Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Boiling Point (1978)

About 15 minutes into Boiling Point (aka Intimate Illusions), I said I bet director Paul Levis had fewer than five adult film credits. Sure enough: Boiling Point was his one and only. I wonder if he had a sense that he was only going to make one film, because it was (at least) four separate half-baked ideas crammed into one movie.

First, in an opening reminiscent of Thoroughly Amorous Amy, Angel (Phaedra Grant) is walking through the streets of San Francisco to a song (presumably) called "City Girl," and it seems like it's going to focus on the life and times of a young lady in the city. When she gets back to her apartment, she calls Alex (John Seeman) for some phone sex, presented with some pretty clever set design.

The scene had a very play-like quality. After they both get off, Angel tells her phone partner they can smoke a cigarette and then she needs to go, adding "Here's looking at you kid," the first of multiple times the line pops up throughout the movie.

Angel heads down to the corner store for a pack of smokes, when a stick up kid (Jon Martin) rushes in to rob the joint. His heist is foiled by a shopping cop, Tony (John Leslie), so instead the criminal snatches Angel's purse and jets, leading to the most ambitious car chase I've ever seen in an adult film.

The chase has a bunch of side swiping and a couple of slapstick moments: a motorbiker flips over a car and into the bedroom of a couple doing it (a version of the "Thank you, God!" scene in Animal House)...

...and a parked driver (Jesse Adams) getting head experiencing the knocks his car takes from the chase first as ecstasy, then as distress (automobiles and oral sex don't mix, ala The World According to Garp).

Ultimately, the crook wrecks and takes off on foot and Tony decides that's enough chasing for the day so he takes Angel back to her place. They have a drink and - as you might expect - one thing leads to another.

(Side note: Grant's Million Dollar Baby shirt is fucking cool.)

During their foreplay, there's a jazzy, easy listening, lounge-y, exotica-adjacent song playing, but when the get down to business, the music cuts and is replaced by a sound collage of moans (including a few second clip that's looped, like, eight times). It's so weird and there's no apparent attempt at matching any of the sounds to the action on screen, that I'm led to believe that it was intentional, the first indication that this movie isn't what it seems to be (which will fully blow out by the end). (Speaking of blowing, while Phaedra Grant is going down on Leslie, the viewer gets a real up close and personal look at the odd "skin bridge" at his frenulum. I can't remember the first time I noticed it, but it really took me by surprise considering I'd seen dozens of Leslie films and had never seen it. I guess many directors, DPs, and cameramen tended to shoot around it.)

Meanwhile, the crook decides to hide out in a random house. Once inside, he identifies himself as the Westside Rapist to the woman (Eileen Welles) who answered the door. Rather than be concerned by the criminal in her home, the woman jumps TWR's bones and they proceed to get busy on the floor. While they're at it, the scene wipes to Tony and Angel enjoying a post-coital smoke, then back to a legitimately laugh-out-loud shot of the woman carrying TWR to the couch.

A third (and final) wipe back to Angel's bedroom where Tony makes a call home to his wife who, wouldn't you know it, turns out to be the woman whose home was invaded by the Westside Rapist. She answers the phone while blowing TWR, leading to a "don't talk with your mouth full" gag that must be in a thousand and one pornos. After the phone call, TWR and the lady of the house make their way to the bathtub for some, considering the frankly unpleasant looking positions they get into, impressively competent sex.

When Tony gets home, TWR dips out the back and boosts the unmarked cop car. While TWR's cruising down the road, he rolls up on a young lady (Lisa Sue Corey) on her way to babysit and offers her a ride.

Seeing his car, she assumes he's a cop and offers to help him trap the Westside Rapist by prentending to be a hooker. When he says he doesn't believe she'd be believable as a prostitute, she sets out to prove him wrong and you can probably guess how that turns out.

Then, the movie takes a hard turn. Rose (Paula Brown) takes a call in the bathtub and encourages the person on the other side to hurry up because they cryptically "really don't have much time." She dips her tongue in a glass of something like a grade A weirdo and then seems to trip balls.

Her dancing in front of her balcony sliding doors is cut with shots of her cavorting on a merry-go-round.

Like the Leslie/Grant scene, the sound editing is bonkers. The soundtrack is a slightly melancholy romantic piano number overlaid periodically with a sound effect that is (I assume) supposed to mimic the wind from outside, but the clip that's used sounds like it comes from a spooky sound effects record that'd be used to set the scene for an abandoned cabin and it fades in gradually and than cuts fast and completely: slow attack, no decay, three second sustain, .01 ms release.

When the scene cuts to the merry-go-round the main song keeps playing and is mashed up with the carousel music resulting in a really uncomfortable cacophony.

The scenes are edited to make them just this side of a nightmare, and then suddenly, back in her home, it's night.

It turns out the guest she'd been waiting on is the girl TWR had picked up, so then the ladies have some sapphic good times first on a waterbed...

...and then on a giant sheet of Mylar.

It's possible that this second bit may have been how the waterbed scene was playing out in Rose's brain because there was no transition into or out of it, and suddenly the women are dancing and kissing back in Rose's living room. By voice-over, Rose says, "I'm sorry you can't come to the disco with me tonight."

And then, off to the disco! (Where, best I can tell, Rose is not.)

The final 20 minutes are an increasingly debaucherous happening that includes The Filthy Four's performances of "Disco Daze" and "Suck on My Cock" - the former played while the front men were being fellated, that latter including a choreographed "dance" by the men and women in attendance.

The steadily increasing buckwildness of the disco reminded me of Climax (with considerably less, you know, madness and murder) and I bet shown the last scene (if not the film entirely), Gaspar Noe would give it a, "¡Magnífica!"

To date, I don't think I've been more curious as to what Robert Rimmer was going to say about a Collector's Choice pick:

Halfway through this one the director must have forgetten the story he was telling. The last half has no connection to the first, but offers one of the most effective bisexual sequences I've ever seen, followed by a surrealistic orgy.

It's weird to me when Rimmer refers to what is traditionally called girl/girl or lesbian as bisexual. I mean, he's not technically wrong as one of the participants in the scene he's referring to (Correy) did have sex with both a man (Martin) and woman (Brown), just not at the same time. Describing it in terms of "effectiveness" is also sort of bizarre. Maybe he was thinking of it in terms of "affecting" and miswrote. Similar to how he identified John Leslie's character (Tony) as "Tosy" and repeated the typo another half-dozen times.

At any rate, as is so often the case, the review is pretty much just a plot (such as it is) recap - with a few minor errors, which is par for the course; major errors occur, too, just less frequently - with no real indication why it should be collected.

I think the surreality could have been pushed a little harder (really lean into the moan looping in the Grant/Leslie scene; add an out-of-nowhere laugh track to the scene wipes between Grant/Leslie and Welles/Martin) to great effect. As it is, though, I can honestly say it's unlike any adult film I've seen to date and while the overall quality probably rates in the CC100 range, the novelty of the disco scene (and especially the choreography) will bump it to a CC50.

° Nubar Zozaya is credited with Music By. I don't know if that means he was in charge of picking songs off of library music collections for the score, if he had anything to do with "City Girl" (which sure sounds like it could have been recorded by the same band from the disco scene), or both. There is a song called "Dump Truck" by Lil Zoza purportedly released by Nubar Zozaya Productions in 2017. It appears to be NZP's only release and an earworm it ain't. Adding another level of absurdity is that someone found the song and used the fact that it sorta sounds like "dump Trump" to make an anti-Trump (and pro-dump truck?) video.

° When Phaedra Grant said, "Here's looking at you, kid," she put the emphasis on "looking" which sounded odd to me since most people who quote the line emphasize "you" as Jon Martin did later:

Turns out, though, Humphrey Bogart did emphasize "looking" though not quite as hard as Phaedra Grant. John Leslie actually hit the nail pretty squarely on the head with his line read:

° The Filthy Four was one of the names (with the Confederates and the Rude Five) of the backing band Elvis Costello worked with after the Attractions, though I'm guessing the band in Boiling Point was not them.


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