Friday, February 6, 2009

Scummy Hippies! Scummy Hippies!

I watched Forced Entry (Dir. Shaun Costello, 1974) a couple of nights ago as part of my ongoing research, both into the films of Shaun Costello, and the ways in which pornographic film represents rape and sexual violence. Contrary to (or, perhaps because of) arguments that suggest pornography sexualizes rape, recent porn, from the late-70s onward, has tended to shy away from sexual violence as a theme. Of course, there are many films that trade in the sexual fantasy of forced or coerced sex, yet porn films that are explicitly about rape are not that common, especially in feature films. It's become, ironically, something of a taboo.

After watching Cry Wolf (Dir. Paul Thomas, 2008), a recent feature that deals with rape in a surprisingly sophisticated way, I was struck by the "problem" porn films face in representing rape and sexual violence. In effect, pornography's duty to "show everything" in explicit terms renders representations of rape quite a conundrum.

Forced Entry is an interesting example - an early 70s porn movie about a traumatized Vietnam vet, played by a pre-Deep Throat Harry Reems (who turns in a very convincing performance - hard to take if you're used to his zany comedy work) working at a gas station where he takes down women's addresses when they pay with their credit card, and follows them to their homes, rapes them, and murders them. A simple premise, and one that leads to some pretty shocking scenes that are difficult to watch. The second rape scene in particular, in which a woman is dragged from her shower by our "Protagonist," forced to orally pleasure him at gunpoint, and then anally raped, is very realistic. 

Pretty grim, then. Yet, it's difficult to tell what the purpose of the movie is. It doesn't feel like a regular rape-porn movie, as the rape sequences are disrupted throughout by intercuts of black-and-white footage of various atrocities in Vietnam - an effective and very disturbing technique. I find it hard to believe that the filmmakers would have done this if it was intended to simply arouse its audience. Furthermore, the rapist-muderer commits suicide at the end of the movie after attempting to rape a pair of girls who are on acid and don't take his threats seriously. This last scene is one the coolest things I've ever seen - the girls are either awesome actresses, or really on acid, or both. Either way, their reaction to Reems trying to intimidate them into submitting is an oddly satisfying conclusion, their laughter overpowering him and turning his violence on himself.

I'm not sure exactly what I think of this film - but I know it's something pretty special. It's either a reprehensible piece of trash that exploits and sexualizes rape and murder, or it's a brilliant (and reprehensible?) film that skillfully articulates the disturbing cultural connections between violence, sexuality, masculinity, and war. Either way, I would say it's worth watching.


T. L. Bugg said...

This is one I'm going to have to see on the strength of your review alone, and while I'm here let me say that...
You were nominated for The Dardos Award by t.l. bugg

Johnny 666 said...

Yeah, Forced Entry is a tough one's probably as filthy and nasty roughies get. What works about it though is the performances. Reems was spot on here. What makes me chuckle is to think of the dirty-mac brigade shuffling out of this one back in the day, with nothing but a limp dick in their hands...I reckon most of em were pretty shocked by how unattractive the film is.

I was wondering when you were gonna get around to reviewing the roughies, have you seen The taming of Rebecca or Water Power yet?

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Thanks Bugg! Yes, it's well worth watching, but not necessarily pleasant, of course...

Yeah, Johnny, I've never exactly gone out of my way to watch rape-porn, but have taught I Spit On Your Grave as a way of discussing the different genderings of rape on film. It's only recently that I've started delving into rape/sexual violence in narrative porn - and all because of Cry Wolf (which I will be sure to review once I watch it again). Water Power is on my next-to-buy list, as is Roommates, Joy, and, apparently, The Taming of Rebecca - thanks for the tip!

Johnny 666 said...

ah excellent. The Taming of Rebecca is one of my personal fav's, you will no doubt find the soundtrack familiar:-)

mandingo said...

Great blog; watching 'Hard Candy' the other nite got me thinking- are there many flicks of note involving the raping of men? I'm sure there are, but off the top of my head I can't think of any obvious ones at the moment.

'I Spit' is a 'great' flick- as is Joe Bob's commentary.

I remember an essay I wrote on this genre a while ago, and I cited a kind of quirky reference- a quote from 'Muriel's Wedding' uttered by Sophie Lee when she said (and I paraphrase) 'Chook's been arrested for raping a Japanese girl! It's ridiculous! Chook doesn't even like the Japanese!'

Just about sums things up for me.

Keep up the good work.

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Thanks Mandingo - yes, there are movies about men getting raped. There are tons of them in gay porn - particularly in ways that intersect with race and class, But in straight porn they're a little rarer. A notable one is Cry Wolf from 2008 - I plan on reviewing it next, as I'm writing a paper on rape in porn, with a focus on this film, for an upcoming conference.

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it - a good example of recent porn that doesn't simply show sex for titillating purposes - it really deals with rape in a sophisticated way.

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