Category Archives: Erotica

Night Games (1980)

night

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 0 out of 10

4-Word Review: Sex with masked stranger.

It’s not often that I can say this, but I personally know the man, Anton Diether, that’s credited with writing the screenplay (and story idea) for this film. He’s a member of the Austin Screenwriter’s group that I also attend. He’s harshly critical of everyone else’s screenplays, so I was intrigued to see something that he had written in order to ascertain if his stuff was any better. To give him credit I’ve asked him about this film many months back before I had seen it. He stated that director Roger Vadim had ‘ruined it’ and that he had a big fight with him on opening night when he realized how much Vadim had changed the original story. For his sake I hope he’s telling the truth because this thing is nothing I’d ever want my name to be attached to.

This was also intended at being a star making vehicle for Cindy Pickett, who’s excellent and seen quite a bit in the nude. Vadim was famous for directing films that turned his lady stars into international sex symbols like Bridgitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, and Jane Fonda as well as dating them and even marrying two of them. While Pickett did date Vadim as the film was being shot they quickly broke-up once it was over and it failed to make her a superstar like the other three, but much of that can be blamed on the lame script more than anything.

The story centers on Valerie (Cindy Pickett) who’s married to Hollywood producer Jason (Barry Primus). While their marriage may seem perfect to an outsider it’s filled with turmoil behind-closed-doors mainly because Valerie cannot have intimate relations with her husband due to still suffering from bad flashbacks of a rape that happened to her several years before. She is supposed to see a therapist to help her get through the traumatic experience, but she feels it’s not helping her enough, so she quits going. With their sex life stagnant Jason moves-out and goes on an extended ‘vacation’. Home alone Valerie begins hearing strange noises at night and convinced that an intruder has broken-in. She searches around, but doesn’t see anyone, but then the next night the intruder comes back wearing a mask and suit that makes him resemble a giant bird. Valerie finds herself put at ease with his presence and able to enjoy sex again without being tormented by her ugly memories.

The one thing that I did like was showing how difficult it is for the victim to get over a sexual assault. Sometimes people may never full recover from these types of events and this is one of the first films to tackle the post traumatic stress of it, so in that realm it should be applauded, but it never gives any details about the assailant, or whether he was ever caught, which I found frustrating.

The film though fails when it shows Valerie change into this promiscuous vamp who during the first half was hyper-paranoid about any man getting near here and yet when one appears in tacky costume late at night she’s cool with it and lets down her defenses completely. Most women who hadn’t been raped would be panicked at seeing a strange man wearing a wild getup in their home, so why isn’t Valerie and why the sudden flip in her personality, which are never answered (at least not sufficiently).

She also allows a man, played by Gene Davis, that she only knows very casually, to come-over to her place where she is all alone, so that she can paint a portrait of him in the nude. You’d think that if she has such anxiety around men that she wouldn’t do this. Anyone else would be concerned, at least a little, about the man taking advantage of the situation, but Valerie doesn’t until it’s too late, which again given her past doesn’t make any sense.

Spoiler Alert!

The twist ending, where it’s found that the guy in the bird suit is really Sean (Paul Jenkins) a friend and collaborator to Valerie’s husband, is by far the stupidest thing about it. For one thing Sean is shown downing large amounts of alcohol constantly making it seem like he’d barely be able to stand-up let alone make love, or beat-up another man who is much younger and better built. It’s also quite clear that even with his clothes on Sean is middle-aged with a potbelly, but when he’s playing the bird man his stomach is flat and muscular. This is because these scenes were done by a stand-in named Mark Hanks, but the viewer is supposed to believe that it’s really Sean, so why is the body type so different?

For these reasons and for the incredibly corny wrap-up, which should win the award for corniest ending ever, is why this movie was a definite career killer for Vadim whose talent was already considered overrated even before this one came-out.

My Rating: 0 out of 10

Released: April 11, 1980

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Roger Vadim

Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Available: DVD-R (j4hi.com)

Love Scenes (1984)

love1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 0 out of 10

4-Word Review: Aging actress does erotica.

Val (Tiffany Bolling) is an accomplished Hollywood actress who gets pressured by her husband Peter (Franc Luz) to perform the starring role in the latest movie that he’s directing. Peter’s producer Sidney (Jack Carter) wants Val to do a nude scene, which he feels will generate enough controversial attention that it will get people ‘lining-up around the block’ to see it. Val resists at first, but finally agrees. However, once the movie starts filming she finds she that she’s turned-on by her co-star Rick (Daniel Pilon) and instead of rebuffing him like the script calls for the two make-out. Peter likes the energy that the scene creates and decides to leave it in and then, much to the disappointment of screenwriter Belinda (Julie Newmar), rewrites the story to accommodate the clear attraction that the two stars have for each other. In the process it begins pushing Val and Rick more and more towards each other and the two start having an affair off-screen. By the time the self-absorbed Paul realizes this he fears it may be too late to save their marriage.

Incredibly sterile story, despite the saucy elements, that seems to be aimed at an audience from a bygone era that felt nudity onscreen was ‘shocking’ and having affairs, or even thinking of someone else besides one’s spouse in a lustful way to be ‘scandalous’. The film that they’re making, which is supposed to be ‘envelope pushing’ is benign soap opera stuff and the sex scenes, in comparison to all the raunchy teen comedies that came-out in that same decade, would barely excite or turn-on anyone.

My biggest beef was the unrealistic way it portrays the business. Instead of exposing the real ins-and-outs like it should’ve they focus on the way they think audiences presumed it works. Case-in-point is Belinda who gets offered $50,000, which would be $142,577 in today’s dollars, to write the script even though she has no experience. Later she becomes outraged when they require her to do rewrites and then irate, to the point of walking-off the set, when the actors ad-lib their lines instead of reading them verbatim despite the fact that these things are quite common during filming and since she used to be a movie actress before turning to screenwriting she would’ve known that.

While Bolling gives a  good performance I had a lot of issues with her character. She seems genuinely thrown-off when she becomes attracted to her co-star despite this happening more than you think and a great example of it would be Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, so why is this supposedly veteran actress so naive about this phenomenon? If she’d been faking orgasms for 5 years with her husband as she admits to I would’ve thought her eyes would’ve been wandering a hell of a lot sooner than it does anyways. She also gets shocked when her friend, played by Britt Ekland, confesses to being into other women even though in Hollywood gay people have always been quite prevalent and this admission wouldn’t be anything wild to hear and yet she acts like it’s a ‘weird’ concept that she needs time to adjust to almost like she’d been living in a cave.

Jack Carter gives a funny performance as a cigar chomping producer, which of course is an extreme caricature, but at least he’s amusing. Had the film tried to be a satire the concept might’ve worked and maybe even been entertaining, but going the soap opera route makes it shallow and torturous to sit through.

My Rating: 0 out of 10

Released: September 10, 1984

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Bud Townsend

Studio: Playboy Productions

Available: DVD-R (dvdlady.com)

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out 10

4-Word Review: He fails at monogamy.

Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a successful surgeon living in Prague during the 1960’s who has a way with the ladies. He enjoys his robust sex life, but then falls for the awkward and plain Tereza (Juliette Binoche) and the two get married even as Tomas continues to see other women on the side. Tereza becomes upset by this and threatens to leave him only for the two to get swept up into the events of the Prague Spring where Soviet tanks invade their country. They escape to Switzerland but Tereza is unhappy there as well and moves back to Czechoslovakia with Tomas later following. Although their living conditions under communist rule are harsh they still find that their mutual love keeps them happy anyways.

Although masterfully directed by Philip Kaufman I still found the characters to be poorly etched. Tomas’ ability to get beautiful women to literally throw themselves at him never gets properly explained. Yes he is good-looking, but there are a lot of handsome guys who aren’t able to get women to shed their clothes for them at seemingly the snap-of-the-finger. Some clear social skill or persuasive ability had to be shown and clarified to make the women’s behavior more understandable, but this never effectively gets addressed. The scene where Tereza gets ‘overpowered’ by Tomas’ aura when all he is doing is sitting at a table in a café reading a book, but it’s enough to get her to run up to him and tell him she’s available is a big stretch and makes this supposedly profound movie look like it was built on a very superficial foundation.

There’s also the question as to why Tomas would want to marry Tereza to begin with. This is a guy who can literally get any beautiful woman he wants so why settle for the dowdy/shy Tereza? What is it about her, or about his inner mind that would want to make him commit to her and not the others?

His relationship with Sabina (Lena Olin), who is his independent- minded off-again-on-again lover is far more believable and kind of made me wonder why Tereza even needed to be in the mix at all. As much as I liked Sabina I did find the storyline dealing with her budding relationship with Franz (Derek de Lint) to be rather unengaging. However the friendship that blossoms between her and Tereza as well as the underlying lesbian subtext is interesting and yet the film introduces this in a very long, drawn-out segment inside Sabina’s apartment only to then drop it without ever exploring it to its satisfying and full conclusion.

On the technical side it’s a splendid production. I particularly liked the imagery of the tanks rolling into the city and how Tomas and Tereza’s presence gets cropped into actual footage of the real-life event and how seamlessly it goes between black-and-white and color. Sven Nykvist’s cinematography is a marvel. Initially I felt his talents were wasted as the camera only captures the bleak colorless surroundings of old-town Prague, but then when the couple returns to the city after their brief foray in Switzerland the decay and grayness becomes even more pronounced and helps convey visually the depressing feeling of the communist oppression.

The film, which is based on the novel of the same name by Milan Kundera, has an interesting message, but it failed to give me as a viewer any type emotional impact. I was never able to understand what made these characters tick. This might’ve gotten better addressed in the novel, which I didn’t read, but gets lost in translation here and ends up hurting the provocative imagery that to some degree gets a bit over-the-top anyways. This could also help explain why despite being on the set as an ‘advisor’ Kundera expressed displeasure with the film version and refused to help promote it.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: February 5, 1988

Runtime: 2Hours 53Minutes

Rated R

Director: Philip Kaufman

Studio: Orion Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

9 1/2 Weeks (1986)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: A sexually charged relationship.

Elizabeth (Kim Basinger), a curator at a New York art gallery and recently divorced, meets John (Mickey Rorke) one day while shopping at a seafood place. Elizabeth is turned-on by John’s mysterious aura and they commence into having a torrid sexual affair that turns kinky, but eventually she becomes burnt-out by it and finds that besides the sex there is very little that they have in common.

The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Ingeborg Day under the pseudonym of Elizabeth MacNeil, which in turn was based on actual events that occurred to her when she was kept a virtual prisoner in her lover’s home for a period of two and a half months. The movie tones down the prisoner aspect and concentrates more on the erotic one, but the result is a confusing story that meanders without saying much of anything. The film was shelved for over two years because it kept getting bad responses from test audiences and constantly sent back to the studio for re-editing. When it was finally released it bombed badly at the box office.

The sexual aspect is tame and in these jaded times may even be considered laughable. The kink relies mainly on the use of blind folds and food items with the sex done from a feminine viewpoint that might arouse women, but unlikely to do the same for a man. The sexual games, as tepid as they are, get portrayed as being empowering to Elizabeth and something that allows her to release her ‘inner freak’, but I kept wondering what was John supposed to be getting out of all of this while she cavorts around naked or sucks provocatively on various food items. Maybe he was a voyeur that simply enjoyed watching and if so then it should’ve been made clearer because he comes off as nothing more than a transparent bystander otherwise.

We learn nothing about Elizabeth as the film progresses and her constantly giggly, screechy behavior makes her seem more like an immature schoolgirl and not a sophisticated, educated Manhattanite in her mid-30’s. She’s also too passive and easily manipulated without any reason given for why this is. Basinger’s performance is dull with a stunt double used during most of the sex scenes. Margaret Whitton who plays her best friend would’ve been far better in Basinger’s role because at least she shows some spunk and seemed genuinely human while Basinger is more like a zombie.

For a film with such strong erotic overtones there is surprisingly very little of it to see. The sex scenes show up in bits and pieces and then last for only a few minutes. In-between there’s long meandering segments that has nothing to do with the central theme and isn’t particularly interesting. The most memorable moment involves a conversation between Rourke and a bedding saleswoman (Justine Johnston) and even here things get botched because in one shot Rourke inadvertently knocks a vase off of a back shelf when he hops onto a bed in a showroom and then in the very next shot that same vase has magically gotten placed back.

I enjoyed the way director Adrian Lyne frames his shots as well as his color compositions and the provocative concept has a tantalizing quality, but Lyne seems confused about exactly what kind of message he wants to make with it and I think he was hoping that it would somehow manifest itself as the film progressed, but it never does. Bitter Moon, a film that came out 6 years later and had roughly the same idea, is far more impactful and worth your time in seeking out.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: February 21, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 57Minutes (Director’s Cut)

Rated R

Director: Adrian Lyne

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

House on Straw Hill (1976)

house-on-straw-hill-1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10      

4-Word Review: Writer battles his secretary.

Paul (Udo Kier) is a writer who had success with his first novel and now working on his much anticipated second one. To help him get the manuscript done faster he hires a secretary (Linda Hayden) who comes to his isolated, countryside home to type it up, but the two don’t get along. Soon Paul becomes convinced that she is out to kill him and he just may be right.

This pseudo horror film has an enticing visual style.  I liked the close-up shots of the typewriter keys banging on the paper as well as the giant wheat field surrounding the home, which to a degree helps create an interesting atmosphere, but writer/director James Kenelm Clarke goes back to these things too often eventually making the film one-dimensional and monotonous.

The film is also loaded with a lot of explicit sex. If this were a porno then that would be great, but for an intended horror film it goes off the mark completely. We really don’t need to see Linda constantly masturbating. Having Paul find a dildo in her suitcase as he does would’ve been enough. Linda’s ultimate seduction of Paul’s girlfriend (Fiona Richmond) in a provocative lesbian sequence is completely pointless to the story and clearly just done to grab the crowd that’s into watching mindless sleaze.

The characters come off as weird, half-human caricatures whose motivations and actions are confusing. Both Paul and Linda needed to be better fleshed out for the viewer to have any compelling reason to care what happens to either one of them. The scene where Linda masturbates in the wheat field and is then attacked and raped by some locals only for her to turn-the-tables on them and kill them is particularly stupid because she is somehow able to immediately compose herself afterwards and come back to the house and act like it never happened when with anyone else it would’ve been an emotionally traumatic experience that would’ve taken months maybe even years to get over if even then.

The film’s twist ending is particularly weak and the film should’ve used flashbacks and other subtle clues to help the viewer figure it out for themselves the reasons for Linda’s motivations instead of having it all explained to them by her at the end. I also didn’t like the title as it is too reminiscent to Straw Dogs, which also took place in a remote home in the English countryside and dealt with a rape by some of the local thugs. This might’ve been intentional, but it was a big mistake because it just reminds the viewer of that movie, which was far better.

house-on-straw-hill-2

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Alternate Titles: Trauma, Expose

Released: March 15, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 24Minutes

Rated X

Director: James Kenelm Clarke

Studio: Norfolk International Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray

Private Lessons (1981)

private lessons

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Housekeeper seduces a minor.

Mallow (Sylvia Kristel) is an English nanny working for a rich client named Fillmore (Ron Foster) who gets involved in a scheme with the family’s chauffer Lester (Howard Hesseman) to seduce Fillmore’s 15-year-old son Philly (Eric Brown). The idea is for her to fake having a heart attack during their lovemaking and convince Philly that he has killed her and then Lester will blackmail him to take $10,000 out of the family’s safe and give it to him has hush money for not reporting it to the police, but Philly is smarter than they think and not only catches onto their scheme, but has a double-cross in store for them as well.

The idea of having an adult making love to a minor most likely wouldn’t have gotten the green light today. To me it reeked of being a major double-standard. If the genders had been reversed and it had been a 15-year-old girl seduced by an older man this thing would’ve been considered obscene and banned, but because it involves a teen boy with ‘raging hormones’ instead that somehow makes it ‘okay’ and is approached as being nothing more than an innocuous sexual ‘coming-of-age’ flick, which I found to be both annoying and aggravating.

The scene involving the young Brown getting naked and hopping into the tub with the equally naked Kristel where they then fondle and kiss each other seemed like child erotica and will most likely make viewers today who are now much more sensitive on this topic feel uncomfortable to watch. The ending in which the two go to bed together in a very drawn out sensual segment that is done under a romantic context is downright smarmy. Viewers wanting to watch this simply to catch Kristel naked will be disappointed to know that most of her nude scenes where done using a body double named Judy Helden.

The script was written by Dan Greenburg, who also appears briefly as a seedy hotel owner and based on his 1969 novel ‘Philly’. He is a noted humorist who eight years earlier wrote the script to the film with the quirky title of I Could Never Have Sex with any Man Who has Such Little Respect for My Husband. For the most part this film is rather bland, but manages to pick up a bit during the second half when the story twist kicks in that at the very least makes it better than most other teen sex comedies, which are usually devoid of any discernable plot at all.

The script though is full of holes. For one thing it is highly doubtful that a rich parent would give their child a combination to a safe that has tons of money in it and there is never any explanation of what was put into the body bag that is hoisted into the ground and buried when Lester was still tricking Philly into believing it was the dead Mallow. Obviously it wasn’t her, so what was used to make it seem like a dead body? The film never says, but should’ve. Also, I found it hard to believe that Mallow and Philly could go out to a fancy restaurant and make out with each other openly in a booth and not have it create a stir and distraction with the other patrons especially when it was clearly involving an adult and a minor.

Brown whose only other claim to fame was playing Ken Berry’s son in the first two seasons of ‘Mama’s Family’ gives an engaging performance, but I couldn’t help but wonder what his parents where feeling and thinking during the love scenes. It’s also interesting to see Hesseman who wears a wig and has his mustache dyed brown in a rare turn as a heavy. Begley Jr. gets a few kudos in his attempt to play a ‘tough guy’ cop and Dan Barrows makes the most of his small role as the family’s gardener.

The film has a surprisingly great soundtrack that feature a lot of hits from the day which include: ‘Hot Legs’, ‘Tonight’s the Night’ and ‘You’re in My Heart’ by Rod Stewart as well as ‘Just When I Needed You the Most’ by Randy Van Warmer, ‘I Need a Lover’ by John Cougar, ‘Fantasy’ by Earth, Wind and Fire, ‘Next Time You See Her’ by Eric Clapton and ‘Lost in Love’ by Air Supply. How such a low budget movie was able to pay for the rights to these songs is a mystery, but it defiantly adds pizazz and helps give the film an extra point.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: August 28, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: Alan Myerson

Studio: Jensen Farley Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu

The Killing of Sister George (1968)

killing of sister george

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: TV character gets axed.

June Buckridge (Beryl Reid) is an aging actress playing the character of Sister George a scooter riding nun in a long running British TV soap opera. Her character no longer has the popularity that it once had and the producers have decided to kill her off by having her die in an ugly road crash with a truck. June is upset with this news as at her age parts are hard to come by and she takes her frustrations out on Childie (Susannah York) her much younger live-in lesbian lover, but she may lose her as well as one of the show’s producers Mercy (Coral Browne) has inklings to lure Childie away from June so she can have her all to herself.

After the immense box office success of The Dirty Dozen writer/director Robert Aldrich was given free rein to start up his own production company and he choose this as his first project. In many ways it is quite similar to his earlier and more well-known film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, but with sexual undertones. The film is based on the Frank Marcus play of the same name that ran for 205 performances and was nominated for the 1967 Tony Award. For its time this was considered quite controversial and groundbreaking especially the final scene that features a highly explicit sex scene between two women. It also is the first film to have a character utter the word ‘bullshit’ and one of the first to say the word ‘fuck’. Although the word itself gets drowned out by a car horn you can still clearly tell by reading Reid’s lips what she is saying.

The three female leads and their snarky exchanges with each other are the film’s chief asset especially Reid who recreates the same character that she played in the stage version that netted her a Tony. Her emotional, angry outbursts are entertaining and the scene where she forces Childie to eat and swallow the butt of her cigarette as ‘punishment’ is still quite edgy. Browne is equally good specifically during her provocative love scene with York, which was made all the more daring since she was 30 years older than York at the time.

The film’s overall staginess is a drawback. Many scenes are too talky and should’ve been trimmed while York and Reid’s Laurel and Hardy routine could’ve been cut out completely. Flashbacks showing how they first met would’ve helped and there needed to be an explanation to the weird child-like manner of York’s character, which quite possibly was based on an age-old gay stereotype. I also didn’t like the foreboding quality of the music that gets played just before Browne and York have their lesbian love scene, which seemed to suggest that something ‘creepy’ and ‘unnatural’ was about to take place and convinced me that despite the daring and ahead-of-its-time nature of the subject that the filmmakers themselves still had some very dated ideas about gays much like the majority of people from that era.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 12, 1968

Runtime: 2Hours 18Minutes

Rated X (Reissued as R)

Director: Robert Aldrich

Studio: Cinerama Releasing Corporation

Available: DVD

Crimes of Passion (1984)

crimes of passion

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Moonlighting as a hooker.

Bobby (John Laughlin) is suffering from marital problems at home while also having trouble keeping up with his kid’s expenses, so he looks for a part-time job and gets hired by Lou Bateman (Norman Burton) an owner of a fashion clothing studio to work as a private investigator by following around one of his designer’s named Joanna (Kathleen Turner) who he is convinced is selling his patents to a competitor. What Bobby finds instead is that Joanna is actually working as a hooker in the seedy red light district and using the name of China Blue, which gets Bobby more infatuated with her. Soon they are locked into a passionate affair, but unaware that China/Joanna is also being stalked by a crazy street preacher named Peter Shayne (Anthony Perkins) who is suffering from demons of his own while also harboring strange ideas on how to ‘save her’.

The film, which is directed by Ken Russell who can sometimes be brilliant and other times horribly self-indulgent, is annoying from the beginning. The recreation of a therapy group is wooden and artificial and the sex scenes are over-the-top with characters that are one-dimensional and poorly fleshed out. The gaudy color schemes and flashing lights used to recreate the seedy hotel look quickly become repetitive and irritating. It’s hard to tell whether Russell is trying to be serious or campy, but it’s a mad mixture that ends up being a pointless mess. Rick Wakeman’s obnoxious electronic music score and the cliché ridden Psycho-like finale simply add insult to injury.

The script by Barry Sandler is shallow and filled with plot devices that make no sense. Rarely do prostitutes ever fall in love with one of their clients and many create a defense to keep that part of their lives separate from their personal one and vice-versa, so the fact that Joanna and Bobby get into a relationship so quickly and seamlessly while failing to explain why she would find Bobby so ‘special’ out of all the other men she had already had indiscriminate sex with makes this dumb movie even more absurd. It’s also hard to believe that Joanna would be such a great employee as she is described to be by her boss when she is going out every night having sex with strange men at all hours. I would think at some point she’d become exhausted and her productivity at her day job would be effected. I also thought it was a bit goofy why someone would hire Bobby as a private investigator to begin with when he had no experience in that area.

Annie Potts gives the film’s all-around best performance particularly during a strong scene involving her character in bed with Bobby and her roundabout way of admitting that he no longer satisfies her. Laughlin is okay, but bland and the segment where he dresses up as a giant penis having an erection is downright embarrassing. Perkins is fun as the flamboyantly weird reverend and I got a kick out of his singing as well as his bag full of sex toys, but in the end it’s just a bad rendition of Norman Bates that typecasts him while discrediting his earlier more serious efforts.

The scene where China visits an old man who has only a few months to live is the movie’s one and only interesting moment. Had there been more of a history shown to Joanna’s character and why this seemingly intelligent woman did what she did I might’ve have been able to get into it more instead of being completely bored with it. The sexual imagery was considered quite ‘shocking’ and explicit for 1984 standards, but now comes off as benign and hooky especially since one can find far more graphic stuff simply by casually surfing any one of the thousands of porn sites on the internet today.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: October 19, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 47Minutes

Rated R

Director: Ken Russell

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD

The Fourth Man (1983)

the fourth man 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: She kills her husbands.

This movie is just about the ultimate in the femme fatale genre as it deals with a temptress (Renee Soutendijk) who marries men who all end up dying in freak accidents. Now she has seduced a fourth one, will he be next?

It is rare to say that you know it is going to be a good movie from the very moment it starts, but that is the case here. The film’s opening could very well be one of the most impressive of all-time as it begins with a startling view of a close-up of an actual spider trapping a fly on its web and then devouring it to the sound of a pounding electronic score that becomes the best part of the whole movie.

The rest of the film works pretty much on the same level with scenes that are provocatively lit and designed as well as a running sensuality that at times is both erotic and perverse. The flowing narrative jumps between reality and dreamy imagery that eventually blend into one and has an underlying subversive nature that keeps you riveted.

The characters are interesting because they work against their gender stereotypes and have a certain ongoing duel with each other. The woman has short hair and a square face and almost comes off looking like a man. She knows how to use her seductive powers and is always in complete control without ever showing any vulnerability. The man is weak and helpless while trying to mask it with an arrogant intellectual veneer.

The ending is the film’s only big letdown as it is too low-key and doesn’t match the energy of the rest of the film while also wrapping things up a little too nicely. A big showdown between the two main characters would have been much more satisfying.

The special effects are weak and help to expose the film’s low budget, but the film is still fun with a snazzy art house flair that became a breakout picture for director Paul Verhoeven.

The movie also contains a shocking scene involving a life-sized crucifix that some may consider blasphemous even though in the end the film’s message is actually spiritually affirming.

the fourth man

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: March 24, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 42Minutes

Rated NC-17

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Studio: International Spectrafilms

Available: VHS, DVD

Sweet Movie (1974)

sweet movie

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Every fetish is shown

Unfairly labeled as excessive and perverse, this film is really a fascinating and intricate study into the recesses of the sexual mind. It looks at sex in all its complexities and exposes it as a very primal need with a personality of its own.

The film starts off with an amusing satire on the media and how they have commercialized sex. It involves a game show were a rich millionaire must choose which female virgin he would like for a wife and even has a doctor on hand to examine them and make sure each one is genuine.

This becomes the ongoing theme, which is how society loves to ‘package’ sex and yet really can’t. Director Dusan Makavejev feels that the sexual instinct is too deep to be able to channel completely. The rest of the film goes off on wild tangents that may not make sense to some, but the intent is not to tap into the logical mind, but instead the sexual senses. In the process it tries to bring out the sexual side of the viewer by digging deeply into their own subconscious mind.

The final result is an almost non-stop barrage of unique, lasting visuals. Some are funny, stimulating and at times even grotesque. Yet sex has all these qualities so any movie realistically dealing with it should have it as well. Overall despite the controversial approach it becomes lyrical, compelling, and quite well-shot.

By not boxing sex into any type of ‘standard’ is what makes this different from just about any other erotic film out there. Most directors seem to feel that two sweating bodies between satin sheets are all you need to make a film ‘sexy’. Here you get something much more daring and expansive by showing sex in both its beauty and ugliness. Outside of bestiality and necrophilia just about every other fetish gets examined including interracial sex, sex with minors (never shown, but strongly implied), food sex, vomiting, scatology, water sports, and even violent sex. Sometimes it gets vulgar yet still remains provocative and fascinating to the more open-minded.

Star Carole Laure is incredibly beautiful and submits herself to her demanding role with a reckless abandon that is refreshing if not unprecedented and helps make the film impactful.

There’s some really amazing sequences including having Laure carted around in a suitcase with only her head sticking out. This is also one those rare films outside of Paul Morrissey’s Trash that features more shots of the male genitals than the females.

Obviously there will be those that will find the whole thing disgusting and offensive as it is very explicit even by today’s standards. This film could very well go beyond most people’s ‘comfort zones’ so I don’t want to suggest it to anyone unless they are fully prepared for what they are about to see, but for those who are game it could come off as a unique one-of-a-kind experience.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: June 12, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 38Mintues

Rated NC-17

Director: Dusan Makavejev

Studio: Maran Film

Available: DVD (The Criterion Collection)