First, an admission: I saw this film only once. A lifetime ago.
"Run Home, Slow" had the distinction of having played on The Late, Late Show on a Philadelphia TV station at the exact same time as its opening in a Philly grindhouse on Market St. Which has to be something of a first.
And it is the first and only film directed by Ted Brenner, who for some reason, is billed here as Ted Sullivan.
I remember it - vaguely - as being either truly awful or truly visionary, in an Alejandro Jodorowsky sort of way. What I do recall clearly is the outlandish, quite insane lead performance of Mercedes McCambridge, doing her patented Mercedes McCambridge thing (read: a retread of her performances from Nicholas Ray's "Johnny Guitar" and George Stevens' "Giant") as a tough cow-woman bent on revenge.
She plays Nell Hagan, the scary matriarch in a family of dim-witted men who are on a mindless quest to avenge the hanging death of their ruthless father. McCambridge stumbles around here in a Method Actor daze, mouthing monologues of mysticism and in a way that's equal parts of deranged and entertaining - and that prompts one to want to re-evaluate her critically admired performances as Emma Small in the aforementioned "Johnny Guitar" and as the curiously named Luz Benedict in "Giant."
Linda Gaye Scott - a promising young starlet at the time (and, reportedly, an heir to the Scott Paper fortune) - is on hand as a Hagan cousin who gets cozy with Nell's two brothers (never mind that they are all blood relatives) but is utilized here largely to take Nell's driving, sadistic abuse.
Shot in black and white in a truly creepy, shadowy style by Lewis Guinn and scored by Frank Zappa - yes, that Frank Zappa - "Run Home, Slow" may not be even remotely good but, once seen, it is not easily forgotten.
I offer myself as testament.
In fact, I'd really like to see "Run Home, Slow" again. Here is a genuine "midnight movie" that was ahead of is time, never finding its niche.
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~Emerson Film Enterprises. 1965©
~photography: Warner Bros. 1955©