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Three women retreat to a hacienda in the Mojave Desert and vengefully lure men to their deaths to the siren song of the Andrews Sisters' "Rum And Coca-Cola," in Werner Schroeter's sublimely strange fever dream of a film.
"Schroeter's richest period was the '70s. . . . [Willow Springs] is one of his prime efforts" (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice). Presaging Robert Altman's 3 Women and resembling Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Willow Springs was conceived as a film about Marilyn Monroe, but took a far weirder tack. After one of their number is raped, a trio of women (including the impossibly glamorous Christine Kaufmann, ex-wife of Tony Curtis) sequester themselves in a stone hacienda in the Mojave Desert and lure men to their deaths in revenge. Their occult commune eventually collapses when a pimply pubescent, who looks like a runaway from the Partridge Family, hitchhikes into their midst and much soft-core sex ensues. Employing long-take tableaux and splintering the image with a forest of Fassbinder-like mirrors, Willow Springs mocks its desultory trio by endlessly repeating the Andrews Sisters' "Rum And Coca Cola" on an old gramophone. Despite Magdalena Montezuma's assurance to a prying visitor that "life in the desert is very demanding, you know," the women of Willow Springs mostly spend their time bitching at each other and affecting ritualistic airs amid the mirrors, yucca, and dust. (MM descends stairs and hillsides with the glacial hauteur of Norma Desmond.) "You've never seen anything quite like it" (Chuck Stephens, Film Comment).