Singer Liz Wetherly (Leslie Uggams) is on vacation by herself in a remote area of the Deep South. When her car breaks down, she goes to Bertha's Oasis, a run-down lodge, for help. Bertha (Shelley Winters) turns out to be an ex-burlesque star who runs the lodge like a fiefdom and practically defines herself by her relationship with her abusive kept man, Eddie Collins (Michael Christian). Eddie rapes Liz at the first opportunity; despite her struggles, he believes she is in love with him and will make him a famous singer. Bertha refuses to help Liz, as does the handyman Keno (Ted Cassidy). Liz must find a way to escape the nightmare herself.
Poor Pretty Eddie contains examples of:
- Amazing Grace: Liz's voice singing the song plays in the background during the shootout at the wedding.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Eddie arranges a wedding for himself and Liz. The whole town attends.
- Auto Erotica: Liz tries to escape in a guest's car. Instead, he pulls over in the woods and forces her to give him a blowjob. Afterwards, Eddie whips her with his belt, yelling that she's his and she needs to be a decent girl.
- Batter Up!: Eddie kills Keno's dog and cooks it into a stew. When Keno realizes, he flies at Eddie in a rage, but Eddie knocks him to the ground with a baseball bat and then kicks him.
- Closed Circle: Eddie refuses to fix Liz's car so it'll actually run, and all her escape attempts end with her being returned to the motel.
- Damned by Faint Praise: Liz's reaction to Eddie's music is, "Well, it's just not my kind of music." Bertha says, "Yeah, but you liked it, didn't you?" Liz answers, "Oh, yeah. It's better than lots that I've heard before."
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: After Eddie is shot, Bertha cradles him and cries as he bleeds out.
- Famed in Story: When Eddie sees Liz's signature, he says, "That's Liz Wetherly, ain't it? I've seen you on TV!"
- Fish-Eye Lens: Eddie takes Liz to a dam so she can take publicity photos of him against the waterfall. The lens is used while he's forcing her to walk across a narrow passageway above the chasm.
- Groin Attack: Liz kicks Eddie in the crotch in an attempt to fight him off before the first rape.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: There's an extreme close-up of the guest putting food in his mouth and chewing.
- Kick the Dog: Sheriff Orville (Slim Pickens) constantly hits and berates his mentally disabled nephew Odell (Lou Joffred).
- Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: At the wedding, a band plays "Here Comes the Bride."
- Police Are Useless: Orville is more interested in making Liz recount lurid details and forcing her to show the evidence than he is in seeking justice.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The first rape is intercut with rednecks forcing two dogs to mate, while a peaceful country song plays in the background.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: At the wedding, Justice of the Peace Floyd (Dub Taylor) says, "First, it's a custom! I'm forced to ask if there's any objection from them down to December here! Well, I assumes, with all this free beer and good food, that you men folks is willing to hold your goddamn peace!" Then Bertha bursts into the room in a wedding gown, screaming, "Stop it! You get outta here, you assholes! It's my house! If anybody's gonna start getting married around here, it's gonna be me!"
- White-Dwarf Starlet: Bertha was once a successful and glamorous showgirl, but is now an overweight, middle-aged alcoholic who surrounds herself with old photos of herself. She refuses to help Liz partly because Eddie is all she has left, and partly because she wants to teach her a lesson about how one day, Liz's fame will dry up just like hers did.