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Sometimes you feel like you've been all laid up under a fucking rock. The crazy world of schlock cinema fandom has just left you sleeping in, while the minions had some sort of parade. Such is the case of my ineptitude regarding the film LET'S PLAY DEAD. You may have never heard of this film, at least by this title, SCHOOLGIRLS IN CHAINS is the aka. If you're like me you've seen that title floating around for years and if you're like me you probably figured it was another of the many black and white delinquent films Mike Vraney is so fond of putting out. Don't get me wrong some of them are downright good, but generally but that style of filmmaking is just not my bag. It seems that the word "schoolgirls," when it comes to film titles just sucks, now "schoolgirls" for the most part can be good as actual things, but using that word in a film title leads me to think the film must really be bad. But that is assuredly not the case with this misogynistic little sickie! Ahem. Let's get right to it.

Frankie and Johnny have some problems. They are brothers who don't have much going when it comes to relating to the opposite sex. Frank, the 40ish older brother has those steely good looks the ladies should love, but they don't. Johnny, well Johnny is slightly "special," he has the body of a 35 year old, Barney Fife-like man, but the mind of a little boy. Frank's role as big brother is to help Johnny find some playmates, the worst thing about this is that Johnny prefers young, nubile, co-ed types. Frankie and Johnny usually trap these would-be "pets" and bring them back to their momma's house, where they are kept locked in a musty old basement. This sounds just possibly like a typical little slice of exploitation filmmaking and sure on the surface the plot line is not too imaginative, but beyond the surface of this simple set-up is one fucked up teensy portion of cinematic smegma.

Overseeing the whole set of circumstances is the mysterious "Momma," who is shown usually in a crocheted shawl, barking direction to her lovely boys. Momma does not take no shit either. She has it in for these young bitches from the get go, continually warning her sons about the potential problems pretty, young girls can cause men. These girls are "dirty," "evil" and always out to "steal" her boys from her. This makes for a rather fucked-up home life for everyone, but for the gals in the basement, it is beyond just fucked up.

Johnny, in his childlike manner, really just wants the girls to play with him, albeit in a slightly overcharged sexual fashion. Johnny's "doctor" requires the girls getting naked while his makeshift coat hanger stethoscope pokes and prods the young lady's private parts and even requires a sharp jab in the ass with a nail made into a hypodermic needle. Johnny is the kind of simple, fairly harmless galoot of the family, but Frank on the other hand is just plain tortured. When one of the girls manages to convince Johnny to play hide and seek outside and decides to run for the train tracks, Frank wastes no time with his trusty double barrel planting buckshot right in her back. In a surreal sequence, Frank rapes one of the gals rather awkwardly and then explains in flashback his story of the only girlfriend he ever had and what happened when he brought her home to meet Momma. His hot and bothered Momma, of course, was severely jealous and explained to Frank's new fiance' in detail, how her and Frank were getting it on regular like, when Frank freaked out and choked his Momma, (after stroking her tit) she then explained to him how all girls are bad that and she's the only real piece of tail for him. Frank has some rather fucked up issues with the ladies and Momma is the willing root of his evil.

The LET"S PLAY DEAD credits read like a pleasant, old, vinyl menu of familiar tasty morsels. Led by the stellar Frank character, brought into being by a stalwart in the field of bad film gone good, Gary Kent. Kent has been in a list of great films from the '64 Ray Dennis Steckler masterwork THE THRILL KILLER and his less recommended BODY FEVER to the incredible TARGETS and the back to back Al Adamson favorites DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN and ANGEL'S WILD WOMEN. Kent is still at it and has carved a niche as a stunt, special effects and action production manager for the likes of Bogdonovich, DePalma, Rush and Hellmam. Kent truly is an icon just for the list of stellar guttershit he has been involved with. His co-hort, Tim O'Kelly is best known of his stand-out performance as serial killer Bobby Thompson in the aforementioned Bogdonovich's TARGETS. Kelly brings the retarded Johnny to the screen and is fairly effective portraying him simultaneously sympathetic, pathetic and altogether creepy. Merrie Lynn Lynn Ross is the most recognizable face of the "pets" in the basement. Ross has a small little cult of followers mainly because of a knockout rack and beautiful face, you get to see both in LET"S PLAY DEAD. Can you say Topless Leapfrog? Well I can.

The cast delivers the goods, but the top drawer direction and script work of minor sleaze broker Donald Jones makes LET"S PLAY DEAD more than memorable. This was the first film for Jones and he made it count. The career never got much better as far as directorial duties, he was cameraman on the Prof. Tread fave, THE LOVE BUTCHER but his other films lack the guttural punch of LET"S PLAY DEAD. That's not so say you shouldn't see them, the crazy assed TERROR IN THE FOREST is positively required viewing. As is the 1985 curio MURDERLUST. Jones definitely likes to keep his film near the darker side of humanity, motifs relating to incest, cannibalism and serial killing all are parts of his best work, if you're looking for a chunk of decent work to become familiar with, suck a straw full of Mr. Don Jones.

LET"S PLAY DEAD aka SCHOOLGIRLS IN CHAINS aka ABDUCTED should be seen and talked about a little more. My guess is that although it contains a rather diseased plot line, some decent smut, and great performances it does lack a little in the violence and gore departments. Outside of the one shot to the back Frank delivers, we have a hanging and a death by depression or something. That just isn't enough violence for many of you buffs out there. Had Jones just upped the ante slightly this film would be a God-damned T-shirt. And of course, I know that is all you really want now isn't it, another fucking T-shirt with a movie title on the front.

TWACK! Johnny goes down!

Joan Rivers before plastic surgery. i didn't even see her in the credits.

Momma's wittle baby boy.

Girls are bad and evil and nasty and ...oh forget it.

Drama, I can recognize that look that is Drama!

Just stop for a second fellahs and think about that.

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Momma's oldest boy Frank....

Momma's "Special" boy John...

One of John's "pets," she spend the whole film in bed.

One of John's playmates decides to try and seduce Frank for freedom.

Frank gets to his version of "freedom."

She seems to be helping him find the spot...

Oops! That looks like the wrong spot.

Nevermind, Frank has already finished.

Johnny seems to be a lovable little cuss.

I spoke too soon.

Johnny plays proctologist.

Then goes for the nekkid hopscotch, I love the nekkid hopscotch.

Here he comes!

There she is.

Frank feeling up his Momma, man I know the feeling.
Brains On Film 2003