“Love Me Strangely” is a film that’s growing on me the more I reflect on the series of complexities and inversions that it offers. Sure, it’s a tasty morsel of groovy Continental sexiness from the sweet spot of late 60s/early 70s cinema, but it’s also a sinister and ultimately tragic thriller-cum-love-story whose unsettling message has more resonance than it should.
Let’s just establish right here, right now, the fact that Jess Franco’s 1976 version of “Jack the Ripper” has exactly nothing to do with historical veracity. The still-unidentified serial murderer who cut short the lives of at least five prostitutes between 1888 and 1891 in the seedy Whitechapel district of London serves as a jumping-off point for Franco to create a moody character study that imposes his own themes on a skeleton of fact. With that official Ripperologist Warning out of the way, let me just say that I’ll take the substitution of “Klaus Kinski” for “Historical Crime Procedural” any frikkin’ day of the week. Watching Mr. Kinski emote provides one of the great pleasures of genre cinema–the man had an overwhelming cinematic presence, and y’all know how I feel about those brooding Germans. The pairing of Kinski and Franco in a Victorian murder mystery movie promises quite a bit of joy, but does it deliver on these promises…?
Miss Bizarre, shown below, combines pretty much ALL of the various and sundry Special Needs from the pages of BIZARRE into a single outfit of incredible absurdity. While there’s certainly the intent to titillate, the accompanying text, directed at a lady who might discover a copy of the magazine (in her partner’s sock drawer or under the bed or hidden in the bathroom or wherever people kept porn in 1953), is satirical in tone:
If a fair maiden finds the light of her life reading “Bizarre,” she will realise that something is in the wind. The question is what? What must she do? What must she wear to please him? One false step and a beautiful romance may be loused up–but don’t worry! We’re right with you in your hour of crisis! Just leave it to Willie.It is assumed that you are already an expert in wrestling, judo and boxing. Therefore if you are required to take the dominant role you will be able to cope with the situation, but it may be the other way so you must appear very helpless and feminine.He may like boots, so you wear one boot; long sheer stockings, so you display one on the other leg–held up tightly by at least six suspenders. Similarly you have a bloomer and fancy garter on the other leg, and over it a pair of brief frilly scanties.The extremely wasp-waisted corset of black kid has convenient rings to which shafts can be attached should you be required to serve as a girl pony; and the ring in the nose in this case is an excellent substitute for a bit to which the reins are attached.Your makeup must be extreme, including a tattoo on your left shoulder, and you are drenched in perfume. You are covered in jewels but the bracelet on your right wrist is a pair of handcuffs. Your long hair, scarcely visible from the front (he may like it short) cascades down your back unbraided under your black gleaming rubber cape whose hood can be brought forward to cover the face (a la Blind Girl Fluff).Having rigged yourself up in this ensemble you strap one arm tightly back at the waist. Then your head held high by the stiffly boned collar, your earrings brushing your shoulders, you pick up a riding quirt, and with the shackles on your ankles jingling, go and interrupt his reading.Now we don’t guarantee that this is going to be absolutely perfect. We may have overlooked something but at least it will show an enthusiastic desire to cooperate; and we present the idea with our best wishes for a prosperous and happy New Year.
- Fright Rags – Original designs, limited editions, and rad poster reproductions.
- Giallo T-Shirts – Pop art designs inspired by Italian thrillers. My life wasn’t complete until I owned an Ivan Rassimov shirt.
- Rotten Cotton – One of the original sources for gruesome, badass shirt designs. Lots of poster-inspired stuff as well as official licensed shirts and limited editions.
- November Fire – Staggering collection of designs, including cult film posters, occult symbols, and military themes, available on a number of shirt styles for men and women.
- Threadless – Limited edition designs ranging from the twee to the snarky, with plenty of horror stuff in the mix. My glow-in-the-dark villain stick figures shirt is one of my most treasured tees.
I watch a lot of documentaries, and they vary in quality from profound to thought-provoking to humorous to unintentionally silly. The problem with Robinson Devor’s “Zoo,” a documentary film about a man who died while being fucked by a horse at a sex farm, is that Devor never really owns the fact that he’s making a documentary film about a man who died while being fucked by a horse at a sex farm. Devor is aiming square at “profound,” applying moody cinematography and affecting a tone of ethical ambiguity. The documentary is so deliberately quiet in its tone and so cautiously philosophical about the nature of this paraphilia that the overall effect is pretty goddamn comedic. By the time the actor hired to play Cop #1 in a re-enactment for the film is interviewed about the nature of life and death, the piece has dissolved into postmodern comedy. Is this meta or merely a bad decision–or is it something akin to genius? The actor’s observation that his friend had a broken leg treated at the same hospital where the horse-fucked man bled to death was so self-centric it could have been included for no reason other than cynical humor. Funnier still is the elegantly-lensed, slow-motion sequence of a central casting “redneck” fleeing from the scene of the victim’s accidental death with a bucket full of bestiality pornography.
Sure, America has its DC Comics Legion of Doom, and those villains seemed pretty darned nasty while menacing kids over their sugar cereal and “Super Friends” on Saturday mornings. Let me just tell you that the Legion of Doom has nothing–BUT nothing–on the villains of Italian fumetti neri, adult comics that fused sex and violence into a fantastical art trashgasm.
- I will not make any “Hostel”/hostile puns.
- I will not profess my panty-moistening desire to hump the balls off of director Eli Roth and bear his scores of love-children, even though I have received the memo that he’s the new Bruce Campbell. Eli-Lovers, he is all yours (you’re welcome).
It’s not particularly revelatory to say that the 1970s were a time of sexual experimentation taken to the point of faddishness. Porn films came into vogue, the Swinger lifestyle was the subject of much conversation, and the Free Love of the late 60s had morphed into a hedonistic zeitgeist that lots of folks talked about, even if relatively few were living it. Just check out this awesome ad for Xaviera’s Game, a board game marketed in conjunction with that Happiest of Hookers–what better way to get all the glamor of prostitution without actually having to–you know–have sex OR get paid for it? The goal of the game is to complete 6 of the 8 Phases of Lovemaking, according to the instructions I found. Partial completion of lovemaking might indicate the game was designed by a man, but the game’s emphasis on lengthy explanations tells us that women had some hand in creating this mind-boggling parlor game. In the spirit of this safe form of taboo busting, adult magazines pushed the envelope ever further with their content–sometimes to downright bizarre degrees.
Look–we’ve all got them. Call them “chick flicks” or the male equivalent thereof, there are films of a nature that make them utterly unappetizing to our domestic partners but which sing their siren song to us, beckoning us to view their forbidden excellence when disapproving eyes are out of range. My own brand of “chick flick” is the kind of hazy, languorous, nudity-packed kink-tragedy produced Continentally during the 1970s. I know that for many, the long shots of Significant Glances and the injection of La Philosophie dans le boudoir adds up to boredom of the most excruciating sort, but for me, it’s pure bliss. A master of the form, director Jess Franco delivers the titillating goods once again in 1970’s “Eugenie de Sade.”
Pichard began his career in 1946 with illustrations in mainstream publications, eventually moving into comic strips and then producing his first erotic work, “Blanche Epiphanie,” in 1967, beginning what would be a 40-year career in naughty books. Late in his life, he taught at l’Ecole des Arts Appliques in Paris (where he had been a student). Pichard died in 2003, leaving the world with a tremendous legacy of erotic art.