I admit it. I can be dense. But the full blown glory of singer-actress Gisele MacKenzie (1927-2003) is, as her 1955 hit described, not Hard to Get. An acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and queen of various musical theatre productions, this crystalline beauty was best known for her stint on the middle-of-the-road songfest Your Hit Parade. But, like so many other graceful lady entertainers, MacKenzie’s filmic closet contains a moldy tale of terror. Based on Poe’s The Premature Burial, 1972’s One Minute Before Death, features MacKenzie as the vengeful sister of a sweetly deceived heiress.
After a tumble down her mansion stairs, Genevieve Howard (Wanda Hendrix) finds herself trapped in physical limbo. Showing all the signs of being deceased, she is actually fully conscious and completely aware of all the treachery that is occurring around her. Case in point, Howard discovers that her younger husband, Paul, had plotted her death with his young mistress. Furthermore, it is revealed that her haughty sister, Adelaide (MacKenzie) hated her with a passion. Frustrated over her unrequited love for Paul and jealous of Genevieve’s riches, Adelaide now makes haste with a plot to steal her supposedly dead sister’s precious possessions.With diva-like gusto, MacKenzie invests Adelaide with a superior air and is obviously relishing the chance to be treacherous. Unfortunately, her efforts are undone a bit by Rogelio Gonzalez’s competent yet fairly pedestrian direction. This is further complicated by the film’s audio problems. The actors’ voices are placed so high in the mix that the film, as a whole, comes off sounding like a midrate high school production. Despite these faults, One Minute Before Death does retain a pleasant vibe, reminding one of a B- version of the Roger Corman produced Poe films. There are a few enjoyable twists, a bit of bludgeoning bloodshed and for those who love their battling dames – some nicely played vengeful cattery between MacKenzie and Hendrix.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan