May 21, 2012
I first became conscious of the devalued and often derided Italian auteur Alberto Cavallone (1938-1997) after researching cinematic adaptations of Comte de Lautréamont six cantos poetic novel Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror). Although dismayed upon learning that Cavallone’s Maldoror (1975) was never ever actually released due to petty monetary reasons (even though the blessed few who have actually seen the film regard it as the filmmaker's celluloid opus magnum), I was at least introduced to the seemingly lunatic libertine filmmaker’s consistently controversial yet cinematically diverse filmography that includes everything from esoteric hardcore pornography (Baby Sitter aka Il nano erotico) to less-than-action-packed-post-colonial-homoerotic-race-mixing-adventure flicks (Afrika) to kaleidoscopic Bataille-esque avant-garde surrealist works (Man, Woman And Beast aka L'uomo la donna e la bestia aka Spell). Recently, I had the extraordinarily effete aristocratic pleasure of watching Cavallone’s Blue Movie (1978); a lurid scatological celluloid phantasm that the filmmaker made during a turning point in his career before gaining the distinction of being one of Italy’s most enigmatic hermetic hardcore pornographers. Borrowing its name from Andy Warhol's amateurish sex flick of the same name (Cavallone would do the same with his later Cocteau-esque surrealist sleaze flick Blow Job), Blue Movie was created in a similar perfunctory fashion as many of the earlier films directed by the famous American homo hack artiste. Apparently assembled on a whim inspired by a bet made by producer Martial Boschero, Blue Movie – a work that foretells the Dogme 95 movement – was made in a lackadaisical Roger Corman-style manner (production lasted a week) on a nonexistent budget with mostly non-actors, yet the film is very possibly Cavallone’s most unscrupulous and discombobulated work. Despite featuring scenes of hardcore pornography (which were subsequently cut at the behest of the Italian Board of Censors), a decidedly incoherent plot, a depraved 'anti-hero' with a fecal fetish, and exceedingly somber themes of staggering hyper-nihilism, Blue Movie would go on to become a box-office hit of sorts in Italy. After watching Blue Movie a couple times, I find it quite unimaginable that such a debauched film featuring naked Italian beauties eating shit would prove to be palatable for public consumption, but I can't say I don't like the idea of such a ruthless eremitic work obtaining semi-mainstream notoriety. In short, Blue Movie proved to be a work that lives up to its underground cult cinema infamy.
Blue Movie follows cunning Claudio, a serious newspaper photographer turned mechanic (while moonlighting as a shutterbug pornographer) who derives venereal and aesthetic pleasure from humiliating graceful statuesque women. While talking to a prospective sex-slave, Claudio matter-of-factly states to the lovely little lady, “Your beauty is absurd and I can’t stand beauty. I love to see fear on people’s faces. Degradation. Its then that they become human.” Indeed, throughout Blue Movie, Claudio proves his propensity towards ‘humanizing’ women through a variety of fetishistic dehumanizing methods that only a completely unhinged sadomasochist with an uncontrollable urge could execute so keenly and unwaveringly. After being nearly turbulently raped by a malicious masked man in the woods, a young beauteous named Silvia is picked up randomly by Claudio as he cruises down a desolate road in his beloved automobile. Little does stunned Silvia know that her personal nightmare is going to be compounded by a manipulative man who finds alleviation in footage of genocide and delights in taking photographs of girls drenched in toxic dung. As a man of exquisite refined taste, Claudio incessantly plays the musical compositions of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach as his own personal soundtrack (which acts as the score for the film). Like many patrons of the arts, Claudio is a committed cinephile of sorts who luxuriates in watching forgotten silent vaudeville comedies and slow-motion stock-footage of Vietnamese Mahāyāna Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức burning himself to death. Not content with just using Silvia as his own personal Devil’s plaything, Claudio recruits an alluring model and an attractive homeless gal as disposable accessories for his scantly furnished scat-house. While the later two are mostly pleased with Claudio's omnipresent charm and confident courteousness, Silvia – who seems to be suffering from delusions brought upon by post-traumatic stress – cannot shake-off visions of encroaching faceless rapists and milky blood filling up the bathtub. Luckily, Silvia has a gay black male companion (who carries around a skull in a bag) who is looking out for her interests, but he essentially proves to be no more useful than the Negro elder from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). Speaking of Kubrick, Cavallone must have been a fan of A Clockwork Orange (1971) as Blue Movie also features an amorous spasmodic montage coupled with Teutonic classical music; the main difference being that while droog dictator Alex can more than aptly sexually service a tenacious twosome a number of times during a single sexual session, Claudio cannot even get off from a mere passive hand-job, hence the source of his preternatural proclivities. That being said, one can only guess how much of Alberto Cavallone’s own personality was channeled into the character of Claudio, as Blue Movie is undoubtedly an utterly frustrated expression of Weltschmerz and irremediable impotence. Forget fellow Italian filmmaker Romano Scavolini’s 1981 slasher flick, Blue Movie is a truly unflinching and wholly unequivocal expression of Nightmares in a Damaged Brain.
The relative commercial success of Blue Movie turned out to be just as big of surprise to Cavallone as the film itself is to most uninitiated viewers as expressed by the filmmaker introspective quote, "I was bewildered by the box office results. Blue Movie was meant to piss off the raincoat crowd, it was such an antagonist film…" Indubitably, one of the film’s greatest attributes is its abiding carnal cruelty and deep-rooted misanthropy and misogyny. Although the world positively suffers due to the lack of materialization of Cavallone’s unreleased masterpiece Maldoror (which has essentially vanished without a trace), Blue Movie makes for a germane celluloid panorama of Comte de Lautréamont’s clamorous influence on the venturesome Italian auteur, as it is a work that features a quasi-Satanic steady stream-of-consciousness (non) narrative and hypnagogic sexual deviance; two glaring traits that helped earn the tragic pseudo-Count posthumous immortality. Despite its grody dreamlike imagery and disconcerting schizophrenic editing, Blue Movie, not unlike Roger Watkins’ more or less tamer work Last House on Dead End Street (1977), often has the begrimed aura of a genuine vintage snuff/found footage, but incongruous with authentic stock-footage, one never really knows whether the scenarios played out in the film are real or imaginary, let alone discerning which character’s mind/reality we are peering into. Outstandingly, Blue Movie is often humorous (and seemingly intentionally so), in spite of the film’s loony licentiousness, but then again, such a fundamentally anti-human work would probably be rather intolerable without a little tenebrous comic relief. Like many of Cavallone’s earlier films, Blue Movie features Marxist political commentary about consumerism, but I won’t bore you with specifics as it ultimately, in my opinion, detracts from the film, but I will say it is more subtlety executed than anything that George A. Romero has ever done. It should be noted that virtually from the get-go of Blue Movie, it is more than apparent that all the women featured in the film are absolute material objects for cagey Claudio to defile, hence the appearance of various symbolic toy dolls and figurines that somehow mysteriously change position as time passes on. It is only when semi-psychotic Silvia forgets her foreordained subservient role that Claudio's Section 8 microcosm comes tumbling down. In the end, cursed Claudio finally achieves the climacteric consolation that he failed to acquire from normal sexual intercourse. If you're keen on watching films that rape your senses and berate your moral compass, make yourself some cold chocolate milk and cuddle with a love one to an intimate screening of Blue Movie; an original romantic comedy for less inhibited and more ambitious lovers.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 12:08 AM
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