Friday, June 12, 2009

Eye of the Beholder

Today I would like to offer something of a follow up to Wednesday's article questioning the differences between erotica and porn. As I mentioned in that article erotica is all about establishing a sense of the mise-en-scene yet so, too, is what is considered to be erotic highly subjective. To illustrate this point I would like to direct you to the recently posted review from the site 366 Weird Movie Reviews for Lair of the White Worm.

I've always considered this one of those "guilty pleasure" movies, yet never really thought of it explicitly as a work of erotica. Yet it has a very strong sense of the mise-en-scene. And, as the reviewer states: "Amanda Donohoe is the engine that keeps the flick rolling along its kinky, demented path. She’s sexy, slinky, witty and hammy, in equal parts. <...> she vamps her way across the screen with an obvious delight in her power to tempt men into perdition."

I have to admit the author of this review has given the movie a lot more thought than I ever did. I enjoy it purely on a "turn your brain off and have fun" level. Yet the reviewer makes an interesting observation: "The film is about sex, and fear of sex. Even the title suggests Freudian implications: both the “worm” and its “lair” (a hole on a hillside) suggest genitalia."

Like someone famous once said, Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. After all the worm comes OUT of the hill it does not ENTER it, per se. Yet, even now, as you read these words, your mind is pondering the implications. It could just be that I saw this movie at too young an age, which I did, as a rental at a friends house with his parents, and don't see in it what others perceive because such ideas were not part of my mental fabric back then. Too, since that first viewing, I've caught this on broadcast television (in only slightly blurred form) and numerous times on satellite cable/TV. Another cliché worth mentioning is the fact that familiarity breeds contempt, or perhaps in this case, it dulls the lobe of the brain responsible for objective critical observation. For the reviewer from 366 Weird Movie Reviews also goes on to state:

"Although the imagery occasionally veers towards outright pornography, when it does so Russell keeps it so brief that it’s almost subliminal. The scenes he lingers over are those that are merely titillating."

Pornography? In LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM!?

This is where the reviewer's opinion and my own diverge. If anything I feel that Mr. Russell was too reserved and inhibited. The actress whom Ms. Donahoe's character is supposed to be seducing and sacrificing to the great wurm never gets her kit off. Never! It's only down to bra and undies. That's always bothered me about the movie. It's a thematic disconnect from all that's going on that pokes at the audiences ability to fully suspend their disbelief. The movie is campy, crazed, hallucinatory, and ludicrous at times but never, NEVER, does it approach what I'd remotely call pornographic.

In closing I'd like to reiterate the comment I left about the review on the site: Good review. Though, I have to say, perhaps slightly over thought. It may be the movie has suggestive "Freudian implications" but I somehow don’t think they were consciously put into the movie. This is pure head cheeze. Ultra camp. So bad-awesome I'd score it 5 Sarah Palins.

# End of Line

1 comment:

  1. Kester, thanks for the attention. I agree that the basic thrust and intent of the movie is to be "ultra camp". The sexual elements I focused on in the paragraph you reference are subtext: possibly consciously intended, possibly unconscious.

    The part of the film that I suggest veers towards pornography is the nun rape sequence. Imagine if Russell had filmed it graphically and held the camera on the scene, in true nunsploitation style. I think it would have qualified as "soft-core" pornography. Instead, he only gives us a few brief glimpses of the "action".

    I don't know if Russell would have liked to get Catherine Oxenberg naked or not, but I don't believe she does nude scenes.