Kenneth Andrews – Night of the Occultist (1973)
Angling to be Anger but more like Bromide
27 November 2008 | by fuzon (London, England)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A fairly ropey old 70s porn flick, distinguished by a few outré ideas, some nods towards 60s avant garde cinema and one extraordinarily well achieved long shot involving a man walking around a fountain.
The film begins with the young blond hunk of a protagonist lying in bed. A sound-only flashback has him in an argument with his wife – he no longer finds her sexually attractive, and he tells her in the most brutally matter-of-fact manner imaginable, along the lines of “when I slide into you, I am thinking of anyone but you.” Considering how little he’s spared her feelings, she sounds pretty sanguine about it.
After jerking off, he is prompted by a newspaper article to visit an occultist, an “expert” in Egyptian lore and a bit of a physical freaky-deak (the kind of guy Don Seigel would cast as a creep in his films), who gives him some basic sex advice: “go explore your homosexual impulses.” To encourage his client, the occultist tells our boy about a ritual of the ancient Egyptians – how four priests would penetrate an “adolescent” on the banks of the Nile. I put adolescent in inverted comments, as the fellow who plays this part in the fantasy sequence/anthropological recreation which follows the mention of the ritual saw off his adolescence a long time before the film was made.
Encouraged by the occultist, our boy travels to a go-go bar, where two incredibly stupid-looking, grinning blonds dance in as stupid and unsexy a manner as one could hope not to see. If our hero did have homosexual impulses, you’d think this would have cured him, but no, off he goes again, this time to a movie theatre where he watches some tawdry old black & white gay hardcore loops. This sends him into a frenzy, as when he comes out he drives around beating off, before calling into a store which, as luck would have it, is manned by a bloke who has a large display of nude male pictures in the john, and who obliges our hero with his first gay fellatio. Cut then to a red-light drench s&m orgy, where various anonymous hunks are fellating, whipping and hanging each other up. After a scrum in which one can be heard to shout “it’s every man for himself”, the film ends with the final credit written on a leather guy’s smooth ass.
The film owes a debt and an apology to Kenneth Anger. The Egyptian orgy and some of the other sequences have a faint echo of Scorpio Rising, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome or Invocation of My Demon Brother, but without Anger’s genius for editing and musical integration. There’s a half-hearted attempt to score certain sequences with classical music, but the film literally can’t cut it. Unforgivably for a film which is intended to invoke Bacchanalian sexual revelry in its audience, Occultist is relentlessly a turn-off, a bromide to the sexual feelings. The orgies look more like something concocted by a fifth-rate, off-off-Broadway troupe who were rejected for parts in Let My People Come.
The one eye-catching part of the film cuts from the man leaving his house to a broiling fountain. The film zooms out and in as the guy walks around the water feature and then tracks him into a swank office block. This is a shot almost worthy of Antonioni and a considerable amount of imagination and effort went into it. A shame the same can’t be said for the sound recording, which is truly execrable.