The Sinister Urge (1961)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Psychological Thriller  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Fred Beldin

Edward D. Wood Jr.'s films from the 1950s are certainly cracked, yet even when covering sex change operations and transvestism his work retains a sincere, if addled, charm. Brain-damaged horror features like Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space are suitable for children, Jail Bait tries and fails to be hard-boiled, and his anti-masterpiece Glen or Glenda? is ultimately a personal plea for tolerance and acceptance in an unfeeling world. Hitting the screen in 1960, The Sinister Urge is a much more cynical, bad-tempered film, filled with sex killers and pornographers whom Wood condemns even as he exploits them. "Show me a crime and I can show you a picture that caused it," barks Lt. Carson as the screen is filled with daring (for the era) shots of sexy young women in sadistic bondage poses. Wood was taking his first steps into the shadowy world of adult entertainment that would eventually consume his career and provide his only income in his final years. Fans of Wood's better known films will find plenty to enjoy in The Sinister Urge. The same bizarre dialogue, flimsy production values, and sly autobiographical touches ("At one time I made good movies," complains Johnny, a director reduced to illicit stags) that make Wood's films delirious and endearing are all here. But there's also brief nudity, a crazed rapist-slasher, and grimy simulated pornography reels that show a toughening of the director's hide without the cheerful insanity of his earlier films. The well-known Tim Burton biopic Ed Wood has a happy ending; The Sinister Urge reflects what happened after that sweet moment faded.