The October 25, 2016 Blu-ray double-feature of films by '60s and '70s director Joe Sarno, whom Film Movement describes as "the master of psycho-sexual cinema," is an aptly art-house film way for the Classics line of indie/foreign movie legend Movement way to celebrate Halloween. Movement describing "Vampire Ecstasy"(1973) and "Sin You Sinners" (1963) that make up this release that Movement titles the "Joseph W. Sarno Retrospective Series" as "seminal films" of sexploitation god Sarno will make the 12 year-old boy in male viewers giggle.
Fans of Movement and/or Unreal TV may remember Sarno from the (reviewed) Movement release of the aptly titled documentary A Life in Dirty Movies" about Sarno,
Movement deserves immense credit for releasing the lurid and highly erotic "Ecstasy;" easily 30 minutes of this roughly two-hour film has a coven of witches who gather in the basement of a castle writhing around clad only in sheer loin clothes. They augment their trancelike swooning with couplings, group caressing (and more) of a prone member of their group, and worship of phallic objects that include candles that realistically depict the form of the male sexual organ but are above average in length and girth.
The "plot" of Ecstasy is that the coven head, who also runs the household, takes advantage of the presence of the descendants of the former lady of manor to also lure a creepy brother-and-sister duo to the castle. The nefarious plot involves bewitching one of the descendants and the brother to "bond" in order to resurrect a deceased vampire leader.
Fans of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" will love both the erotic horror themes and the siblings having to seek shelter in the castle after their car breaks down. "Ecstasy" provides plenty of opportunities for time warp and Magenta jokes.
The mix of absurd, gothic, and erotic include inflicting unbearable sexual desire on a woman with a promise to relieve it on seducing the poor unsuspecting object of the coven's affection. For his part, the 20-something man with socially unacceptable tendencies has erotic dreams implanted in his head.
"Ecstasy" builds to a climax that satisfies aficionados of both erotic and horror genres. It is not one that you want to watch with your kids or your parents but is a great option for a guys' night in or a frat party.
On a larger level. "Ecstasy" provides a great opportunity to discuss the line between pornography and art that determines whether a film ends up on a adults-only website or in the catalog of an awesome indie film company. The presumably realistic depictions of Satanic rituals and related mind control favor classifying the film as art; Sarno forgoing the loin cloths and actually showing the insertion of the phallic objects in their female counterparts likely would have resulted in the film premiering at Pussycat Theaters around the country.
The wider appeal of "Sin" relates to it speaking to fans of the mother-daughter melodramas of the '50s and '60s, thrillers from that era, and the '90s cable hit "Mystery Science Theater 3000" that mocks both genres. This one has far less gyrating than "Ecstasy" and largely revolves around the conflict of a not-so-erotic dancer and her 20-something daughter.
The embarrassment of daughter Julie extends beyond mother Bobbi taking off her clothes for audiences that the film describes as drunken pigs; Bobbi also has the latest in a strong of middle-aged boy toys living with her and her daughter. The sins of this man include drinking, gambling (and losing), and going after Julie.
A reveal halfway through the film is one of the best in the movie. Bobbi shores the lurid tale of how she comes to possess the doubloon that allows her to place the objects of her affection and of her dislike under her spell. This magic extends to making her seem younger and more attractive than her actual appearance,
The campy fun continues throughout the film and ends on a very apt note. The final performance of Bobbi is a highlight.
The bonus features include an interview in which Sarno shares the roots of his interest in horror and discusses the conversations regarding the proper balance of erotic and horror during the filming of "Ecstasy." His insights include showing how the same lighting can convey both horror and lust and
The release also includes a booklet that features an essay on Sarno. This analysis shows how the childhood experiences of Sarno form and inspire his desire to show both the physical and the psychological aspects of human intercourse.