Troma Entertainment has made a name for itself based on their outrageous, home-grown feature film franchises such as Class of Nuke 'Em High, Sgt. Kabukiman and The Toxic Avenger. However, in recent years they've also seen fit to acquire and distribute a large number of films that while not made under the auspices of the Troma umbrella, fit in with the overall style and tone of their flicks. These include the Dirty Harry meets Sixteen Candles black comedy The Hall Monitor, Ernest Dickenson's Hip-Hop Horror film Def By Temptation and Trey Parker's hilarious debut feature Cannibal! The Musical.
Sadly, Istvan Ventilla's bizarre film Nicole, or Crazed as Troma has succinctly renamed it for this release, isn't even up to their grand camp standards. In fact the film would have long ago been forgotten if not for the fact that it features a pre-"Dukes Of Hazzard" Catherine (or Cathy as it appears in the film's credits) Bach in the only nude scenes, one of which even includes some light Lesbian groping, of her career. Troma is well aware that this obscure film had been a hot commodity on the gray market, whether private copies traded between collectors or bootlegs sold at auction, those in the know did what they could to get their hands on this film. Now Troma has released an "official" version of the film to the mass market. They even got the infamous "Mr. Skin" to give it his stamp of approval.
For some reason this tale of a rich widow's descent into madness begins with some background on her homicidal chauffer, Malcolm (TV and B-Movie stalwart, Ramon Bieri), as he comes home from work only to find his wife with another man. He goes all Russell Crowe on the guy and crushes his skull in with the bedside phone. Afraid that his wife's panicked cries will alert the water delivery man to what has transpired, he "accidentally" smothers her with a pillow. By all accounts, Malcolm could easily be the subject of this film, but we flash forward and find him behind the wheel for Nicole (famed dancer Leslie Caron, still desirable even into her 40's), the rich, but lonely nutcase to whom both titles refer.
Much of the film is seen through Nicole's eyes, or at least that's what I assumed since much of the plot made absolutely no sense, but I digress. She lives alone in a large mansion with only her servant Malcolm to keep her company. She spends her money lavishly with little rhyme or reason, but has strange and bizarre requests and outbursts at times. She meets Fletcher (Bruce Graziano), a used car salesman, through her obsession with his television ads. She befriends Sue (the very young Cathy Bach), but only under the condition that she have some minor plastic surgery and come live with her in her mansion. Eventually, Nicole's madness gets the better of her and after a violent spat with Fletcher, her hulking man-servant Malcolm does away with him. Sue also meets a gisly demise at the jaws of Nicole's trained guard dogs.
Ventilla goes for a psychedelic feel through much of the film, as I surmised earlier, to offer a glimpse into the inner workings of Nicole's troubled brain. There are a lot of quick cuts and cross cutting between actions, but it's all very primitive with little of the slick "MTV" style editing like that found in many of today's films. As for Miss Bach's two big revelations, one occurring an hour and three minutes into the film and the other one hour and fourteen minutes in, I wish I could say that they were worth it, but I just can't. The problems with the two scenes have nothing at all to do with Miss Bach and are purely technical in nature. The first scene is overly lit, which combined with Ms. Bach's pale white skin obliterates any fine shading or details present in her flesh tone. The second and better of the two scenes is spoiled because even though we are given a nicely lit scene of Bach's breasts being fondled by Caron, neither woman's face is visible on-screen, leading to some doubt as to the authenticity of the scene. In a Bonus segment where "Mr. Skin" himself offers his professional commentary on the scene, he believes that it is in fact legitimate, which I tend to agree with.
Picture: The film is presented in a 1.33:1 full screen transfer and while the print is clean, the video suffers from its age and extremely low budget.
Audio: There is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Track sounded awful, as though much of the dialogue was dubbed in after the fact and the music was mixed in way too loud for many of the scenes.
Extras: Troma has always been known for including tons of extras on their discs, even if the extras don't have anything to do with the film and Crazed is no exception. Included here are a "Mr. Skin on Crazed" featurette, a throwaway segment called "Meet the General Lee," an "interesting" music montage from "Troma's Lesbian Hall of Fame," a lesson from Lloyd Kaufman's "Make Your Own Damn Movie" Box Set and various trailers for Troma's other Lesbonic releases, including "Tromeo and Juliet," "Sugar Cookies" and more.
Conclusion: Ironically, Troma, one of the greatest self-promoters in the history of the film medium, did themselves in by including content by and references to "Mr. Skin" and his website, which just happens to feature pics of Catherine Bach's infamous scenes from Crazed (a.k.a. Nicole). Under the circumstances, I just cannot recommend anyone sitting through this film for the scenes in question. Do yourself a favor and go to "Mr. Skin" if you want to see these pics. Skip It