Heat of Madness (1966)

Genres - Thriller  |   Run Time - 82 min.  |  
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The young heiress to a steel fortune falls in love with an intense, antisocial photographer who specializes in nude calendar shoots. Their engagement leads the woman's lawyer to investigate her fiancé's past, and he warns against marrying the troubled artist. When a new assignment (shooting graphic re-creations of sex crimes for a detective magazine) triggers drastic changes in the photographer's personality, the conflicted bride-to-be begins to accept that her lover may benefit more from psychiatric help than a walk down the aisle. A shocking crime will eventually make this decision for her. Heat of Madness is low-key grindhouse fodder that, like many early sexploitation films, promises a lot more than it delivers. Luckily, director Harry Wuest and a small gang of believable young actors present their story of romance and obsession with grit and economy, bringing class to what could have been just another bait and switch. The smutty tableau of the photographer's sex-crime shoots keeps an undercurrent of slime bubbling beneath the otherwise tame love story; despite his fiancée's eagerness, the sexually stunted boyfriend wants to keep it legit until the wedding night, so a series of simulated whippings, muggings, and thrill killings makes up for the lack of skin. Heat of Madness isn't a lost treasure, but it's a solid effort from an era of filmmaking when most didn't think they even needed to try.