Legendary 70s exploitation / thriller with a young Bonnie Bedelia!
Curated by The Sadnesses
Total Runtime: 1:41:56
Sometimes, regretfully seldom though, one single glimpse at the opening sequence is enough to know the film that the film you're about to watch will turn out everything you look for in obscure, neglected and ultra-gritty 70's cinema. In my case it also proves an incurable lunatic, of course, because "The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie" opens with a beautiful pan shot of a forsaken desert area. There are living chickens tied to a tree (!) and the titular character is digging a hole in the ground to dispose of a corpse. Truly magnificent opening and even though nothing else in the film lives up to the beauty of this intro, I'd still recommend the film if just for that! The few reviews I encountered on "The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie" accurately refer to the film as a predecessor of "Misery". I wouldn't go as far as calling Stephen King's story a rip-off, but there are certainly common themes and recognizable sequences to find in this film that came out nearly two full decades before King published his book. Bonnie Bedelia is best known for playing Bruce Willis' wife in "Die Hard" but this is an actual eye-catching and stellar performance! Her still under-aged character Rosalie lures the handsome Virgil to her remote cabin in the New Mexican desert, and she intends to keep him there even if that means physically disabling him. There's where the link with "Misery" becomes indisputable. Rosalie breaks the guy's leg, ties him to the bed and subsequently nurses him like she's a caring wife. The party of two then brutally gets interrupted by a biker looking for the gold that is reputedly hidden in the area somewhere. Rosalie may be young, but she's dangerously deranged enough to take on two adult men. "Strange" is definitely the term to use here, as it's a gritty and thoroughly unpredictable film that moodily unfolds with each minute that passes. The isolated setting is grim and the hopeless situation in which Virgil finds himself stuck in is more than a little disturbing. The interactions between Rosalie and her bed-ridden victim do become a little monotonous eventually and I wouldn't have mind if some of that footage ended up on the cutting floor. 107 minutes of running time is rather long for this type of film, but at least it comes with a crude and offbeat 70's end-shot and the obligatory uncanny "La La La" song. Stunning as it may sound, the script never reverts to being gratuitous exploitation, even though all the themes hint towards that direction. A beautiful and scantily dressed minor literally throws herself at this potent, thirty-something guy, yet he doesn't take advantage of her. Heck, even the sleazy biker doesn't make a move at raping her. It's really quite admirable how the film thrives on awkwardness, stellar performances and various depictions of human despair instead of on sex. "The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie" is a unique find for cult collectors and based on the acting skills illustrated here, it's a real shame Bedelia never become one of Hollywood's most wanted starlets.