Sep 27, 2014

Cabaret Sin

Since one of my girlfriend’s favorite films is Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), it was only natural that she would dig up a hardcore rip-off of the classic cyberpunk flick. Indeed, the stylishly salacious, vintage shot-on-video hardcore science fiction flick, Cabaret Sin (1987) aka X TROP, directed by one-time porn auteur Philip O'Toole, was such a hit upon its release that it was later re-edited and released in a non-pornographic cut under the title Droid (1988) a year later, with the director deciding to adopt the pseudonym ‘Peter Williams’ and claiming a bogus British background, as if it would make him seem more cultivated or something (of course, as far as I know, the Brits have never made a decent fuck flick, so adopting an English persona might be a wise choice for a filmmaker that is attempting to the obfuscate the dubious history of their sex flick turned sci-fi flick). With about 10 minutes of extra hardcore footage and a conspicuously ‘cooler’ name, I naturally opted for watching Cabaret Sin over the fuck-free flick Droid. Typically, I try to stay away from any post-porn chic, shot-on-video fuck flick, especially if it seems like it was made to appeal to the banal tastes of virginal Trekkies and related sexually autistic nerds whose greatest fantasy is getting laid by Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, yet when I saw screenshots from O'Toole’s seemingly vaguely imaginative bargain bin blue movie, I could not resist. A nude neo-noir flick that seems like it was created by some sort of psychopathic preteen genius with easy access to an entire bordello of whores and the props of his local high school’s theater department, Cabaret Sin is a strangely charming work that, due to its aesthetic ambitiousness and wanton weirdness despite its discernible lack of budget and asinine acting performances, has to be seen to believed. Like Liquid Sky (1982) as directed by someone who does not know a god damn thing about new wave, new romanticism, or underground music/culture in general as molested by the post-apocalyptic pornographic cult classic Café Flesh (1982) directed by ‘Rinse Dream’ (aka Stephen Sayadian) meets countless popular 1980s Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster, O'Toole’s decidedly decadent piece of eccentrically erotic dystopia ultimately defies all forms of cinematic sanity as a seemingly aesthetically apocalyptic work that combines most of the worst clichés of dystopian sci-fi cinema, the meta-kitschy essence of late-1980s music videos, and an army of perturbingly plastic would-be-pretty people sporting mullets and other forms of obscenely odious outmoded Reagan era mullets on their seemingly empty heads. Indeed, if you ever wanted to experience the worst of 1980s dystopian sci-fi in a playfully pornographic package that strives to be, orgasmically speaking, out-of-this-world but more resembles the thematically impotent and incoherent yet nonetheless endlessly enthralling fantasy of an autistic American west coast take on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) with a nihilistically nostalgic softspot for the worst elements of Stars Wars (1977), Cabaret Sin is a pure and unadulterated cinematically spastic win of the third cinematic kind as a hardcore-sci-fi hybrid. 

 The year and setting is Los Angeles 2020 and, as he narrates in a pseudo-noirish fashion, mullet man ‘Taylor’ (Greg Derek in what is clearly his most ‘famous’ role)—a horrible Harrison Ford/Mel Gibson hybrid played by a clear non-actor who seems like he was randomly discovered by the casting agent while working out at Gold's Gym—is a futuristic cop called an ‘Eliminator’ who works for the government as a lone wolf assassin.  Although he hates to admit it as a macho killing machine that is not supposed to have emotions (of course, this is a reference to the Replicants of Blade Runner) despite the fact he is a flesh and blood human and not a robot like a good portion of the assassins around the superlatively shitty west coast city, he is a lethally lovelorn lad who longs for his beloved whore ‘Nicola’ (played by pseudonymous German buxom brunette ‘Krista Lane’), who eloquently smokes her fag in a fashion almost worthy of Sean Young à la Blade Runner. As Taylor narrates about himself in a less than impassioned manner: “Its not that I’m a good cop…I’m a tired cop…tired of this dome, this job, this planet, but I still did what any good cop tried to do. Stay alive.” Unquestionably, the L.A. of 2020, not unlike the real L.A. of today (which seems worse, with its apocalyptic hodgepodge of impoverished Hispanics, disillusioned and culturally cuckolded whites, negro gangsters, East Asians, IT-inclined Indians, 711-running Arabs, and other assorted forms of mystery meat) is a decadent dystopian hellhole of the culturally and racially mongrelized sort suffering from a severe case of malignant multiculturalism as demonstrated by the fact that rather culturally confused individuals like meaty Mestizos wearing goofy pseudo-Japanese clothing and white Islamic towelheads sporting business suits can be found everywhere. Aside from ‘Eliminators’ like Taylor that drive goofy futuristic hovercrafts that do not seem to move, the L.A. of this salacious piece of non-celluloid sci-fi is inhabited by angry androids called ‘The Reformers’ that have flashing beady red lights for eyes, black helmets, and black uniforms, thus making them seem like a cross between a futuristic Gestapo soldier and Darth Vader. Needless to say, Taylor seems like a second-rate crack-addled pop-country singer compared to the Reformers. 

 In a scene parroting the famous space alien cantina scene from Star Wars, Taylor enters a stylish, eclectically themed strip club with the less than creative name “Pleasure Dome” where he sees a Jap geisha (Kristara Barrington) doing pseudo-Kabuki theater in front of a giant bald retro Jap head.  Not surprisingly, the ‘master of ceremonies’ of the club is a creepy smirking midget that waddles around with an equally creepy ventriloquist doll affixed to his shoulder. While lurking around the Pleasure Dome in a moody and broody manner in the hope that he will run into one of his targets, Taylor also watches in seeming boredom as a superficially amorous chick in an aesthetically vulgar Ancient Egyptian outfit, Azteca (Lorrie Lovett), strips and fucks for the adoring audience. When a girl goes up to Taylor, sits on his lap without permission, and asks, “Didn’t I pleasure you?,” he robotically replies, “Business before pleasure,” but of course, as the film later reveals, the coldhearted cop is in love with naughty Nicola, who peddles her puss to a tyrannical towelhead named ‘The Turk’ (played by veteran Hebraic hardcore star Herschel Savage), who owns a sleazy local club. 

 While brooding at the Turk’s club and watching a trombonist named Tammy Dorsey (Bunny Bleu) handle her instrument on stage as if it is a boner instead of a trombone in a scene that delightfully degenerates into a threesome where the fetishistic front-lady begins banging her band members for the discernibly aroused audience members, Taylor reminisces over his love for Nicola and complains to himself, “There I go again…getting all emotional…just when I thought I had forgotten her.” In easily the most memorably and perversely potent segment of the film, Taylor recalls romantically slow-dancing with Nicola prom-style in a scene juxtaposed with a heated fuck session between the two jaded lovers. When Taylor finally gets the testicular fortitude to approach his beloved Nicola, she does not accept him warmly and lovingly but berates him rather viciously, complaining, “You’re just like everyone else…you belong here. You’re gonna die here. I’m going to do anything I can to get out of her.” Indeed, as it turns out, Nicola is working for the enemy and after being nearly killed by a Reformer robot at the behest of the terrible Turk, the killer cop prepares to shoot his great ladylove with more than just good old fashioned baby batter. Of course, ‘love conquers all’ in the end and Taylor declares like a true punk poser, “fuck the system” after deciding that the woman he loves is more important to him then the dead-end job that he loves to hate. In the end, in the middle of Nicola sucking off Taylor in his rather hazy and almost otherworldly Greek-statue-adorned apartment, a Reformer android breaks down the door and the film concludes with the predictable inter-title: “To Be Continued…” 

 Of course, as one can expect from successful films, especially porn films, a sequel was made to Cabaret Sin entitled Empire of the Sins (1988), though it was directed by a dude named Kirdy Stevens (Little Me and Marla Strangelove, A Taste of Sugar) instead of Mr. O'Toole. In fact, scenes from both films were edited together to make the non-pornographic work Droid, which is vaguely more coherent than the two other films, though at the decided detriment of hopelessly 80s style hardcore debauchery. It should also be noted that both Empire of the Sins and Droid feature quasi-campy elements from the Naziploitation sub-genre. Of course, if 1980s style retrograde sci-fi is your thing, all three videos make for virtuous vices of the pleasantly post-apocalyptic sort that make the Mad Max films seem like the platitude-ridden product of an impotent Mormon mercenary. Indeed, in its own wayward way, Cabaret Sin is sort of ‘outsider’s art’ as assembled by people with very little artistic talent who seemed to put their all into an erotic effort with eccentric tableaux that may have been made to appeal to the rather particular sentiments of virginal sci-fi nerds whose sole sexual outlet is masturbation, but was clearly made with a ‘free’ and ‘determined’ spirit that will surely act as inspiration to any aspiring filmmaker or synth-pop musician. Through its sappy and seemingly intentionally cliche melodramatic romantic subplot and reckless aesthetic and thematic theft from countless 1980s sci-fi flicks, not to mention its inclusion of a totally random scene featuring an upside Casablanca (1942) poster hanging on the wall of a futuristic fuck club in a charmingly sleazy scenario that one might describe as ‘cinematic heresy’ (at least to those many individuals that think Michael Curtiz's film is one of the greatest cinematic masterworks ever made), Cabaret Sin also manages to make a mockery of Hollywood history and formulaic film conventions, which is certainly something I can respect. Of course, Los Angeles has only become all the more racially, culturally, and socially apocalyptic since the film was released over a 1/4 century ago as a result of the ‘Reconquista’ of the city by the supposed ‘Aztlán,’ the general mass colonization of the United States by third worlders of every stripe and creed, and the further spread of the neo-liberal metaphysical disease, among countless other things, so I think it is only natural that a remake of Cabaret Sin should be in order, though, considering the sorry state of the contemporary porn industry, it would probably be a reeking pile of anti-erotic bile steeped in miscegenation, cuckoldry, fake lips and tits, and ugly swarthy meathead dudes with monstrous dicks.  Indeed, Cabaret Sin may make the L.A. of 2020 seem like a conspicuously corrupt culturally bastardized shithole where killer robots run rampant and creepy dwarfs are considered chic, but it pales in comparison to the real dystopia that waits the so-called ‘City of Angels.’

-Ty E

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