Friday, December 17, 2010

Barbarella (1968)

by Laura "Knockin' Silver Space Boots" Roberts

I don't know if this theory has been put forth before, but having recently viewed seminal sexploitation flick Barbarella for the second time, it occurs to me that the title character is essentially the female version of Captain Kirk. Both are screwing their way across the universe, in a voyage of discovery, and neither seems capable of engaging in long-lasting relationships, because each is married to his or her respective spaceship.

Okay, so Barbarella's on a mission to find mad scientist Durand Durand and bring him back to Earth, before he uses his WMDs on us all. And, played by a young Jane Fonda, she's way hotter than Captain Kirk ever was. Plus she's willing to play for the other team, taking literally all comers: male, female, machine… even angel. Captain Kirk, boring old hetero that he is, wouldn't be caught dead playing catcher to some dude in a bear suit. Kirk: 0, Barbarella: 4… 5…? Hell, I lost count after Pygar and his golden abs.

Based on a French graphic novel, Barbarella changes clothes every time she makes love. Many suggest this is "a French thing" (French women being stylish and all of that cultural BS), but it's probably just a feminine thing; after all, who wants to wear the same tired Peter Pan outfit when she's just met a hot new guy who can fly without pixie dust? It is a bit curious, however, that all of her lovers (particularly the men) seem to have random women's clothing lying around in just her size. Then again, when you're screwing a dude named Dildano, I guess that's just a given.

Some would argue that Barbarella's willingness to fuck everyone she meets implies promiscuity, if not the exploitation of women as fuckable objects, but I say those people are narrow-minded prudes who need to get out and mix with the animals sometime. Barbarella's not a slut; she's just never been fucked good and proper. And I mean that literally, as Earth has apparently succumbed to some sort of love drug, where "making love" means taking a pill and then pressing your palms against your lover's until "maximum rapport is achieved" (in about 3 minutes). Of course, you'd only do it if your profiles matched up in some pseudoscientific manner. Not exactly panty-dampening material there, so when the first alien Barbarella meets suggests doing the horizontal polka--the old-fashioned way--she is at first taken aback. Being a good sport, however (she has just suggested she can "repay" the man who has saved her from some evil children and their flesh-chewing dolls), she takes one for the team and is soon humming in post-orgasmic bliss.

Once she's had her cherry popped, Barbarella is eager to continue down this path of pleasure. And who could blame her? Holding hands is hardly erotic, beyond the age of 13, and if our gal is somewhere in her twenties with a wicked figure and plenty of pent-up sexual frustrations, thanks to Earth's sexual fascism, I can't see why she wouldn't be into banging every Tom, Dick or Harry that expresses an interest.

Okay, so she expresses her thanks and repays people for their simple kindness with sexual services, which is kind of slutty, but what else has she got to offer? The goodwill of the people of boring old Earth? She doesn't seem to have any space currency or a Titanium AmEx card to throw around, and she's asking favors left and right (Can you repair my spaceship? Oh, by the way, can you lead me to Durand Durand?), so left with little else but her feminine wiles, and when in SoGo… ooh, that feels good, maybe just a little more to the left? Oh yeah, baby, just like that, unnnnngh.

Of course, like any good female character who loves sexing it up, Barbarella must be punished. She falls into the clutches of The Great Tyrant's evil Concierge, who stuffs her into the Excessive Machine, which is meant to kill her by playing her like a fiddle. Or in this case like a creepy pipe organ. Death by orgasm; how ironic! And yet, since Barbarella is so insatiable, she even more ironically ends up destroying the machine instead. As it grinds to a smoking halt, Barbarella is surprised to find herself sexually unfulfilled, but also not dead. She puts two and two together, realizing the inventor of this orgasmatron must be Durand Durand, the mad scientist she's come to retrieve.

The plot thickens!

Durand Durand sets Barbarella up with some scheme about breaking into The Great Tyrant's sleeping quarters with an invisible key, double crossing her by locking the ladies into the bedroom together. Now for a little hot girl-on-girl action, right? Not quite. It seems the two are perched directly over the evil goo that fuels the city of SoGo, the Mathmos, and will be killed by overexposure to its pure evil. While Durand Durand attempts a coup, resistance leader Dildano leads a counter-attack. Unfortunately, Durand Durand has a positronic ray on his side (the WMD previously mentioned), and everyone's being zapped to kingdom come. The Mathmos has decided it's had enough of this human/alien crap and swallows everybody up, ejecting only Barbarella and The Great Tyrant onto its shores.

In the final scenes of this crazy love-fest, it is revealed that Barbarella was "too good" for the Mathmos to swallow, unlike the rest of the denizens of SoGo with their sexual kinkiness and hookah-smoking ways. Figure that one out, after she's spent the whole film fucking. Actually, isn't it obvious? FUCKING IS NOT EVIL. Fucking people over is evil, and fucking people up is evil, but straight up fucking? Pure and natural. How's that for a moral?

The only head-scratcher is why The Great Tyrant has also been rejected by the Mathmos, when it seems she's been about the nastiest bitch in town, but hey, every heroine has to have her villain. And why does the angel, Pygar, collect them both under his sexy wings, even though The Great Tyrant has blinded and tortured him? He claims it's because "angels have no memory," but I think we all know it's because two girls and one guy is the ultimate threesome, and he's taking them both back to feather his nest and put yet another notch in his golden belt.

In the end, is Barbarella a sexploitation flick or free-love fable? I leave that to you to decide, while you drool over Barb's silver boots, chain mail and assorted miniskirts.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Porky's (1982)

by Jimmy "A Night to Remember" Callaway

More often than I care to admit, my brazenly chauvinistic tendencies show through this veneer of unrelenting charm that I don like a suit of velvet armor. And more than once, I have been rightly called out for such actions. "Jimmy," these detractors say, "How can someone who appears to be of above-average intelligence cling to such outmoded and patriarchal mindsets? I mean, what gives?"

And my usual response falls somewhere along the lines of "You don't know what I've been through, so fuck off!" Y'know, like some crazy Vietnam vet of love. "I've earned every iota of this glaring misogyny that I nurse like a festering wound that won't scab over, and you can have it when you pry it from my cold, dead hands! And yes, I'll mix my metaphors if I goddamn well please!" Which reaction is, of course, more telling than I'd like it to be: a wellspring of unexamined emotional pain becomes projected on the world at large and at women in particular, since the best defense is, after all, a good offense.

But as follows the Let's Exploit Everybody! charter, this sort of argument falls under lazy writing, which under my regime is a crucifiable offense. If I won't let lazy-ass filmmakers get away with unnatural dialogue and contradictory plots, then neither shall I be allowed to fall back on such bullshit emotional arguments for why the blatant sexism in Bob Clark's 1982 opus Porky's doesn't really bother me all that much.

Also, rest assured that I will not fall back on such chestnuts as, "It's only a movie." In fact, if you ever hear me say something like that, put a bullet in my head. Nor does it really matter that this movie is set in the American south in the 1950s, especially since the anti-racism sub-plot is indicative of a social consciousness not normally associated with that time or place.

No, I'm going to be hoeing the Freudian row pretty heavily here, so if you're some sorta smart-ass Jungian or something, you might as well take a powder now. The way I read this flick and its sub-text is that, basically, it is imperative that we, as young men coming into our own identity, assert our manhood, even (especially?) if that means stripping some of our fellow human beings of any and all dignity. Sorry, ladies, nothing personal, but I've got to prove to my dad that he's not the boss of me anymore.

The aforementioned sub-plot about racism is the most direct address of these ideas. Tim has got a real problem with the new kid, Brian, because he's Jewish. But as Tommy and Billy, who are pretty much the leaders of our horny little band, point out to Brian, it's really Tim's own father that Tim has a problem with. A drunk, abusive ex-con, Tim's father is not about to abide his son being some kinda kike-lover. But really, it's not a stretch to imagine that Tim's father doesn't want Tim to surpass him in any way, whether it be socially, educationally, financially, or any -ly you can think of. This sort of quasi-direct competition between father and son is really nothing new at all, and I personally find it to be one of the shittier things one human can do to another (yes, even more so than treating women like unfeeling jizz-jars). Tim finally redirects his anger back to his father, thereby freeing himself from that yoke and allowing he and Brian to put their differences aside and become friends.

But the biggest father-figure in this flick is none other than the eponymous whoremonger, Porky. Larger than life, a Florida cracker version of Boss Tweed, Porky is the biggest obstacle for the boys from Angel Beach to overcome, bigger even than Pee-Wee losing his cherry, in order for them to become men. When the boys all show up to party (except Billy, oddly enough, which plays into my largely unformed theory that he acts as the mother of the group), they have to get Porky's say-so, they have to please him in order to score some pussy. But like any father-figure, this acceptance as an equal, a peer, is just never gonna happen.

So the boys get the shaft(!), literally, a trap door into the swamp below. Porky is the guardian of the pussy, and no buncha snotnoses are gonna sup from this trough on his watch. Mickey, the most stubborn of the bunch, attempts time and again to enter Porky's establishment, only to receive several beatings, each more vicious than the last. So in a grand display of their own power, the Angel Beach boys pull a full demo job on Porky's place, effectively castrating the big fat redneck who is father to us all.

"Yes, Jimmy, yes. We get it. Our fathers suck and we have to destroy them and it would all make Sophocles very proud. Now, what's this got to do with treating objects like women, man?"

Well, I guess where it really starts to get uncomfortable for me is the famous shower scene. In a set of circumstances I could only pray for as a boy, Tommy and the fellas have got a set-up in the walls of the girls' shower room where they can peep at the young ladies in secret (until Pee-Wee, ever the limp-dick, blows their cover). As discussed over at Let's Kill Everybody! this month, the male Gaze in cinema is often synonymous with male power: men see, women don't, and as such, the latter are rendered victims. Now, just because this situation in Porky's isn't played out to the same gruesome end as it is in flicks like Psycho or Peeping Tom, that doesn't mean it doesn't make me feel like taking a shower myself.

I mean, seriously, Tommy sticks his dick in through the drainpipe. How can I not read that as him raping the whole showerful of girls? Of course, Wendy, though not quite yet the strong female character she will become in the mostly miss-able sequel, is not frightened by this pecker and directly confronts it on her own terms (at first, anyways), which only makes me love her more.

And Ms. Balbricker, the sour-faced wet blanket of a gym teacher, comes in and ruins all the "fun." We, the audience, are meant to dislike her because she's an ugly old stick-in-the-mud. And, y'know, yeah, I'm with you on that, movie. But I dunno, man, when Balbricker grabs hold of Tommy Turner's dick and transfers his power to her (she sees him, after all), part of me cheers. And that same part is really kinda sad when Principal Carter and the male gym teachers laughingly dismiss her concerns for the safety of her young female charges (even if the rest of me finds this to be one of the funniest scenes in the whole movie).

So, look, here's where I think I'm going with this: for most of my adult life, I managed to justify and rationalize just about every shitty thing I've done to others, including and especially women, because of what I considered the raw fuckin' deal I'd been dealt by life. Having lately been making more of an effort to correct this, I've found that I now have a new perspective on such things like Porky's, a perspective I couldn't have achieved without doing some serious personal reaccounting. But as it happens, the old perspectives remain, and even if they don't dictate my thoughts and actions as they once did, I can still find them relevant if not completely valid.

In essence, the 33-year-old Jimmy is kinda creeped out by this flick. But even given all of this, the 33-year-old Jimmy and the 13-year-old Jimmy still really like the shower scene. The actual nudity in this scene still transports me back to a time in my life when the female body was a strange and wonderful mystery. And now thanks to digital technology, when I pause this scene today, I don't have all those shitty tracking lines getting in the way like they used to do with VHS. So even though I've got all this new-found overeducated male guilt going on in this essay, there is still very much a part of me that is as gleeful and joyous at this unabashed smorgasbord of female nakedness as it ever was.

Naked chicks is, after all, naked chicks. And I fervently hope I never lose that perspective.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Flesh Gordon (1974)

by Brian "Fuck Todgers in the 69th Century" Roe

There is a long tradition of naming pornographic movies after currently popular mainstream movies. American Booty, Nightmare on Dyke Street, Forrest Hump (tagline: “My pants are like a box of chocolates.”), Pulp Friction, Saturday Night Beaver...ALL RIGHT ALREADY! We get it! This is obviously a form of wit far lower than the common pun, but in the heyday of VHS, porn titles such as these were being produced by the hundreds to satisfy some odd desire to see a guy who acts like a mentally handicapped man who is waiting for a bus have sex with people. So enough about this naming convention. Which leads us to one of the lamest attempts to pornify a title: Flesh Gordon. That’s it. Not Flesh Godown, but just Flesh Gordon. With the name alone, this movie makes it clear that they didn’t really try too hard. Dale Ardor is Flesh’s lady friend. Gee. I wonder how many people who watched this little jewel even understood what the word "ardor" means. Again not trying too hard on the names here.

But then a stroke of genius! The scientist who Flesh and Dale run across is named Flexi Jerkoff! This leads to some of the only truly funny moment as Flesh shouts, “Over here, Jerkoff!” “She’s in here, Jerkoff!” “We’ve got to get to the rocket ship, Jerkoff!” Like naming a character Boner, this adds a comedic spice to anything. From now on all movies should have a character named Jerkoff. Trust me, it works.

Flesh Gordon has an odd place in the history of science fiction movies, since many of the people working on special effects for it actually went on to have real careers in Hollywood. Rick Baker, John Dykstra, Jim Danforth and others worked on this steaming pile of movie long before Industrial Light and Magic made rock stars out of effects geeks. There are some truly groovy effects shots in this crock of crap, but in general, they are overshadowed by the truly sad attempts at comedy and unappealing stabs at sexuality that discolor the movie.

We’re talking low budget 1970s sex here. The kind that makes dirty movies feel dirty. Like the grease film you get on your forehead after not showering for a couple of days.

So Flesh Gordon starts with a white-type-on-black-background screen crawl that explains why they made the film. And they dedicate it to all of the people who created Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, etc. You could have saved your breath, fellas. We soon discover that Earth is being bombarded by a sex ray that makes anyone it touches go all humpy-spaz. And so we’ve got to stop it. Can’t have people humping each other all the time. Bad for the gross national product. And then some greasy-skinned '70s types talk about how to stop the sex ray. And they talk. And talk. Then we see an airplane and Flesh pops a bubblegum bubble.

Hopefully by this time, the drugs you took on the way to the drive-in kick in so you can totally appreciate the trippy “animation” of the opening credits. If not take a little more, you’ll need them. Hunh hunh...The music was produced at Knob Industries.

The broad playing Dale actually seems kind of friendly and sweet. Too bad she’ll spend the entire movie topless and getting pawed by some of the most repellent, unattractive, Brut-smelling jackasses ever to be captured on film. Oh god! The pilot is taking his shirt off and his hairy stomach has a oily looking appendectomy scar that still looks moist! I can’t do this anymore...No. I promised Callaway.

So following the basic Flash Gordon storyline, Flesh and Dale parachute out of the plane and land near the lab of Flexi Jerkoff (still funny!). Flexi has been building a rocketship while under the constant influence of the sex ray so his rocket looks like a penis. Hah! High comedy. Flexi paws Dale. For like fifteen minutes. Jerkoff’s ship is actually pretty awesome if you can get past the whole “giant dildo” aspect. As Jerkoff opens the doors to show the kids the ship, we see a bit of the special effects magic that makes this whole fiasco watchable.

The ship takes off from Earth and then travels right into a blast of the sex ray. Which leads to another oddity of this movie. Apparently, the sex scenes were meant to be hardcore, full-pen, no holds barred, like any respectable porn. But due to some boring old pandering laws all of the hard footage was cut out and more “comedy” was added to pad the running time. Lucky for us. There’s a grainy bit of footage at the end of the heroes first encounter with the sex ray that implies a Dale sammich has been made and that Flesh is a back door man. Which comes up again later in the film since Flesh swings both ways. After the loving, Dale just exhales a well deserved “whew” and giggles. The poor girl.

Upon arriving on the Planet Porno, our heroes are shot down by one of Emperor Wang’s sharky toothed fighter craft. And Dale’s still nekkid. Some of the ship footage during these scenes is groovy. Certainly some of the effects boys had their chops in order. But then the “actors” attempt “comedy”. Stop doing that.

Crud. All I’m doing here is watching the movie and telling what happens. That’s lame and boring. Unless it’s being done by a guy in a jumpsuit and two robots. Then it’s hilarious. But I ain’t wearin’ no jumpsuit. So I’ll wrap this whole thing up.

The whole deal with Flesh Gordon is that some guys tried to make a funny movie that had a lot of sex in it. Usually this combination is as rare as hen’s teeth, and Flesh Gordon proves no exception. But they actually set their sights pretty high for a low budget film, and sometimes accomplish the visual look and style of the films the tried to emulate. Good for them.

Some of the stop motion work is as good as anything going at the time, and the ship and building models look right and proper. The comedy could have been heightened by actually hiring actors or at the very least practicing lines. It’s really the sex that keeps getting in the way. Especially the ugly, filmy, oily, stunted sexuality that seems to ooze from this movie. Naked people pawing each other is not sexual nor is it arousing. And if it’s not doing that particular job then it should be left to the pros. I honestly can’t imagine anyone being turned on by this movie. And I really don’t want to try.

Check out Flesh Gordon at a party full of very drunk and or stoned friends. That would work. Our invite your Women’s Studies Group or your favorite feminist professor over. I’m sure they’d love to see a pure example of the Sexual Revolution at work. Dig it for the pretty cool effects or the airball whiffs of failed jokes. Dig it because they tried, and because they did I got to write something else for Jimmy Callaway.

But good luck if you find anything sexually appealing in this movie. I’m sure you’ll have better luck with underwear catalogs.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

by Cameron “Losing His Laundry” Ashley

It's 1969. You're a massive film company with a long lineage, an iconic logo and a library of classics. Times are, however, a bit lean. You hear about this cat named Russ Meyer who's making dough hand over fist with some smutty flick called Vixen that he produced for peanuts and pretty much by his lonesome. It stars one hot tamale with titanic ta-tas and a fuck-me smile like you never seen before. Her name's Erica Gavin and her incredible arching eyebrows, like swooshes of comic book ink, aren't raised so high these days. Freaked out by how gigantic she appears on-screen, Erica's descending into eating disorders and drug abuse and, by the time 20th Century Fox comes knocking on Russ' door, she's physically a different specimen. It's cool though, 'cause RM--forgetting his proclivities, his militaristic directing style, his general tendency to be an asshole--is a loyal, tit-loving motherfucker.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, raised into cult-movie godhood in recent times, is the greatest sexploitation movie of all time. Famous for its bizarre collaborating partners--Fox, RM and film critic Roger Ebert who concocted its slew of catchphrases--it leaves ever other pseudo-fuck film face down in each others' laps. You can argue that Meyer's own Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill! is more influential (and I'd agree), you could argue that Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS is more controversial (we could chat about that, but you could possibly sway me), you could list two dozen or more films with more tits and more fuck scenes (indisputable), but Beyond, crafted with typical obsession and care by Meyer, is to this day mind-blowing in its scope, its schizophrenic tone, its outrageousness and its simultaneous piss-take and celebration of the Hollywood system, its party scene, its denizens. It is also stacked with more dames than The Wild Bunch has Mexicans and a twist that makes the reveal in Orphan look tame and sane.

Initially concocted to cash in on Valley of the Dolls, Beyond was hastily re-envisioned by Meyer and Ebert, hence the disclaimer at the film’s opening, disavowing any link to the original. Fox gave RM pretty much carte blanche to do whatever the fuck he wanted to do (as was his style) and, as a result, Meyer and Ebert gleefully cooked up the tale of an all-girl rock group, desperate for the big-time, and their journey into the decadent Hollywood otherworld of porn stars, actors, fashion designers, boxing champions, record producers, drugs and sexual experimentation.

Dolly Read, Cynthia Meyers (no relation to RM) and Marcia MacBroom are Kelly, Casey and Petronella, the all-girl group named The Kelly Affair (kind of like Josie and the Pussycats with boobage and a lyrical bent for a mix of both hippy mysticism and apocalyptic foreboding), who crack it big-time under the watch of music wunderkind Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell (played with absolute Shakespeare-on-acid glee by John Lazar). Z-Man renames the group The Carrie Nations and they soon become a fixture at his place, rocking out with The Strawberry Alarm Clock, as the degenerates who flock to Z-Man's bashes either walk around naked (Meyer fans will recognise Haji body-painted in black), do drugs or fuck. The plot very quickly kicks into soap-overdrive. Harris, the soppy Carrie Nations original manager and love-interest of Carrie herself, isn't really cool with either Z-Man's scene or the fact that he seems to be stealing Carrie, and the group, away from him. He deals with his problems as all grown men do--by hooking up with porn-star, Ashley St. Ives (played by the future Mrs. RM, Edy Williams). Ashley's more succubus than porn star, and Williams is suitably hideous in her role (intended or not, armed to the teeth with quips like: “You're a groovy boy. I'd like to strap you on sometime.” Pet hooks up with Emerson Thorne (Harrison Page), a law student who pays his way by helping out at Z-Man's parties, which leaves poor lonely Casey, who becomes close to fashion designer Roxanne (played by the still-lovely Erica Gavin--fuck what RM thought.) To say too much more about the plot would be a disservice, but suffice it to say there is the eleventh hour twist of twists, a sex scene between Erica Gavin and Cynthia Meyers (dressed in superhero outfits) and bloody carnage at the end, foreshadowed by a pretty off-colour opening scene.

It's a strange choice of opening sequence. Perhaps RM thought he better foreshadow the bat-shit insanity to come, perhaps he was worried his audience wouldn't be down with the comparable lack of flesh in his latest effort and slow, soap opera build. Whatever the reason, Beyond opens with a sleeping Erica Gavin being force-fed a hand gun. It's pretty messed-up stuff, and Gavin has quite the take on it, seeing a quite obvious symbolism in the sequence as she related to Jimmy McDonough for his must-read Meyer biography, Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: “I was Russ' favourite child until Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and his new Hollywood clique. Then I was an adopted Cinderella, a left-over that didn't quite cut it. I wasn't his star anymore, I wasn't his important girl.”

A perhaps overly dramatic statement, as Gavin's role of Roxanne is fairly substantial, considering the sheer number of supporting characters and the fact that RM himself admitted that it was Erica who helped get him to where he was at that point. There is perhaps some validation to it, however, particularly as it seems as though Russ was quite displeased with his former leading-actress' dramatic weight drop.

Those expecting a full-on Meyer fleshfest will probably be disappointed – most of the nudity was cut and subsequently lost (Nooooooooooooooooooo!) in order for Fox to avoid an “X” rating (which does kind of seem contradictory to the hiring of RM--a man who made his fortune with the “X” pasted onto Vixen). However, the aforementioned Gavin/Meyers hook-up should suffice and the smattering of boobs throughout will not be ignored. From a slightly more technical standpoint, Meyer's breakneck editing is on full display, as is his love of lush sumptuous colours and his utter delight at, and skill with, photographing the female form. For every act of misogyny in an RM film, there are numerous that make his actresses look like absolute demigods--a complicated cat, that RM.

For all its Ebert-crafted zingers and flat-out howlers, the lurid, pop Hollywood on display in the film is--essentially--a universe filled with scumbags and a humanity on the skids. Despite the tacked-on feel-good conclusion and the standard RM movie end narration, heavy with the moral implications of what we have just witnessed, it’s hard to just forget that we've just seen two hours of people manipulating, fucking and murdering one another against a psychedelic comic book backdrop and cleavage you could bury a fist in. Coming from a long time fantasy peddler, it should be pretty obvious that the 'Insider Scene' cooked up by outsiders Meyer and Ebert was done so purely from their own tit-filled collective hivemind. Given all the hollowness and insanity on display, Beyond was, perhaps unsurprisingly, an embarrassment to the studio that produced it. It was, also unsurprisingly, a cash-grabber.

The undoubted apex of RM's career, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is must-see shit. Forget the camp factor, forget the bullshit Rocky Horror-type mentality the film is saddled with these days. Watch it for what it is--a fucking gem of cinematic oddity. Tits, murder, fame, drugs and sex--it's a familiar cocktail, but filtered through the obsessions, fetishes and hands-on movie-making of Russ Meyer, it's one of the most deranged, black-humoured and unpredictable films ever produced by a major studio.

Russ followed Beyond with The Seven Minutes, the only RM film unseen by your humble, Erica Gavin-crushing reviewer. It was a disaster and by most accounts: a dull, pompous courtroom affair, an attempt by RM to take his social flirtations away from his rough, bawdy, buxotic morality plays and into the mainstream proper. The film’s failure ensured his return to independent, do-it-yourself, get-em-out Russ, who went on to produce some further hyper-mad gems that we will discuss at a later point. Still, for what it’s worth, despite his eventual decline and the utter wretchedness of his final ever effort, Pandora Peaks, we have in Beyond a fine example of a true cinematic maverick who demanded virtual autonomy from the system and got it, and a classic piece of soft-core titillation.

One final note to genre fans: it has long been rumoured that Pam Grier, in her first role, can be seen wandering through Z-Man's parties. I've never spotted her. Do let me know if you do.