mardi 18 mai 2010
Nunsploitation movies were in fact close to the Women in prison films that cashed in the exploitation of sado-masochism content in Men’s Adventure magazines. “The WIP genre was born from the 8mm hardcore kink loops shown at quarter peep booths. Produced by P.O box companies with cryptic names these loops depicted women receiving punishment as well as dishing it out” (B. Landis &M. Clifford, op cit, p. 242) . After early attempts to feminize the prison film (Reform School Girl of 57, etc.), S&M emerged in Franco’s 99 Women (1969) and its depiction of whippings, lesbianism and collective showers that would remain the iconic topoï of the genre. Jack Hill systematized the generic prototype in Big Doll House (1971), where brutal torture sessions that include whippings and sweatboxes succeed each other until the final and violent bust-out. Like a living set of S&M stills, the picture established lifelong personae for its cast members, opposing busty sadist Pam Grier to her masochistic foil Roberta Collins in a combination that would immediately return in Gerardo de Leon’s Women in Cages (1972) and in Hill’s The Big Bird Cage . The film’s raison d’être is to show the women put to forced labor in rice paddies or in the title contraption. “Everyone is outfitted in halter tops, cutoffs, or torn clothing. Footwear is nonexistent. The hostile S&M template of ugly, sexually disgusting men tormenting abundantly sexy, idealized, unattainable women is set up. The male oppressors are either incapable of having sex with women or are borderline rapist or homosexual (…). The vicious warden is a caricature of the decayed, impotent sadist who in real life would be buying Olga stills at Movie Star News” (B. Landis &M. Clifford, op cit, p. 245).
While the genre was wildly popularized by Jonathan Demme's first feature Caged Heat (1974), made for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, the S&M trend was increasingly present, as shown in Franco’s Slaves in Cages (1974) that became an instant classic in the growing subculture, following a bitch-training ritual before private live shows of extreme bondage, intercut with scenes of supersadist Sideburns’ daily routine. Metafictional as Franco’s best works, the film confronts the voyeur with his own pleasure in a concise and blunt presentation of erotic wish fulfillment. Franco would go on with Barbed Wire Dolls (1976) and its famous electroshock torture of Lina Romay that rings like a disturbing echo of fascist South-American regimes a year after the other Franco’s death. Beyond generic iconicity and political symbolism it’s also “the director’s own perverted, impassioned cinema verité document of his daily job: framing his wife in torture tableaux” (id, p. 182) .
The film’s entire raison d’être is “to show the women put to forced labor in rice paddies or in the title contraption. Everyone is outfitted in halter tops, cutoffs, or torn clothing. Footwear is nonexistent. The hostile S&M template of ugly, sexually disgusting men tormenting abundantly sexy, idealized, unattainable women is set up. The male oppressors are either incapable of having sex with women or are borderline rapist or homosexual” (id, p. 245). In a typical Franco metafictional hint the vicious warden becomes “a caricature of the decayed, impotent sadist who in real life would be buying Olga stills at Movie Star News” (id, ibid).
mardi 4 mai 2010
S&M iconography also invaded “female roughies” like the Ginger sequel The Abductors (1972) where thugs kidnap 3 cheerleaders and deliver them to a high-class white slave organization, standard “generator” that goes on in hard-boiled sot-porn as The Candy Snatchers (1974). Rape was an absolute obsession of the times, from westerns and detective movies to the “rape and revenge” subgenre or utter sexploitation like German Cry Rape (1974) or the Greek The Rape Killer (1976). Misogyny exploded in its most basic form, getting rid of the constitutive theatricality of S&M rituals but showing the brutality of male fantasies, eerily reminiscent of those studied by Thiewellert through the Nazi Freierkorps intimate journals.
The alternate subgenre of withcraft, reminiscent of Enlightenment and Romantic pornography, would bring a mini-genre of Italian possessions Un angelo per Satana, la Sorella de Satana and the “nasty witch-hunting” subgenre of Adrian Hoven’s Hexen bis aufs Blut Gequaelt and Hexen Geschandet und zu Tode Gequaelet (1969). “Rather than explore the links between sexuality, sadism and cinema as a spectacle, these films simply deploy gross brutality in a fantasy regime that poses emaciated and broken female bodies as ideal images of women and the rippling muscles of the “macho” man as the ideal of masculinity” (P. Hardy, op cit, p. 255).
The trend melted with the other S&M subgenre of Nunsploitation, as in Franco’s Les possédées du diable (1974) or Bernardo Aria’s El Inquisidor (1975) and the “heretic” cycle (Alucarda, Flavia la Monaca, La monaca che uccide, etc.) before incorporating elements of the Satanist revival (Riti Magie Nere, Satan’s Slave, To the Devil a Daughter; L’ossessa/sexorcist and Franco’s pornographic Sexorcismes) . Interestingly enough, Ed Wood's final film was the low-budget, occult porn (or 'smut') film Necromania (1971), subtitled “A Tale of Weird Love”, shot in less than a week in two versions (soft-core and hard-core). It told the story of Danny and Shirley, a young couple who visited a mysterious necromancer named Madame Heles (in her sex clinic and funeral parlor) to solve the couple's sexual problems. The hands-on lessons they were taught in the simplistic, weird film involved a coven of witches, simulated sex with painted skulls, topless chanting and spells, and an extended sex scene in a coffin.
Anticlerical in the line of classical libertine erotica and Gothicism, those films claim to show the hard-edge of Western de-Christianization but are in fact delighted by the Christian iconography of transgression, sadism and torture (Le couvent infernal, Bacchanales infernales or Mario Mercier’s La papesse ).