Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Curse of Her Flesh (1968)

The Curse of Her Flesh, released in 1968, was the second instalment in Michael Findlay’s notorious Flesh trilogy, perhaps the most deliriously perverse of all 1960s sexploitation movies. This is bizarre entertainment, although entertainment may not be the right word to use to describe these cinematic sleazefests.

The roughie sub-genre emerged as audiences began to tire of the rather innocent shenanigans of the nudie-cutie genre. If nude volleyball was beginning to pall why not add lashings of violence and add a kinky edge to the sex? Actually the nudie-cuties didn’t have any sex, just nudity, but by the mid-60s it was starting to be possible to depict sex as long as care was taken to ensure that very little was actually seen. Violence on the other hand was much easier to get away with.

There were roughies, and then there were the films of husband-and-wife team Michael and Roberta Findlay. The Findlays didn’t just push the edge of the envelope. They ripped up the envelope, set it on fire and then stomped on it. Their films were exercises in bad taste, misanthropy, weirdness, kinkiness and excess. Michael directed and often starred in the films while Roberts handled the cinematography. They co-produced and co-wrote the productions. Roberta occasionally acted as well. Roberta was one of the fairly small number of women involved in actually making sexploitation movies rather than just appearing in them. 

Considering the nature of their films it’s unusual enough for a woman to be involved in the production side. It’s even more surprising for a married woman to be doing so. You have to wonder what their marriage was like!

Watching such movies you’d have to suspect that Michael had a few issues. In fact you’d have to suspect that he had lots of issues. Whether this was true or not I have no idea. For all I know maybe he was actually a nice regular guy in real life.

This one takes up where The Touch of Her Flesh left off. Arms dealer Richard Jennings, having bumped off his unfaithful stripper wife, along with sundry other hookers and strippers, is back and his mental state hasn’t improved any. He wants more revenge. And he intends to get it, in the most extreme manner possible. It’s not really necessary to tell you much more about the plot. This flick is a series of strange and depraved sequences and plot coherence was not a major priority.

Apart from the revenge theme there’s also something connected with an inheritance but I’m still not quite clear what that was all about.

Richard as usual is venting his anger on strippers and in this case he’s particularly targeting a girl who does a kinky lesbian stage act. He deals with her indirectly but in a suitably gruesome and nasty manner.

There’s also another girl who is the girlfriend of his main target, the man who stole his wife. She has somehow managed to convince the guy that she’s a virgin. In fact she has plans to restore her lost virginity and that offers Richard an opportunity to make his vengeance very devious indeed.

There’s a definite arty edge to this film, or rather there’s a definite attempt at artiness. Trying to be arty is something that is generally best avoided and to be honest Radley Metzger was the only film-maker capable of convincingly combining erotica and art (which he did most successfully in his superb The Lickerish Quartet). The Findlays don’t really get away with it here. They give the impression of trying too hard and the result is a movie that is slow-moving and muddled rather than artistic. It’s also debatable just how successfully anyone could have combined this much sleaze with art.

The acting is mostly typical of the genre, in other words the performers were chosen for their willingness to engage in cinematic kinkiness rather than for their acting chops. It does have to be said though that Michael Findlay makes a fairly convincing psychotic killer.

There’s a stupendous amount of depravity in this movie although it’s too bizarre and unhinged to be genuinely disturbing.

Something Weird released all three of the Findlay Flesh films on one DVD. They’re not very long films so this involves no real compromises as far as the quality of the transfers is concerned. The Curse of Her Flesh gets a fullframe transfer (which is correct since it was shot in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio) and looks very good. There are no extras, hardly surprising with three movies on one disc.

The Curse of Her Flesh is not for the faint-hearted. This is one strange and grubby little movie. It has a certain morbid fascination but on the whole it lacks the fun that makes so many 60s sexploitation movies so enjoyable. And if you want depravity Dave Friedman’s The Defilers does it better and more intelligently. I think this one is strictly for fans of the Findlays.

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