Would you drink a smoothie made from The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Holy Motors, Inland Empire, and a smattering of smutty Spanish soft-core porn? I wouldn’t either, but I started watching Sex is Crazy without knowing what was in it. The link didn’t come with a warning or an ingredient list. It wasn’t easy to swallow either, especially with an unanticipated Satanism chaser.
The movie begins with a sci-fi extravaganza populated by silver-skinned aliens who have enslaved Earth’s population and turned all the humans into breeding stock. The whole operation is overseen by a woman who yells out instructions like, “Dicks in firing position!” It’s a kind of military-industrial sex complex run with cold efficiency. It all has something to do with preserving an alien race.
Then, it is suddenly revealed that everything we have seen on the screen has been a stage show being performed in front of an audience. The camera follows some actors backstage for some confusing dialogue as they wash up. Just as we are acclimating to this new reality, we see a camera in the dressing room mirror. The camera zooms in, and we realize that the backstage dialogue is not “real”, but a scene in a movie that is being filmed in front of us. Then, a few scenes later, we see a woman wake up in bed, implying that everything we have seen up until then has been her dream. We end up with numerous nested realities, just as we do in the aforementioned films. However, unlike the aforementioned films, Sex Is Crazy is a low-budget, badly acted, even more badly dubbed sex farce, with waggly penises and floppy boobs swinging all over the place.
The sex is the worst part. Each scene is a badly-mimed soft-core mess of moaning. Men smoosh their flaccid penises against women’s stomachs and act as if they are experiencing earth-shattering orgasms. Women pretend to be aroused by opening their glossy lipsticked mouths and closing their heavily eye-shadowed eyes. It’s a miserable pantomime that is about as erotic as watching someone get a root canal.
Just as you are getting used to this mess of unfunny conversations and unarousing sex, we suddenly find ourselves in a car with two characters exchanging dialogue in weird falsetto voices. The dialogue is truncated and out of order like in David Lynch’s Rabbits. The two characters say things like, “Well, you stare one night. What you need for?”, or, “What’s deviled eggs till we die, darling.” Then, that whole scene turns out to be someone’s dream, or another scene in a movie or something, and it all starts over again.
There are lots of possible themes and ideas that could be behind this slapdash scramble of scenes that Franco throws at us, but it’s pretty hard to parse them out. There is definitely an element of satire that is focused on ridiculing bourgeois values. The four characters, two male and two female, break just about every social norm and convention they can get their hands on, or stick their dicks in. There are also parodies of genre films like noir, rom-com, and spy thriller. The film just freely jumps in and out of dreams, plays, and movies, and glues it all together with sex, or a very poor approximation of sex.
At least it’s not boring. One minute you’re watching a couple make out in a bar or drive along the coast, and then suddenly there are people in rubber Satan masks dancing in the street, or someone whips out a silver penis.
I read a summary of the film on IMDb and wasn’t sure if the author of the summary had seen the same film as I had. According to him, it’s about space aliens who watch a play about space aliens using humanity as breeding stock and are then inspired to try doing it themselves. I guess that’s possible. It all just kind of washed over me in a torrent of nipples and frizzy hairdos. The film advertised itself as “an exhausting carousel of eroticism.” A description I wouldn’t argue with.
Jess Franco AKA Jesus Franco AKA Frank Hollmann AKA David Khune AKA Clifford Brown AKA James Johnson was a Spanish film director. He made a lot of crap, a whole big pile of it, but Sex is Crazy was the first film he made after Francisco Franco’s censorship laws were relaxed. Sex Is Crazy is an explosion of freedom and abandon, but it isn’t much more than that. It does manage to provide some satire and a window into early 1980s European culture. I can say without reservation that it wasn’t that bad.
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