Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Bacchanales Sexuelles (1974)

Bacchanales Sexuelles (original title Tout le monde il en a deux, released in the US in a savagely cut version as Fly Me the French Way) is one of Jean Rollin’s mid-70s softcore sex films that is usually contemptuously dismissed even by his ardent fans. That’s perhaps just a bit unfair as we will see.

It was made not long after Rollin made another softcore feature, Schoolgirl Hitchhikers (a movie that apparently features no schoolgirls and no hitchhikers and was originally titled Jeunes filles impudiques).

Valérie (Joëlle Coeur) is housesitting a luxury apartment for her cousin. She’s bored and lonely so she rings up her friend Sophie (Marie-France Morel). They get drunk and have sex and then collapse into bed. During the night Sophie is kidnapped.

Before being grabbed Sophie managed to phone her boyfriend Paul. When he arrives at the apartment Valérie finally notices that Sophie is missing. She and Paul should start searching for her immediately but they decide to have sex first. You have to get your priorities right.

We find out that Sophie has been kidnapped by Malvina (Brigitte Borghese), the high priestess of a secret society. The trouble is that they meant to snatch Valérie. Malvina thinks Valérie can tell her the identity of a traitor in her secret society. After her underlings have given Sophie a good flogging Malvina figures out she’s got the wrong girl.

It seems that Valérie’s cousin is an investigative reporter digging up dirt on Malvina’s group and maybe indulging in a little blackmail. There’s certainly blackmail involved somewhere.

Malvina needs to get someone inside Valérie’s apartment so she sends one of her underlings, Jenny (Agnès Lemercier), posing as a maid. Jenny is a rather disconcerting maid. She is wearing the shortest skirt that could possibly be imagined and when she bends over to pick up the breakfast things it’s evident that she forgot to wear underwear today.

This is unapologetically a softcore porn movie but it was made during that brief window of time when softcore porn movies were well-made and often extremely interesting for other reasons than the abundant female flesh on display. The great thing about 70s sex movies is that usually the distributors didn’t give a damn what the director did as long as there was the required quantity of nudity and simulated sex. If the director happened to be Jean Rolin then what he was going to do was to throw in some of the surreal touches that he loved so much. He was going to make a softcore sex movie but it was going to be somewhat Rollinesque.

The kidnapping, carried out by two cute girls wearing catsuits and elaborate masks, is handled in a very surreal manner. Malvina’s secret society seems to be some kind of sex cult. There’s another very surreal scene involving Malvina, a gun and some store mannequins.

And to add an even more Rollinesque touch there’s his favourite trope - twinned or doubled girls. And they’re played by the Castel twins, yes the twins from Lips of Blood and The Nude Vampire.

The sex at times has a definite kinky edge to it. Malvina has a slave girl who likes sucking her mistresses’s toes. Valérie likes to smear jam all over her nipples, and other even more intimate parts of her anatomy, so that Paul can lick it off. There’s bondage and whipping.

This is a softcore feature but it pushes the edge of the envelope at times. The sex is as graphic as it is possible to be whilst still remaining technically softcore.

Overall this is a bit like a typical Jean Rollin movie but with lots and lots of sex.

It’s usually assumed that Rollin didn’t care about this movie and was just doing it for the pay cheque. I suspect that’s only partly true. He was in this case working as a director for hire but he’s gone to so much trouble to add so many of his personal touches that I can’t believe he was totally uninterested. The man loved making movies and I think he just made the best of the situation and tried to make it as much of a Rollin film as he could. And sex and surrealism can be a potent combination.

Synapse’s DVD release offers a reasonably good transfer. The important thing is that the film is uncut.

If you’ve never sampled Jean Rollin’s movies then you definitely do not want to start with this one as it will give you entirely the wrong idea about his movies. If however you’re a seasoned Rollin fan and you’ve avoided this movie and Schoolgirl Hitchhikers on the assumption that they’re trash then you might want to reconsider. If you don’t mind lots of sex and lots of extremely hot naked women then there is a genuine Jean Rollin film hidden in here trying to get out. With just a bit more screen time devoted to the surrealist elements and a bit less devoted to sex scenes it might even have been a pretty decent Rollin movie. It’s still quite interesting in its way. Bacchanales Sexuelles is a softcore surreal slightly occult thriller. For Rollin fans it’s worth a look.

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