Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Pink Angels (1971)

I guess you could call this the greatest gay biker movie ever made, if there were any others to compare it to. Actually, no, if there were others, they'd probably be better than this one!

The Pink Angels is, I suspect, a "comedy" about a biker gang made up of six gay men, and that's the punchline right there- they're a bunch of "bananas" who look like bikers! Wh-wh-what?! And they cross-dress!! They're heading down the California coast to a cotillion ball and the locals will never know what hit them when they realize that these bikers are actually... gay bikers!! YOWZA!

The movie sort of ambles through one contrived set up to another with the punchline nearly always being that, get this! They're gay bikers! Most of the actors play mildly embarassing swishy, fey "homo" types; but the film is also really on the side of the gay bikers, who are contrasted with the square "establishment" types, and the portrayals are much more lighthearted than meanspirited. One of the gags here is that the military/square/cops hate long-haired hippie "queers"- but, in this case, they really are gay! So, given that the target audience for the film was stoned teenagers at the drive-in, it's possible that maybe some of them became more tolerant of homosexual cross-dressers after watching the film.

Of course, the problem with this type of late 60s/early 70s movie is that it looks like it was shot by people who were stoned too- there is a lot of bombastic folk-rock about America and its social ills and scenes that go nowhere, and an orgy scene in which the cameraman nearly sticks the lens up some actor's noses, and a really stereotypical military type who appears periodically, and lots of scenes that play too long and slow- so very characteristic of the era.

And then there's an ending that is suddenly very serious and tragic- in the last two minutes of the film! The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movies reviewer admits that he had no idea how to handle it, and I'm sort of in the same boat. Is it supposed to be funny or freak us the fuck out? Unlike Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movies, I'm going to reveal the ending, so you know if you want to watch the movie, after the trailer, (SPOILER ALERT)

Spoiler: The bikers all get lynched and murdered. The end.

It seriously comes out of nowhere, especially given the lighthearted tone of the entire rest of the movie, and reminds me a lot of "Avere Ventanni" an Italian sex romp about two girls having wacky misadventures, until they're raped and murdered in the last five minutes. That one, in fact, struck me as social reactionary bullshit- we can show all the female nudity and sex that you came to see so long as the girls get punished in the end for their behavior.

In this movie? I don't know. I think The Pink Angels is actually pretty subversive because it asks its early 70s audience to relate to heroes who are openly gay and then mourn their deaths. There's a closing montage that reminds us of their adventures and, I actually might dare to say, that we're forced to question all the fun we've had snickering at the "faggots" throughout the film, since this was what got them murdered. I prefer this interpretation to thinking the movie is showing the characters "getting what's coming to them" for their transgressions.

At least, I hope I'm right.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977)

Probably the most ill-concieved movie genre mashup of all time, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals combines the sexploitation eroticism of the "Black Emanuelle" films with the graphic gut-munching of the Italian cannibal films. If that mix seems somehow wrong to you, let me just say two words: Joe D'Amato.

Okay, now: "what are the Italian cannibal films?" you ask. They're a subgenre of Italian horror movies in which clueless westerners travel into the Amazon jungle and eventually get eaten by cannibals for their transgressions. I suspect they started making these movies in response to the cannibalism scenes in earlier zombie films. "You know who else eats people? Cannibals!" The best of them is probably Cannibal Holocaust, which really isn't that good. I'm not sure the worst. Maybe we'll plow through those later- this is the last of the (official) Laura Gemser Emanuelle films to plow through. So let's get to it.

My favorite part of this movie is the title card: "This is a true story as reported by Jennifer O'Sullivan". I'm guessing this is actually a crapola story as reported by Liar O'Bullshitter.

The story begins with Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) doing an undercover investigation of a New York City mental institution when, suddenly, a patient attacks and bites a chunk out of a nurse's breast in the 'Farnacy' (The sign was clearly made by the Italian crew). The staff ties up the patient and have no luck getting her to talk. Thinking quickly though Emanuelle tries masturbating the girl, but has no luck.

Cut to her editor's office, where Emanuelle explains the girl's malicious tit-munching by telling us that the nurse "was well-known for her homosexual inclination. She's the one who started abusing the poor girl"- a bit judgmental considering Emanuelle has just fingered "the poor girl". Anyway, turns out the tit-biter has a tattoo on her linked to an Amazon tribe that was thought to be extinct. How did she get into a NYC loony-bin? No idea.

But, this allows Emanulle to meet up with an anthropologist played by Gemser's husband and frequent co-star Gabrielle Tinti. He shows her some 8mm films of African cannibals killing and eating people and then they have sex because of course they do. Afterwards, she informs him that "I'm a free woman and I behave as such".

Besides, she's got another lover, Peter, who she then has a surprisingly hot sex scene with alongside the Hudson River. This is followed by an equally good sex scene with the anthropologist, which has an unforgettably schmaltzy love song with lyrics like, "my arms feel so tired when I make love to you" and "I am so happy... like a clown". Indeed.

Emanuelle, the professor and a team of researchers heads into the Amazon jungle to solve this whole cannibal mystery. They bring along some associates, including a nun and teenage girl, who live outside the jungle and are up for more sexy hijinx (no, not the nun). For instance, Emanuelle frolics with a nude Monica Zanchi in the water near a waterfall while a monkey smokes cigarettes in the foreground. (Writing a sentence like that reminds me why I watch these movies) The group soon runs into a hunter, played by Donald O'Brien (Dr. Buther M.D. himself) and his wife Maggie, played by Susan Scott, (who's in a few other Emanuelle movies). The hunter is really searching for a wrecked plane full of diamonds, while his wife is searching for dudes to fuck her on the side; she's a lot luckier.

The hunter tells them that the priest who they were going to visit in the jungle has been killed, along with his nuns, which doesn't really seem to bother anyone terribly. After about an hour of sex and chatter, the cannibals finally show up and start picking off characters. The nun gets eaten. The gore effects are fairly realistic here, but scenes of cannibalism tend to suffer from the fact that the dinner is already dead, so there's no tension. Anyway, the hunter and his wife find the plane and the diamonds and find they still love each other, but she gets snatched by the cannibals and his plan to save her fails spectacularly.

Finally, Emanuelle saves the teenage girl with a brilliant plan that involves being naked in the water and being naked on land. She, the girl, and Tinti survive to tell the tale. Even though Emanuelle has enough material for a great article, she finds herself strangely moved by watching her friends massacred in front of her.

Of all the Gemser Emanuelle films, this is the one most seen by horror movie fans. It's also one of the worst because it makes very little sense and the blend of hot sex and revolting gore doesn't work well at all. The sex is actually hotter than in most of the other Emanuelle films and the gore is pretty convincing; but the film has to really shift gears to get from the sex to the violence. D'Amato's direction is pretty lousy here anyway, but the real problem is that, again, he's unable to stick to making one movie and goes off in all sorts of bad directions. But, at least, nobody gets raped this time.