Saturday, August 22, 2020

Winter Heat (1976)

... aka: Snowbound

Directed by:
Claude Goddard

A number of X-rated roughies from the 70s and 80s are now being dusted off and sold to younger audiences as cult horror movies, which is a pretty ingenious way to re-brand and re-distribute some of these long-forgotten relics. Four criminals - laid back but sadistic ringleader Stevie (Jamie Gillis), moronic wanna-be poet Benji ("Ray Carter" / Alex Mann), aggressive and short-fused Joey (Mickey Humm) and Stevie's nympho bisexual wife Agnes (uncredited Helen Madigan), who've spent days hiking through the snowy woods, finally come across an unoccupied cabin, break in and decide to hide out there for a few days. They all plop down on a bed and Agnes goes down on Stevie while the other two guys have a conversation about getting anally raped in prison while having hemorrhoids and how one of their ex-wives was a slut. Afterward, they decide to go outside for a walk and rummage through the trash. While they're out, a trio of young women show up. There's Gail (uncredited Bree Anthony), who owns the cabin and has just had surgery, which is less about character development and more about explaining why she shaved off most of her pubic hair (unfortunately she didn't do the same with her ass), and her friends Claire ("Judy Watt" / Susan Sloan) and Jenny ("Jennifer Jordan" / Jenny Lane). The girls have a memorable weekend in store, though not in the ways they probably imagined.

When Stevie and company return, they bust in and decide to hold the girls hostage and terrorize them which, seeing how this is a sex film, involves forcing them into various sexual scenarios. And since this movie doesn't really have an adequate plot, that forces me to simply describe the sex scenes. Stevie orders Gail to strip, force feeds her mushy oatmeal, slaps her in the face with a wooden spoon a few times and afterward chastises her for being "disgusting" and "a filthy mess." He then bends her over the kitchen table and rapes her while Claire is forced to orally pleasure Joey. Claire is then forced into lesbian sex on the floor with Agnes. The virginal and pigtailed Jenny is then corralled and forced to have sex with Stevie and Benji while being choked with a belt and slapped on the ass. Gail and Benji get it on upstairs while Stevie and Claire do the same downstairs. The end.

While this is pretty unpleasant to start, it doesn't quite go as far as it should with its depictions of torture, degradation and misogyny. I'm not saying I enjoy such things (I don't) but this was clearly made for a niche audience who enjoy rough / forced sex so the film is a failure when it's unable to at least deliver on that front. There's more verbal abuse than physical, but that all eventually goes away when the dialogue becomes more lighthearted, the "rape" turns to consensual sex and the girls start enjoying the whole ordeal (!?) There's no revenge and even a happy ending.

The acting and obviously improvised dialogue are, of course, terrible so this isn't harrowing or believable for a second. Gillis, who's been labeled the adult industries biggest pervert and freak by pretty much everyone who worked in the adult industry at the time, does his usual sleazeball routine on auto-pilot. Of the three "victims" only Sloan is able to adequately depict terror but she (along with Madigan and Mann) disappear from the film after their sex scenes are done.

A really scratchy copy was available on VHS through a number a companies in the 80s and 90s (the Something Weird release was titled Snowbound). In 2014, Vinegar Syndrome released a cleaned up version on DVD on a "Peekarama" double bill with Abduction of an American Playgirl (1975).


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