Friday, 22 April 2011

Electronic Lover (1970)

Electronic Lover is part of Something Weird Video’s Girls and Gadgets double-movie set and it’s a fine example of the kind of weirdness that the sexploitation genre of the 60s embraced.

The IMDb claims this one was made in 1966 but I can’t help suspecting it may have been a little later than that. The acid-rock music and the general psychedelic influences would seem to indicate it was made later than 1967.

The Master lives in self-imposed isolation, his only real engagement with the world being through Brother, who may be his servant or his actual brother but is more likely his servant. Brother goes out into the world armed with a sophisticated spy-camera, and the Master views the world through the film footage broadcast to him from Brother’s camera.

The Master sends Brother out to film women, preferably in intimate circumstances. This is the Master’s only contact with women, and it excites him to a frenzy. When he gets sufficiently excited he rubs himself against a mirror until he achieves release. From time to time he is visited by the girls who are being filmed by Brother.

It becomes obvious fairly early on that the Master is insane. Whether he was insane to begin with or whether his voyeurism has sent him mad is open to question. The visits he receives from the women in Brother’s films are presumably a delusion or a kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy but it becomes increasingly unclear exactly where reality ends and fantasy begins.

The Master’s other passion is for his bow and arrow (yes there’s some pretty obvious phallic symbolism here). It’s an obsession that crops up in a umber of 60s sexploitation movies, most notably Confessions of a Psycho Cat.

This is one of those art-house mets the grind-house movies. While there’s plenty of nudity the overall approach to the subject is self-consciously arty to an extent that must have tried the patience of the grind-house audience. This is an exploration of paranoia, voyeurism and obsession that clearly draws upon movies such as Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Antononi’s Blow-Up . I’m not suggesting this movie can be seriously compared to those masterpieces but I think it’s plain that the film-makers were trying for that kind of effect.

It does have a neat little sting in the tail, and the atmosphere of claustrophobic obsession is conveyed effectively.

Mike Atkinson’s scenery-chewing as the Master is fairly impressive but perhaps ends up being a little overdone.

The soundtrack gives the impression of having been created by someone who had listened to Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale way too many times.

Still, an interesting example of 60s sexploitation combined with vaguely science fictional elements and fashionable paranoia and voyeurism.

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