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Cries of Ecstasy, Blows of Death

Review by: 
Sinferno
AKA: 
Grida di estasi
Release Date: 
1974
Studio: 
Something Weird
Genre: 
SF/Horror
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
1 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 
1.66:1
Directed by: 
Antony Weber
Cast: 
Sandy Carey
Michael Abbott
John Martin
Movie: 
4
Extras: 
2
Bottom Line: 
3

There is always something a little disappointing about speculative sci-fi movies that take place (or are about to take place) on a date far closer to our current calendar on the actual day they were filmed. Who among us will forget the fantastic, apocalyptic film futures that have passed without incident? Do you remember 1997 when Skynet was supposed to first become self-aware, even as New York was to be made into an island prison that same fateful year and yet most of humanity continues to live in relative comfort and freedom? How many times have you sought to find a “DEATH RACE” on your pay per view cable package?  According to my records (and vintage movie posters) that sport was supposed to start sometime in 2000, so they had better get on that, because according to the Mad Max timeline the world is going to be destroyed sometime in 2003 by a nuclear exchange. Though oddly enough, it seems this cataclysmal event will somehow only improve the quality of the sheer brutality of the racing action. It is then/now when I look at my calendar and realize that it is the actually end of 2014 and mainstream Hollywood has disappointed me again by failing to predict with the nightmarish. dystopic “hell on earth” universe that it has long promised me lying to me once per film for $7.00 a pop. What a ripoff! The only reason I bring this up is this week’s film is CRIES OF EXSTACY, BLOWS OF DEATH, a futuristic soft-core sex thriller from 1974 that offers us a look at life in 2062 a time when men wore gas masks, women wore nothing and everybody lived in giant inflatable beach ball halves and conspired to rape, kill and murder their neighbor for their supply of air.  Why not? At least it’s an impossible, scientifically bereft future that most misanthropic cult movie lovers among us can still “believe in” (at least for 48 more years).

Now let it be said that while nearly all “After the crash” movies contain at least one unlikely hero in a world of unrepentant savages, the despotic world of CRIES OF ECSTACY BLOWS OF DEATH is remarkably brutal and morally grey.  There is one main character, a man by the name of General Byron Grey who fends off the rape gang at the beginning of the film, only to later have an affair with a lonely woman named “Hera” who dwells in a neighboring dome. This is an act which reportedly is a capital offense, gleefully enforced by the quasi-cop, wasteland militia (two guys in a custom dune buggy) who roam the wasteland, killing people and enforcing the arbitrary rule of law with a ludicrous code of ethics that seems to be based on the time honored legal credo of “might makes right”.   Mere citizens’ unfortunate enough not to be residents of one of the two inflatable domes will attempt any means to get inside one. Conversely; those who are lucky enough to be rightful tenants of the immense inflatable bounce houses fritter away their day at all manner of orgy and “stand your ground” lethal castle doctrine defense the moment anyone approaches their goofy inflatable houses with ill intent (or for pretty much any other reason). Meanwhile marauders on dirt bikes constantly violate, eradicate any person they can find.  And let us not forget the two cops in the dune buggy, who are the only rule of law in this grim, alternate future a team of guys every bit as bloodthirsty as every other character in the film except they have no interest in taking peoples domes whatsoever, in fact they are adamant that no one should try to leave them under any circumstances, because it seems world is running out of air and everyone is going to die anyway. But they have their orders. Of course they do…I suppose everyone has to have a reason. Not that it matters much. Regardless of the various factions and their different survival doctrines it seems every action taken by every character during the duration of this film is a random expression of casual sex or senseless violence (often both) making the title of this film not so much a name, but perhaps the most thoughtful and detailed plot synopsis possible.

Understandably, the resulting film is a lurid, senseless, non-objective mess but for once it doesn’t render it without merit considering its basic barbaric theme.  If you can abandon all hope of watching it as a dramatic work and just kick back and view it as a failed social experiment that is like something inspired by a modern prime time network reality how, a 70’s sexploitation roughie and an Animal Planet nature show depicting the brutal, passionate and yet wholly meaningless microcosm life struggle between a red and ant black colony, this may be worth owning just because it is so raw, unscripted and feral which is a side of the apocalypse which is not often the basis for an entire film, in fact there is nothing going on here but deviant sex, human despair and random lethal violence that every other “end of civilization” film only suggests.

Now let me make this clear. This is not a good film, in any critical sense whatsoever.  It is a pornographic, nihilistic, hopeless bit of celluloid that looks like it was cobbled together from the rougher moments of every cult movie about the decay of society in a false futuristic future. Yet despite its intellectual emptiness there are some nuances. The classical music themes underlying awful going’s on in a brutal white plastic inflatable world  is straight from Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (filmed around this time) and I would bet my film collection that some of the antics in this film were something of an inspiration for George Miller when he directed the Mad Max films.  Cult film fans of sci-fi dramatizations of mankind’s collapse must pick this up, because it is perhaps the earliest film of this sub-genre and certainly one of the more lurid specimens mine eyes have ever seen. Nonetheless I struggle to find a plot for this thing for the review. Finding none, I will leave you with something of an idiom.  “It is said that people in glass houses should never throw stones. But when you live in a gleaming futuristic transparent vinyl dome in a lawless desert wasteland, maybe you shouldn’t have orgies all day in your living room if you don’t want to entice/upset your neighbors, all of whom are opportunistic savages armed with firearms, bows and sharp pointy things.”

Extras include some coming attractions.

Sadly, it seems I must now say goodbye to Something Weird, my oldest surviving supplier of films as they no longer send out gratis, physical screener copies for review.  I will miss them most sincerely as I found their Driver’s Ed Scare Film, Intermission Time and other random cinematic weirdness to be a deeply refreshing, welcome sojourn from the joyless porn which now chokes my mailbox and scalds my sensibilities (this title notwithstanding).  I wish them continued success and I want it to be known that I will always believe in their wares. Additional Thanks to Lisa Petrucci who let me rob the vault one final time to complete a couple of series I had been reviewing for years because I am ever the completest. If this one piques your interest, grab it here! 

 

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