Sexcula

Director - John Holbrook

Cast - Debbie Collins, Jamie Orlando

Country of Origin - Canada

Discs - 1

Distributor - Synapse

Reviewer - Bobby Morgan

Date - 05/14/13

The Film: 3/5

 

A vacationing couple (Debbie Collins, David F. Hurry) arrive at a dilapidated mansion that was once owned by her ancestors. During their search of the house they find an old diary that the man reads passages from during a picnic while his girlfriend sunbathes in the nude. The diary tells the salacious tale of Dr. Fallatingstein (Jamie Orlando) a mad but sexy scientist who created Frank (John Alexander) to be her perfect lover only to discover that he has major trouble getting into the mood. The doctor calls upon her cousin Countess Sexcula (also Collins) to help her awaken Frank's dormant sexual urges through a series of episodes where they alternately attempt to arouse him and harvest "sex cells" from men in their village they pick up and have their way with. Adding to the mix is the presence of a caged gorilla (Bud Coal) and Fallatingstein's hunchbacked servant Orgie (Tim Lowery), both of whom are quite horny and desperate (sometimes violent so) to do something about it, and a female pleasure robot (Marie McLeod) designed by the doctor to help Frank understand the sensual needs of women but who is forced to lie naked on a table throughout the entire movie and fend off the amorous advances of Orgie.

 

Looking back at the time and effort that went into bringing the long lost Canadian horror-comedy-porno Sexcula to DVD after it was buried in a vault and virtually forgotten since its extremely brief release you would think we had been gifted with a new cult classic that was criminally deprived of the following it deserved. You would be sadly mistaken. But I fell into that same trap too, dear readers, and though Sexcula wasn't exactly what I was expecting I would be lying if I said that I wasn't entertained. Despite its occasional slow stretches, Sexcula is one of the weirdest entries in XXX cinema I have ever seen, and its carnality mixes adequately with the monster movie elements incorporated into the plot by screenwriter David Hurry, who also plays the boyfriend in the movie's wraparound segments. Sexcula gets off to a good start with opening credits that roll to the tune of a piece of music I instantly recognized as having originally appeared in John Carpenter's debut feature Dark Star. It rarely gets much better than that I'm afraid. The acting is better than you would expect for a movie of this kind but the actresses' line readings strongly indicate that they were not hired because of how they played Ophelia at the Old Vic. The same could be said for the actors as well, just so I can't be accused of sexism. The main requirement for a performer to be in Sexcula obviously had to be their ability to give as well as receive, and on that note everyone in the cast does smashingly. The sex scenes are spared the excessive close-ups of overly hairy genitalia grinding together, though they do sneak in towards the end of the movie in a wedding chapel porno set orgy that runs close to twenty minutes (!!!), and several of them look like they weren't even part of the main shoot since none of the principal cast members appear in those scenes - a common practice in low budget exploitation filmmaking. The earlier scenes where the Countless gets it on with a variety of nameless bedmates verge on softcore due to their lack of semen-splattered inserts and are lighted well and scored by music that sounds like an amateur jazz saxophonist vainly imitating an Ornette Coleman album.

 

But don't be alarmed, porn connoisseurs, for this is an adult movie and most of the sex is indeed very real even if it doesn't always look that way. The rest of the movie is taken up by comedy bits that run the gamut from lame to mildly amusing - the hilarity high point comes during the final moments and is a throwaway line of dialogue spoken by Frank when he makes a special request of Sexcula. However, if you ever wanted to see a random woman do a striptease before getting molested by a man in a gorilla suit you're in the right place. A lesbian tryst inside a stagecoach barely arouses as it was primarily shot in shadow. This is the type of porn people only watch out of morbid curiosity, not a desire to flog the bishop. Sexcula's odd pacing and schizophrenic tone was likely a result of its chaotic production history; reportedly the filming was fraught with one potentially damaging problem after another, not limited to impotent actors and incorporating scenes that were filmed for another features but never used. The fact that a watchable movie emerged from this clusterfuck is some kind of small miracle, but in retrospect the cast and crew of Sexcula had it a hell of a lot easier than the people who worked on Apocalypse Now and Heaven's Gate. The stories behind Sexcula's troubled production later inspired the 1986 Canadian film industry satire Overnight, and when and if that movie arrives on DVD we'll get to see for ourselves if the making of Sexcula made a better story than the movie itself. It sure sounds like it.

 

Director John Holbrook (credited as "Bob Hollowich"), who later worked as second unit cinematographer on First Blood and Freddy Got Fingered, does a good job of keeping the action - both of the naked and non-naked variety - moving at a decent pace though more often than not he allows the pacing to be dragged down by endless sex and comedy scenes that just don't work.

 

Audio/Video: 2/5

 

Given that the movie had been lost and almost forgotten for more than three decades before being discovered in the vaults of the National Archives of Canada I can't fault Impulse for the degraded quality of the print. They have presented in a 1.33:1 full frame transfer that the best you can say of it is that is at least in halfway decent viewing condition most of the time. The print looks its best during scenes set during the daytime or on heavily lighted sets (such as the wedding chapel orgy), but when the action shifts to Fallatingstein's lab things look so dark and murky that it is almost impossible at times to make out what is going on in the scene. I almost gave up and skipped ahead during the scene where the hunchback and the gorilla get into an impromptu wrestling match over the sex robot. Faring a little better is the English two-channel audio track. Despite the presence of some muffled dialogue - every line appears to have been recorded on the set and nothing was dubbed over in post - the music and sound effects sound very solid give the source elements available to do the transfer. No subtitles are included.

 

Extras: 1/5

 

The only extras are a worn out theatrical trailer and an insert card featuring liner notes about Sexcula and its surprise resurrection by porn archaeologist Dimitrios Otis on one side and a "Motion Picture Purgatory" comic strip review of the movie written and drawn by Rick Trembles on the other.

 

Overall: 2/5

 

Okay, so Sexcula isn't exactly the lost treasure of Canadian sexploitation I was hoping for. But its general weirdness and abundance of competently-filmed sex scenes are enough to make it worth a solitary viewing. Now that I've seen it I will never want to ever again. One thing is for certain: this is the only humorous porno with elements of classic monster movies from the 30's and 40's made in the Great White North. That's about the highest praise I can grant Sexcula. It is truly one of a kind. Thank God for that.