Aug 192019
 
Poster

Written, produced and directed by Victor Nieuwenhuijs. Starring Anne van de Ven as Wanda, and André Arend van de Noord as Severin. IMDB

(Unless otherwise stated, all quotes are from English dub, not the English subtitles.)

Unlike the 1967 Venus in Furs or the 1969 Jesus Franco Venus in Furs, this is pretty close to the original story, though set in the present day. Severin, a young man, falls for a young woman named Wanda. They sign a contract to formalize their dominant-submissive relationship.

Severin/Gregor (van de Noord), Wanda (van de Ven) and “The Greek” (???) at the zoo.
Continue reading »
Aug 152019
 
Poster

Venus in Furs (1967) IMDB

As far as I know, this is the first feature film adaptation of Venus in Furs, or more accurately the first to bear that name. (According to IMDB, there was a short film released in 1965 titled Venus in Furs, though the description sounds nothing like the book.) It was also released the same year that the Velvet Underground released their debut album (having been formed in 1964), which featured the song “Venus in Furs.” I don’t know if there was any direct connection between the two. 

Continue reading »
Jul 152019
 

There were two films titled Venus in Furs released in 1969. This is the one also known as Paroxismus, directed by Jesus (aka Jess) Franco, and starring James Darren, Barbara McNair and Maria Rohm. It has little to do with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novel Venus im Pelz (aka Venus in Furs). (The other 1969 Venus was directed by Massimo Dallamano.)

Wanda, aka Venus (Maria Rohm)
Continue reading »
Jul 142019
 

Not every film I study in this project has a lot to say about sadomasochism. In some cases, these may be single scenes or even brief moments.

Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000) is a semi-improvised drama about the exotic dancers at a club and their various struggles in life.

Jo (Jennifer Tilly) has a smoke break outside the Blue Iguana
Continue reading »
Jun 252019
 

The Mask of Fu Manchu is a 1932 adventure thriller.

Many other people have written about the racial and gender politics of this film. Suffice it to say, they’re awful. This was at the peak of “yellow peril” racism in America, portraying a world on the brink of a cataclysmic war between West and East. Asians are portrayed as both vicious and weak, needing a leader like the Western-educated Fu Manchu to lead them.

This was also before the Hays code was put into effect in 1934, and it displays a degree of sex and violence that is still surprising today.

The two villains are both portrayed by white people in yellowface: Boris Karloff as Doctor Fu Manchu and Myrna Loy as his daughter Fa Lo See (“fallacy”?). Before Loy was the ideal American wife Nora Charles in the Thin Man movies, she played “exotic” or “ethnic” women in brown, yellow or black face.

Introduction of Dr. Fu Manchu (Boris Karloff)
Continue reading »
Jun 122019
 

Belle De Jour (1967) is a French drama directed by Luis Bunuel and starring Catherine Deneuve.

Note: quotes are from the English dubbing, not the subtitles.

Deneuve plays Séverine (a name probably chosen for its link to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs), the beautiful young wife of a surgeon, Pierre. They seem to have the perfect life, but Séverine is sexually unresponsive, what at the time they would have deemed “frigid.” (“Frigidity” is not a term used any more, at least not clinically.) The only way she can be aroused is by imagining herself in scenarios of degradation and slavery.

In Severine’s (Catherine Deneuve) fantasy, Pierre (Jean Sorel) oversees the men whipping his wife.
Continue reading »
Jun 102019
 

Personal Services (1987) is a comedy-drama directed by Terry Jones.

The DVD I had begins with text that says “This film is a fiction. The author’s inspiration was a book about Cynthia Payne. However the events recorded in the film and the characters who appear in it are wholly fictitious. This is not the life story of Cynthia Payne.” This is a bit disingenuous, as Payne, a notorious UK madam, is listed in the credits as “Consultant.”

The police raid the establishment of Christine Painter (Julie Walters)
Continue reading »
Jun 052019
 

The People Under The Stairs (1991) is a horror film written and directed by Wes Craven

Though categorized as horror, People is better understood as a contemporary Gothic fable. A young African-American man, known by his nickname “Fool”, is desperate to help his poor family in the ghetto. He breaks into the sprawling home of a wealthy couple who are the neighborhood landlords. The couple, who call each other “Daddy” and “Mama”, look and act like they stepped out of the 1950s, but they and their house is not what they seem. (They’re a bit like Paul and Mary from Eating Raoul, just taken a few steps further.)

“Fool” (Brandon Quinton Adams) confronts “Daddy” (Everett McGill)
Continue reading »
May 132019
 

Crimes of Passion is a 1984 erotic thriller, directed by Ken Russell and starring Kathleen Turner. Russell is known for his sexy and hallucinatory filmmaking (see Tommy, Lair of the White Worm, Salome’s Last Dance, et al.) so this should be interesting.

Kathleen Turner plays a woman with two sides: one is Joanna Crane, uptight clothing designer, and the other is China Blue, cheerful hooker. Joanna is being stalked by a private detective, Bobby (John Laughlin), hired by her boss. China is being stalked by an unhinged street preacher, the Reverend Shayne (Anthony Perkins), who may want to save her or kill her. The worlds of Joanna and China start to bleed into each other.

China (Kathleen Turner) plies her trade
Continue reading »
May 072019
 

Eating Raoul is a 1982 black comedy directed by and starring and co-written by Paul Barte

Set in a squalid, pre-HIV Los Angeles, Paul and Mary Bland (Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov) are a married couple who want only to leave the city and open a country restaurant, so they can get away from the swingers that have taken over their apartment building, driving the rent up. When one of the swingers gets into their apartment by accident and attempts to rape Mary, Paul kills him with a cast iron frying pan. This gives them an idea: place sex worker ads in newspapers, lure swingers (Mary: “Horrible sex crazed maniacs that no one in the world would miss.”) to their apartment, kill them and rob them.

Continue reading »