Monday, June 27, 2011

Movies Worth Googling: Strange Movie Reviews by Jenny Orosel

Rule 34: No Borders! (The Wild World of International Horror Porn)

I blame this month’s column on a road trip.

My husband, Bill, and I went on a road trip this month. One thing we love to do while on road trips is hit used bookstores. We were browsing through seeing the local offerings, getting a flavor for the place, when I come across a sixteen year old CD-Rom in a case. Not a videodisc, but an old-school CD-Rom (minimum system requirements: Windows 3.1) of "Urotsukidoji". Yes, the infamous movie that popularized an entire subgenre of anime: tentacle porn. I’d never seen it, but was immensely curious. Then I had to wonder what other treasures the city had in store. Sure enough, the next bookstore not only presented me with "The Beast" (La Bete), a French/Polish adventure of woman versus beast…in porno form, but also a strange sounding treat: "The Living Corpse" (aka Dracula in Pakistan), the only Pakistani movie to ever been given an “adult” rating. So there I was, coming home from a road trip with a load of foreign horror porn (and one slightly mortified husband). Yep, there was a column in there.

The DVD-Rom I scored of "Urotsukidoji" is made up of five OVAs (Original Video Animations), eventually released here on DVD as "Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend" and "Urotsukidoji II: Legend of the Demon Womb". According to the world of Urotsukidoji, our universe is actually made up of three simultaneous worlds: The Human World, The Beast World and the Demon World. Most of the time these three worlds live a separate existence, except for once every 3000 years, when the Overfiend comes out of the demon realm, and unites all three worlds, thus insuring chaos will ensue. Why? Not entirely sure, but I’m assuming it has something to do with sex. The demons are shown to have sex with anyone at any time, willing or not. And, for unexplained reasons, giant penis/tentacles grow out of them, allowing them to rape multiple women at once (and, in one scene rape an actual building). It’s now that time and the Overfiend has come to Earth…in the form of a dorky, virginal high school boy. Hordes of demons and man-beasts have come to the human realm, either hoping to help him or destroy him.

Following that? Yeah, I had some troubles also. There are times in the story where the Overfiend is presented as a Christ figure (don’t all Christ figures have tentacle sex?) and sometimes as a tool of destruction. One thing is for certain, no female is safe, because unfortunately the tentacle sex has a tendency to make them explode into great big balls of light. And, oddly enough, that’s where the most interesting parts come in. Both the monsters and the gore are very well drawn. The demon design, especially is intense, and unlike any other monsters I’ve seen, whether in Anime or your more standard movie. The exploding bodies would make any splatterpunk fan weep with joy. From an aesthetic standpoint, the visuals make up for any question of “why?” for the plot.

What I find odd is the “visual fogging” that happens in "Urotsukidoji". I’m not sure where the line of obscenity falls, but certain genital shots are subject to what many import fans have grown accustomed to—optical fogging. Rather than show the naughty bits, a fuzzy black circle is placed in front of them, blurring out the offending body part. Yet, close-ups of vaginas violated by penile tentacles are shown in all their full-color glory. It’s quite a source of entertainment for me to see what certain cultures find offensive and what is totally acceptable.

Speaking of offended cultures…"The Living Corpse", as said before, is the only “X” rated movie to come out of Pakistan. Made in the mid 60s, it’s definitely a time capsule of a Pakistan that was part secular and part morally strict. It follows the Dracula novel a lot closer than I expected (minus the origin—in The Living Corpse, Count Dracula is actually a mad scientist who ingests a medicine he was trying to create). Along the way he seduces many weak-willed people (mostly women) to become undead like him. Of course they meet with horrible fates, and only the morally pure are able to defeat him. Oh, and there’s gratuitous song and dance numbers included that have NOTHING to do with the story.

An X-rated Dracula movie, you would expect some hardcore (or even softcore) sex. Strippers, hell, even excessive gore. Nope, not in the Pakistani Dracula. Seriously, they cut away before his teeth touch the neck of a woman, and the woman dressed the most risqué was wearing…gasp!...jeans and a t-shirt. Granted, they were tight, and she had some slinky dance moves. So how in the world did this end up with the same rating as "Urotsukidoji"? Because, according to the mores of the time and place, it was just as shocking. Even the implied sexuality of the vampire sucking on a neck was enough to make it too much for some people, let alone the implied violence and the sacrilege of walking dead. It does make me wonder what the 1967 Pakistani people would do if they got a hold of "Urotsukidoji" or even "The Beast".

Speaking of "The Beast" (La Bete), that one was rated X and certainly deserved it. An American heiress is to be wed to a Frenchman whose family used to be wealthy, but has since fallen on hard times. They’ve never met, but their marriage was a stipulation in the father’s will. The husband-to-be is a bit socially inept, preferring to watch the stable’s horses mating to interacting with his fiancée. That might have something to do with the family curse—every 200 years, "The Beast" comes to life and torments the lady of the house. Only, last time, the woman relented to The Beast’s desires and ended up killing it…by screwing it to death. Is their fate tied to the fate of the betrothed?

I have one major complaint about "The Beast". For a movie that is supposed to be both horror and porn, it’s painfully boring. I checked. The first scene of either horror or porn (not including the equine copulation scenes) comes 55 minutes, 36 seconds into the movie. Yep, we are treated to almost a full hour of mostly useless exposition and horse sex before any excitement. And it’s an hour and a half movie! There is a “director’s cut” floating around, with about ten minutes of dialogue removed. I’ve never been a fan of edited versions, but I’m guessing this one is an improvement.

In stark contrast to "The Living Corpse", "The Beast" holds nothing back. We get more close-ups of ejaculating animal penises (whether real or attached to the rubber-suited Beast). There’s all sort of sexual variables (oral, manual, mammary, but luckily no rubber suit penetration shots). And I’m sure the scenes where The Beast chases her through the woods were supposed to be scary, and they might have been…if it weren’t for the calliope music playing in the background.

That is one thing I noticed from all three movies—the music was wildly inappropriate. "Urotsukidoji" had sweet moments of romantic music, just as the giant penile tentacles spring forth. "The Living Corpse" had upbeat classical playing during the tensest of vampiric moments. And there was the abovesaid calliope music of "The Beast" punctuated the scenes of peril. None of these soundtracks highlighted the pornographic aspects of the story and certainly didn’t punctuate the horror. So why were they there? Good question, and one I don’t have an answer to. All I can think of is maybe these tunes were cheap to obtain.

It’s fascinating to look at various cultures through their movies, and you get even more insight while looking at “forbidden” films. All societies have a fine line between what is naughty and what is unacceptable, and with these three flicks, that line is crossed, crossed over, and duly noted. I will say learned two things while watching the movies for this piece: I learned just how to kill any appetite I might have for calamari, and I learned the city of Houston has some strange taste in porn.

Where to find these movies:

"Urotsukidoji" is currently out of print. There are prints of it floating around out there on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD and even CD-Rom, and I would expect to pay at least $20 per episode. If you want the uncut version, look for one marked “Perfect Collection”. Otherwise, it’ll be cut by about half and missing most of the graphic stuff.

"The Living Corpse" just went out of print, but you can still find copies for between fifteen and twenty bucks. And it’s available on Netflix.

"The Beast" is out of print, but copies can be scored on EBay or Amazon from fifteen dollars on up, depending on if you want the edited version or the 3 disc special edition (yep, there is a special edition of this one).