Apr 21, 2012
It has certainly been sometime since I saw a film as intrinsically fucked up as the all but totally unknown British work Duffer (1971) directed by Joseph Despins and William Dumaresque (who also penned the script). The film follows a tragic young man named Duffer, a seemingly kindhearted and selfless bastard boy that has a deep semi-conscious desire to engage in steamy and seedy intercourse with both his father and mother – a dually destructive dichotomy (an oedipal and gay Electra complex if you will) of ailing ying contra yang – but being without a family and a strong independent personality of his own, he divides his time between two radically conflicting lovers: an exceedingly deranged middle-aged queer named Louis-Jack (played by co-director/screenwriter William Dumaresque) and a tacky yet affectionate middle-aged hooker named ‘Your Gracie.’ Duffer is a part-time masochist and Louis-Jack is his ever so clever personal (and oddly paternal) sadist, as the older man is always devising new and inventive methods to test the lad’s mortality, so as to derive maximum erotic pleasure through his malicious pseudo-fatherly endeavors. Indeed, Duffer has no problem being Louis-Jack's personal dog, but he also enjoys assuming the role of a precious man-boy whose penchant for total amorousness knows no bounds. Luckily for Duffer, Miss Your Gracie is a tad bit more conventional in her sexual yearnings, as her only demand of the boy is that he should develop better sexual stamina. Miss Your Gracie also loves to spoon Duffer as if he were her vulnerable infant son. Despite taking it in the pooper like a seasoned poofer, Duffer is quite repelled by loveless lunatic lover Louis-Jack’s violent sexuality, but he rationalizes his passive abuse with reflective lines like (to paraphrase), “I wouldn’t want to deprive him of something that gives him great pleasure.” Quite openly, Duffer admits that he frequents the charming company of pseudo-mommy Your Gracie so as to, “restore my manhood", or so he says. Of course, Duffer has a hard time firmly establishing his manhood due to Louis-Jack’s insistence that he have a baby; an impossible task that the swinish old man thinks he can accomplish by sodomizing the boy until he has thoroughly bloodied his rectum and raped his mind. Being a precariously loyal lad, Duffer takes it upon himself to make Louis-Jack’s ludicrous dreams come true, henceforth culminating in the most despicable, yet sardonically symbolic, of results. Quite vividly and even viciously, Duffer illustrates the benefits of being a bland breeder as opposed to being an undaunted buggerer.
Throughout the entirety of Duffer, the leading boy reflects on his thoughts and emotions by speaking directly to the viewer via voice-over narration. What makes this particularly disheartening is that co-director/writer William Dumaresque narrated the voice of Duffer and not the young actor (Kit Gleave) that actually played the boy. Admittedly, this was probably for the better as the dirty old man’s overly involved and elaborately detailed (bordering on the fetishistic) commentary adds another imperative layer of distinct aberrancy to Duffer that is destined to shadow the mind of the viewer for many decades to come after watching the film. Indeed, Duffer is one of those rare cinematic works that one would be most inescapably ashamed to show to friends, family members, and lovers, as the film acts as a carrier for what could most suitably described as an incurable metaphysical STD. Simply put, Duffer is one of the most thematically revolting films ever made as it exhibits human beings at their most hopelessly debauched, pathologically-enslaved, and morally unsalvageable, yet it is also an irregularly enrapturing work without any serious contemporaries, aside from maybe Peter Whitehead and Niki De Saint Phalle's inferior work Father (1973). Duffer is like a collection of case studies from Richard von Krafft-Ebing's revolutionary work Psychopathia Sexualis (1886) come to life, except portrayed in a fashion that totally contradicts the emotional sterility of an objective scientist. Indeed, not only is Duffer a victim of vice, but, as much as one does not want to admit it, so are his two elder ‘lovers’, even the ever so morally and mentally insane Louis-Jack; an unrepentant sadistic sodomite with a keen proclivity towards combining the worst elements of his organ-piercing perversity and cerebral precariousness. After all, it is quite doubtful that Louis-Jack was born a brutish boy-buggering beast (as he certainly does not look like one), but, more likely, as a young boy, he sexually debased in a manner similar to the way he treats Duffer, thus proliferating a vicious circle of hysterical homo-sadomasochism. By the end of Duffer, the boy protagonist has gone from being a sensitive and passive boy looking for love in all the wrong places to de-evolving into a man whose lack of mental stability and newfound tendency towards gross criminality rivals that of his spiritual father Louis-Jack. One can only wonder what kind of life Duffer would go onto live after the film’s conclusion, but it is not a stretch to suggest that he, like his maniacal mentor, could very likely go onto to produce a number of equally perverse protégés. On top of being all but totally desensitized to every sexual perversion imaginable, Duffer – who is not always able to distinguish between reality and his erratic imagination – seems to be on his way to becoming a full blown schizophrenic. Although clearly uneducated, Duffer is a deeper thinker and ghetto philosopher/psychologist of sorts who constantly immerses himself in books as a form of therapeutic escapism. Of course, indulging in literary classics can only sway the irrational impulses of a brain-dammaged mind for so long….
As a reflexive nod to the audience (and probably to himself), Duffer co-director William Dumaresque (as sick fuck Louis-Jack) appears in Duffer as a gutter auteur who directs a number of borderline snuff films depicting his poor boy toy in various exceedingly comprised and devilishly disbarred positions. One can only wonder whether or not Louis-Jack aspires to be the next Paul Morrissey, but his naturalist knack for candid realism and exquisite exploitation is unquestionable. In one particularly odious scene in Duffer, Uncle L.J. simultaneously films Duff as he covers the sleeping boy’s naked body with an assortment of slimy worms. Demonstrating his commitment to creatively degrading his victim from every angle imaginable, Louis-Jack also forces Duffer to watch the edited final cut of his wicked worm-meets-willy micro-mondo movie. Unsurprisingly, Duffer, in his typically insightful forthrightness, is inordinately critical of the dubious artistic merit behind Louis-Jack’s latest cinematic effort. Being Louis-Jack’s greatest fan and most active supporter, Duffer’s articulate criticism cannot be easily dismissed; and neither can this film. Duffer is a masterpiece, but of what cinematic breed, I cannot say exactly, however, it is plainly apparent that it comes endowed with its own deep and diacritic pathology. Amateurishly (but more than adeptly) directed and shot on gritty black-and-white 16mm film stock, Duffer has a look that consummately compliments its themes and images of proletarian sexual perversity. Making the mental defectives of Frank Perry’s David and Lisa (1962) appear like bourgeois brats and the films of Harmony Korine seem ineptly contrived (a certain baby scene in Trash Humpers more than resembles a scene in Duffer) by contrast, Duffer is as authentic as fictional films come in portraying the irreparable dejection and soul-destroying afflictions that often times take hold of economically disenfranchised whites. Duffer is the sort of film Andy Warhol always strived to make, but lacked the artistic ingenuity and humility to do so. It is also a work that makes William Friedkin's portrayal of gay leather-bound sadomasochists in Cruising (1980) seem flattering by comparison. The Brits may have colonized and ruled the many citizens of India in the past, but the lives of the untouchable ghetto rats of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008) seem inconsequential when compared to the life of perdition that pure-blood Englishman Duffer of Duffer leads.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 11:54 PM
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