Aroused! – A Murderer on the Rampage Roughie

1966: Plaudit Productions, Distributed by Cambist Films
D: Anton Holden, P: Ray Jenkins, Associate Producer: Lee Hessel
W: Anton Holden and Ray Jenkins

Led by Lee Hessel, Cambist Films in New York was one of the few companies who specialized in the more Art-style Roughies and Imported films that had a good eye for something with style which still knew how to attract the main Grindhouse audiences. In the original Roughie era of the Mid 60’s, sparked on by the success of the Lee Frost-Directed The Defilers (Made with David F. Friedman producing) and possibly remembering how well Ed Wood’s The Sinister Urge did well in the New York City Grindhouse district (Predating the scene by a couple of years), companies sprang up left and right producing these films as a welcome alternative to the Nudie Cutie. While the Sexploitation was the first and foremost thing on the agenda, a Crime Noir element was also brought in, giving these films a true Dramatic and Streetwise that connected to it’s audience, and with Distributing some great Sexploitation films that stood out, it was natural for Cambist to take a chance on a couple of local based Productions, naturally coming up with a couple of the best of the era.

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Aroused! was a film that possibly caused some strong reactions in the audiences of the Mid-Late 60’s enough for it to remain in the company’s Booking availability until their final days as it certainly was one of the more ambitious Roughies around that had a very dramatic style. Director Anton Holden looked like that he was really serious about his work, and all of the featured Actors offer great performances. In a way, I can see this as an influence to many films that followed through the years, and that it remains a very under rated film that deserves more attention as it blends a sordid killer on the rampage tale with great dramatics, cool Sexploitation, and excellent use of stock music, resulting it in being a harbinger of what was to come once sexy Horror became more accepted.

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A Prostitute, one of Ginny’s women, is strangled after taking a shower, with some pauses that offer some hints of the sound of a child singing “Your Mother is a Whore” and another sound of a very angry guy telling a kid to leave the room, and quick to the scene is a Rookie Detective named Johnny, who’s trying too hard to prove himself by following this case. After a very angry Ginny arrives, she’s offered some questions that lead to nowhere, although Johnny still has the urge to solve the case much to the irritation of the captain of his division. This is the start of a story that will test and even break the wills of the Rookie who has a very attractive wife who cares for him as well as push the limits of the force’s tolerance to his willingness to end the case after getting tired of his over reactions.

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Finding out the bar where the Hookers gather at, Johnny decides to numb some of the pain there while finding out some bits and pieces that only spark his interest in the case more. A bartender named Louie is something of a hint – Not the type to share a joke, always complaining about the prostitutes, and looking all too serious. Ginny catches on quick, and with the same breaking-and-entering cleverness as the killer on the rampage, she enters his room, which is quite disturbing filled with broken doll parts. Later, Johnny accompanies Angela home but decides to leave her off at the elevator until he hears a shriek, after then he jumps to the top of the elevator to discover she’s been killed by the maniac, resulting in the Detective being taken off the case as the Force got tired of his over-reactions that could have led him to be suspect.

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Johnny, not following reason, decides to keep on the case, and goes to great lengths to solve it once and for all, while discovering that his commitment to his wife could be broken at the right time, which is something Ginny actually discovers (Here, music heard in several films including HG Lewis’ Just for the Hell of It is used to great effect). Oddly enough, he trusts Louie to take care of his wife while going on the case, possibly causing the viewer to shout plenty of things against this wanna-be Do Good Detective to the screen. Thankfully, the more Streetwise Ginny catches on, but sadly Ann is wounded before Johnny arrives back home…still once all the pieces are put together, finding out that the owner of the bar was hiding information from them, the Force allows him back on the case and even letting Johnny lay a couple of punches.
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Back at Louie’s pad, Ginny and her women are waiting to “Give a Party” for their guest, and as this is a Roughie, it’s time to offer him a (off-screen, of course) one-way-ticket to Choir Practice or an early edition of The SCUM Manifesto…whatever one feels like viewing it as. Here, the film gets very effective as the killer meets his deserving fate in the hands of Ginny, surrounded by the ladies and the sharp choice of music. After a pretty gruesome scene, the Police finally appear to line them up and take them Downtown, giving an all too quick ending to the film leaving the viewer wanting a cool wind up, but possibly due to the budget this was not to be.

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Having moments that almost seem like inspirations for the classic 1980 film Maniac, as well as (Dare I say it) Barry Mahon’s The Sex Killer, Aroused! seems to be a perfect way to view a very early example of the modern Maniac on the Loose story, using plenty of good sexuality and intense performances in it’s sordid story. Standout performances include Janine Lenon as Ginny, Steve Hoillister as Johnny, and Fleurette Carter as Angela, while good support provided by Joanna Mills as Ann and Tony Palladino as the creepy Louie. This was one of the few Cambist films to take advantage of the local film scene proving that they really should have had more of them, but as it is, it’s now another great film in it’s history as well as a solid Roughie to check out.

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~ by screen13 on August 5, 2009.

2 Responses to “Aroused! – A Murderer on the Rampage Roughie”

  1. Nice going!

  2. Thanks! This film is on a disc that has been one of the most played since adding it to the collection a couple of years back. It’s something that stood out. Plenty of great 1965-6 nighttime Times Square footage is in it.

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