Poor Kay is besieged by horrific visions, and this is starting to chip away at her bubbly personality.
Kay is a painter who has struck subconscious gold. She needs inspiration for her oil doodles, and a reoccurring H.P. Lovecraft-esque nightmare sequence happily obliges. She’s been having this dream since childhood, and it entails her getting grabbed by some slimy creature asshole in a fiery room. This short clip, for my money, is one of the best representations of the work of our dear friend Howard Phillips, who understood better than anyone that the gleam of dreams shine brighter than the glister of fossilised pageants. Also, weird rubber monsters are pretty rad looking.
So she wakes up, and her mustachioed squeeze tells her to get her perpetually strung out, vaguely gothy (she appears to apply mascara all around her eyes) ass moving, as the hustle and bustle of reality has little patience for imaginary nightguants. They fly out to an island on a small plane with another couple (her brother Eric and his wife), as they hope this little getaway will help stabilize Kay’s mental hullabaloo. Quite ironically, Kay is experiencing Deju Vu about both the island and the house where they’re staying (she painted a similar house in one of her paintings). Looks like Kay is running from her subconscious only to slam head first into its very manifestations.
Well, as they are settling in, the caretaker warns them about an impending storm before heading out to the beach to gut some fish, where some jerk (maybe one of those tools from PETA) slices his head open with an oar. Me thinks it’s going to be a bumpy night, but luckily they located the bar, as liquor helps dull the horrors of living (imaginary or otherwise). They head to bed, with Eric reading a copy of "Fishing Lady" (one of the better erotic fish magazines on the market), and they all discuss Kay's emotional state (just north of batshit). Later that night, with the storm in full force, the husband heads to the attic for some reason (smooth plan), getting his neck all sliced up.
The next morning, Kay wakes up and starts kissing her husband, but lo and behold, it’s just his decapitated head, so I guess a little morning nookie is out of the question. Well, it was all a “dream”, and they decide to conduct a search for her missing hubby. Kay explores the decrepit ruins of another house, while Eric sifts through the jungle brush and the other chick gets beach duty. Kay finds her husband’s body hanging upside down and fucking screams.
Kay tells the other couple that if she dreams again, they too will be murdered by the monster, so she guzzles coffee like I guzzle the coffee (shades of Elm Street, albeit a full two years prior). Kay recalls a childhood occurrence where she dreamed about her cat getting murdered, and the innocent feline ended up dead. Undeterred by horror movie warnings, they force Kay to hit the hay and continue to investigate the island. Eric gets a fishing hook in the neck while checking out the pier (maybe the Fishing Lady mag was a piece of foreshadowing). His wife then gets awesomely impaled with a pitchfork, through her back and out the breasts, in an impressively realistic effect for the period. Thankfully, it predates the silicone era in slasher films, and therefore escapes a potentially messy logistical problem.
The next morning, Kay finds the bodies and runs back in the house, locking all of the windows and doors and arming herself with a gun. To stay awake, she repeatedly puts cigarettes out on her hand, and also tries to lose herself in a good book (which might be the bible, and, if so, I take that back). At this point, the film somewhat mirrors the ending of Repulsion, as she is not merely barricading herself from a killer, but crumbling mentally, the dark house becoming an extension of her fractured psyche. Well, some asshole shows up to investigate (played by the killer from Nightmares in a Damaged Brain), and Kay blows his ass away so hard he catches fire for no reason. The house is quickly ablaze, and, at this point, her dream comes alive, a prophecy fulfilled…or maybe it’s just a big ass coincidence.
Curiously, the movie ends with the young girl version of Kay, getting a cat for Christmas, with a ribbon wrapped around its neck (at least it wasn’t shoved into a box). This horrifies little Kay, as she recalls her dream about this same cat getting (presumably) killed by the monster. Going back to her brother Eric’s speech from earlier, he stated that the cat was found in a freezer, implying (to me, anyway) that Kay was the one responsible for the dead feline. Thankfully, the film sustains the mystery throughout, never quite explaining who the killer is. I tend to take the “it was all in her head” route, and that Kay was the murderer all along. I guess her Lovecraftian visions, while awesome to watch and a necessary component to her rad paintings, may have led to a few innocent casualties. Well, I think all great artists are entitled to a few snafus here and there, or at least a single “get out of jail free” card.