1975 pornographic epic

Rating: 14/20

Plot: People stranded at the old house of a perverse woman have sexual intercourse in various ways and worry about rampaging circus animals.

Here's one of the most unusual film experiences for me in recent memory. I saw this on blu-ray at a suburban library and saw George Kuchar's name on it which intrigued me enough to check it out. It certainly is an oddity.

First, it's 2 hours and 40 minutes long. Sure, there's nothing wrong with a movie being that long, but a movie like this should not be that long. It alternates between a folks-trapped-in-a-big-house-on-a-stormy-night-movie parody to melodrama to pornography without warning. And I'm no prude. I'm not talking about R-rated stuff here like I'm some kind of church lady screaming "Pornography!" because Harry Potter kissed somebody. This throws in everything but the kitchen sink although I might be forgetting a scene where a character indeed has intercourse with a kitchen sink. It wouldn't surprise me anyway. There's all kinds of sex, a little masturbation, and even a scene where a gorilla gives a guy a hand job. But, of course, it's not just 2 hours and 40 minutes of sleaze. No, the sex scenes are juxtaposed with some of the most inane dialogue you're ever likely to hear. The characters are odd, but what they say is odder. They all speak in a sort of stilted, almost theatrical way that made the whole thing even stranger. Take this bit of monologue from Gert, the lady of the house:

"Who is it? Who's that knocking at my door? Is it you, Mr. Maple Tree? Is it the wind making you bang your branches against my door?"

Or, "I'm going to cleanse you with the waters that are in such a profusion tonight. How many days and nights has your womanly body been deprived of a washcloth?"

Or, "These doors have not felt human knuckles for a long time."

It's like Kuchar, who did the screenplay, thinks he's writing Shakespeare or something. Nobody talked like that in the 1970s, and more than likely, nobody ever talked like that in any decade. Some of the dialogue is very close to hilarious, intentionally hilarious. There's an exchange where they're talking about a lion and whether or not it's harmless. The circus guy says it's "as harmless as a toothless old lady" and a character answers about a toothless woman who "blasted her husband with six rounds of buckshot last spring." Some of this stuff seems like it's an homage to the Marx Brothers or something. How about this exchange?

Character: "You mean you let some nun stick an elephant syringe in your organ while your husband beats his meat and waits?"
Other Character: My husband does not beat his meat! He fluctuates his firmness."

Or this exchange:

Character: "That's the second time that you've flown off the handle tonight. The first time is when I wanted to show you that tattoo on my thigh."
Other: "I told you at the time that I had no interest whatsoever in looking at a tattoo of a dodo bird."
Character: "But they're extinct! You can't see them anymore!"
Other: "I'm well aware of that, but I think that having one tattooed on your hairy thigh is in extremely poor taste, especially considering that the species has vanished forever."
Character: "But my thigh isn't hairy!"

And then there's the style. The black and white, along with some creative camera work, gives the film an artsy-fartsy look. There's even one scene, a flashback where a woman is talking about her husband being attacked by locusts, that looks like something straight out of a Guy Maddin film! At times, it's like Bob Guccione, Maddin, the Marx Brothers, and John Waters found a gorilla costume and decided to get together and make a movie.

I wouldn't recommend this to a lot of people and even felt obligated to warn the library employees about it even though I'm anti-censorship. However, for certain kinds of cinephiles, this is going to hit a lot of sweet spots and is a real oddball of a movie that I'm extremely pleased to have stumbled across.

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