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    Pig – 1334 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 9th, 2013

    I didn’t know what to make of this Pig/1334 double bill when I took it on as my latest assignment. All I had to go on were the aggressively grotesque images on the Blu-ray case. I wasn’t yet familiar with the work of Dutch filmmaker Nico B. or former Christian Death frontman Rozz Williams. I did a bit of research, mostly because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being handed a real-life version of the videotape from The Ring.  (Surely, there would be a less drastic way of informing me my services were no longer required on this site.) What I uncovered instead was an intriguing and haunting back story.
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    The Nunsploitation Convent Collection

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on September 20th, 2010

    A nunsploitation box set was always an inevitability, and here the good people at Cult Epics chime in with just such a collection, one limited to 2500 copies. There are only two films here, but they are two good ones, the works of strong directors. One is a distinctively idiosyncratic work, showing the unmistakable hand of its filmmaker. The other will quite simply knock you out the back wall.
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    Monamour

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on September 18th, 2010

    After a series of releases from erotic cinema specialist Tinto Brass’s early career, Cult Epics now gives us one of his latest works. Marta (Anna Jimskaia) loves her husband Dario (Max Parodi), but he has become inattentive and selfish in bad, when he shows any interest in sex at all. Feeling lonely and unappreciated, Marta takes in the sights of Mantua, and in a museum she encounters Leon (Riccardo Marino, who is no more French than I am Martian), a sexually aggressive alpha male with whom she begins a passionate affair, with an eye (of course) to re-igniting Dario through jealousy.
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    The Fernando Arrabal Collection 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 20th, 2010

    Cult Epics here presents us with their second box set of films by ex-pat Spanish surrealist/’pataphysician/provocateur Fernando Arrabal. These are more recent works, and are, arguably, even more of an acquired taste than the earlier set, though not necessarily for the reasons one might think.
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    Attraction (Nerosubianco)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on October 28th, 2009

    Only the most foolhardy of mortals would attempt a plot summary of this film, and I’m not quite that crazy. This is Tinto Brass’s 1969 effort, coming between 1967′s Deadly Sweet and 1970′s The Howl. The former is a mad, pop-culture collage of noir elements, while the latter is a hallucinatory picaresque. This one is the most plot-free of the the lot. The original title is Nerosubianco, an untranslatable pun that combines “black on white” with the word “eros” (Attraction – note the word contains “action” – is an honorable attempt, and better than the theatrical title of “The Artful Penetration of Barbara,” which is what appears on the screen here, with the new name showing up as a subtitle), and that’s about as much as can be summarized: this is an interracial romance. Beyond that, we have an exercise in pure formalism, an eye-popping collection of images and incidents as abstract as they are psychedelic.
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    The Howl

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 7th, 2009

    Cult Epics continues its love affair with director Tinto Brass, and here once again delves into one of his early works. For my money, for all that his later erotica is handsomely shot and produced, what I’m seeing of his 1960s output (so far Deadly Sweet and this) is far more interesting. If 1967′s Deadly Sweet was demented, it at least followed a semi-recognizable mystery plot. The Howl (1969), on the other hand, defies description. It is basically a surreal picaresque, as a young woman (Tina Aumont) flees her wedding with a stranger (Luigi Proietti) who gives her a come-hither look. Already, this sounds far more sensible than the film really is. The couple race from one lunatic encounter to the next: a resort hotel apparently designed by Sade; a naked, cannibalistic philosopher and his family, and on we go.
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    Deadly Sweet

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on May 4th, 2009

    Jean-Louis Trintignant (here dubbed into Italian) is a hard-boiled actor (!). Arriving at a night club to meet the proprietor, he instead finds the man dead, and the luscious Ewa Aulin standing over the corpse, protesting her innocence. Trintingnant believes her, and decides to help her out. The quest for the truth leads them though a series of encounters with various aspects of London nightlife and lowlife, 1967 vintage.
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    Jean Genet’s Un Chant D’Amour

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on April 28th, 2009

    A while back, Cult Epics released a 2-disc limited edition of Un Chant D’Amour. This single-disc reissue features a number of the features (though not all) from the limited release. The actual film and transfer quality are the same, and so much of this review is likewise the same.
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    Viva

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 11th, 2009

    Welcome to 1972, when the sexual revolution is simultaneously in full swing, yet also showing signs of exhaustion (all that swinging can wear a body down, don’t you know). Barbi (Anna Biller) is a model housewife who is awakening to the feeling that there is a world outside her four walls. When she and her husband have a falling out, she hooks up with her more extroverted neighbour Sheila (Bridget Brno), who is also in the midst of a marriage crisis, and the two of them seek new love by taking work at an escort agency. What follows is a picaresque series of encounters, with nary a sexploitation angle ignored.
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    Kiss Napoleon Goodbye

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 4th, 2009

    Hedda and Neal (Lydia Lunch and Don Bajema) are a couple whose relationship needs work. They have retreated to an old plantation house for precisely that reason, but then Hedda invites over her former lover, Jackson (Henry Rollins). The inevitable triangle that occurs is intercut with flashes of other events from the house’s past.
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    Population: 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 3rd, 2009

    Director Rene Daalder is best known in cult film circles as the man who gave us Massacre at Central High. But now Cult Epics has released a pair of his films (this and Here Is Always Somewhere Else) that seem more in keeping with his real interests. A long and twisting road led to this effort, starting with an abortive collaboration with Russ Meyer and the Sex Pistols, which brought Daalder into the world of punk rock. In that field he met Tomata Du Plenty, vocalist for The Screamers. After funding for their proposed collaboration Mensch collapsed and Du Plenty’s HIV-positive status became apparent, they put together the present film out of a mixture of footage from the abandoned project, plus new elements. The striking result is Du Plenty as the last survivor of nuclear holocaust, holed up in his bunker, declaming/singing poetic rants about the history of the United States, all the while surrounded by a phantasmagoria of bizarre sights. Whether the result is compelling or pretentious (or both) will depend on one’s sympathies with respect to the art scene from which it emerges, but that it is a work that rigorously works out its conceptual and artistic premises all the way to the end cannot be denied.
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    Here Is Always Somewhere Else: The Disappearance of Bas Jan Ader

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 3rd, 2009

    This is another of Cult Epics’ entries in their new Rene Daalder Collection. His most recent film, it’s a documentary about conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader. The brief body of work he left behind is best known for using gravity as a medium (so, for instance, he did a number of filmed pieces of himself or objects falling). He was lost at sea in1975 while attempting to cross the Atlantic in a minuscule boat as part of a piece to called “In Search of the Miraculous.” Daalder’s 68-minute film retraces Ader’s life, but does so in part through the filter of Daalder’s own parallel experiences as an expatriate Dutch artist. The film is very interesting, though I would have like a bit more analysis of Ader’s work, in order to have a better understanding of exactly what it was doing, and Daalder’s speculations about what Ader’s final thoughts might have been are a little too definitive. Still, a strong documentary.
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    Gitane Demone — Life After Death

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on January 9th, 2009

    Gitane Demone was one of the lead singers for seminal deathrock band Christian Death before going solo in 1989.  This 2-DVD set is a record of her various solo efforts, tracking various incarnations, most notoriously (and most prominently featured in the release’s packaging) being the fetish performances for the likes of the DeMask club and Skin Two magazine. Present here is a mix of television interviews, one video, and a raft of live footage.
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    American Nudes Volumes 1 & 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 31st, 2008

    Cult Epics continues its erotic archival work with these two collections of short films. Volume 1 consists of pieces from the 1940s (with at least one from 1938 thrown in), while Volume 2 deals with the 50s. The former has such amusing “documentary” shorts as “They Wear No Clothes” (*gasp*) and various comedy routines. The latter has the inevitable Irving Klaw shorts. None of these films are by any definition “good,” but they are fascinating records of the state of American sexuality at that time. Watching all of these at one sitting would be quite the chore, but then, when was the last time you read an encyclopaedia straight through? There is a similar documentary value here.
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    Slogan

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 12th, 2008

    Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin were the “it” couple in France during the late 60s and early 70s. This is the film that brought them together, their To Have and Have Not, if you will. Musician Gainsbourg (who, for the uninitiated, had a singing style that was a cross between Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits) plays a married director of successful TV commercials. He begins an affair with an 18-year-old (Birkin). Their relationship hits most of the predictable moments of such movie romances from that period.
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    Black Night

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 11th, 2007

    Belgian filmmaker Olivier Smolders, after a successful run of gorgeous and disturbing shorts, here makes a feature debut that is just as gorgeous and disturbing. Strongly reminiscent of the works of David Lynch, but far darker overall, the film is set at a time when the world is shrouded in the night of a perpetual eclipse. Day only comes for 15 seconds at 12:23 pm each day. Oscar (Fabrice Rodriguez) is a museum entomologist haunted by traumatic dreams involving the death of a sister who might or might not have every existed. He returns home one night to find a dying and pregnant African woman in his bed, a woman who is somehow linked to his father’s colonial past.
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    Spiritual Excercises

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 7th, 2007

    Olivier Smolders is a Belgian filmmaker with a sensibility as distinctive and challenging as his artistry is developed. Cult Epics has done North American audiences a huge service by bringing his films to Region 1 DVD release. This disc has ten short films. Each piece has its own distinct identity, yet they are all very clearly the work of a singular creative talent. The frequently disturbing shorts range from a tale of murder and cannibalism in “Adoration” (previously available on the Cinema of Death collection), to the heartbreaking “Mort à Vignole” (where Smolders narrates a family tragedy filtered through home movies made by his and his wife’s parents, along with his own family footage), to an extended yet elegantly filmed practical joke (“Point de Fuite”) to a most unusual adaptation of Sade with “La Philosophie dans le Boudoir.” The films are invariably gorgeous and clinical in the precision of their observations. The blurbs on the case invoke Lynch, Greenaway and Bergman, and the comparisons are apt, though Smolders is also very much his own man.
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    Vintage Erotica Anno 1960

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on November 12th, 2007

    After going all the way back to the 20s with the last entry in this series, now Cult Epics gives us a collection from 1960s, a period that marks the beginning of the end for this kind of pornographic short. Theatrical hardcore is just around the corner, and things will never be the same. In the meantime, though, things are remarkably the same. Other than some clothing styles (in those brief moments when clothes are actually on), it’s interesting to note that there is very little to distinguish these twelve entries from those of any other decade, a point driven home by the bonus short from the 1940s, which doesn’t feel very different from the rest of the offerings. Artistically, there is not much going on here (surprise, surprise), but the star rating indicates the fact that, despite this, there is some clear archival value here.
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    Cinema of Death

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 19th, 2007

    Cupt Epics here presents five films identified as “underground” (a fluid term at the best of times). Certainly, they are all deliberately transgressive, though not all are equally successful. Two are by Nico B. – the perviously released “Pig” and “Hollywood Babylon.” The former has been reviewed here before, but briefly, its catalogue of murder and S&M horrors, working out a killer’s fantasies, is rather too self-conscious about its own transgression. The latter is a 4-minute tribute to Kenneth Anger, taking in exhibits at the Museum of Death.
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    Un Chant d’amour

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 15th, 2007

    Long the bad boy of French novelists, Jean Genet directed this 25-minute short in 1950. Borderline pornographic, it is a silent portrayal of (literally) imprisoned desire. Two prisoners convey their longing for one another through the prison walls, while a voyeuristic guard watches, becoming aroused and frustrated to the point of violence. Poetic, fetishistic, and intensely personal, it is a startling and historic piece of underground cinema.
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    The Irving Klaw Classics

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 4th, 2006

    Four discs of Irving Klaw’s 8mm films from the fifties: 270 minutes of material, which is astounding, given that all this was supposed to have been destroyed. The discs are distinguished by theme: “The Bettie Page Films,” “The Wrestling Films,”"The Fetish Films,” and “The Dance Films.” The titles are self-explanatory, and a synopsis is, of course, utterly beside the point. These are short films featuring women parading around in heels and hose, fetish gear, and wrestling while got up in sam.
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    Private (Fallo!)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on October 6th, 2006

    Tinto Brass, reigning high priest of the handsomely mounted skin flick, returns with this portmanteau feature. Six couples spice up their sex lives as the women have sex with other people and their menfolk watch/hear about it/join in too.This is the most explicit film from Brass to come out on the Cult Epics label, in that a fair bit of the sex here is not simulated. The tone is consistently cheerful, and there are some quite funny moments. The performers look more like real people than one might expect, and so, all in all, this ain’t deep, but it’s better than most efforts of its kind.
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    Vintage Erotica Anno 1920

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on September 1st, 2006

    Cult Epics’ series takes a step back in time with this release. The last one took us to the 1950s, and now we go considerably further back. Where to go next I’m not sure, but anyway, this is an interesting collection of antique porn. That this is a French import is obvious not only from the fact that all the films hail from there, but also from the fact that the jacket copy has been rather clumsily translated into English. But never mind.
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    Cheeky!

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on May 18th, 2006

    Carla (Yuliya Myarchuk) is a Venetian in London, looking for a flat in which she and her boyfriend Matteo can live once he actually arrives there. In the meantime, she has been in London for a month, and he is in Rome, pining for her. Both of them are getting a bit sexually frustrated, but Carla works that issue out with a series of affairs, and for some reason, Matteo seems to have a problem with this.We are once again in the of Tinto Brass’ ass-worship and cheerful infedelity. The tone is established by Carla’s opening credit stroll through Hyde Park (a walk which Matteo will recreate later to transformative effect), which is depicted as a carnal wonderland.
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    Bettie Page: Dark Angel

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 9th, 2006

    Synopsis

    As one of the discs in this set is exactly the same as the previous release, my review is the same too:

    This is an episodic biopic about Bettie Page, moving from her glory days as a model for the pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager and fetish actress for Irving Klaw, maker of B&D shorts. All is well until a Senate investigation into obscenity, and Bettie herself pines for more mainstream, respectable roles. A fair bit of running time consists of B&W recreations of lost Klaw films, wit…
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