The Lickerish Quartet

1970 sex comedy

Rating: 11/20

Plot: In their big fancy castle, a middle-aged married couple watch a pornographic movie with their twenty-something son. The son objects; the father cracks jokes. Eventually, they decide to get out and walk to a carnival where they enjoy the stunt driving of a trio of motorcyclists. When the female driver removes her helmet, they recognize her as one of the actresses in the movie they were watching. At least they think it's her. Naturally, they take her back to the castle, have some really awkward conversations, and then show her the pornographic movie. The next morning [Spoiler Alert!], they all have sex with her. Individually, of course, because together would just be disturbing.

Came across this title in a "Cult Movies" book, and I can't say I'm really glad I did. It drools like the 1970s, weirdly alternating between jerk-off material smuttage to pretentious dick-with-the-audience arthouse flick. It's an Italian movie, and it has the feel of one even though the dialogue's in English. The acting is stilted, forced and awkward, and the writing doesn't help the actors out much. Observe:

Girl: Who has the gun?
Father: What gun?
Girl: To do the shooting?
Father: There isn't going to be any shooting.
Girl: Of course there is.
Father: Of course there isn't!

Actually, with dialogue like that, it's hard to imagine that this isn't a comedy. An artsy erotic comedy! I actually did laugh quite a bit if you stretch your definition of "laugh" to include scrunching up one's face and saying, "What the hell?" I really liked the father's butterfly joke and its subsequent no-reaction. And I agree with the father that watching erotic movies in reverse and at a higher speed is worthy of a hearty guffaw. And how can you really hate a movie with a magic show, a motorcycle stunt scene, a spirited game of hide and seek, and a shot of a python swallowing a baby pig? You can't. I won't complain about the nudity either. Star Silvana Venturelli's easy on the eyes. The taste I can't wash out of my eyes, however, is the visual of the father and the visitor rolling most unerotically on a library floor that happens to have the definitions of sexual terms all over it. That was following the foreplay which consisted of the couple throwing books at each other and the father resenting his son. Yeah, it's that kind of movie. Awesome song during that scene though, all layered psychedelic guitar noodling. There's some neat elements here, but the pretentious camera play, random shots of feet and people falling down the stairs, World War flashbacks, and the overuse of visual motifs just scream artsy-fartsy. It was like director Radley Metzger decided he better make The Lickerish Quartet artistic or risk offending his mother and, after realizing he had no story whatsoever, decided to just befuddle the audience by blending present and past, reality and fantasy, motorcycles and shadow puppets. "See, Mom? It's not pornographic. It's Art!" Unfortunately, the pseudo-intellectual erotic mess it adds up to is no more intelligent than the erotic mess I made while watching it.

How about that tagline, by the way? "Beyond the physical edge. . ."

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