It’s always a thrill when Something Weird unearths a little gem which gives its audience a whole lot more than what they were perhaps expecting. Such a film is Pretty But Wicked, a 1963 Brazilian production which, much like the work of Jose Mojica Marins, has a distinctively gritty, low-tech look that gives the film an intense and “immediate” rawness.
Pretty eighteen year-old Maria Celeste (LIA ROSSI) is robbed of her virginity by four degenerates. Concerned that no one will now want to marry his “shamed” daughter, Maria’s father, wealthy industrialist Hector Wernek, has his right hand man Perrault choose a suitable suitor from his pool of employees. Edgar (JECE VALADAO), the young clerk chosen by Perrault, agrees to marry Maria in a drunken haze though it soon becomes clear that his true affections (and intentions) are towards his neighbor Rita (ODETE LARA), a leggy blonde who lives with her three younger sisters and their invalid mother. Edgar could even be classified as a borderline obsessive when it comes to Rita, since he virtually kidnaps her in his jeep, takes her out to the woods, and refuses to drive her back until she gives him a kiss -- though it’s obvious from the way he slides his hand up her skirt that Edgar is after much more than a mere kiss. Unfortunately, a leper emerges from the bush and scares the pair off.
While Edgar debates whether or not he should go for the money and marry the desperate Maria (“You’re so wonderful,” she tells him only five minutes after they’ve met), his pursuit of Rita continues unabated, with one memorable confrontation taking place in a cemetery, where he pulls Rita into an empty grave, telling her that he’s in love with her and demanding that they kiss then and there: “It may be morbid, but that doesn’t bother me!” Much to Edgar’s surprise, Rita responds by offering to do “more than just kiss,” explaining that she is not as innocent as she seems. In fact, she’s been working as a prostitute in order to pay off the money her mother embezzled from her workplace! When Rita reveals that the police chief handling the case also forced himself on her, sensitive New-Age man Edgar exclaims: “Two girls in my life!”
Things continue to get bleaker when a manic, blonde-tipped juvenile delinquent takes Rita’s naive sisters to a party hosted by Wernek, unaware that their public deflowering is to be the entertainment for the night! Worse, a genuinely shocking revelation about Maria leads to a surprisingly grim ending....
When Pretty But Wicked was released in the U.S. in 1965, the distributors spiced it up a bit by adding raunchy inserts during the climactic party sequence. (Sharp-eyed nudie connoisseurs will notice New York skinflick-veteran JUNE ROBERTS among the crowd.) Directed by the prolific J.P. De CARVALHO, Pretty But Wicked is a stark, largely humorless piece of work which, though low on skin, easily holds its own against the best of the mid-Sixties grindhouse roughies.
From a 35mm beautiful-but-bad print. #3872 -- John Harrison, Graveyard Tramp
Year: 1963 / 1965
Starring: Jece Valadao
Co-starring: Odete Lara
Other cast: Lia Rossi , Fregolente , Andre' Villion
Directed by: Jp De Carvalho
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