Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Obscure Oddities: CRIES OF ECSTASY, BLOWS OF DEATH (1973)

As a cinema archaeologist (of the lowest order), it is always fun to unearth some title that few have written about.  CRIES OF ECSTASY, BLOWS OF DEATH is one such film.  I spotted the full page ad for the film in an old issue of Box Office magazine (the one to the left, complete with a "ecstacy" spelling error) and was drawn in by the art.  And then there is that title which rolls off the tongue like exploitation poetry. Checking it out on the IMDb, I see two things that further whet my appetite.  One, it has no user reviews or ratings; obviously a good sign.  Two, it features voluptuous sexploitation goddess Uschi Digard.  Yeah, I’m pretty easy.  Okay, time to make this one a priority.  Thankfully, Tom was able to hook me up with a copy and I could feast my eyes on this mostly unknown flick.

Following a nuclear war in December 1961, the Earth is a barren wasteland housing roughly a million people.  These were the folks lucky enough to be underground doing stuff when the big bomb hit.  100 years later, the badlands we see only seem to have about 10 people or so and the voiceover lets us know that a social hierarchy exists among the survivors in the form of color coded tents (yellow, green, and pink).  Each tent is furnished with purified air and water.  The punishment for leaving your tent without permission is death.  There are some non-conformists who ride around on their motorcycles, raping and pillaging.  Jeez, the post-apocalyptic world is harsh.  On the bright side, the narrator says that the nuclear fallout resulted in folks having a sexual overdrive and our story will focus on the “ecstasy rather than the despair.”

The film opens with a couple of women being attacked by a motorcycle gang. One of them is killed while the other is rescued by John (John Martin).  He and his men take her back to their bubble tent where, naturally, two women – Dala (Sandy Carey) and Kima (Kim Lu) – are getting it on. Meanwhile, General White (Michael Abbott) and his men in yellow robes fire arrows at some of the motorcyclists, who killed some green tent folks.  General White, the apparent male leader here, proceeds to get it on with Hera (Sherri Mason), the apparently female leader, and for some reason this bothers his main squeeze Dala.  Dude totally has a thing for chicks with names ending in “a” doesn’t he? Meanwhile, John can’t be pulled away from his chess game.  Bad news finally arrives when some sort of police patrol catches White outside of his tent.  He is sparred the death sentence.  Why?  He is told the tents only have hours of air left and everyone is going to die. Ain’t life grand?  I wonder how these oversexed folks will spend their final hours.

Damn, that must be one hell of a chess game 
to keep one from staring at the all the bare flesh:

White is apparently a hard ass though and when Colonel Janus (Clayborne Whitcombe; is that the greatest fake screen name ever?) shows up with his pregnant wife (DeDe Tiaz; I take that back, this is the best screen name ever) looking for shelter, he shoots the wife. Able (Steve Bennett) then shows up with three Amazonian chicks – Nia (Neola Graef), Reina (Uschi Digard) and Keisha (Dianne Bishop) –and they make the pink tent their safe haven.  Pregnant chicks, no go.  Massively busty chicks, the place is all yours!  Or maybe White just liked that their names all ended with an “a” on it?  After thwarting Able’s advances, Keisha does the impossible and manages to draw John’s eye after from his Kings and Queens.  I guess checking out a mate trumps checkmate when you only have hours to live.  While Able engages in a foursome with Kima, Reina and the now sexually insane Hera, John chases down Keisha in the desert. She plays hard-to-get though and karate chops him over and over.  I guess these are the blows of death I was promised. Meanwhile, in the cries of ecstasy department, Able and the Amazonian ladies strangle and kill Dala during sex.  I believe this is cinema’s first (and only?) post-apocalyptic erotic asphyxiation.  Anyway, the biker gang shows up and starts killing everyone.  Able and Nia run out of their collapsing tent and the jealous Dala jumps off a huge pipe to her death.  The survivors wander off to die as the narrator (who may or may not be God) ponders why human have screwed things up so much.  The end.

CRIES OF ECSTASY, BLOWS OF DEATH might be one of the top 10 best sexploitation titles ever. And while the film definitely delivers what its title promises, it fails to live up to it at the same time. Like a lot of the T&A movies from back in the day, it gets monotonous in its presentation of nekkid flesh. To be honest, I even had trouble remembering the plot details and characters despite having notes and only watched it a few days ago.  I’m going to guess the impetus of this film was someone saying, “Hey, I have access to these cool, futuristic looking tents.”  I will give the filmmakers credit for at least trying something different with their plot and I think this might be a first in terms of presenting nuclear apocalypse motorcycle gangs marauding through the desert (something that would dominate the filmic landscape a decade later thanks to the Aussies). The film seems to be derived from ZARDOZ (1974), which is odd as this was actually out before that John Boorman film that came out in February 1974 (the Box Office ad is from October 1973).  The costumes are definitely ZARDOZ-esque and lead Abbott even sports a Sean Connery look (see pic on the right). Perhaps the filmmakers spotted some early stills from that sci-fi flick and decided to pump out a quick one to capitalize?  Anyway, they made the right move of putting the skimpy outfits on the women.

CRIES vs. ZARDOZ: Which do you prefer?

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion regarding this title online. Some folks think it is an Italian film as for a while the only print available was an Italian one under the title SESSO DELIRO.  To make matters even more confusing, this version boldly splices in 15 minutes of stolen footage from George Romero’s THE CRAZIES (1973) in the opening in an effort to explain the cause behind the nuclear holocaust. There is also some real life footage of the aftermath of bombings that I’m sure the Italians threw in.  This is obviously not the original version and was probably done sometime in the 80s (given the fact the soundtrack on that version also steals music from THE SHINING). Something Weird recently released the film on DVD-R minus the unauthorized footage. Director Antony Weber is equally a mystery with this being his only credit on the IMDb. Fearless online sleuth Bill Picard was able to find he also made another feature with Carey called THE SAVAGE CONNECTION and a few more softcore grinders with Digard (including one with the amazing title LOVE AND THE GREAT GRUNT).  Other than that, little is known about the man.  But he caught Ushci naked on film so he has my utmost respect. Like I said, I’m easy.

3 Reactions:

  1. I've had this DVD-R forever and still haven't watched it. You may have lit the fire under my ass!

  2. Well, Casey, I hope you don't get burned! ;-) I'd say it is only so-so, admirable for its ideas but not going far enough.

  3. Here is my take on this film --



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