Mar 022020
 

Bound (2015) (not to be confused with Bound (1996), the lesbian-noir thriller directed by the Wachowskis) has an interesting pedigree. It was made by The Asylum, best known as the producers of numerous “mockbusters”, low budget, direct-to-video knock-offs of popular Hollywood films. Usually, these are science fiction, disaster and horror films (e.g. Transmorphers, based on Transformers), but a few belong to other genres. Bound is The Asylum’s take on Fifty Shades of Grey (which, in turn, is a take on the Twilight series of books and films). 

Let’s get one thing clear. Bound is not a great film. The production values are low, the acting isn’t great, entire scenes seem to be missing from the story, and there are more than a few plot holes.

And yet….

It is a better cinematic treatment of a woman’s introduction to BDSM than Fifty Shades of Grey. 

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Feb 122020
 

Queer as Folk (US) S01E15 “Ties that bind” Aired April 1, 2001 IMDB

In most of the TV episodes discussed in this project, BDSM is talked about, and we see the implements and the outfits, but we only rarely see actual play. The US version of Queer as Folk already pushed the envelope of cable television by showing plenty of gay sex, so it was willing to show play too, up to a point.  

It’s the Leather Ball weekend at the fictional Babylon club in Pittsburgh. Friends Ted and Emmett snipe at each other’s wardrobe choices. 

Ted: “I can’t believe you went out in public dressed like that.” 

Emmet: “My mother used to say, find your best feature and play it for all it’s worth. So that’s exactly what I do.” [turns around to reveal he is wearing pants with the butt cutout.] “Besides it’s called a leather ball. You could have at least dressed for the occasion.”

Ted: “I did. I wore a leather belt.” 

Emmet: “You are such a stick in the mud.” 

Ted: “Why, because I don’t want to look like a cross between a Nazi stormtrooper and Roy Rogers?” [eyes a guy in Western-leather gear with a bullwhip]

Emmet: “Stop it, you’re giving me a hard-on.”

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Dec 262019
 

Silk Stalkings (IMDB) is a much weirder show than I remember. It was supposed to revive the “MTV cops” style that made Miami Vice such a hit in the 80s. It has bizarre interior design, and one of the detectives has flashbacks to her childhood in a communion dress. There are attempts at noir/hardboiled narration and dialog but it’s just gibberish. For example

“If Jerome Eagleton was playing golf with Harlan Cameron and his pretty young wife, it was undoubtedly a best-ball threesome. They were playing on a jagged course with too many physical hazards. These golfers dressed for pain, and most of the balls probably ended up in the rough.”

Episode S01E02, “Going to Babylon”, begins with a dumped old dead guy with bondage marks and a dead pro dominatrix in a car. Murdered sex workers are a staple of this genre, though this episode bucks the trend by not finding the female victim in the teaser. The dominatrix was previously charged with “sexual sadism”, which makes no sense as a charge; she would probably be arrested for solicitation or bawdy-house violations instead.

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Nov 192019
 

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.

Kiki (Lina Fiorentino) and Paul (Griffin Dunne)
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Nov 072019
 
Pets playbill from May 1969

In my discussion of Pets, I neglected to mention that it was based on an off-Broadway play. The Temple of Schlock has a post on the history of the original work and its adaptation into film.

Pets was originally three one-act plays, first produced in May 1969, all based on the idea of women being kept as pets.

It’s not surprising that few critics gave PETS a clean bill of health. Newsday‘s George Oppenheimer summed it up by writing, “Mr. Reich has given us three playlets which, to put it kindly, stagger the imagination,” while Daphne Kraft of the Newark Evening News commented, “PETS, the three one-act satchels of emotion which got hurled on the stage of the Provincetown Playhouse last night, suffers from bad dialogue. The plays sizzle like wet firecrackers and make all of life look like exercises in hysteria.” In the Manhattan Tribune, Clayton Riley wrote, “Nothing to recommend but a superb air-conditioning unit at the Provincetown. Doubtless it will outlive, by a good while, Richard Reich’s slender trio.” Worst of all were the opinions of a critic in Cue: “Richard Reich is a playwright who has discovered a fascinating new toy — sadomasochism. So enthralled is he by the S&M mystique of discipline, power, sexual mastery and submission, torture and self-flagellation, that he has written no less than three one-acters in which people cage, whip, stab, and rape each other with gay abandon, all the while pontificating in language duller than an Abnormal Psych textbook.”

The film combined the three young women characters into one character, Bonnie, combined two older women into Geraldine, and added a few other scenes.

Nov 052019
 

Hardcore (IMDB) is a 1979 crime drama film written and directed by Paul Schrader.

The plot is that Jake (George C. Scott), a mid-Western family man and devout Calvinist, searches through the sex work underground for his daughter after she disappears in Los Angeles, then turns up in a porn film.

Hardcore bears a strong resemblance to 8MM. Both are Orpheus narratives: a man descends into the underworld to find a lost loved one. It also taps into the American captivity narrative. It provides an interesting glimpse into the sex work underworld of Los Angeles in the late 1970s. Again, like 8MM, there’s no particular investigation of the people who work in the sex industry. (Somebody did do enough research to drop names like the Mitchell brothers.)

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Oct 082019
 

Zipperface is a 1992 erotic thriller/slasher film, directed by Mansour Pourmand, who also wrote the original story. It also includes some Italian giallo influences. 

Someone in a full leather outfit and hood is killing sex workers in an unspecified city. As the city’s female mayor is up for re-election, she wants action on this. The case falls to newly promoted female police detective, Lisa Rider. 

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Sep 272019
 

The Image (1975), also known as The Punishment of Anne, is an erotic drama directed by Radley Metzger, which he adapted from the novel L’Image (1956) by “Jean de Berg”, a pseudonym of Catherine Robbe-Grillet. 

The Image is on the threshold between porn and “real” movies, characteristic of the mid-1970s; it got an X rating in the USA.. It makes good use of Paris locations and professional directing, but the plot and characterization are a bit lacking. It. Also unlike a lot of the movies discussed in this project, this has frontal male and female nudity and even shots of fellatio and Anne urinating. There are, however, no shots of genital penetration.

The film takes place in the rarefied, aspirational movie world in which writers can afford gigantic luxurious apartments in major cities. Jean, a writer, goes to a black tie literary cocktail party and meets a former acquaintance, Claire, another writer, and a younger woman, Anne. Claire describes her as “Just a young model…. She belongs to me.” They go to a restaurant for an afterparty, where Claire fondles Anne under the table. Later, the trio go for a walk in the Paris rose gardens, where Claire makes Anne urinate before them. 

Cover of the tie-in book
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