Bite Size: Teenage Seductress (1975)

Preston King (Chris Warfield himself, pulling triple duty as writer/director and co-star) is a famous writer. His novels have sold well enough to garner him a sizable spread and the ability to hire household staff, but he otherwise can live a pretty ordinary existence in Taos, New Mexico. He’s just well known enough to live comfortably, but not so well known that he is beset by crazed fans or autograph seekers when taking a drive or having a picnic in the country. At least, that was the case before Terry (Sondra Currie, sister of musician Cherie) shows up.

She’s oddly intense from the outset, blowing into town demanding Preston’s address from confused shopkeepers and openly irate librarians. When her requests for a stranger’s personal info are quite rightfully turned down, she stomps off in a snit that seems more akin to a preschool aged child than an (despite the title) obviously twenty-something young woman.

When she returns to her hotel room after a long day of rejections, Terry places Preston’s novel on her bed, caressing the author photo as she undresses. To add trauma to obsession, she strips down for a shower and has visions of her unhappy childhood, her mother’s bitterness over her father leaving echoing from the snarling visage of her mother superimposed on the showerhead.

Mom clearly had some deep rooted issues, and has indoctrinated Terry since primary school that all men are as toxic as her father, who abandoned them because men only ever want one thing. It is up to Terry to make them pay, and not repeat Mother’s mistakes.

Clearly, what she has learned from all of this emotional abuse is to weaponize her sexuality, flirting with art gallery owner Reggie (John Trujillo) to finally get a hold of Preston’s address. She invents a story about being a journalism student to gain entry to his home, and slowly insinuate her way into his life. Before long, Preston is entirely dependent on his pretty redheaded secretary, alienated from everyone else in his social sphere. Despite warnings from both his long term housekeeper and his infinitely more age appropriate girlfriend Victoria (Elizabeth Saxon)—who has already gotten a glimpse of Terry’s crazy due to her job at the library- that the young woman has a dangerous crush and clear ill intentions.

Teenage Seductress initially seems like a riff on similar themes to Chris Warfield’s own vastly superior Little Miss Innocence. Here we have another middle aged man who lets his money, penis, and ego overrule his better sense regarding a situation far too good to be true. Very early on in the film, the root cause of Terry’s manias is made explicit. Preston King is the father who abandoned her, and just in case that wasn’t obvious enough, she announces “I’m going to fuck you, Father….the way you fucked me.”

Considering the bizarre motel scene and the fact that she jumped into his bed to attempt a seduction no more than five minutes after being invited into his house, it’s abundantly clear that Terry is referring to both the literal and the metaphorical implications of a certain four letter word. Yet rather than commit to the sheer raunch of that premise, Seductress‘ middle section devolves into talky melodrama where both Reggie and Preston are so utterly entranced by Terry’s habit of staring vacantly into space and having unexplained rages that they continue to aid her with whatever she asks for.

By positioning Terry as so obviously unhinged that even basic daily tasks are beyond her, there’s no tension in any of her machinations, only discomfort regarding what the audience will likely subjected to watching when she inevitably triumphs over this sea of hormonal morons. It doesn’t help that while Sondra Currie looks the part of the seemingly sweet sugar baby from Hell, her performance is far too blank and lacking in nuance to really read as cunning, damaged, or desperate enough to give her horrid plan the distasteful weight it needs, no matter how much fugue state hopscotch she plays.

It is Elizabeth Saxon’s Victoria that becomes the sympathetic character, as she is roundly ignored for pointing out the obvious, only to be forced to leave Preston to the inevitable disaster he’s setting himself up for. Her performance is full of the energy that Currie’s lacks. Even her body language in otherwise minimal dialog scenes makes clear she has Terry’s nasty little number. In spite of the insecurities the sudden appearance of the younger woman obviously kicks up, Victoria’s not going down without a fight.

The forgone conclusion nature of the proceedings makes the middle section a snail’s pace slog of arguments over bowls of party size salad and the occasional hippie dippie art party. The third act offers none of the promised twisted vengeance or life crushing destruction, only a whimper of soft jazz and awkward angle sex scenes it is best not to contemplate at length.

What begins as daddy issues in the desert deviance ends with a final scene inexplicably played for cuddly catharsis. The lack of any narrative resolution to any of the first act’s stated dangers makes Teenage Seductress feel more like a The Babysitter style self insert of no consequence male fantasy. Considering that incest is a major and purposeful plot point, that might be the most legitimately discomfiting thing in this otherwise listless film.