Monday, 8 October 2012

Death Shock

After their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere – this seeming to entail a confusion between the urban Norwich and rural Norfolk – six horny young men and women, two heterosexual couples and one lesbian, flag down an old-fashioned car driven by a man wearing a dog collar.

The youngsters ask for a lift to the nearest petrol station, but the man tells them it is 12 miles away – too far out of his way. Fortunately there is a manor house, the Grange, about a mile away and the man/vicar agrees to drive them to it.

The owner of the Grange seems surprisingly welcoming and prepared (perhaps in the manner of Dracula’s servant Klove in Dracula Prince of Darkness, if we can accept promotional descriptions of the film as spoofing Hammer) and the group are encouraged to have a meal and stay the night. Said meal later turns out to have been laced with substantial quantities of aphrodisiac.

This affects the two heterosexual couples most strongly, insofar as one of the two lesbians professes to be ‘not in the mood’ when her partner goes to use a dildo on her – albeit with said partner then going to join one of the heterosexual couples for a threesome (“come and join us”).

Eventually it is revealed that the apparent vicar and the denizens of the Grange are Satanists and that the younger lesbian, the one not in the mood, is “a virgin of 16 summers” and thus the perfect material for an unholy rite; never mind that she looks, and indeed undoubtedly was, for legal reasons, older.

Death Shock is an example of the lowest common denominator of the British sex film in the late 1970s and early 1980s, others being Mary Millington’s Striptease Extravaganza and Queen of the Blues.

Anyone want to do an auteurist analysis of these guys? In time it will probably happen...

Running barely three quarters of an hour the majority of Death Shock’s running time is filled with unconvincing sex scenes, the kind where the filmmakers had to be careful about avoiding anything that could fall foul of the censors -- penetration, ejaculation, erect penises, spread vaginas etc.

Even at this length the film is padded out.

First there is an opening scene in which a young woman hears chanting, gets off her bike to investigate, discovers some cultists, and is then pursued (conveniently catching her skirt on a raised nail), caught and sacrificed.

Then, as the main characters drive on, there is a minute or two of long shots of their car while the inane dialogue is done in voice-off.

The writing is such that the name of the younger lesbian is not mentioned until the final scene – “where’s [Susan|Sarah]?” “He I am!” – hence my inability to remember the character’s name.

Of those involved three have names of note, at least within their specific generic area, namely Lindsay Honey/Steve Perry, Linzi Drew, and Bill Wright. Honey, better known as Ben Dover, and Wright, better known as Frank Thring, independently appeared in and directed hundreds of porn films during the 1990s and early 2000s. Drew’s fame was more immediate in terms of being a regular in certain “men’s magazines” (read softcore porn) of the time. She was/is Honey’s partner.

The direction is perfunctory, albeit with at least one moment of vague visual imagination when a mirrored shot pulls back to reveal the actual image.

Thankfully this never happened, unlike the Fantom Killer series

The most intriguing aspect of the film, for me, was how it again highlighted a major distinction between UK softcore and US/Continental European hardcore of the time: In the UK film was the ability of the male performers to not get an unwanted erection valued in a comparable way to the ability of those elsewhere to achieve a wanted one?

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