Playboy Cinema Collection: Ecstasy Review

There are films in which one is never entirely sure if what happens on the screen was actually intended to. Casper van Dien often looks so handsome-but-dim that one wonders if he actually believed the Earth was being invaded by giant bugs in Starship Troopers or that Los Angeleans were having the blood sucked out of them by Crip-styled vampires in Revenant. I ask this as there's a phone call early in Ecstasy that interrupts a meeting between a director and his two leading actors that, for a moment, leaves the three of them looking shocked. Franc Luz, the director in question, does leave the verandah on which they're having their meeting but only after that sideways glance that suggests this was an unplanned phone call and that, regardless of whether it was considered, cost and the errant ringing of a phone has necessitated some improvisation during the making of Ecstasy.

All of which is thoroughly in keeping with the making of pornography, which isn't an industry at all happy with reshoots. So, whether in hardcore or softcore, you can catch sight of unforeseen events in the background, stray members of the crew and, depending on the location of the shoot, an unwelcome pet or two wandering through a cat flap and looking curiously at why there are six naked people preventing it from getting its KiteKat, one of whom is pissing on another one. The third film in this set, this audience is quickly getting used to random events occurring in these decidedly tame films. Julie Newmar and Tiffany Bolling have a conversation about the former leaving the shoot but given that Newmar never returns, it isn't at clear whether they're talking about this film or the film-within-a-film.

Indeed, it never actually appears as though the cast have any more idea of what is going on that do I with the lines being crossed between what is Ecstasy and what is the film being produced by Peter Binnes (Franc Luz). Val (Tiffany Bolling) says it all when she interrupts a shot to say, "Cut! We have to cut this...this is too weird, Peter! Ah...if you want more sex scenes in this film, you'll have to hire somebody else!" "What do I do now?" asks a naked actress. "Improvise!" is what Peter (Franc Luz) instructs her to do but that might as well be what Ecstasy director Bud Townsend told his cast as they get in and out of character, jump in and out of the film and have sex with various men and women, some of which might be within the film, and hence acting, whilst others might be not acting. Frankly, I can't even begin to tell you what's going on, which suggests this is an utter bollocks of a film or that it's as much a story-within-a-story as Last Year In Marienbad.

Unlike the other films in his handful of releases from Fabulous Films, there is no beautiful sex to be seen in Ecstasy, rather that there's a lot of bare breasts and man-asses bobbing up an down without very much eroticism to any of it. Early in the film, Franc Luz climbs on top of his wife, Tiffany Bolling, and humps her with all the enthusiasm of his shopping for socks. She whimpers, she moans slightly and there is a slight parting of the lips but he may as well have been sticking his cock in between her knees for all she's actually feeling. "Did you cum?", he asks. As Denise Robertson might have said on This Morning, if you have to ask, it means you already know she did not. As it happens, she didn't and later confides as much to Julie Newmar but Franc/Peter is thinking about a novel way to save his own marriage, which involves filming his wife having sex a lot. In doing so, Franc/Peter realises how much he loves Val/Tiffany and in spite of him getting her no closer to orgasm than her blowing her own nose, she decides to stick it out with him.

Oddly, though, there is something about Breaking The Waves about Ecstasy, in which Val/Tiffany is put through all manner of degrading sexual escapades in the hope that her husband can resolve the problems in his marriage. The complete madness in the plotting of this film also brings to mind the Dogme 95 manifesto, with there being next to no script, no obvious dressing of the set - Roger Corman would be proud of the costs cut in the making of this film - and perhaps only one or two professional actors. Being rather innovative, this was all happening ten years before Lars von Trier and Tomas Vinterburg struck with Festen and The Idiots, which suggests that Dogme 95 wasn't quite the revolution that was claimed at the time. Or it may be that Ecstasy is actually filmmaking so inept that it took ten years for anyone to classify it. Which is, if one's being honest, probably the more likely of the two explanations for the utter nonsense it struggled with through production.


We remain in the territory of Christina come the watching of Ecstasy, which got no nearer a roll of film than those playing at the cinema near to the homes where this was produced. Coming off, I would assume, a video master originally produced for cable television, this looks terrible with it proving difficult to get a screenshot at all. What I managed to get is what you see here and, terrible though they are, they are not, by any means, as bad as this film gets. The audio track is equally bad with a background noise that is either a gale blowing just beyond the set or is white noise that threatens to drown out the dialogue. Add to that not a bit of post-production - when Franc/Peter clatters about at home, it remains in the film - and this is almost the worst-sounding DVD that I have ever heard.


The only bonus material is a set of Trailers (5m11s) for these Fabulous Films softcore releases, including Black Venus, Christina, Love Circles and Ecstasy.

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out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 02:53:35

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