samedi 6 mars 2010

Sadean Superwoman

Simultaneously the Seventies sexploitation brings to a climax the previous influences of psychotronia, creating a real “counter-cultural” universe with its own temples and rituals in Paris, London or New York, reverently evoked by Landis and Clifford in Sleazoid Express. The sex and horror subgenre was one of the main platforms of this shift towards explicit sado-masochism, turning “even weirder and wilder in order to compete with the explicit attractions of porno” (1). Following the Jean Rollin cycle of lyrical sadean poems (Le viol du vampire, 1967 ; La vampire nue 1969, Le frisson des vampires 1970) and the Hammer reinvention of sex vampires (Vampire Lovers and Lust for the Vampire, 1970) Eurosleaze horror followed, specially Spanish: Jess Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos 1970 and Les Avaleuses 1973, José Larraz’s Vampyres 1974, “the ultimate aggressive Eurosex movie, with terminal sex central to its mix”(2). The female vampire ruled, obsession of the Decadent femme fatale as a male anguished reaction to the feminist emancipation of the seventies but also echo of the deep masochistic appeal to the maternal figure of the dominatrix.

The Sadean superwoman (Juliette, as opposed to the super-victim Justine) had many figures, from countess Bathory in La comtesse perverse (J. Franco 1973), in Walerian Borowcyzk’s episode from Immoral Tales (1974) and in Jorge Grau’s Ceremonia Sangrienta (The Female Butcher aka Countess Dracula, 1972) to literary adaptations of Sacher-Masoch’s Wanda in Venus in Furs, shot in 1967 (J. Manzano) then in 1969 by Franco. The sexy horror genre also characterized the psychotronic cult of Sade that emerged in biopics (starting with 1969’s De Sade), explicit adaptations of his work (specially Franco who shot Justine twice, first in 1969 and in a more explicitly hardcore fashion, integrating Klaus Kinski as the fantasizing Marquis himself, in 1975) or implicit references (Franco’s Eugénie, etc.). Departing from the super-villain persona of The Skull (1965), de Sade was becoming “the fitting icon for the hedonism of the new liberalism” (3).

(1) C. Tohill et P. Tombs, Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies 1956-1984, Primitive Press, 1994, p. 5
(2) B. Landis &M. Clifford, op cit, p. 188
(3) T. Krzywinska, Sex and the Cinema, London: Wallflower Press, 2006: 198

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