This weekend's feature at the Cult Fiction Underground (aka the basement grindhouse at Logue's Black Raven Emporium) is another rarity prized by cult-movie aficionados: Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural, an atmospheric, little-seen Southern Gothic nightmare directed by Eating Raoul co-author Richard Blackburn. It stars one of the most beloved of ’70s drive-in actresses, the late Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith, whom you may remember for her cameo in a Scene cover story a few years back about Nashville singer-songwriter Phil Lee:
A smaller photo stops him short. In it, a sunny blonde with an extraordinarily disarming smile cuddles cheek to cheek with the Phil Lee of three decades ago. He grins.
"Cheryl," he says. "I had hair back then."
Seventies drive-in cultists remember Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith as the gold standard for Roger Corman starlets: a fresh-faced cutie who radiated innocent sexiness in exploitation favorites such as Jonathan Demme's Caged Heat. Lee remembers her most gratefully as a bad shot.
During Lee's bleakest days in L.A., the two began a tempestuous relationship that went from bad to worse once she creased Lee's skull with a Coke bottle. Another time she tried to shoot him, and he took her gun away. That only made her mad. Their amour fou reached its climax during a hellacious argument.
"We were all taking drugs, we were all drinking—we were the beautiful people," Lee deadpans. "None of us had any clothes on." The fight turned physical, and Lee bolted for the stairs—only to see the slight Smith, powered by hate and adrenaline, heave an enormous TV set at him. Like the boulder chasing Indiana Jones, it tumbled down the steps after Lee, and he tried to time its crash so he could jump over it. Instead it mangled his ankle. He hobbled away and ducked into a cab.
"Not long after that," Lee says, "I quit drinking."
Lemora screens 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night, and DJ Ichabod will play a darkwave set after Saturday night's show at 10 p.m. Logue's Black Raven Emporium is located at 2915 Gallatin Rd.