Sep 10, 2012


As an individual that is relatively disinterested in pornography as both an 'art form' and a pathetic masturbation aid, I cannot think of a greater hardcore flick than the dreamy celluloid LSD trip Bacchanale (1970) directed by John Amero and Lem Amero (Lusting Hours, Blonde Ambition). A virtual remake and cultural update of the exquisite cult flick Dementia (1955) aka Daughter of Horror, Bacchanale follows the seductive spirit of a lonely blonde beauty as she meets faceless "all-knowing" phantoms, revisits the more surly anecdotes of her licentious youth, and engages in phantasmagorical free love with a variety of anthropomorphic beings. With their subsequent work Blonde Ambition (1981) – a XXX-rated film with the outlandish tagline, "if you liked Deep Throat and Singin' in the Rain you're gonna love Blonde Ambition" – the Amero brothers proved they could do the seemingly impossible by paying film-literate homage to Hollywood comedies/musicals of the 1950s in pornographic form and with Bacchanale they did the same for classic cult horror films of the same era, except with a psychedelic twist. Starring the beautiful blonde bombshell Uta Erickson (Marcy, The Ultimate Degenerate) as the wandering and often naked protagonist Ruth, Bacchanale is a psychosexual psychedelic trip that is part-nightmare and part-romp, but never redundant, which is quite the feat for a vintage work of pornography. In fact, if one is merely looking for a kitschy and kinky porn flick that captures the aesthetic essence of a bygone era, Bacchanale – being just as every bit cinematic as sexual like the things vivid wet dreams are made of – may prove to be too much as it rivals (and often eclipses) the arthouse-sleaze works of Radley Metzger (Score, The Image), Tinto Brass (Salon Kitty, Caligula) and Walerian Borowczyk (Blood of Dr Jekyll, La Marge). 

 After falling asleep in a seedy motel room, Ruth’s spirit awakes and she wanders to an ultra-hip (to the point of parody) hippie costume party, but not before revisiting an incestuous sexual encounter she had with her dead brother Gordon many years ago. Despite the lurid and salacious past of the character she plays, Uta Erickson – with her natural breasts, fully intact labia, and all-American gorgeous looks – is quite elegant, thus making her much more appealing than the typical plastic cum-guzzlers with bleached, blown-out assholes that plague porn films nowadays. In fact, all of the performers/actors in Bacchanale – with their public hair, proportionate-sized penises, and lack of tacky tattoos – are totally organic in appearance, thus making the film all the more “fantastic” and “otherworldly” for modern day viewers. Contemporary viewers will also be happy to known that Bacchanale is hardly politically correct in its portrayal of pompous gay fashion designers (as best epitomized by a hysterical homo named “Go Go”) and its total lack of colored folks. Despite its lack of melanin-privileged folks, Bacchanale does feature a kaleidoscopic exhibition of hypnotic and psychotropic colors that further accentuates every cum-shot and blow-job featured in the film. On her pleasurable phantasmal pilgrimage, Ruth finds herself falling further and further away from reality but closer to orgasmic transcendence. When not jerking-off dead guys and performing stripteases for the grim-reaper in graveyards, Ruth is looking for the ghost of her dead brother, but she must endure the wrath of a sadomasochistic lesbian dictator and her slavish undressed underlings in a cave to find what she is truly looking for. As a forsaken fallen soldier of the Vietnam War, brother Gordon is the only man who has what it takes to give Ruth the solace that she so desperately needs. 

 Often regarded as the greatest film ever created by the anomalous auteur-pornographers Amero brothers, Bacchanale is most assuredly one of the most unprecedented and preeminent works in porn film history. For fan of Alain Robbe-Grillet (most specifically Eden and After and Successive Slidings of Pleasure), Alberto Cavallone’s Blow Job (1980) and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Bacchanale makes for a distinctly delectable yet debauched dream-story where erotic daydreaming and hallucinatory nightmares become one. That being said, take careful heed of the original 1970 poster: "If You Never See Another Adult Film, You Must See...Bacchanale.

-Ty E

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