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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Roxanna
Roxanna
POPcinema // Unrated // May 28, 2002
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted June 19, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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CineSchlock-O-Rama

E.I. Independent Cinema and its various tentacles -- Seduction Cinema, Shock-O-Rama, After Hours Cinema -- has dramatically revived the sexploitation genre. First, with its fleshy spoofs of pop culture phenoms such as Play-Mate of the Apes and Erotic Survivor. Now, as part of their Retro-Seduction Cinema line, comes Roxanna the first of several classics by San Francisco-based, '70s grindhouse auteur Nick Phillips to be paired with the studio's contemporary updates. Future releases may include Scyla, Fire Under Her Bed, Les Chic, Siv: A Swedish Girl, Wendy's Naughty Night and A Couple of Trouble. But, look out, because CineSchlocker fave Darian Caine is up next with Pleasures of a Woman.

These are "softcore" movies as they were made before the mainstreaming of hardcore pornography with Deep Throat in 1972. Before then, erotica flirted with the boundaries of community standards and often exhibited some sort of moral lesson in order to appease a flimsy quest for "redeeming social value." Meaning filmmakers could have characters do all sorts of naughty things, so long as they weren't graphic and there were dire consequences -- with Mr. Phillips' opus being a prime example.

Roxanna (1970, 51 minutes): If Darren Aronofsky made porno, it'd look a lot like this psychedelic journey into "the strange world of the lesbian and its erotic mysteries." The flick's kinetic camera work and artfully composed closeups of lanky sexpot Louise Thompson create an avant garde visual style that's oddly hip today. While the story is ferociously saucy (and arguably feministic) with a heavy undercurrent of self-loathing as Roxanna cavorts with ultra-buxom sex siren Uschi Digart who's just the first in a lurid string of lusty encounters. Most taboo perhaps being Roxanna's simulated performance of an extremely loving act with a transvestite (who's clearly all woman). Intercut throughout this carnal cavalcade are sobering shots of a drooling Roxanna huddled against a wall, her nude body limp except for her trembling arms as though she's in a drug-induced delirium. Have her wicked ways driven her to an asylum, or did she drop the brown acid? Our narrator, who provides this morality tale's only dialogue, doesn't spell it out in her sparse, scowling commentary reminiscent of bohemian beat poetry. Six breasts. Drooling. Candle fellating. Advanced lesbian tongue rasslin. Self-gratification. Foot worship. Inflatable brassiere. The narrator assesses the situation, "Do you feel sorry for her? Not one [email protected]#&ing bit! She got all that she deserved! She connected her brain to her [email protected]#&% and let her [email protected]#&% do all the thinking! So tough titty!" Four stars.

Roxanna (2002, 36 minutes): Past the visual homage of the opening credits, there's little to connect this to the original. CineSchlocker fave Misty Mundae is Roxanna, a sexually unfulfilled gal who loses all inhibitions when her sleazeball beau suggests she bed down with another broad (Katie Jordan). Trouble is, she never tags him into the ring, in fact, Roxanna never looks back on her coke-fueled exploration of Sapphic ecstasies. One such encounter is with a snarling drug dealer, played as only the great Darian Caine can, who suggests and receives an alternative form of payment when Roxanna doesn't have enough scratch for nose candy. A laughably lame ending is cushioned by some ruthless dialogue and flashbacks of Roxanna's tastiest cavorting. 10 breasts. One corpse. Line snorting. Advanced lesbian tongue rasslin. Gratuitous cable-access video effects. Self-gratification. Roxanna berates her boyfriend, "Has your [email protected]#% gotten that bored that I have to [email protected]#% this chick?!" and "You gave me a taste, baby, and I liked it! So much that I realized I don't need your worthless ass around anymore!" One and a half stars.

Audio/Video: The negative for Phillip's flick was tragically damaged by age and poor storage, so a new stereo track had to be created. Fortunately, it's absolutely genius! Chelsea Mundae (Yep, Misty's real-life sis) is responsible for the aforementioned narration as transcribed from the original and the New Jersey-based band The Gwens provide a exquisitely bizarre score. Both gel effortlessly with the flick. (Although it'd be interesting, and of historical value, if the degraded track were included for comparison). Curiously, much of the same music is used in the remake with a fraction of the panache. Despite its audio woes, the original's fullframe transfer is remarkably vibrant and clean, while the remake was photographed digitally and looks it. Excessive audio buzz between shots only adds to the amateur feel.

Extras: At last! A commentary by Misty and Darian! The Seduction Cinema sensations are joined and can't get a word in edge-wise by shop-talkin' writer/director Ted W. Crestview and cameraman/moderator Johnny Crash. Ever the cut-up, Ms. Caine does manage to note that Misty spends the entire flick "[email protected]#% diving." Meanwhile, fellow genre enthusiast 42nd Street Pete provides a video perspective on Mr. Phillips contribution to "erotica" (7 mins). Also, as an alleged bonus is a mercifully short film called Despair (34 mins). It's a weird suicide fantasy written, directed and starring Mark Baranowski with nekkid razorblade swallerer Ryli Morgan and Bonzai the bunny. CineSchlockers should enjoy Ms. Morgan and Mark's poster collection. Typically generous trailer vault featuring Misty Mundae: Mummy Raider, Erotic Vampire in Paris, Play-Mate of the Apes, Erotic Survivor 2, Vampire Obsession, The Erotic Mirror, The Sexy 6th Sense, 2069: A Sex Odyssey, Naughty Stewardesses, Female Animal, Master's Plaything, Inga, The Seduction of Inga and Possession of Nurse Sherri. Static menus with audio. No printed insert or liner notes. Oh, and the cover art with Ms. Mundae in itsy-bitsy lingerie and mascara streaming down her mug, yeah, none of that shows up in the flick. It's called marketing and, here, it's a beautiful thing.

Final thought: Savor Mr. Phillips' brilliantly trippy sleaze and remember, despite its failings, the quickie remake does attempt to honor its sexploitation elder. Recommended.

Check out my revealing interviews with
Misty Mundae and Darian Caine!

G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.
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