Tag Archives: Bizarre

‘Primitive London’ (1965) BFI Flipside Release

4 Jul

Made in the model of famous and influential 60s release Mondo Cane, Primitive London is the British equivalent, exploring the various facades of our capital. Using the very loose narrative of the cycle of life as a basic spine for the film (opening with lovely graphic footage of childbirth, which as we all know scares the hell outta me), we get glimpses of various contrasting and ‘shocking’ (remember context folks, this was 1965) looks into female judo, busking, turkish baths, stripping schools, fencing, swingers parties and stand up comedy routines. Personally interesting to watch were women jean shrinking in their bathtub (which you don’t really need to do these days, thank you skinny jeans!), people getting tattoos done and footage of old British Wrestling promotions including Brit legend Mick McManus working a fight. Watching an operation on a goldfish, however, was just a little weird and, well, less said about the scene at the factory killing battery chickens…

primitivelondon256

As mediocre as it is to watch, it is fascinating to see footage of London from over fifty years ago and seeing just how much it’s landscape has changed. Women being tattooed and learning judo are here played with a hint of shocked ignorance which has since given way to nothing but normality. Interesting to watch are also the streets of Soho, full of clubs and advertising strippers left, right and centre. You’d be hard pushed to find much of that London history in Soho as it stands now, with its past feeling very nearly wiped out than celebrated for what it was. Shot by future director Stanley Long (Adventures of a Plumbers Mate, Adventures of a Taxi Driver) and produced, written and directed by Arnold L. Miller (Nudes of the WorldUnder The Table You Must Go), some of the film has efforts of surrealism, with cows intercut against topless models wearing the latest fashions and the task of food shopping contrasted against strip club routines. Whenever the moralising voice of the narrator feels like its starting to wane (one feels somewhat sorry for the young beatniks who are interviewed at the start of the film who get spoken to sometimes as if they were very young children), we always cut back to a stripper. Interesting and yet mundane.

primitive_london_xl_01--film-A

Released in 1965, it was originally given an ‘A’ certificate. So, at the last-minute some footage of a Jack The Ripper murder re-enactment was added in which ensured it got an ‘X’ certificate for release (something the producers specifically wanted). It first screened at the Windmill Theatre, and in true 60s advertising, a group of exotic dancers were hired for the night. Soho dancer Vicki Grey donned a fur-coat and leopard print bikini in homage to the famous ‘Leopard The Wild One’ dance, the imagery of which made most of the posters and front of house stills. Grey toured the West End with a cheetah on a leash (loaned by Colchester Zoo, sadly a leopard wasn’t available), before relaxing with it in the foyer. It received fairly negative reviews upon release and wasn’t as successful as its predecessor London In The Raw, however it still provides a watchable slice of Brit history.

imagesCACDMI7Q

Also included  on the BFI Flipside release is a short film from 1965 called Carousella. A short documentary on the lives of a few Soho strippers, Carousella is probably more interesting to watch than Primitive London itself, aware of its short running time and making a narrative with material that still interests and has relevance today. Whilst it was made without much fuss in the 60s, it was immediately banned by John Trevelyan after he watched it, exclaiming that it was nothing more than a recruitment film. It was given a ‘X’ certificate by a few local authorities, but numbers didn’t make for an eventual cinematic release. It’s a shame because the film is beautifully shot and feels really rather human. Nothing is scandalised and the narrative and comments given by the girls featured are delivered well and romanticized but far from the point of being patronising or condescending. A short worth seeking out.

MEYER MONTH – Meyer Shot The Moon Landings?

18 Mar

This is something I had to share with everyone because it made me chuckle. A lovely reader posted the following image in a comment on one of my other posts and the idea just had me in fits. Forget all those rumours and conspiracy theories about Stanley Kubrick having shot the 1969 moon landings, for it was Russ Meyer who shot the infamous footage! This cute cartoon below serves as a good hypothesis and actually make some ‘valid’ points. I feel a future theoretical post in the works…

comic

The Hell Of It – Bitto Albertini’s ‘Black Emanuelle 2’ (1976)

3 Jan

Quite aptly for me, Black Emanuelle 2 (aka The New Black Emanuelle) opens with a statement by Freud that best describes my experiences in watching the Emanuelle/Emmanuelle films; ‘The sickness that disturbs me most is myself’. As someone who pretty much can’t stand the plethora of Emanuelle/Emmanuelle films that have been made, I sure as hell make sure I watch a lot of them. And, in this instance, I have some positive motive to. Bitto Albertini’s 1975 release Black Emanuelle, a semi-blaxsploitation spin on the original French Emmanuelle feature, is the only Emanuelle related film to date that I like. In this picture, actress Laura Gemser brings a sensual and human quality to the character that Sylvia Kristel’s version lacked in buckets. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that director Albertini had done a sequel the following year…

black e

A sequel that lacks Gemser’s appearance. In Black Emanuelle 2, our titular lead is played by Israeli actress Shulamith Lasri (under the rather Western name of Sharon Lesley) with the story finding supermodel Emanuelle stuck in a Manhattan psychiatric clinic with a bad case of amnesia. Amnesia that can only be cured through Freudian disciplines that evoke a tonne of sexual flashbacks. Only Emanuelle’s version of events seem to differ greatly from the version expressed by the other person involved. Did her friend really take advantage of her? Is her father really an alcoholic molester? Quite frankly, I don’t care. A softcore porno with a lead that is clearly suffering from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a Schizoid-type of mental illness doesn’t really get my rocks off. Even if the film does include a bizarre scene with a male character using his erection to bench press a twelve pound weight (Am I impressed? No. Put some bloody clothes on).

black e

Unsurprisingly enough, Black Emanuelle 2 is Lasri’s only film credit and this her only entry in the Black Emanuelle films. There’s no denying she is a stunner, with a wonderfully curvaceous body to die for, she just isn’t Laura Gemser who really makes the role her own. When you think of Black Emanuelle, you think of Gemser, and whilst Lasri certainly tries her best, Gemser never really had to. She just had it. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…

‘Island of Death’ (1975) review

7 Mar

Where exactly do you begin with a film like Island of Death (Mastorakis, 1975)? Widely banned because of its content, if one film is going to make you wonder why on earth you sat down to watch something it’s going to be this. I was intrigued. So many people had told me to give it a go, ‘I think you’d really like it’ was the phrase mostly used. And so I gave in… And I’m still wondering why I bothered, and still trying to work out why so many people thought I’d really dig it (Answers on a postcard please). It’s not that the film was bad (although arguably many people won’t like it because of its themes), I’ve seen a lot worse, but it wasn’t any good either. It was just weird. Really weird.

Island of Death concerns a young married couple, Christopher and Celia, who go on holiday to a Greek island. Whilst looking relatively normal, normal isn’t a word they clearly understand and instead they slowly start killing off people they don’t like in a bid to rid the island of perversion and make it pure again. This is a little strange because they don’t come across as being overly religious either but since when did plot details start to become important to bad movies?

In fact, that’s the issue with Island of Death. There isn’t much of a plot, more like a threadbare story created to link together shocking set pieces (a little like the Saw franchise but less gory and a lot stranger…). So you get a scene like Christopher humping a goat because Celia is too tired to have sex with him (this is why so many of you told me to watch it isn’t it…). Or Christopher crucifying and poisoning a painter the couple befriend after he’s had sex with Celia. They kill a gay couple, a drug addicted lesbian barmaid, an older female socialite (with a pretty neat and inventive beheading scene involving a bulldozer). You get the idea. Pretty much anyone on the island they can kill, they do. Christopher also happens to be a photographer and likes to photograph scenes of the crime, both during and after, to masturbate over later. Sadly, there’s so much going on during the film that these scenes just aren’t as shocking as maybe the production team had hoped they’d be. It’s a bit like that saying, too many cooks spoiling the broth. At what point does shocking become not shocking? When you watch Island of Death.

Making a list of everything controversial about the film doesn’t really prepare you for the film itself. I’ll say it again, the film isn’t bad. It has some dodgy acting (what exploitation film doesn’t?!), some really cheesy one-liners (‘God punishes perversion. And I am his angel with the flaming sword sent to kill dirty worms!’) and some unintentionally hilariously awful scenes, such as an incredibly unsexy sex scene in a phone booth (True Romance did it better) and some fellatio techniques on a gun (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls did it better). The problem is it isn’t very good either but somehow has a bizarre charm about it, probably down to the cinematically naive director Nico Mastorakis biting at some big ideas he didn’t quite know how to chew.

Island of Death is a film that you can’t turn off, something about it is compelling and makes you watch it all the way to the end. It doesn’t repel you, it doesn’t make you laugh, it’s just a very strange film. I defy anyone who watches it to not feel confused, a little dazed and (although no one will admit to it) a little turned on. By the time you get to the final fifteen minutes of the film and find out that Christopher and Celia are brother and sister, it doesn’t surprise you. In fact, one you start watching the film you realise that it could throw anything at you and you wouldn’t be surprised. Hell, the only surprise for me is the fact that I don’t know how to write about it!

Island of Death is just… weird. If you like weird then maybe watch it once in your life. If you’re completely narrow-minded, easily offended and live in a sterile bubble of a life, I wouldn’t bother. The film stays with you, for days. If not forever…

People Are Strange – Antony Balch’s ‘Secrets Of Sex’ (1969)

1 Mar

Secrets of Sex is a very strange film. Whilst it does have some sex in it and a lot of topless ladies, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a sex film. But that’s just what it is, having been released right at the start of a period of a few years that saw British sex films booming in adult theatres. The film is a series of short stories showing the war between the sexes to varying degrees, all the while being narrated by a mummy. As in an Egyptian mummy. The fact that this film was released in America under the title Bizarre really doesn’t surprise me one bit. The film really is bizarre.

The feature opens with a short prologue about a judge whose wife locks her lover in a trunk. After spending the night wondering what to do about it, the judge decides to bury the trunk and tosses the key to open it into the sea. A thousand years later, the mummified lover (who I’m assuming mummified himself…) then recounts different stories which show the two sexes battling against each other, his death the result of one such battle. Except that these stories don’t really feel sexy, but horrifically kinky. One see’s a lesbian photographer castrate a model using medieval torture equipment. Another has a young American man trying to get a prostitute to have a threesome with himself and a lizard. The film feels like the obscure bastard child of a horror anthology in the vein of Amicus or Hammer more than anything else.

Credit where credit is due though, director Antony Balch really knew a thing or two about audiences and exploitation films. This is the man who was responsible for buying the UK right to Freaks (1932) in the 1960s and distributed it once the BBFC had passed the film uncut in 1963. Prior to that, it had been banned in Britain for over thirty years. He screened an abridged version of Haxan (1922) and brought films by Russ Meyer and Ted V. Mikels into his two cinemas. Thanks to coverage in the press and some good film reviews, Secrets of Sex proved to be quite successful, running at Balch’s Jacey cinema for a solid six months. A strange British (I struggle to say it but I know many others have called it such) gem, this is well worth a watch at least once in your lifetime. I promise you, you will never forget it.

Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Should’nt’ve – Jonathan Yudis’s ‘Pervert!’ (2005)

29 Feb

I bloody love Amazon. It recommends me all sorts of exploitation goodness and sexy stuff thanks to what I buy every month. Sometimes Amazon gets it completely wrong and sometimes Amazon hits the nail on the head so perfectly I want it in plush form so I can give it some massive cuddle. The latest gem it pointed out to me was the 2005 Russ Meyer tribute Pervert! directed by Jonathan Yudis.

The film see’s college student James (Sean Andrews) return to his family’s desert ranch to help out his father, Hezekiah (Darrell Sandeen), for the summer. James finds that Hezekiah has gotten remarried to the rather busty Cheryl (porn star Mary Carey) but it doesn’t take long for Cheryl and James to hook up, only for Hezekiah to find out and fight with his wife over it. Then Cheryl disappears… Old man Hezekiah returns home from town with another voluptuous broad attached to his arm, Alisha, who also quickly falls for James. Then one night Cheryl turns up and dies in front of James, the same night that Hezekiah finds Alisha dead. What follows is a bizarre romp including bouncing breasts, a witch doctor, sculptures made of meat and a homicidal penis.

Pervert! is a horror-comedy-sexploitation film that Film Threat is quoted as saying ‘Smells like Russ Meyer’. Except that it doesn’t just smell of Meyer, the film reeks of it and for all the best reasons. For the seasoned Meyer fan, the film is full of references that will make you squeal with delight. The film opens with a mad preacher introducing the story that reminds you of Mudhoney (1965) and the evangelical preacher of Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979). Then there’s the desert ranch itself, a near copycat of the ranch in Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), complete with its own water tank (and, yes, Yudis even includes a scene of his leading lady washing by it that is shot exactly like Meyer’s shots of Lori Williams and Tura Satana doing the same). Mary Carey even has a scene which completely takes Satana’s corn on the cob eating scene from Faster Pussycat! and raises the bar a good fifty miles in the air. Not content with keeping the Meyer references at that, Yudis includes desert shots that look like they could have been lifted from Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1969) and Supervixens (1975) and a rattlesnake gag and cool pick up truck that wouldn’t be out-of-place in Motorpsycho (1965). Those were just the really obvious references, I couldn’t be bothered to list all of them when making notes!

It’s not just the very well done references to Meyer’s films that make the film so successful but the realised grindhouse/exploitation tone of the whole piece. The script is great, full of one liners and innuendo that are found across the sex comedy and sexploitation genre’s in general; ‘I’ve handled a lot of fruit in my time. It’s one thing I’ve never minded, it’s a little bruises and spots’ (Hezekiah when spanking Cheryl), ‘You’re a rotten constitution in the court of man!’. There is, of course, plenty of nudity with female forms that hark back to a time when stick thin wasn’t the ‘in thing’ and breasts that Meyer would obviously stamp with a seal of approval. In other words, beautiful, bouncy and big. Even the film’s opening, with the grainy and faded logo for production company Stag Films and campy Horny-14 (‘Approved for all perverts by the director of this film. Pregnant women and men with an erection at this point in the film should leave now.’) feels legitimately vintage in exploitation glory.

Let’s not forget to mention the acting which is tongue-in-cheek in all the right places. Andrews as Sean is fantastic playing the naive and possibly cursed (?) role that so many cute boys played in 60s/70s sex-horror films, all puppy dog eyes and innocence craving life experience. Carey is great as the spunky (excuse the pun) and sex-fuelled Cheryl, pulling the innocent girl next door card when necessary and who would have been a perfect Meyer candidate if we were still in the 70s. The rest of the female cast are also terrific, their slightly wooden delivery perfect for a film of this ilk with special mention going to Lucia whose role as the Uschi Digard/Kitten Natividad montage girl is nailed perfectly. Best of all is Sandeen as Hezekiah who is clearly channeling Stuart Lancaster’s role as The Old Man in Faster Pussycat! but still manages to put his own memorable spin on it.

The real star of the show, however, has to be the stop-motion murderous penis who wrecks havoc in the last half of the feature. This is definitely where Yudis’s previous experience working in comedy and animation really come to shine, the penis animated with much personality and a rough and ready style that suits the spirit and tone of the picture.All in all, a fabulous homage to the B-movies of sexploitation and horror and a wonderful tribute to the ‘King of the Nudies’ Russ Meyer, Pervert! is a must watch for any fan who enjoys what exploitation and grindhouse cinema used to bring to the big (and small) screen!

‘Rivelazioni di uno psichiatra sul mondo perverso del sesso’ (1973) review

24 Feb

I love recommendations, the chance to seek and hunt out films that you may never have found for yourself (although I’m still wondering why so many people thought I’d like Island of Death, blatantly the goat scene…). So when the lovely folk at VTSS sent me the present of an Italian film to watch, I was more than happy to give it a go. And with a title like Revelations of a Psychiatrist in the World of Sexual Perversion, I really could not wait…

So attempt number one came and then went rather abruptly. You see, Revelations… isn’t really a film with a plot but more of a chronicle of sexual perversions with a documentary feel. The overarching story is that the cases of sexual perversion are being discussed by a lecturer and his group of students. He reads off examples of each case and classmates discuss and debate, more in the tone that you are watching small filmic vignettes of Krafft-Ebing’s seminal piece of work ‘Psychopathia Sexualis’.

You can, then, imagine the type of stuff the film focuses on. Witness some bizarre scenes, like the man who likes to act and be treated like a dog, his face in a muzzle, nuzzling up to some pretty epic displays of 1970’s pubic topiary, or the woman who rubs a huge plush donkey up and down herself whilst masturbating. Yes, just like in Emanuelle in America there is a scene involving bestiality but that finishes almost as soon as it starts and if you can bear that for the sake of the rest of the film, you’re in for a treat (this is where attempt number one to watch the film stopped for me, when you’ve spent a week accidently stumbling upon things whilst doing research on a documentary on zoophiles, even this scene – which is rather tame I can bloody assure you – was enough…).

The rest of the film then explores other scenarios, perversions and fetishes. In your typical exploitation way you’ve got some glorified rape and a rather long but pretty good orgy sequence with a tonne of hardcore shots and lots of ejaculation. Add to that some slightly humorous escapades of individuals who like the thought of ironing out the female form (yes, a man, a prostitute and an iron…) and being a train. All of this, and more, interspaced between some genuine musings from the studies of Krafft-Ebing, Jung and Freud make for a rather interesting watch…

God, I love presents.