After Anthony Perkins finally caved and cashed in on his Norman Bates fame in the 80s with a string of Psycho sequels, everyone wanted him in their horror movie…as long as he pretty much played Norman Bates. And he went for it….
A DEMON IN MY VIEW (1991)
Imagine that Norman Bates moved to an apartment, replaced his mother’s corpse with mannequins in the basement, and continued to go a little mad sometimes, and you’ve got A Demon in My View.
This movie is such a drag. A young guy who happens to have the same last name as Perkins moves into the building. The young guy corresponds with his lady friend through letters (which play a pretty ridiculous role in the conclusion of the film) and makes new friends. They tell him about murders of women that have been going on periodically in the area for decades.
Meanwhile, Perkins, who has lived in the apartment building for decades (dunh dunh dunh!), makes love to his mannequins while picturing the murders of actual women. He also has flashbacks of being raised by his wacko aunt. Here we go again. He spies on people. He creeps around hallways. He acts shifty-eyed and nervous.
He loses it completely when the tenants find his mannequins in the basement and use them as firewood. He starts killing women again, but his psychotic world falls apart when he mistakes a guy with long hair and a fur coat for a woman. You’d think Norman Bates of all people would be able to tell the difference.
Don’t expect gore or scares from A Demon in My View. Sadly, this was one of Anthony’s last films. And by that I mean sadly this was one of his last films. I highly recommend skipping it and going back two years to the….
EDGE OF SANITY (1989)
Despite Edge of Sanity being a period piece, it is sleazy, Perkins is at his most psychotic and perverted, and the film takes the fictional story of Jekyll and Hyde and makes Hyde into Jack the Ripper! Wicked cool.
The opening is totally messed up. Anthony dreams of being a kid up in a hayloft, watching his daddy (I assume) have sex with some whore. Young Anthony falls out of the loft and gets caught up in some rope that leaves him hanging upside down…so that his dad can expose his bare butt and start whipping it while the hot whore watches. Yep. Anthony was taught to equate sex with violence as a child. Start sharpening the blade….
So Anthony is Dr. Jekyll. He creates a potion, turns into Mr. Hyde—and finally looks truly psycho, with big red circles around his eyes and his hair all mussed. This really is the one time Perkins got to let it all go and just play a complete monster. He hooks up with prostitutes, sticking his face in their asses, fondling their boobs, and then violently abusing and killing them—he has never been this heterosexual before. But he also dabbles in a threesome with a whore and another guy whose sexual orientation is quite questionable. Eventually, he dabbles in BDSM with the guy as well….
Edge of Sanity isn’t a particularly scary film, but I do love the Ripper/Hyde crossover and the fact that Perkins looks so comfortable in his psycho skin for a change. Too bad this wasn’t his last film. Now let’s go back a few more years in time, to Perkins at what is possibly his gayest….
CRIMES OF PASSION (1984)
Director Ken Russell never shied away from injecting sex into his horror—The Devils, Altered States, The Lair of the White Worm—but Crimes of Passion is a mysterious hybrid that is mostly an erotic film, but scores a “thriller” subgenre label because of the undeniable horror elements.
The basic story has Kathleen Turner as a fashion designer with an alternate persona at night; she’s prostitute China Blue. This is possibly my all-time favorite Turner performance. She’s strong and sexual yet completely vulnerable—and her character even rises above being a “whore,” stepping slyly into sexual therapist territory, for she actually seems to care about her troubled clients.
Meanwhile, there’s this married family man whose sex life with his wife (Annie Potts!) is totally dead. The character is played by cutie John Laughlin (the original The Hills Have Eyes II, The Lawnmower Man, Gacy), who gets naked in the film and shows off a fine butt…once he starts having sex with Turner.
See, he’s been hired by a fashion studio to follow Turner and make sure she’s not stealing their fashions.
He’s not the only one stalking Turner. Anthony Perkins is up to his psycho ways, and he brings all the horror to the film (with a little help from the neon light-drenched sets). He’s a “reverend” that carries a Bible and a bag full of sex toys, one of them being a sleek, razor sharp, silver vibrator. Eek! And his goal is to save Turner’s soul. Slice a slit, save a soul?
Hot on the heels of his horror comeback with Psycho II, Perkins’ really gets a chance to break free of the sexually repressed Norman Bates character with this film. Sure, the reverend has serious issues with sex, but he’s also a pervert. When we first see him, he’s watching a dancer through a peep booth. He’s also doing poppers…and picturing her dead on the floor in a puddle of blood.
Perkins is the horror of Crimes of Passion. He terrorizes Turner the first time she “hooks up” with him. She kicks him out when he whips out the deadly vibrator. During another trip to the peep booth, he daydreams about stabbing and choking a blow up doll until it’s gushing blood.
One of the most horror-centric scenes features Turner on a freight elevator filled with mannequins. Suddenly, that damn vibrator starts to go off in the hands of one of the mannequins, and Perkins creeps out from behind them.
It could be argued that Perkins’ character is actually a self-loathing homosexual and that this is his one role that lets him explore his true sexual orientation. He’s obsessed with China Blue, yet never has sex with her. He fantasizes about killing women—is that because they’re evil temptation, or because he loathes them? He creates a hole in a wall to spy on Turner (so Psycho).
While watching her handcuff a cop to a bed then sodomize him with his own nightstick, Perkins masturbates the vibrator! This could either signify that he loves dick and wants the shaft just like the cop is getting, or is so afraid of admitting it and getting anywhere near one that he has to transfer his affection to a fake phallus rather than touch his own! And take note of the image of Jesus that has been dressed in China Blue drag. Scandalous.
The final clues come in when Perkins finally gets his hands on Turner. He breaks into her apartment and straps her up. You imagine he’s about to do terrible things to her body, but instead, he undoes her straps, hands her the deadly vibrator, gets down on his knees with his back to her, and begs her to plunge it in him to save his soul.
When she hesitates, he overtakes her…swaps outfits with her…and now he’s China Blue! That’s right, Perkins is back to his cross-dressing ways, and Turner has essentially become the man.
China Blue Perkins ends up hunched over and crying, at which point Turner finally gets up the nerve to plunge the vibrator into him from behind. Interesting….