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Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Allison Louise Downe
Label: Something Weird Video
Although it’s not highly regarded by many of his admirers, I have to admit that Suburban Roulette is one of my favorite HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS flicks, particularly amongst his non-gore titles. The film is fun to watch, has an interesting array of characters, and has a story line which is actually quite engaging. In the best Lewis tradition, it also has an absolutely killer theme song, belted out in great sleazy nightclub style by some anonymous crooner:
"I love you madly, baby/So come on and hold me tight /But don’t feel badly, baby/If I love your sister tomorrow night / Let’s liven up this dead room /There’s life in the old boy yet / It’s fun and games time in the bedroom / Suburban Roulette!"
Cashing in on the then-controversial topic of wife swapping, Suburban Roulette follows the wild times -- and ultimate downfall - of three couples trying to make a go of it in the ’burbs: Martin and Fran Conley, Ron and Margo Elston, and the new meat on the block, Bert and llene Fisher. Although Bert and llene seem determined to avoid the evil temptations offered to them in the city ("No more booze for me, and no more boyfriends for you!"), the pair waste no time getting involved with the behind-closed doors antics of their seemingly respectable suburban neighbors. Bert finds a new drinking buddy in Fran, while llene easily falls into the tentacle-like arms of the blonde, handsome Ron. Martin, meanwhile, seems to have a regular fling going with "mattress back" Margo...
One of the strongest assets of Suburban Roulette is its choice casting. As Bert, frequent Lewis star WILLIAM (Blood Feast) KERWIN, billed under his "Thomas Wood" nom de film, turns in another eminently watchable performance. BEN MOORE, one of the Two Thousand Maniacs!, overacts with aplomb as Bert, while TONY McCABE, star of Something Weird, would be more at home playing a deviant, psychosexual killer than a charismatic lothario like Ron. Of the female leads, ALLISON LOUISE DOWNE ("Vickie Miles") is suitably eye-fetching as Margo, while IONE ROLNICK (who also pops up in Something Weird) brings a touch of genuine pathos to the role of Fran. Like many Lewis epics, Suburban Roulette actually benefits from its bargain-basement production values, creating a genuine time-capsule feel which a big budget studio effort would find difficult to reproduce.
Now run along. My wife, Amanda, and I are invited to a party at the end of the block and I can hear the martini glasses rattling from here...From the swinging 35mm negative. - John Harrison, Reel Wild Cinema