The Pyx (1973)

Prostitutes have always been on the lowest rung of society in terms of discrimination and the value of their lives in general. They’ve always been used as scapegoats, and blamed for the moral failings in every culture since commerce had its meagre beginnings. People seem to forget that there would be no supply of sexual favours if there wasn’t demand for it, and there is a reason why it is the oldest profession in the world. Sex is considered a basic need, and instant gratification in return for goods or currency is considered a worthwhile deal for some. Whether they are married men with a penchant for young boys, or lonely single women with a desperate need for human contact, sex is selling, and they (whoever they are) are definitely willing to pay for it.

The problem is that it is a dangerous job, whether you’re getting into a strangers car and hoping this won’t be your last car journey, dealing with violent customers or pimps who take most of the money you’ve earned, running the risk of murder, rape or a sexually transmitted disease with every individual who you come into contact with on a daily basis. This must mean it’s has to be hard to function on a normal level to your peers . Not to mention the fact that there is no union for hookers, no health benefits or procedures for work based grievances. In fact according to the law of most lands, you are a criminal and should be treated as such, no matter what series of events led you to your current state of employment.

So you’re alone, and this leaves you vulnerable. Jack the Ripper knew this, as did The Green River Killer, and many perverts, psychopaths before and since, because they know that you probably won’t be missed. There is danger all around you, and a range of suspects reaching as far back as your first John. They don’t care that you could be a mother, sister, son or brother, they just care that you have a price that’s cheap enough for them to buy their way into a situation of their choosing, whatever consequences that may mean for you.

And still prostitution is no closer to being made legal or at least regulated, because the safety of these people means nothing to the richer members of society who feel so far detached from these ways of life despite a new sex scandal breaking about a politician or judge every other week.

Ahem.

Elizabeth Lucy (horror icon Karen Black) is a functioning heroin addict who funds her habit by selling herself to a buyer’s market, and meets an untimely end when a high rise building introduces her pretty little body to concrete at a fatal speed. Christopher Plummer is the homicide Detective assigned to unravel the events leading to her murder, while dodging the bullets meant for any witness unlucky enough to have had a conversation with him. Devil worshipping cults take investigating so seriously, apparently.

The Pyx is almost unwatchable in its crawling pace to begin with and I’ll admit I almost gave up on it ten minutes in, but if you stick with it, you’ll find that it’s a very rewarding horror mystery that has been all but forgotten by the majority of fans and critics alike. Haunting and extremely atmospheric, with Karen Black’s original soundtrack managing to be both ethereal and disturbing, as it coincides beautifully with Elizabeth’s drug induced journey to her demise. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, and a difficult watch due to the poor sound quality and spasmodic editing, but has an incredible dreamlike quality that in it’s best moments is reminiscent of David Cronenberg.

This acid tripping, imagery laden, Canadian, cops vs cults made for TV slow burner is definitely worth a onetime watch, if you can find a copy that does not in fact kick start a migraine with it’s lack of lighting and underwater sound.

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This entry was posted in 70s horror, critique, feminist horror, horror, opinion, pop culture, Uncategorized, women's lib horror and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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