Color, 1999, 65 mins. 34 secs.
Directed by Dawn Murphy
Starring Dawn Murphy, Dave Castiglione, G.W. Lawrence, Pamela Sutch
Saturn's Core Audio & Video (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)
With W.A.V.E. Productions going full force cranking out custom-made oddities for the sex and horror crowd, a love story blossomed between two of its participants, Dawn Murphy and Dave Castiglione, who wound up getting married in the mid-'90s. His side company, Sharkey Video, was also based in New Jersey and occasionally turned out odd video features that could be very difficult to classify like Love Is a Stranger. Getting tired of constantly playing victims, horror fan Murphy came up with the idea of Backwoods Marcy, a gender-flipped take on hillbilly and rape-revenge genre films in which she not only direct and star but also provide the music score and her own makeup. Castiglione took on the other leading role while also serving as producer and co-writer, with the two of them serving as the only crew members for a large chunk of the largely improvised shoot out in the Jersey woods.
Driving outside the city for his job, married real estate agent Donald (Castiglione) stops along the way for a quick afternoon tumble with a prostitute (Murphy) before heading on his merry way. However, his next stop turns out to be a lot more traumatic when he heads the wrong way and keep getting offered help by the foul-smelling Marcy (also Murphy), who takes a shine to him even after he tosses her out of her car and accidentally runs into her. Like a homicidal Pepé Le Pew, she lures Donald out to the middle of the woods where has a van as her home base along with a handy dog cage where she taunts, torments, and sexually assaults him at machete point. Unfortunately, anyone who crosses their paths fares even worse as Donald learns exactly how far his captor is willing to go to keep this city boy all to herself.
Though obviously made under very modest conditions, Backwoods Marcy gets a lot of mileage out of its premise with the leering, aggressive Marcy emerging as a fun, new kind of psycho character. There's plenty of shot-on-video charm in the Hi8 production with Murphy making some canny framing choices and keeping things moving at a good clip, and obviously her go-for-broke performance is really something to behold. Castiglione is a good sport as well going through some clearly uncomfortable shooting conditions, achieved in locations all over Jersey including one clever nocturnal actually pulled off indoors. Strangely, for such a rough premise and an obvious intention to
Barely circulated on VHS back in the day and bootlegged over the years, the film has been given a new lease on life via the Saturn's Core Blu-ray featuring the final digitally edited version of the film (with or without a 5m57s Castiglione video intro) looking and sounding as good as the original conditions will allow. It's very SD of course but fine for what it is, and the DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track sounds fine with optional English SDH subtitles provided. An audio commentary featuring Castiglione moderated by Ross Snyder from Saturn’s Core covers the genesis of the story, the custom work for W.A.V.E. at the same time, the run-in with a cop that upset Murphy during the shoot, promoting the film at horror conventions (where Murphy got a thumbs up from Tom Savini), the creation of a new 10-minute twist ending with W.A.V.E. cohort Pamela Sutch (complete with one of the greatest lines of dialogue in movie history) to get the film up to feature length, and the high number of W.A.V.E. women who directed their own micro-budget films. Also included is the original archival analog VHS cut of the film (72m40s) which features a different, clunkier opening and some other variations throughout including some alternate takes. It's a very lo-fi experience to put it mildly but nice to have for posterity. "Behind the Backwoods" (12m5s) features Murphy and Castiglione providing very lighthearted commentary over a reel of production footage, including a funny (fogged-out) wardrobe malfunction and some other random bits of business. Also included are the original trailer and bonus ones for Love Is a Stranger Again, Deep Undead, Mail Order Murder: The Story of W.A.V.E. Productions, Psycho Sisters, Duck! The Carbine High Massacre, Sinistre, Red Spirit Lake, We Await, and Shatter Dead.
But wait! There's also a whole extra second feature here with An Ex-Hooker's Christmas Carol (72m12s), a shot-on-VHS 1995 Castiglione comedy about a sassy streetwalker, Milly (Laura Giglio), who gets busted during the holidays outside a shopping mall with one of her colleagues. Ordered to continue her community service, she ends up tangling with a flatulent bum (Castiglione) and, as it soon turn out, is being maneuvered by her concerned dad who says, "She's so much like her mother. Except for the prostitution, of course." She's assigned to take care of Keith (Timothy Hawk), who's a bit slow and wants to show her his magical Snowman Haven in the woods where wishes come true. Of course, it turns out the snowmen really are magical which leads to rampant comic mishaps as Milly tries to undo the the pandemonium that ensues. It's actually more like Bedazzled in the end than A Christmas Carol, but Giglio has fun with her plentiful one-liners (as well as an unexpectedly powerful dramatic scene at a cemetery). Apart from some very dark and murky videography, it's amusing and very quotable ("Oh, what a slut! No one wears sequins anymore.") with Castiglione popping up in no less than three roles by the time it's over. Castiglione and Snyder contribute another audio commentary going into the making of this film (which morphed considerably from its original conception), the casting process, the joy of playing the "Tootsie" character in drag, and the location scouting. "A Sharkey Tale" (5m42s) with Castiglione has him chatting more about the Sharkey glory days, the weirdness of doing hit-and-run scenes in both movies, the original conception of Christmas Carol as a horror film, and more. In "Milly’s Wonderful Life" (8m29s), Giglio has a blast remembering her first comedy role, the dramatic challenge she loved undertaking during her big scene, the many laughs on set, and the downside of shooting on a very cold snowy day. Also included for that film are a wisely deleted alternate ending (1m32s), an archival behind-the-scenes featurette (12m5s), a 7m57s blooper reel, a collection of isolated soundtrack music (19m34s), and a reissue trailer.