Tuesday 13 February 2024

The Labyrinth of Sex (1969)

The Labyrinth of Sex AKA Nel labirinto del sesso (Psichidion), is I guess a kind of mondo movie, albeit less manic than the classic mondo movies. I have always been mystified by the enormous popularity that mondo movies enjoyed in the 60s.

The Labyrinth of Sex was directed by Alfonso Brescia so you expect some WTF moments. You have to wait a while but eventually Brescia does deliver some.

We get a voiceover from an eminent psychiatrist specialising in sexual problems, or rather from an actor pretending very unconvincingly to be a psychiatrist. The subject is sexual deviations. It’s all intended to be terribly shocking. It would certainly have been shocking in the early 60s but by 1969? Well, maybe.

Naturally we get some half-baked Freudianism and lots of crazy pseudoscience and psychobabble, all explained in a suitably portentous manner. Sex is not something to be regarded as fun. It’s something to be agonised over. In that respect the film has a disturbingly 21st century feel. If it feels good it’s bad for you.

Inevitably we get a segment on a nymphomaniac. Whatever happened to nymphomaniacs? They were everywhere in those days. Even cold showers don’t help this girl. Eventually she resorts to groping a man in a movie theatre.

There’s also voyeurism, and exhibitionism as well.

Then things start to get seriously weird. We’re introduced to a lonely man who has solved his problem by making his own woman in kit form. Not from body parts, but from parts of store mannequins and all sorts of bits and pieces. He does it as a kind of mystical ritual with candles. This segment is totally nuts but effectively disturbing.

We get most of the sexual deviations you’d expect in such a movie.

We get lesbians of course. The movie’s views on lesbians are not “dated” (as people like to say nowadays). Nobody in all of history ever thought about lesbians the way this movie does. It’s not even a male fantasy of what lesbians are like. It’s just totally wild and wacky and I have no idea where such ideas could have come from. By this time the movie is getting more and more weird.

And naturally we get a segment on sadomasochism. You won’t be surprised to learn that it’s all Mummy and Daddy’s fault.

There are moments in this movie that would be more at home in a horror movie.

The highlight is the segment with a man and a woman hooked up with hundreds of electrodes having sex in laboratory conditions. This is science! This segment has an unsettling cyberpunk kind of vibe which I actually liked a lot.

If the whole movie had been as oddball and off-kilter as this segment and the some-assembly-required girl segment this could have been a fun movie. Sadly the rest of the movie ends up being rather dull.

I don’t think I can really recommend this one but the great thing about those Something Weird double and triple-headers is that they could throw in odd movies which would never be worth releasing on their own.

The Labyrinth of Sex
was released on a Something Weird double-header DVD paired with The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (which I haven’t yet watched). The Labyrinth of Sex gets an acceptable transfer.

Extras include trailers and two short films. The first is Parisian Rendezvous which seems like a kind of 60s love story with some psychedelic freak-out discotheque scenes. Then comes the ending with I guarantee you won’t see coming. The second shot is a nudie loop supposedly featuring Marilyn Monroe but of course it isn’t her. I believe it’s Playboy Playmate Arline Hunter. Miss Hunter is certainly remarkable well-developed in the bust department and she sheds all her clothes and then drinks a Coke. Kind of amusing if you enjoy those old b&w loops.

No comments: