Monday, January 12, 2015

Blow Job (1980)

... aka: Blow Job - Dolce Lingua
... aka: Blow Job - Hot Breath
... aka: Blow job - Soffio erotico
... aka: La strega nuda
... aka: Naked Witch, The

Directed by:
Alberto Cavallone

Porn? Well, no. Not really. Well actually, yeah... perhaps... a little bit... but still mostly no despite the porno-sounding title. Confused? Yeah, me too. There were reputedly several versions of this one prepped. The first (which is what I viewed and will be covering here) runs 78 minutes and has no hardcore material in it whatsoever. This cut version however is still filled with enough full frontal male and female nudity to easily earn it an X / NC-17 here in America. The second version, which presumably runs longer, has a handful of graphic sex scenes. Scratch that. It perhaps has as little as one graphic sex scene. Depending on whether or not it's the director or producer talking the film either had just one explicit blow job scene filmed or it had numerous hardcore scenes filmed specifically for the French market. To my knowledge, no print containing any of the graphic sex has surfaced. There's another story about the more explicit footage being confiscated by the authorities at some point but I'm not sure whether or not to believe that. However, after viewing the cut version I can say with confidence that it hardly even matters. This is one case where additional sex scenes would neither benefit nor harm the film as a whole.

The only other movie I've seen from Cavallone is BEING CAPTURED aka The Erotic Dwarf aka Baby Sitter (1982), a rather straight-forward piece of trash which most certainly was shot as a hard porn film and then later released in a cut soft version. It also happens to be one of the most popular reviews in the history of this blog; hence why I sought out another film from the same director. What went down in Dwarf, however, didn't quite prepare me for what I was about to see here. This is the poster child for the type of movie doomed to obscurity and commercial failure right out of the gate. As far as distribution is concerned, no non-adult theater of the day would play a film called "Blow Job" and no video store would stock a film called "Blow Job" outside of perhaps their porn section. Furthermore, a video store would have had no real incentive (unless they wanted to intentionally piss off their clientele) for putting a soft-core film titled "Blow Job" in their porn section; especially one that doesn't even contain the very act the title alludes to. To muddy the waters even further, the film itself is confusing, extremely cheap-looking and filled with nonsensical metaphysical dialogue and pretentious, pseudo-arty surrealism that's not going to appeal to very many people. In other words, this is a film without an audience. It was barely released as a result.

Stefano Vicinelli (Danilo Micheli) and his girlfriend Diana (Anna Massarelli) fall two weeks behind on their hotel rent and face having their luggage and car impounded until they can pay the bill. Conveniently for them, a distraught woman in the room right above theirs leaps to her death from the window. Using that as a distraction, the lovebirds sneak out and take off. Running low on money, they pool what little cash they do have and go to the racetrack. Stefano encounters a crazed woman wearing sunglasses who demands he give her a key so she can unlock a door. After she calms down, she proposes a deal with him: She'll help him win money in the horse race if he'll help her "get past the gate." Having no clue what she's even talking about, Stefano reluctantly agrees and bets on her suggestion. After the horse wins and he collects, he feels obliged to accompany the strange woman - who introduces herself as Countess Angela (Anna Bruna Cazzato) - back to her home.

On the trip there, numerous freaky things happen. Stefano sees a skull-faced woman on a motorcycle, three elderly male half-wits stumble out of the woods and the car breaks down, prompting Stefano to walk to the nearest (closed) gas station, which gives Angela time to get cozy in the back seat with Diana. The car miraculously starts as soon as Angela decides she wants to leave and the three go her secluded old mansion. Despite all of the unexplained events that have occurred thus far, the two decide to spend a few days there. The Countess, who always wears an eye patch, clearly has designs on Diana (sexual and otherwise) and may be a witch. She does whatever she can to separate them, including using voodoo to make Diana fall ill. Stefano goes into town to fetch a doctor and then things start getting even weirder.

In town, Stefano encounters yet another mysterious woman named Sibilla (Mirella Venturini) who seems to be the Glenda to Angela's Margaret Hamilton and informs him she'd like to help Diana "pass the gate that opens into the garden of happiness." She'll later make a surprise nocturnal visit to the young couple's bedroom to swoop Stefano off to her crumbling lair to teach him "the rules of the game." There, she gives him a hallucinogenic herbal drink, sticks a safety pin through her nose and then starts waxing poetic about all kinds of spiritual nonsense that probably made perfect sense to the writer / director but will no doubt make no sense to the rest of the world. She informs Stefano he needs to go "beyond reality" because he is living in a "false reality" and needs to leave his "traditional state" so that he can be "reborn." After all, he is just "a cluster of energy" and by trying to be rational all he's doing is preventing himself from "seeing the cosmic dance we are dancing." Uh yeah, sure thing.

While Stefano and the Good Witch are getting to know each other better, this cuts back to a weird costume ball being held at the Countess' villa where old men swirl around holding candles while a guy turns a flood light on and off, people march around like they're in a parade, people (some fully clothed, some wearing underwear and some completely nude) dance around and some lady in a plastic skull mask drives her motorcycle into the house, hops off and then dances around in a bikini and thong. The Countess takes off her eye patch to reveal one of her peepers has been burnt off, Stefano has relations with both of the witches (several of the sex scenes abruptly cut away, which lends credence to the multiple hardcore scene claims), a guy draws a black circle around a woman's ass and starts kissing it and a masked man starts raping a woman wearing feathers as she squawks like a bird. I'm sure it all means something.

As far as I'm concerned, this film has earned its unknown status... by being incredibly difficult to sit through! For starters, the photography is extremely murky, dark and ugly-looking and nearly every single scene seems either over- or under-lit. Though that may be a result of a sub-par print (the best available at the time), there's no mistaking the bargain basement production values of this once you actually watch it. Supposedly one of the backers committed suicide in the early stages of production and with him went most of the film's budget, so I guess that explains that. Not only does this all look extremely murky, but the combination of cheap-o sexploitation and annoyingly self-important surrealism, all poorly edited together, just didn't work for me. It's incredibly talky and the nonsensical monologues never seem to end. Not helping matters any, most of the amateur actors are extremely wooden, especially the slack-jawed lead male (the female lead isn't much better but at least she looks hot and runs around naked most of the time). Viewers who are perfectly content seeing weird and seemingly random events - coherency be damned - may get something out of this. Everyone else, you've been warned.

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