HOMEBODIES (1974) – Category: Enjoyably bad movie with a weird premise This is the film that is always known to me and my fellow bad movie geeks as “the killer fogies movie”. When a group of elderly citizens in their 70’s and 80’s face eviction from their decrepit neighborhood to make way for high- rises they strike back under the leadership of feisty and frightening Mattie, played by Paula Trueman, seen at left.
Homebodies has that nice blend of badness and tastelessness that I love in a horror film. I’m not trying to sound hostile to the elderly, since we will all end up facing the same problems some day, but the withered, shriveled faces and the stooping, halting gait of the homicidal old folks in this movie add an air of eeriness that amps up the horror. Not to sound cruel, but, well, they seem almost like zombies in a George Romero movie but with individual personalities. (Night of the Almost Dead?)
First our Homebdies try sabotaging the construction of the nearest highrise, causing delays to buy their neighborhood a few more days’ reprieve. Mattie’s unrestrained glee as she admires her and her comrades’ handiwork in the form of dead, young, muscular construction workers here and there is part Baby Jane with a touch of Arsenic and Old Lace.
When the delays from the sabotage murders run out our protagonists resort to killing the officials who come in to bodily remove them via stabbings and booby traps laid throughout their tenement apartments (Homebodies Alone?) The most effective death scene comes when Emily, the crazy widow who always acts like her long-dead husband is still alive, plunges a knife into the beautiful but callous Miss Pollack for trying to flush her out of her home. The sight of the young and healthy figure slowly dying under the impassive gaze of her nearly mummified killers is an image that stays with you.
There’s virtually no gore in this film, which makes it ideal for people who don’t like a high blood quotient when they settle in to laugh like hell at a bad movie. The closest thing to it is when our “heroes” smother one of their victims in a shower of wet cement (led by the positively jubilant Mattie of course). Not only do we see wet concrete “air bubbles” as their prey snuffs it, but when they realize part of his foot is sticking out of the subsequent concrete block they chop off the foot to prevent the corpse’s discovery.
Eventually, some of the elderly felons start to have second thoughts and contemplate running to the cops but serenely malevolent Mattie kills them off with the same giddy abandon with which she led the assault on the earlier victims. Trivia buffs will recognize the old woman accomplice she kills off as Miss Emily from The Night Stalker tv series and the old man accomplice as Caesar Rodney in 1776. If you have the same odd sense of humor I do Homebodies is just surreal and bizarre enough to make for a very good time joking about the events in the film while slamming down some booze with friends. Don’t miss the explosive finale!
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