Sep 17, 2012

Water Power

I wouldn’t call myself an enemy of enemas, at least when it comes to proper medical uses, but I certainly cannot see how anyone would be sexually stimulated by such toxic and downright terribly repulsive material in pornographic form. After watching the cult porn flick Water Power (1977) aka The Enema Bandit directed by Shaun Costello (Midnight Desires, Dracula Exotica) – a decidedly politically-incorrect adult hardcore work loosely based on a real-life “enema bandit” and his manure-phile mania – I haven’t changed my mind about defecation as a distinctly deplorable aphrodisiac, but I must admit it was a gratifying and especially exhilarating X-rated work that most certainly transcends the usually fine line between pornography and a gritty cult flick. Starring avant-garde porn legend and AVN Hall of Fame member Jamie Gillis (Through the Looking Glass, Nighthawks) in a typically fitting sleazy role (although there is nothing 'typical' about the role itself) as “Burt – The Enema Bandit," Water Power is indubitably as nasty, nauseating and aesthetically nefarious today as it was upon its original release over three decades ago. As far as vintage pornography is concerned, Water Power is undoubtedly one of the most – if not the most – brutal work of the Golden Age of Porn, even beating Shaun Costello’s previous, aptly-titled effort Forced Entry (1973) to a shitty and bloody pulp in terms of its loony lewdness, spunky libertinage, and unsightly urban austerity. In short, Water Power, like Bacchanale (1970) directed by the Amero brothers, The Sex Garage (1972) and LA Plays Itself (1972) directed by Fred Halsted, Through the Looking Glass (1976) directed by Jonas Middleton, and Café Flesh (1982) and Dr. Caligari (1989) directed by Stephen Sayadian, is one of those rare embarrassing erotic works that one does not need to be necessarily turned-on by to fully appreciate, thus making it deserving of recognition in the pages of film history, alongside the audacious metropolitan early works of Robert John Downey Sr. (Chafed Elbows, Putney Swope), Martin Scorsese (Who's That Knocking at My Door, Taxi Driver), and Abel Ferrara (Driller Killer, Ms. 45). 

 Very loosely based on the eminent enema escapades of real-life serial enema-ist Michael H. Kenyon – a fecal felon who managed to get away with forcibly cleaning the colons of around two dozen unsuspecting female college students for over a decade – Water Power was made under almost similarly morally “dirty” circumstances. Propositioned by Sid Levine, the front-man of the porn division of the infamous Gambino crime family, the mafia family felt that Shaun Costello – their largest and most distinguished supplier of pornography – was the right man for the sensitive and surly scatological job. Always displaying a true professionalism as a pornographic performer like a true method actor in the spirit of Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, Jamie Gillis even attempted to meet the real Michael H. Kenyon, the man that Water Power was based on, in preparation for the ambitious role, but he was unfortunately turned down. Similar in character to sexually debauched loser ‘anti-heroes’ like Harry Reems as the Gas Station Attendant (Forced Entry), Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver), Jimmy Fingers (Fingers), Reno Miller (Driller Killer), and Frank Zito (Maniac), “Burt – The Enema Bandit” (Jamie Gillis) is a socially alienated and inept degenerate who discovers his love for flying feces after happening to catch a pseudo-doctor performing an erotic enema at brothel he frequents in what is easily one of the most fiercely frolicsome scenes even captured on gritty 16mm celluloid. Undoubtedly a life-changing experience as exemplified by his absolute state of ecstasy as he wanks off to high-pressure fecal matter as if he is Dr. Frankenstein watching the reanimation of his creature, Burt is no longer satisfied with $10.00 blow-job special from homely hoes of his local whorehouse and decides to dedicate his already dastardly life to the misunderstood art of anal-induced “water power” so as to ceremonially purify the “filthy whores” of Manhattan in an ostensibly ‘spiritual’ manner as if he some sort of ultra-reformed messianic Rebbe. Like most real-life pathological fetishists and assorted perverts, Burt has self-deceptively convinced himself that his actions are not only morally justified, but also have an otherworldly purification property that only he is aware of and ordained to administer. In preparation for his eccentric excremental excursions, Burt scans issues of faux-porn mags like “Water & Power” to find worthy dirty dames, mumbling to himself that he plans to, “Clean em’ out…shove it all the way up their ass and get all that shit out.” With a nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), Burt also engages in masturbatory socophilia by spying on a neighbor in the apartment building across from his. A staunch true believer and rebel-with-a-reprehensible-cause, bombastic Burt stalks Manhattan is a more sinister and body fluid manner than big brutish boy Jason Voorhees ever could.  After all, unlike Mr. Voorhees, Burt knows what to do with a beautiful defenseless woman.

 Needless to say, Water Power is one of few quasi-slasher flicks where the victim would have been better off dead. Equipped with a better-than-average ‘horror’ score (stealing shamelessly from Bernard Herrmann's musical compositions from Hitchcock’s Vertigo) and creepy yet inadvertently comical narration, Water Power – much like a lot of Costello’s pornographic works – is a discernibly ‘cinematic’ film directed by a man who seemed to know more about mainstream movie history than the typically amateurish pornographic works. Like any classic cult/horror film, Water Power is a wildly engrossing work that demands constant replaying, as epitomized by highly quotable lines like, “I know it sounds simple, but giving an enema is an important responsibility. After all, its my job.” and “I need to clean out these bitches as much they need to be cleaned.” Although essentially unclassifiable, I would describe Water Power is a violently sardonic and misanthropic blacker-than-a-firebombed-Dresden-housewife black comedy that is conscious of horror and action conventions that is disguised as an ultra-adulterated hardcore porn flick. After all, most fans of the film seem to agree that the sex scenes are unequivocally anti-erotic and even downright despicable, which is no surprise when one considers the odious and toxicant nature of human dung, especially when flying gloriously through the air while a mischievous maniac ejaculates simultaneously, but most proponents of Water Power tend to agree that it is an awfully facetious and sometimes satirical work that lampoons similarly-themed works like John G. Avildsen’s Joe (1970) in its overblown absurdity of sexual violence and grotesquery. In an era where scatological pornography is easily accessible to elementary school students via the internet and flaunting aberrosexuality is considered a badge of honor and the height of personal liberty, Water Power makes for all the more relevant and biting work.  Alfred Hitchcock may have ruined the showering experience for an entire generation of women with Psycho (1960), but Water Power is probably the only film that makes showering seem like a frightfully grimy and vomit-inspiring prospect.

-Ty E

1 comment:

MoonRisk7 said...

Holy shit (no pun intended), you guys are amazing! GOTTA' FIND THIS ONE!