John: “Elizabeth, I don’t want to negotiate with you. Now crawl.”
Nine and a Half Weeks (IMDB) is a 1986 erotic drama/romance film, directed by Adrian Lyne, starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. Written by Patricia Knop & Zalman King and Sarah Kernochan.
Adrian Lyne previously directed Flashdance (1983) and later directed controversial, sexually-charged films like Fatal Attraction (1987) and the remake of Lolita (1997). He learned filmmaking as a commercial director in London.
Zalman King, the driving force of the film as one of the writers and producers, is an interesting figure in the history of visual erotica. He had a middling career as an actor, going back to the 60s. After Weeks, King started directing softcore erotica features, borrowing a lot of Adrian Lyne’s style. In the 1990s, he created the adult anthology series Red Shoe Diaries, which pioneered a particular style of high-gloss softcore erotica suitable for the mixed gender, home-viewing audience, and the later Chromium Blue series. For better or worse, Lyne and King defined what some people thought “visual erotica” should be.
Hallmarks of the Lyne-King style: Heterosexual, with occasional girl-girl scenes. No frontal male nudity, and definitely no erect penises. Definitely going further than network TV, but stopping before hardcore porn. Loving high-contrast closeups on consumer goods like CD players and food. A middle-class aspirational aesthetic.
After Hours (IMDB) is a 1985 comedy directed by Martin Scorsese. This is one of the single-scene works covered in this project.
Paul, a lonely word processor in mid-80s, midtown Manhattan, meets Marcy in a late night cafe. She invites him to visit her downtown in Soho, which leads to a bizarre series of late night encounters.
One of them is with Kiki (Linda Fiorentino), Marcy’s roommate. We’re introduced to Kiki in just a bra and a skirt, spattered with paper mache. She’s a sultry contrast to Marcy, who is blonde and innocent-looking.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.