Autumn Born (1979)


(director: Lloyd A. Simandl; screenwriters: Shannon Lee/Sharon Christenson/Ihor Procak; cinematographer: Lloyd A. Simandl; editors: Sharon Christenson/Edward Smith/Lloyd A. Simandl; music: Don Bouchat; cast: Dorothy Stratten (Tara Dawson), Roman Buchok (lawyer), Roberta Weiss (Melissa), Jocelyn Fournier (Monica Freeman), Nate MacIntosh (Grant Dawson), Dory Jackson (Victoria Morgan), Gisèle Fredette (Anne), Ihor Procak (Philippe); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lloyd A. Simandl; Monterey; 1979-Canada)

It’s the kind of film that just stinks in every which way.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Prague-born Canadian filmmaker Lloyd A. Simandl(“Killer Love”/”The Final Victim”/”Deadly Engagement“), in first film as director, ineptly directs this unpleasant seedy traumatic bondage “sexploitation” film. It was also the first feature for Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratten–the tragic actress who was murdered at 21 in real life by her controlling husband and manager Paul Snider. The film bombed at the box office.

Tara Dawson (Dorothy Stratten) is a spoiled 17-year-old orphan, living with a cruel guardian Uncle Grant (Nate MacIntosh), who will inherit the family financial empire when she turns 18. Uncle Grant dreads the day she runs the company, and schemes to have her kidnapped by headmistress Victoria Morgan (Dory Jackson). She runs a “school of discipline.”

When Tara sneaks off in the afternoon to a Winnipeg disco club and gets drunk, Victoria orders Philippe (Ihor Procak) and Anne (Gisèle Fredette) to intern her in the school basement, and they handcuff her to the bed. When Tara is not walking around the bed in her undies, she’s screaming that men are bastards. Philippe pipes into the cell weird noises to try and drive her crazy. When she completely loses it, Tara starts conversing with a wind-up plastic toy mouse that Philippe brought her. While Philippe delights in playing mind games on her, Anne delights in spanking her. The idea is to torture her until she signs over control to her uncle. When Tara’a will is fully broken on her 18th birthday and uncle’s lawyers are ready to have her sign over control, Victoria finds her irresistible as a sex toy and resists letting her sleeping companion go.

It’s the kind of film that just stinks in every which way. It’s more like a student film and should only attract the morbidly curious viewers, who want to see how artless the doomed Dorothy Stratten was as an actress.