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)
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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
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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.

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Apr 302019
 

Body Double is a 1984 psychological thriller directed by Brian DePalma.

Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who loses a job in a vampire movie because of his claustrophobia. He’s then kicked out by his girlfriend who’s with another man. Down on his luck, Jake agrees to house sit for a friend. The luxury house comes with a view of a beautiful woman in another apartment, who dances nude every night.

When Jake witnesses the woman’s murder, but he suspects he has been set up as a witness. He infiltrates the LA porn scene to find the body double of the murdered woman

Did Jake (Craig Wasson) see what he thought he saw?
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Apr 182019
 

Lasting Marks is a short documentary on the infamous Operation Spanner case, in which gay men in 1980s Britain were arrested and tried for consensual sadomasochism. I should point out that the documentary is mostly scans of newspaper articles and legal documents, with a voiceover interview with one of the accused.

Apr 042019
 

Hellbound: Hellraiser II was released only a year after the original, with a larger budget and mostly the same cast. Clive Barker wrote the story and served as executive producer. However, the sequel gets further away from what I thought of as the main themes of the franchise.

Return of the Cenobites
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Apr 012019
 

Hellraiser is a 1987 horror film, based on a novella, “The Hellbound Heart”, by Clive Barker, and the film was also written and directed by Barker.

For the notoriety attached to the Hellraiser franchise, there’s very little of the hyper-sadomasochistic Cenobites and their apparent leader, the iconic Pinhead, in the first film. The Cenobites are a background threat to the main action. They appear in only a few scenes, and there’s little exploration of what they’re about.

Poster
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Mar 272019
 

From Beyond is a 1986 horror-science fiction film, directed by Stuart Gordon. It’s based on the short story of the same name by HP Lovecraft. The film takes a lot of liberties with the original story, particularly in the realm of adding T&A to the story, probably to increase the commercial appeal.

Lovecraft’s fiction generally revolved around the idea that there are hidden realms, just on the threshold of human perception, and his characters are simultaneously fascinated and terrified by these realms and their inhabitants.

Crawford (Jeffrey Combs) and Katherine (Barbara Crampton) face the resonator.

The basic premise of the story and film is the invention of a device, “the resonator”, which makes an unseen world, which exists in parallel to our own reality, visible and tangible. The problem is that the device attracts creatures from this other realm and allows them attack people. In the film, the device’s creator, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), is accused of killing and decapitating his colleague and financial backer, Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel). (Pretorius, incidentally, is the name of another mad scientist in the 1935 Bride of Frankenstein.)

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Mar 162019
 

Cruising (1980) is a thriller directed and written by William Friedkin, based on a novel by Gerald Walker.

William Friedkin, well known for directing The French Connection and The Exorcist, already had history (not necessarily the good kind) with LGBTQ topics when he directed The Boys in the Band (1970), released only a year after Stonewall. Even before it was made, Cruising was controversial, and gay activists repeatedly interfered with the filming. However, the film also included many patrons of gay leather clubs in the club scenes.

Steve (Pacino) slips into the New York leather scene.
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Feb 182019
 

Not all of the works I plan on exploring in The Celluloid Dungeon will have BDSM as a primary or even secondary theme. Some will have BDSM in a single scene or even a single moment.

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, a 1989 crime thriller starring Charles Bronson, is not a good film, by most standards. It’s mainly about an older racist cop, Lt. Crowe (Bronson), harassing and brutalizing non-white people in Los Angeles in pursuit of an exploitative pimp, Duke. That story is awkwardly spliced with another story about a Japanese salaryman, Hada, who moves with his wife and two daughters to Los Angeles. Hada’s elder daughter, Fumiko, somewhere in her early teens, is kidnapped, raped multiple times (offscreen, thankfully) and pimped out, before Crowe rescues her.

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