Shivers (They Came from Within) (1975)

I’ve wanted to cover Cronenberg for some time on my channel, but I always really got hung up on exactly where to start. on the one hand; I could dive headfirst into a classic like “Videodrome” or “The Fly” something VERY defining of his style. alternatively; I could have gone for one of his more extreme movies like “Scanners” or “Crash” hell; if I was being REALLY pedantic I could have started with his college movies that Arrow Video released not too long ago. But honestly; after really thinking about it; I feel Shivers is probably the best place to start when it comes to unpacking Cronenbergs distinctive look and feel. While the body horror element is present here it hasnt yet morphed really into it’s shapeshifting disfiguring style that would be seen in movies like “Rabid” and “The Fly”

eqaully; this movie is pretty revolutionary for it’s time. Predating “Alien” and “Dawn of the dead” by between 3 and 4 years respectively. it looks and feels like a tribute to those movies. Which makes it all the more surprising that this film came first.

All in all; I cant say more than I did in my review for this one. it’s a good SOLID feature that I Feel acts as a good intro to Cronenbergs work. Yes; he has done better. but if you start with the best, everythings going to be a dissapointment that comes after it. While his vision may not yet be fully crystalised here. it’s well on it’s way. and if you DO like this; then you’ve got a hell of a trip to come!

I’ll be completley honest; I didnt much care for the original posters for this film. Thats why I settled for this lovely artwork from the Arrow Video Bluray release.

The “Caligula” (1979) Comedy Dining Experience – 500 Subscriber Special!

Well! we did it! a milestone I never thought we’d hit and we’ve smashed it! Im going to be honest here; when I started the channel I thought i’d consider myself grateful if I managed 10 subscribers. and; at most. I thought if I could hit 100 subs i’d have proven something to myself about my thoughts on film and cinema at large.

I have had mixed experiences in the past with “Filmies” I realise that I myself am in the minority of people who think bad films have something to teach us as much as good films do. University was a big eye opener for me as I realised that there were people who’s entire film diet consisted of “Only watching the absolute best” of anything cinema had to offer.

I found it a very beige experience.

and the more and more I spoke to people, the more and more I realised that. While their were people like me out there and a bad movie community in general. it was very much a bubble. and surprisingly difficult to enter short of traversing the minefield that is bad cinema at large. this coupled with a growing annoyance at the lack of resources to chart bad movies (as mentioned in my “About” section on this very website) and I decided that. in the absence of a clean and detailed documentation of this type of film. I’d have to try myself.

And I’ve loved *almost* every minute of it! it’s been hard. it’s been an uphill struggle. it’s put a strain on myself, my family and my friends at times. But I dont regret a minute of it. 500 of you fine fine readers subscribing to my channel is more than I ever could have hoped for. and the number is growing quicker and more consistently than it ever has before.

And so. to you. I offer you this special episode of the comedy dining experience as thanks. You will not BELIEVE the wrangling that went on behind the scenes to get Ben and Laura to agree to this one (Let’s just say im in deep with the mob now) but…fair play to them; they sat through the whole thing. for me…for you. Me and Ben have been friends now for very nearly 10 years and me and Laura have been together for almost as long as well. and a guy couldnt ask for 2 greater compadre’s to tackle this masterpiece in bizarre adult weirdness.

So…enjoy! and…I really wasnt kidding at the end of this. we WILL do “Cannibal Holocaust” if we hit 1k.

to your future and ours. we’ll see you there.

Liquid Dreams (1991)

WAIT! STOP! IT’S NOT PORN! well…not really porn…theres some VERY brief nudity and a lot of “Girating” but honestly. for a film thats so determined to ride the “Steamy erotica” train. it’s surprisingly tame. The first time I saw Liquid Dreams, It wasnt really for me. I found it a bit too into it’s “Homages” and lacking in clear substance. and while subsiquent rewatches have definitely softened my views on this (I now think it’s actually a pretty fun, maybe even good little popcorn thriller) I still kind of feel a bit like it’s a film thats missing something. I dunno; I think sex would cheapen this film. I think that making it more of a thriller would make it more boring. it just kind of…rides the line between the erotic and thriller genres to the such a restrictive extreme that it’s ultimatley neither. and as such, while it’s good at both genres. it never really achieves either.

What we have here is a bit of an anomoly. a film that’s memorable for it’s imagery. but very little else. I still think this is prime VS fodder because it’s most definitely working with that kind of cult vibe. and I feel with a little bit more love and attention it could almost be a well respected classic in the vein of “Cherry 2000” that’s why I chose to review this film. I really REALLY hope to raise it’s profile at least a little bit, and who knows!? maybe if the right people see this it’ll finally get dug out of it’s “Out of print” hell and get the re-release that it DEFINITELY deserves.

The Posters just kind of…a mess…but weirdly its the BEST poster they ever made for this film. the DVD versions obscenely awful.

Nutbag (2000)

Well! We’re back at it again! and oh BOY! this weeks episode made me a happy boy last year! lets be honest; 2020 was a bit rubbish, I mean, I enjoyed lockdown because im an introvert masochist who enjoys quiet rooms, comfy chairs and the occasional appearence of matron with the tea and busicuits. but for a TON of people lockdown was essentially a “Forgotten year” a time that most people will deeply miss and some people will never retake.

even I admit that there were times (particularly around summer) where I got a bit longful for ocean breezes, cheap ice cream and driving through the hills and valleys with a pleasent summer heat in the air, my sunglasses stuck firmly to my face and nothing to do and nowhere in particular to go except cruising to my hearts content.

Thrifting is something I’ve missed particularly, I used to have 3-4 shops I would visit monthly if not fortnightly to see what new stuff had come in. but the only thing worse than having to go to the shop in a pandemic is going to a 2nd hand shop in a pandemic. you dont know WHAT the previous owner of that copy of “Swamp Shark” did with it! could have coughed on it and rubbed it up his bum for all you know! So unfortunately it’s been over a year since I last went out and dug through bargain bins, ruffled through rummage sales or cherry picked from charity shops.

I have however found partial relief in stores like Music Magpie or CEX who’ve been sort of satiating my flea market cravings with their online services. they sell all manner of cheap and nasty movies for as little as 50p a film. and before all this business kicked off I used to go to my local CEX fairly regularly to try and score cheap films with big thrills like “Cyborg Cop” or “Darkbreed” now I can cherry pick exactly what tat I want for the same low low prices and get them delivered straight to my door! result!

I mean; it’s not the same as finding some genuine tat out in the wild. But it’s better than nothing. and thats how I ended up with todays film. “Nutbag” was one of 6 movies I picked up from Music Magpie in early autumn last year. and within minutes of putting it on it very quickly became apparent that something was very VERY wrong with it.

I go into detail in the review itself about how the dramatic cuts in the UK release have effected this movies viability. but there was one thing I feel I missed out mentioning in the review that I would like to clarify. I dont think anyone will call me out on this, but im putting this here as a rebuttle just on the off chance that this ever does comes up. Inevitably I feel someones going to ask me “Why did you review and trash this incomplete version of the movie!?” or “It isnt fair to review this cut version, you should review the work as the director intended.” but; the reality is. the BBFC are an advisory board. they cant force anyone to make any cuts to their work that they dont want to make. they can only suggest cuts in order to make it more likely that your film will be released over here in Britain. Director Nick Polumbo agreed to the cuts suggested to this movie, either he did or the distributors did. either or both of them thought that what the BBFC suggested were fine enough recommendations to still leave a presentable end product.

So; from my perspective. This version is approved by the director. I can find absolutely ZERO evidence to the contrary. and he’s made a profit off the sale of this cut version over here, so while the US version is probably the “Defacto” cut of Nutbag. the UK version is just as valid an offering in terms of legitimacy. and as a critic I can only judge what is presented to me. and what was presented to me here was a hilarious farce of a movie. I highly HIGHLY recommend if you can find the UK cut of this film, you do so at the next convenience. its created a gutteral reaction from almost everyone i’ve shown this to. it barely breaks an hour and what it does in that hour is SO hilariously rubbish and naff I honestly think this should be seen as a B-movie on the level with the likes of “The Room” or “Birdemic” for just…how bizarre it actually is.

And the best part of all this? I got this film for 50p. and there are TONS of copies available. so this year. if you need cheering up or a laugh. go buy the UK cut of Nutbag. genuinely; one of the funniest best worst movies i’ve seen in at least the last 10 years.

The poster for this ones a bit…”Meh…” but trust me. it comes up with the goods!

The Night Child (What the Peeper Saw) (1972)

There really isnt a massive amount to say about this one post release honestly. My thoughts on this one have rigidly remained in line with whats said in the review. This is a very VERY strange and uncomfortable movie to sit through. But then. thats kind of the point. is it disturbing in the same way “A Serbian film” or “Cannibal Holocaust” is? No. Its just a general feeling of unease and a constant vibe of “Should I be watching this?”

Thats the joy of the “2am movie” though. your brain and body are tired. if you’ve been drinking the alcohol has no doubt at this point in the night started to really kick in. and the air is thick, heavy and the darkness wraps around you like a thick and heady blanket. I find a lot of itallian Giallo, Zombie movies and…well stuff like this REALLY suit that specific time frame. they’re not so complex that you have to really solidly keep track of everything, theres enough gore and other good stuff to keep your monkey brain on side and theres usually a pretty killer soundtrack to help smooth everything over. You never truely LOVE a 2am movie. but when you need them they’re most definitely the only thing that’ll scratch that itch.

I usually try to post some helpful information here on updates, where you can find the film or if anythings shifted on this one’s release history front. but no…it’s still never had a UK release. it’s never been released on Bluray and a trimmed copy from Europe/the US thats out of print on DVD is about as good as it gets. And while I didnt absolutely love this one. I still think if you can find it. watch it.

The Posters a bloody mess…but then in fairness all the other posters for this movie really dont capture the vibe that this film has. this posters the closest. and it’s rubbish.

The “Reanimator” (1985) Comedy Dining Experience

We’re back! and after a string of on and off tests with Dischord, Skype and other “Over the internet” type recording devices. This may be the last Comedy Dining Experience we do while socially distancing. It was a decent enough experiment. but somethings not quite right connection wise. Whether it’s my Wi-Fi, Bens Wi-Fi or the fact that Ben could only get into calls via his phone to record these commentaries, it just didnt act or feel right (As the sheer amount of drop out and quality bouncing will testify)

We recorded 3 commentaries this way, Our “Robot in the Family” commentary was done almost entirely remotely and just about held together. But we also attempted a commentary for “Robocop” with the team over at “Inside the Nutshell” (Now rebranded to “Heros, Horrors and Cats”) Which was basically unusable. there was WAY too much drop out and a weird ghosting effect on the call which meant that more often than not the films audio bled into the recording louder than our microphones and out of sync by a couple of seconds. it got messy. and while I did spend on and off time trying to salvage something from it, ultimately when my Harddrive recently yeeted itself, the recording went with it (RIP)

Reanimator was not only one of the last commentaries we recorded over the internet, but it was also one of the last ones I edited before the aforementioned harddrive yeeting. so please be patient with it, but also thankful that it exists at all.

As it stands; I dont honestly know what the next move is for this series while theres still death on the march. Myself and Ben are currently looking into workarounds and other alternatives. But its more than just arranging the safety side of things, we’ve actually got to have a day or so free at the same time to meet up and actually record it.

Now the upshot is that we do have commentaries recorded right up until the end of October. We recorded commentaries for “You Only Live Twice” and our “Halloween Special” back in March, literally 2 weeks before the country fully locked down. But from November? we’ve no idea. one work around is potentially putting the bond marathon on hold and doing a couple of “Special guest” commentaries to fill the gaps in till myself and Ben can get back together. but honestly? we just dont know at this time.

Anyway! We’ll probably figure something out. and in the mean time REANIMATOR! WOO! so sit back and enjoy low quality garbled audio of me and my main man with the plan ranting about Hitler being security at the Arndale shopping center all punctuated with the occasional “Nope. didnt hear that man. you dropped off.”

Enjoy.

Antropophagus: The Beast (Savage Island) (1980)

After nearly 2 years; I finally decided to give the Nasties another go. It wasnt a concious choice to miss them out. Quite honestly i’ve wanted to talk about more of them for years at this point. It’s just with 2019’s season being a bit thrown together and 2018’s latter half of the year basically going to the wall . I just really couldnt fit any in anywhere.

And even now in 2020 Antropophagus only JUST managed to be included in this season. Originally it had been one I wanted to cover but I just couldnt fit it in anywhere. Then about 2 months before we launched Season 7 A collab I had planned dropped through and made a gap in April. So I pulled the trigger on covering this one (Particularly because around the time I had (What I thought) was a really neat little intro skit based off the UK travel series of the 80’s and 90’s “Wish you Were Here“.

All in all I have a soft spot for Antropophagus, it isnt to everyones taste, but it is a better Nasty than some of the stuff on the list. I enjoy digging it out now and then and if I could ever get my hands on a VHS copy then I’d be over the moon! It’s biggest problem as I mention in the review in passing is that some of the effects just dont hold up to the wonders of 1080p and 2k based Bluray technology. but watching this on a fuzzy, grimy video tape im sure brings a lot of the character of this picture back into focus! if you can go and check it out I definitely recommend you do as 88 Films is distributing this in the UK and Severin Films for the US.

While the Posters and many of the re-releases would show different more detailed artworks…I Personally Adore the artwork for the UK Pre-cert Release. It’s an Iconic “Nasty” Cover that was defining for the genre. If I could get it as I poster; I would.

Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

So you might think this was something put together “Spur of the moment” or made as a filler episode…quite the opposite. I spent nearly a year and a half planning the perfect way to tackle “Salo” and I feel that my musical rendition was the best possible response I could have made. Given that Passolini’s entire filmography was dedicated to challenging authoritarianism and facism in all it’s thoughts and flavours, it seems actually quite offensive to constructively deconstruct Salo in my usual “Media” led style. so I decided here to tackle absurdism with absurdism. I’ve no regrets. as I mention in my youtube description for this review; “I’ve been doing this now for nearly 3 years…Let me have just one week where I have a bit of ‘Off the beat and path’ fun.” Normal service resumes next week. But if your ABSOLUTELY desperate for my full thoughts/feelings and a deconstruction of this film, well…here’s my thoughts structured a bit more thoughtfully…

1975’s “Salo (The 120 Days of Sodom)” is a truly Nihilistic picture. The kind of film that only really comes around once in a generation of filmmaking. This film revels in its own filth and perversion and gleefully explores violence, mutilation and the class structure in such a way that feels surprisingly fresh for a film that was made in the mid 1970’s about events taking place in the mid 1940’s. A lot has been written and spoken about regarding this picture. Some dismiss it as simply exploitation cinema dressed up as a pretentious art film. Others; choose to see more meaning in it’s themes and within the morality of it’s main characters. I could regurgitate other peoples opinions on the subject of this film ad-verbatim. But Im     sure you’ve all seen at least a couple of reviews about this movie in the past, So im just going to do it my way.

The film is set in late 1944/ early 1945 in fascist occupied northern Italy. It’s nearing the end of world war two and most of this film is focussed on a small village that is on the verge of being captured by the allies. This is bad news for the fascists who are highly likely to be executed for the crimes they have committed during the war. As such they decide not to go quietly into the abyss. But rather 4 of the wars larger offenders (Here known as: “The Duke”, “The Bishop”, “The Magistrate” and “The President”) decide to hold one last impulse fuelled bingefest before there inevitable demise. They all agree to marry each others daughters in order to protect their assets going forwards and then; using a mixture of soldiers and hired militia, they head into a nearby village and kidnap as many teenage boys and girls as they can find (Quite often murdering their families in the process) these teenagers are then assessed and based on their appearance and “Assets” 9 teenage boys and 9 teenage girls are chosen. These teens are then transferred to well out into the countryside (One of the teenage boys is shot to death trying to escape while being transported) to a stately manor alongside a few Madam’s from local brothels and a skeleton serving staff.

It’s here where the bulk of the films events will take place. The rules are simple: anything is permitted to the “Big 4” they can do what they want, say what they want and literally get away with murder if they want. No one is coming to save the teens and they make it clear that it’s at the big 4’s discretion as to whether they live or die. They list Incest, Adultery and Sodomy as just a handful of the things that they would be interested in getting away with. If the teens refuse to co-operate, are found to be enjoying themselves or having sex with other teens, or if they mention religion in any way shape or form. they’ll be put on a punishment list (To be dished out on the final day of the events) Killed, or raped and tortured to death. A basic schedule is put together with the day starting at 6am with the Madams telling the filthiest and most perverse stories they can to help turn the “Big 4” on and enflame their imagination to help get the sex and violence going. Then Lunch is served at 12pm at which point everything post 12pm is basically orgies, dirty parlour games and violence until bed time…and even then it doesn’t necessarily stop.

Basically; what we’re watching here is an hour and 56 minutes of 18 teenagers slowly getting murdered and fucked to death split into 3 acts (Known as circles)that encapsulates either 120 days or 3(Ish) days (Depending on how you look at this movie; I personally don’t think 18 already breadline level teenagers could survive the conditions laid out in this movies T’s & C’s for 120 days solid…and a 3 day non stop orgy bender sounds way cooler than 120 days of tepid torture. Happy to be wrong though on that one. What separates this movie from the other exploitation films that have similar themes however. Is, in setting up this act structure we’re granted deeper access to our characters, their motivations, what drives them and fascism in general. Salo is designed to make you uncomfortable because it challenges a fundamental societal rule which is the idea that you just cant do what you want. We’re raised to accept that there are consequences for our actions and that via social constructs there is somehow a moralistic requirement to protect the innocent and not cause distress. We’re taught that this is a respectable trait. In my opinion; Salo sets out to ask the question “Why?” and it does so by using Fascism as a “Launchpad to debauchery.”

The Films Writer and Director Pier Paolo Pasolini was a staunch anti-fascist and was quite active in challenging fascism, destroying it where possible and it’s heavily rumoured to this day that his murder in 1975 was at the hands of multiple fascist groups. Indeed the basic idea of fascism is that there are a select few who are effectively in total control of the majority of the public. They attempt total control as a means to guide and shape society into the image they want, often at the omission of facts or evidence. They don’t deal well with opposition because why live with opposition when it’s easier to just remove them from the frame all together? With Salo; Pasolini shows the descent into self-indulgent madness that comes from giving already highly entitled right wing authoritarians the unlimited freedom and control to do whatever they want within an environment that is entirely malleable and controllable to their own twisted and ruthless requirements. And it’s barbaric.

He’s basically created a Terarium-esq experiment In which the 17 teenagers represent the proletariat and these 4 men are the leaders of their own controllable world based within the walls of the mansion house. With a hired militia in place to help keep the peace and ensure their visions and wants are fulfilled, they strong arm their way through the 3 days we see with a sense of arrogance, entitlement and unfiltered nastiness. You witness the cruelness of man’s inhumanity to man through the eyes of right wing fascism. Each act within Salo reveals a deeper level of depravity and relentlessness that; at times, is genuinely harrowing to watch.

Act 1: The Circle of Mania’s shows the fascists testing their new found freedom. Teenagers are beaten and kicked, molested and raped within hours of the day’s commencement. The teens are shown to be replaceable and they’re also shown that the Big 4 will not hesitate to kill them if they don’t comply. This breaks the teen’s spirits and makes them compliant to the plans that are unfolding, Because; If the only way to get out is to comply, well…they’re going to have to comply. Punishments are dished out on the whims of the big 4 throughout the day. An example being when one of the young teenage boys is added to the punishment list because he pulled away when one of the fascists forced him to give a blowjob, but he pulled away just before the fascist “came”. Thus ruining the orgasm. Its horrific. But in this world, the rights to what are punishable acts and what aren’t fall entirely to the fascists.

If the teens don’t comply then of course there must be a punishment. And they will all be judged equally. It also becomes quite apparent in these opening hours that the teens have no idea how to do half of the things that are expected of them by the big 4, so the brothel owner offers to teach the girls at least, how to correctly “Play” with a penis and how to have sex. There’s a lot of talk at this point about vaginal, penile and anal virginity (Here referred to as deflowering) and there’s a tremendous emphasis from the big 4 that deflowering is a “delicacy” and furthermore that the whole point these youths were selected was because they are “Pure” and their defilement is a commodity that these fascists relish. They quite literally get off on the idea that they are going to defile and corrupt the innocence of youth. And this is a strong theme which runs throughout the film right up until the end credits. Quite frequently there are scenes in which one of the big 4 will just run out into a hallway and gratuitously grope 4 or 5 teenage boys and girls in one go. It all adds to the gluttonous themes of binging that are present throughout and the themes of hopelessness and nihilism that hang over this film in an almost smothering fashion.

All of this before I even get into the legalities around that time. this film was set in the 1940’s when Homosexuality in Italy was punishable by death, marriage was the highest level of sanctimony and the long and short of it was that you were a corrupt individual unless you followed the basic nuclear family model of heterosexuality. In the 1970’s homosexuality (And particularly Anal Sex) was highly illegal in Italy and was punishable with imprisonment. It was treated very similarly to Paedophilia and it wasn’t until the 1990’s that the laws would relax on the issue. To this day Italy still has a quite severe problems with Homophobia and Transphobia and the reason lies highly within it’s successive string of right wing governments and silencing and stigmatizing of Gay, trans and minority groups. This film was released in 1975 and was seen as absolutely irreprehensible. Sodomy is highly prominent throughout the film. moreso the image of men enjoying both sodomy and sodomising. The fact that these are people in powerful positions taking advantage of youth caused uproar. Probably one of the films most controversial sequences involves 2 of the teenagers being forced into marriage, they’re deflowered by a brothel madam and a militia soldier respectively and upon the marriage being completed they’re asked to “Consummate” the arrangement. The teens begin to arouse each other at which point the big 4 swoop in  and seize the “Consummation” for there own satisfaction. Tarnishing what I suppose is supposed to be a sweet moment of love and denying both teens there “Consummation”. It devalues their marriage and the facists “Get off” at the idea of cuckoldry and Bigamy that has just occurred.

The First act concludes with the teens literally reduced to that of wild and hungry dogs. Stripped naked and forced on leashes into a main hall to eat slices of meat and chunks of bread from the floor, the fascists end the first act by stripping the teens of their humanity. Reducing them to nothing more than animals and commodities there to be exploited, used and disposed of. While desperation will bring back some elements of the teen’s more human qualities. By the close of the circle of manias; They’re broken, compliant and almost entirely defeated.

Act 2 opens the circle of shit, and from here the film descends quite rapidly into abuse and degradation. It transpires that the teenage girls were fed meat during the dog sessions that were specifically tainted. They were instructed to not use the toilets until the next day and then to relieve themselves into a communal sized basin. This shit is then served for lunch during day 2. The “Shit eating banquet” is arguably one of the most memorable scenes in Salo and could be inferred to be a comment on humanity as a race being predisposed to accept lies (In this case represented by the shit) that promise the answers they want to hear over the truth which may not be what they want despite its accuracy. Throughout the scene the fascists repeatedly refuse to acknowledge that they’re eating shit instead referring to it as a “Delicacy” and a “rare item”. Not only this, but they expect the teens to respond in an equal manner. Equally they go to extended lengths to degrade and humiliate the women in particular during this banquet, repeatedly referring to how such beautiful vessels could produce such foul offerings. In essence this is the fascists attempting to further demoralise and undermine the girls. Making them feel dirty, less pure or otherwise trying to break their sense of worth, (Which by extension the fascists would then be able to use to force the girls into further and further destructive and perverse situations.)

Throughout the 2nd circle the girls are repeatedly beaten, abused or forced into embarrassing situations. Golden showers feature as a centre piece of one of the fascists indulgencies and as much as you could infer this to be a submissive request from the fascists as it is the fascists that are being urinated on. Anything that is done to them as a submissive act has been forced by the fascists initially. In many ways making these acts significantly more dominating. When one of the teens sodomises one of the fascists, It could initially be seen as a submissive act on behalf of the fascists until you realise that they’re the ones in control. They’ve requested to be penetrated and they’ll kill the teens if they don’t cooperate. With this in mind, it quickly becomes apparent that the fascists main indulgences are predominantly driven not by base carnal urges but rather through the control and management of the teens they’re abusing specifically. They get a sick kick out of knowing that they have ultimate control over individuals to the point that they can put themselves in a submissive situation and STILL be the dominant force. It’s really quite an extraordinary situation.

Act 3 is the Circle of Blood and acts as this films closing. Another faux wedding is staged as the fascists (In full female wedding regalia) take husbands. This leads to an evening of sodomy in which a tipping point presents itself. One of the teens offers to rat out one of his fellow captives in exchange for leniency or freedom. Intrigued one of the fascists follows the trail and ultimately unveils half a dozen of the teens are breaking rules ranging from practicing Catholicism, to lesbianism, to interracial relationships. This sets up the closing moments of the film. Almost all of the teens are now on the punishment list for misdemeanours of one kind or another. They have all been violated, deflowered and spiritually broken, and as punishment for their crimes they are placed in and around the communal Shit bucket to wallow in their own filth. They’re no longer human. They’re shells of their humanity. With a final cry of anguish from one of the teens the final punishment begins. Each of the fascists has been semi-responsible for a handful of the teenagers since their arrival at the mansion and now those same groups are sent to the garden. Here the teens are mutilated. Branded, burnt, castrated, gang raped, hung, sodomised and brutalised until death. Used and discarded by both Fascists and Militia alike. Their fun is done they revel in the ultimate pleasure of the death not only of the teens but of their secret shame. Knowing that outside of themselves and a handful of the militia that no one will truly know what happened here. They are soon to die too. But ultimately they’ve won in terms of their own pleasures. No one survives Salo ultimately. But that’s no comfort to an audience who has had to sit through it.

What is interesting and definitely worth noting is that this film does dabble quite frequently in absurdism. Actors performances are quite often over the top, melodramatic or highly animated. The brothel owners regularly dance, move their hands in strange ways and in one instance fall back on old cabaret routines to please the fascists. The Big 4 themselves often drift into over the top and almost comedic performances (of particular note is “The President” who decides during one of the lunch sequences while one of the serving girls is being raped, to run around the lunch hall showing his backside and demanding one of the soldiers sodomises him as soon as possible) that’s not to say that these are comedic characters mind. The fascists are distinctly malicious and evil characters. Rather that they delight in their own malice to the point that they feel free to exercise their ultimate power in whatever way they feel. It creates a deeply unsettling quality throughout the film as you can never quite tell if the next strange and odd moment that manifests itself is going to end either in a round of laughter or an atrocity. In fact the only characters that aren’t allowed the indulgence of absurdism are the teens themselves. Though I believe Pasolini did this to further emphasise the gulf in power and control that is created within the mansion. The teens have no power, no control. And the film wants to make it clear that they cannot afford to be jovial or silly. The fascists hold all the cards and as such can afford such luxuries. And this gulf helps to impress further the idea of suffering that these teens are under to the audience.

Even within the cine Pasolini creates a hostile and cold environment. Wide shots and ultra-wide shots are here in abundance. To help create a sense of disconnect, helplessness and isolation for the audience. The idea being that because we as the audience are so far away from the teens visually we feel like we cannot help them, nor can anyone within the film. It’s now a classic technique to help set a sense of hopelessness but for the time it was quite revolutionary. The only times close-ups are used really are in moments of revulsion (Such as the shit eating banquet) or for moments of significance (Such as the torturing scenes or the sequence in which the teens are selected). The madam’s brothel stories tend to also be shot using a mixture of mids and wides. Though this is predominantly due to these sequences foreshadowing events that will be done to the teens later in the film. So I suppose that’s to create a mixture of cold distance while also visually telling the audience that these stories will be important and to pay attention.

Another point to clarify is that the soundtrack is almost entirely diegetic. Barring the films introductory credits, any and all music is played either via stereograms, radio or the mansions pianist (Which usually underpins the madams stories) in general though, there is very little music in this film. Instead it prefers to utilise the cold silence of the countryside estate. There’s no cars, no public walking by, the atrocities committed in this film are usually done in room tone only silence. And as such it’s so much more impactful. Especially with the wide shot visuals. If shooting wide makes this film cold, then shooting it with no soundtrack is positively freezer like. It’s so powerful in creating an uncomfortable atmosphere that it’s almost overwhelming at times.

The only sound that is quite present and I will say is used VERY effectively is that sometimes if you listen very closely you can hear the low drone of airplane engines in the background of some shots. This is a nice psychological tactic on the behalf of the director as it works two fold. It reminds the audience that this is set during wartime and more crucially at the end of the war, and it also indirectly gives the audience a sense of subliminal hope. As we are aware that fascism was defeated in the second world war and those engines remind the audience that that’s imminent. However it’s a double bluff on the part of the director as he’s aware that no one is going to survive this movie. it leads the audience to feel like there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Which makes the torture finale all the more crushing in terms of its reveal.

Salos release history is incredibly patchy to say the least. It was premiered in 1975 and almost immediately banned in most European countries thereafter. In the UK the film was refused a certificate in 1976 and would only be permitted to be screened upon special written request. Famously an art house film club in Soho screened the film and was raided by the London metropolitan police. The film remained banned in the UK until 2000 when it was finally given a certificate to be released uncut. More recently in 2011 the BFI released Salo in a highly comprehensive 3 disc Bluray set which shows the film in it’s best possible quality with a detailed set of extra features (This set was repackaged into a 2 disc set released in September 2019). In the US it was released with no problems and premiered in 1977 to little or no fanfare. It then dropped off the radar almost completely until it’s home video release 2000’s.

Salo to me is a masterpiece, a film that dances the line between abject disgust and nihilism and a sense of border absurdity. Its not something you watch regularly, it requires a very specific mind-set. But it’s carefully crafted nature should not be underestimated. This has been carefully orchestrated to cause the maximum amount of offense to the exact people Pasolini would have wanted to offend. In that sense it’s an absolute success. This definitely isn’t a film for everyone. But if you can get over the grimmer elements on display in this film. you will be rewarded 10 fold for your perseverance. An astounding art film and a terrifically underrated counter culture movie.

(All the posters and art would have got me thrown off youtube…this was the best I had. It’s alright…but still doesnt really capture the true “Vibe” of Salo.)

The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak (1984)

This (So Far) has been the most stressfull episode I’ve released of this season. The reason being that a company called “Europacorp” have a master copy of this movie logged with youtube on a “Block worldwide” copyright notice. As such. the moment I uploaded this episode, it blocked worldwide. I disputed it; and they forgot to respond to the dispute…that’s literally the only reason you’re able to watch this “Uncut” on youtube. Seriously; up until Tuesday of this week (the 24th of March 2020) I was so certain this episode was going to be shot down that I re-edited it in the same way that I did with my review of “Emmanuelle“.

Another reason I was so on edge about this review being blocked is that personally; and not to blow my own horn here too much…Im really proud with how the edit turned out for this one. sometimes I dont quite manage to put across the exact way I feel about a film through the editing…but with this one. I personally think I nailed it. so I really hope you enjoy this weeks review. it’s a weird one!

(All the posters for this movie kind of suck a bit (They’re not awful…they’re just not great)…but the Severin films slip art for this movie is absolutely gorgeous!)

The “Pink Flamingos” Comedy Dining Experience (1972)

So in a bit of a first (And what with it being Valentines day) me and the missus decided to sit down and watch the first movie we ever went on a date together to see (She had never seen it before…and yes 8 and half years later she’s still with me!)

We had a great time and hopefully she’ll  be joining us in a few more commentaries in future! So sit down on the couch (Unless it rejects you), Shit in a box and prepare to “Pa-pa OOH mow mow!” yourself into a coma as we work our way through a film on the filthiest people alive!

 

(Finding a Hi-res image of “Pink Flamingos” era devine is bloody hard man!)