Review: Cries Of Ecstasy, Blows Of Death

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Something Weird. DVD

A decade before Mad Max 2 kicked off the post-apocalypse boom, and even pre-dating prototype dystopian efforts like The Ultimate Warrior, this long forgotten softcore movie was quietly laying down a template so precise that you have to wonder if George Miller had seen this somehow during the 1970s.

Set in 2062, Cries of Ecstasy, Blows of Death (what a title!) takes place in a world where environmental disaster has wiped out most life on earth, leaving the planet a barren desert. The handfuls of survivors live in inflatable bio-domes, forced to use gasmasks if outdoors for any period of time, and await death in the only way that soft porn movies of the 1970s would allow – by screwing each other’s brains out. Forced to stay within designated areas, the survivors also have to deal with military deserters who roam the land in souped-up cars and bike gangs, raping, killing and pillaging.

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The film gets right into it with a bleak scene in which two robe-and-gasmask clad hippy chicks are chased through the desert by bikers, who then rape them and slit the throat of one before rescuers arrive. While the audience is still recovering from this visceral shock to the system, the film sets out the plot via a voice-over and then cuts to Sandi Carey and Kim Lu engaging in some Sapphic comforting of each other, thus setting out the basic structure of the film – a mix of bleak despair, nasty violence and softcore sex. Sometimes, all elements come together, like the scene where a demented, nihilistic character forces a woman to strangle to death the girl they’ve just been having sex with, while other dark moments include a pregnant woman being gunned down and – in a sign of the times – a bunch of clumsy kung fu battles.

The sex scenes here seem the result of desperation rather than passion – characters gripped by the fear of their inevitable extinction and isolation as those around them die – the final moments of pleasure for a dying species. As such, the film becomes increasingly demented – and, it’s fair to say, incoherent – as it progresses, before it comes to a sudden stop that screams of missing footage.

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Often mistakenly referred to as an Italian film (because until recently, only an Italian dub was known to exist), this Something Weird version is most welcome, even if the print is well worn, washed out and probably incomplete. Short of someone unearthing the original negative, it’s probably the best version we can hope for. And as both a pioneering slice of post-apocalypse cinema and an above-average early Seventies softcore film, it’s well worth checking out.

DAVID FLINT

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