Saturday, May 8

Sexy Hemorrhoids? Sexy R2-D2? No, it's SEXANDROIDE (1987)

After the maniacal murmuring of Ogroff: Mad Mutilator (1983) and the disembodied-from-reality delirium of Devil Story (1985), I figured I had seen the most prominent gore ultra-obscurities hailing from an '80s coke-fueled France. Then I ran across an auction on eBay for an Italian tape of a number entitled Sexandroide a few weeks ago. My hopes of ownership of this particular VHS were dashed when the final price blew past my measly bid to settle north of $80. So I started digging around and found this incredible cover for what's presumably the original French VHS. It should go without saying after seeing that artwork I had to see this nasty European exercise and that's when I discovered that Cinema de Bizarre carried a copy. I received my DVD-R in short order about a week ago, but sat on it until last night.

You see, Sexandroide is definitely not to be seen with anyone or anyone around. Disowned loved ones and your girlfriend erupting into tears before locking herself in the bathroom would be left in your wake. Well, unless your girl was a rail thin syphilitic ex-junkie/whore with daddy issues and a real knack for self-mutilation. Or one of your siblings happened to have perfected the art of homebrew feline vivisection and believes Happy Tree Friends makes a good substitute for Baby Einstein. One shouldn't make the mistake of lumping this in the slew of other "watch alone" material, everything from the August Undergrounds to the Guinea Pigs, as Sexandroide is so little known that it still feels very "wrong" while watching without that bug in your ear about it being sold virtually everywhere. The best way to put it is, at times, it's like the mysterious snuff transmission in Cronenberg's Videodrome.

This 57-minute, unsubtitled film is broken up into three unrelated vignettes each featuring performer Daniel Dubois carrying out dastardly deeds upon women which I assume are his act partners. The first concerns Dubois in a dungeon poking, cutting, and burning a wax figure of a girl in a voodoo ritual. The bleached blonde victim is in an equally dungeonous dive where she retreats to the restroom before having her clothes ripped off. The invisible force then makes her bleed from her nether regions (seems to like it), cry blood, slits her throat, burns her face, and finally hangs her from the ceiling.

The second segment is the real entrails and potatoes of Sexandroide with an oatmeal-faced Dubois as a zombie that tortures a hapless woman that wandered into his dungeon. After shooting a cloaked figure dead, the woman suddenly feels the urge to strip nude and dance about with torches and beat her own backside with a cat o' nine tails. Soon the figure returns from the dead, takes control of the whip, and then handcuffs the woman to a chair. Then we witness the wholesomeness of long needle nipple and tongue piercing, nipple slicing (and eating), arm butchering, severe ocular trauma, and knife bludgeoning. Finally, the blood-drenched zombie disembowels himself before his dead bride as she returns to life and they fall in love. It makes me tear up just writing that...

I warned you not to watch this one with anyone else, but this entire scene is a bit of extreme performance art. Although I haven't found proof, I imagine Dubois and his scene partners had been acting out this particular piece in clubs before Michel Ricaud decided to showcase it in this short film. These photos at least prove that Dubois appears to be still doing it as of 2007. Dubois as the butchering zombie and his victim/dancer also exhibit very "theatrical" motions during this sequence like Dubois providing several lurching false starts before plunging a fake blood-filled knife into his own arm. This deliberateness and pacing points to the act being well-honed for a live audience. Most of the violence isn't real, but the nipple/breast piercings are and Ricaud provides lingering close-ups of this particular event.

The last portion isn't nearly as showstopping and plays more as a last bid for some T&A. A grieving woman is completely disrobed and bitten by her undead lover that just rose from his casket. She then reawakens as a vampire, or something, and shows us everything while dancing to Tina Turner's I Might Have Been Queen and What's Love Got to Do with It. She climbs onto her lover's casket while he pulls the cover back on and hangs a "Do Not Disturb" sign off the side. FIN.

Yeah, there's not much to Sexandroide and the most bizarre question gleaned from its impressively gory non-content is what kind of audience Ricaud and Dubois were hoping to tap with the creation of this video? Horror fans usually like splatter and bountiful womanly nudity, but given how dead the genre was in its native country at the time of its inception, was there really that much of a demand? Was it made for some seedy slimeball niche of French society? Or perhaps Dubois's freakish sideshow goes far beyond my perceptions and should be accepted into the Criterion Collection someday for its snapshot of the country's '80s dark subculture? No idea, but Sexandroide is pretty fucking gory with pretty nude women of loose morality combining to result in something you won't soon forget.

Cinema de Bizarre's DVD-R is part of their Eurotrash Collector's Editions with high quality cover art printed on Kodak paper stock that looks indistinguishable compared to professional DVD covers. The full frame image, probably the original aspect ratio, looks decent for an old SECAM VHS with no major tracking issues. Sound quality sucks, but the flick doesn't seem well-recorded to start with. No extras are included. The DVD-R is also properly authored in the DVD-R VER. 1.0 standard.


DrunkethWizerd said...

Thanks for the info. My ex was actually a big breasted non-syphilitic junkie prude midget with mommy issues and indeed, a real knack for self-mutilation... but alas, that was then and this is now. I'll try to seek this one out and pick it up. Sounds sweet as hell.

Jayson Kennedy said...

Hahaha, I actually thought of you while typing that, hope you don't mind. :P

Though yea, this one seems custom-tailored for ya...

Strange Kid said...

Wow. Just when you think that it's all been done before... there's European imports. Sweet review.

Toxaemia said...

So awesome! Thank you for posting the link for Cinema De Bizarre, I didn't know of any other website that sold rare/import dvds other then Midnight Video.

Blevo said...

You were right about the performance art bit. Turns out it is in the tradition of a Grand Guignol live performance:

The Grand Guignol was a theatre (Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol) located in Paris’ infamous red light district Pigalle (at 20 bis, rue Chaptal) which, from its opening in 1897 to its closing in 1962, specialized in naturalistic horror shows. The name is often used as a general term for graphic, amoral horror entertainment.

At the Grand Guignol, patrons would see five or six plays, all in a style which attempted to be brutally true to the theatre's naturalistic ideals. The plays were in a variety of styles, but the most popular and best-known were the horror plays, featuring a distinctly bleak worldview as well as particularly gory special effects in their notoriously bloody climaxes (which inevitably featured eye-gouging, throat-slashing, acid-throwing, or some other equally grisly climax). These plays often explored the altered states, like insanity, hypnosis, panic, under which uncontrolled horror could happen. Some of the horror came from the nature of the crimes shown, which often had very little reason behind them and in which the evildoers were rarely punished or defeated. To heighten the effect, the horror plays were often alternated with comedies. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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