TV actor (Hells Angels on Wheels) is a gay piano player, Liz Marshall (26 Men and Gunsmoke) plays Jeff's Mother, Perry Dell plays Harmony, with Jackie De Witt, and Cay Conway (as probably two of the victims)

Robert Dix as Jeff Murray

Gillian Simpson as Lori McCall

Kay Crooks as Hatty McCall

Liz Marshall (screenwriter) as Mrs. Murray Jeff's Mother

After a movie trailer like title credit sequence, (with BTY the" Las Vegas Strangler" title), we cut to a Motel. 


From the clues in the film i.e. our star Jeff Murray's family owns a cotton gin probably in Pahrump, about an hour West of Las Vegas.


Its the usual two story with balcony, hot sheet / resident flop for single retirees type of dump. Its all but attached to Hatty's Hideout a cocktail lounge that also serves dinner. I'd assume it's Hatty's Motel too. This way Hatty maximizes her retiree profits. 

Cue the sexy woman saxophone leitmotif. Out of the ground floor end room door comes Lori, a raven haired woman dressed in a tight shirt with metallic belt and white top. She has her jacket thrown over one shoulder, a small compact in one hand, and with hips swinging and jiggling breasts she walks off the sidewalk and into the gravel parking lot heading towards the cocktail lounge.  

She stops right where a big (I'd guess red) arrow points down with a curve to Lori. There, she stops and takes one last look in the mirror of her compact before heading into the lounge.

Hatty's Hideout has small bar that sits in a painted brick alcove off the dining / gambling area. It's a "j" shaped affair with sort of tree stump bar stools. It's separated from the one arm bandits and dining area by short partition walls. Behind the left wall we see a juke box, the painted brick wall behind it doesn't compliment what looks like the fake z-brick fronted by a wagon wheel support that holds up the wooden bar top. 

Lori walks across the bar room to the jukebox. She's met by Hatty her American stepmother and who  apparently acts as her pimp. 

Hatty: It's about time you showed up Lori, it's gonna be a good night.

Lori: Yea, for who?

Hatty: You look pretty as a queen sweetie. [touches Lori's hair and back]

Lori: Please don't handle the merchandize. 

Lori pulls some change out of her compact and puts on our catchy rockabilly theme song "Ain't No Tears For The Damned" She starts to twist to it, attracting the attention of the patrons, and particularly a greasy looking character named Joe. 


Into this setting walks Jeff Murray a handsome cotton farmer who Lori has a crush on. Jeff parks himself by the right partition wall at a small round table in front of a cigarette machine. 

Lori stops dancing and brings Jeff a bottle of Johnny Walker and a glass on a tray. 

They make some small talk about how he hasn't been around, and Jeff explains about all the chores that his mother makes him do around the ranch. Lori tells him to drink and relax and tells him "if there's anything else he wants let her know," then Lori goes back to the bar.

Hatty comes back over to the end of the bar.

Hatty:  What's a matter with you Lori, why don't you try a little harder with Jeff. After all you act like you're tongue tided around him, you know.... 

Lori: Don't go into that Ma, I know it text and verse. It's not like its "our' payroll that keeps us going.

Hatty: Knock it off Lori he could mean a lot to us.

Lori: Did it ever occur to you that he may be a little particular of who he takes up with?

Hatty:  Particular my foot men are men, and they all got one thing in common.

Lori: You should know Ma. [Lori goes back to dancing]

Jeff watches her getting in the groove of a replay of "Ain't No Tears For The Damned " again. Joe at the bar drinking a can of Coors is watching too. 

Joe likes what he sees.

We watch as Joe apparently asks Hatty how much for Lori? Hatty signs her five fingers three times. Back then no doubt it's it's fifteen bucks. Frankie starts to grab his beer to leave, Hatty flashes her open hand again twice. A ten spot.

That's more like it. Frankie goes over and starts to dance with Lori he tells her he's game and then Lori grabs her jacket and they both leave the lounge. Jeff watches this and shakes his head as they leave.

Outside Joe has his arm around Lori's waist. Lori is heading back to her motel room but when they gets along side Joe's Ford panel van he tells her he wants to screw in the back of it.

Lori signs a give me the money motion with her hand. Joe pulls out his wallet. Lori peeks and notices that he got money in it. Lori puts the ten he gives her in her compact. Joe opens the back doors. 

He got a mattress in the back. Lori hops in and Joe starts to kiss her, unbuttoning her blouse. He cups a hand on her breast and starts to drive dangerous curves across dirty sheets.

When we cut back to the van Joe is passed out, Lori is slipping on her shoes and slipping Joe's wallet out of his pants pocket. She pulls out a twenty and slips his wallet back in his pants. Lori slips the twenty into her bra, steps out of the van and goes back into the lounge. 

At the bar Lori scowling hands her stepmother her compact, Hatty removes the ten spot and hands it back. 

HattyWipe that look off your face it's bad for business.

Lori: I'd be happier crawling around in a nice clean sewer. 

Lori heads to the restroom to "clean up."

Jeff heads over to the bar to square up with Hatty. Soon Lori returns from the restroom followed shortly there after by Joe who comes back in accusing Lori of stealing a twenty out of his billfold. Joe confronts her and rips the compact from he hand. It falls on the floor breaking open, no twenty. Joe reaches over and into Lori's bra and pulls out his missing twenty. Hatty apologizes for Lori's behavior. Hatty asks Lori if she's been stealing from her other customers. Lori tells her "anything to get out of this pig stye."

Joe's tells Hatty that he'll show her how to straighten Lori out, and he slaps her. This brings Jeff into action as Lori's defender, and he floors Joe with a punch. Jeff grabs Lori by the hand and tells her to "come on I've had enough of this place," and they hop into Jeff's '66 Chevy Impala convertible for a drive into Vegas. 

"come on I've had enough of this place"

Here we get some great archival footage of Las Vegas Blvd. and Fremont Street circa 1966 along with a some of the acts and shows that were in the casinos back then, i.e. a song and dance by Tacey Robbins, a surreal-ish merry-go-round floor show with topless dancers, a bingo hall and casinos. All the while Jeff and Lori are getting more and more smashed.

A Las Vegas Sampler circa 1968

Drinking and Driving

In the morning Lori wakes up naked in bed with a wedding ring on her finger. Lori thinks it's a joke but Jeff reminds her that they got married at 4 o'clock in the morning at the Little Chapel of the West. 

Jeff tells her he will take her home. Lori says they must have been really stoned and that she wouldn't hold him to the marriage. Jeff says nonsense you are my wife. But Lori protests saying that everyone knows that she and her mother are scum. Then she relates about how at 14 her mother raffled her and a turkey off to a john for hundred dollars. Nice. How Noir is that?

Jeff wants to take her home to mother but Lori protests that she can't meet his mother in her whore clothes but Jeff assures her that they'll stop on the strip and get her some new threads.

At the ranch it starts going Noirsville when Lori meets Jeff's mother Madeline and their hired hand Harmony. Mama doesn't like Lori. She tells Harmony to take Lori's things to the guest room, as she has it out with Jeff. 

Meanwhile that's not the only thing going Noirsville. On one wall of the ranch house is a life size portrait of Madeline in an evening gown and long black gloves holding the hand of a longhaired child in a velvet Little Lord Fauntleroy suit. The kid looks like Jeff. In case we haven't gotten it yet there's a shot of Jeff with the child's face over his shoulder. It's not his sister it's him and he's very, very, very, sensitive about it. 

Jeff apologizes for his mother, but tells her that Lori is his wife and get used to it. Back in the guest bedroom Lori tells Jeff that she'll move her things into his room, but Jeff suggests that she stay where she is for the time being. They kiss and Lori lays down with Jeff on the bed but the make out session never gets started. Jeff tells her he has "work" to do.

Jeff walks out and stands by the full size painting of him and his mother, as he lights a cigarette we hear a Twilight Zone-ish mechanical whirring sound. He flickers the lit match back and forth in front of his child face on the painting. When his mother walks into the room she asks him in an assumptive manner "why aren't you with your little bride, are you having problems already?"

Jeff says nothing walks out of the house and hops in the Chevy and splits for Vegas.

Fremont Street. Binion's Golden Nugget.

Hours later, a clearly boozed up Jeff is stumbling East away from the casinos into the cheap dive motel district on Fremont. He stops to light a cigarette. He pulls out some matches, but in his unsteady state is having trouble lighting one. 

A woman's hand holding a lighter juts into the frame. It belongs to a raven haired hooker standing outside room thirteen. She smiles and nods her head towards the door. 

They go inside. We cut to Jeff already bare-chested while The hooker drops her spaghetti straps and shimmy-slips out of her dress, and she's naked. Jeff flops on the bed and the hooker follows. 

They kiss and she shakes her hair in Jeff's face and smiles at him, big mistake. 

We hear the mechanical whirring sound again.  The hooker looks at Jeff and Jeff flashes between her and his long haired child's face. 

Jeff leans over away from the girl and towards his jacket on a chair. Tthe hooker thinks he wants another cigarette so she grabs some handy matches and lights one in anticipation of Jeff turning back with a smoke. When Jeff turns back towards her he's wearing black evening gloves an brandishing scissors. 

The hooker is probably thinking another kinky weirdo. Jeff looks at her calmly, but when he lunges at her she screams. She tries to hold back the scissors her struggling doesn't last long. Jeff uses the scissors to cut off a lock of her hair. 

Early in the AM when Jeff gets back Lori is waiting. She knocks on Jeffs door, He at first thinks it's his mother and he tells her to come in, but it's Lori who steps into the bedroom. Jeff tells he that she shouldn't be here, but she tells him she his wife and has a right to be there. 

Jeff can't get it up

We cut to the morning. Lori is asking Jeff what went wrong?  Jeff is complaining and rambling on about women telling him what to do. Lori is clueless. 

We cut to Jeff heading into a cocktail piano club. He sits at the bar orders a drink and then turns away from the bar and starts making eyes at the obviously gay piano player. How Noir of them? 

While this is going on a brunette walks into the lounge. She walks towards the bar, sits on a stool and also sets her eyes on the piano player. 


Is this guy BI? She walks over to the piano and tries to get his attention. This causes Jeff to notice her and we start to hear the mechanical whirring sound again. Time to go to "work" again. 


Possibly an insert (see below)

Possibly an insert (see below)

Possibly an insert (see below)


Possibly an insert (see below)

Possibly an insert (see below)

It interesting to speculate how this was all put together. Did somebody win a jackpot and figured he could try and cash in more with a Sexploitation / Psycho flick, using the actors currently in town?  

It looks like some of the cast was connected with the screenwriters Oliver and June Drake through 26 Men - It was about the Arizona Rangers and I even remember watching it as a kid, it had a chorus theme song. The rest of the players and extras look like locals and friends and the murder victims were either showgirls or strippers. 

*inserts - One more tidbit of info, knowing a bit from reading about the grindhouse theater business,  this film only had to play two weeks in one grindhouse theater to make ALL its money back. Because of the ever evolving obscenity laws, what you could show on the screen was becoming more and more permissible. To keep up to date with the "raincoat crowd" and on the "cutting edge" producers would film new scenes and add inserts to films already "in the can." 

Its a nice time capsule of mid sixties Las Vegas, with a watchable story. 6.5/10. 

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