Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bizarre (1970)

          This UK oddity was original titled Secrets of Sex, and then given the more genteel moniker Bizarre (alternately, Tales of the Bizarre) for its American release. Yet no title could truly encapsulate the anything-goes strangeness of the picture, which comprises several sexual stories held together by interstitial bits during which a mummy delivers snotty commentary about the never-ending battle of the sexes. Yes, a mummy. Why, you ask? Does it really matter? Produced and directed by one Anthony Balch, Bizarre opens with a buxom blonde woman and two male studs, all nude, dancing in a circle while occupying what appears to be the hay loft of a barn. Then a narrator introduces the first narrative vignette, something about a judge in a Far East setting burying a trunk that may or may not contain his wife’s lover.
          Next, the mummy makes his first entrance, looking directly at the camera—although his features are completely obscured by dusty ribbons—and blathering while the film cuts back and forth between the mummy and a woman peeling off her head-to-toe leather outfit. Once she’s shown her wares, the picture cuts to an interminable sequence comprising static shots of various attractive men and women, some clothed and some not, while the narrator repeatedly says, “Imagine you were making love to this girl. Imagine you were making love to this boy.” This goes on and on forever while the men and women do things like playing with guns and—wait for it—watering houseplants.
          Continuing down his road to nowhere, Bizarre cuts to a trick shot of several attractive women standing in a line while optical dissolves magically erase all of their clothes except panties. Eventually, offscreen people throw rotten fruit at the topless babes, and then several studs show up to poke the babes with their guns—literally, as in automatic rifles. Please note that the preceding merely describes the first 20 minutes of the movie. At some point, Balch and his co-conspirators transition from random nudie shots to extended narrative sequences, but the movie wobbles between comic and horrific stories, resulting in a bewildering mess. The “best” episode is probably the one in which a demented female photographer tortures a male model by making him pose with his crotch positioned precariously over a giant blade until the inevitable happens. At least that episode has a point, however gruesome. The rest of the movie includes everything from outright stupidity (something about a dinosaur spying on a pedophile in a public park) to unintelligible nonsense (a sex scene juxtaposed with voiceover about English gardens).
          Ultimately, all of this is quite boring—even “Bedroom Beauties of 1929,” a comparatively good-natured scene that spoofs vintage stag films. Like most badly made sexploitation pictures, Bizarre fails as erotica, since the parade of breasts quickly loses it novelty. (Plus, the overall context of the movie is so exploitive as to be distasteful.) And since Bizarre also fails as commentary, comedy, and/or whatever else Balch had in mind, the whole enterprise feels quite unnecessary. Thus, the only viewers likely to derive any enjoyment from Bizarre are those who are amused by cinematic misfires, of which Bizarre is most certainly an example.

Bizarre: FREAKY

1 comment:

AndyHunt said...

I saw this oddity some time around the late eighties on a VHS bargain basement tape and was left with a very disturbed sense of bewilderment. I could not get my head around this films complete and utter absurdity. I can only imagine the director was on some very, very, heavy medication...God knows I wish I had been.