I’m going to make coverage for these two titles fairly quick and to the point. The Beast and Immoral Tales are my first ventures into Borowczyk land. That means I had no idea that art smut could be quite this challenging. Don’t get me wrong. I have the internet. I know what lurks behind the dark veil of strange free porn sites stretched across the web. The donkey show. The girls and their cups. I know these things, and yet I was unprepared or perhaps surprised about what was being released in the mid 70’s in the name of Erotic cinema. These are works of fiction. At least the images on screen were not real, and I mean… as unreal as a monster bedding an unsuspecting hottie in the wilderness can be.
I’m going to think of The Beast as the arthouse equivalent of a modern day porn parody before the industry understood what a porn parody should be. True it’s very pretty. The cinematography is gorgeous and the Arrow transfer is stellar with plenty of grain and deep blacks. It’s a film to be sure. It’s a real movie as opposed to some of the hack jobs we get together. Where it begins to become slightly unbearable is the Beast’s horse-like cock spurting cum all over the place like he’s painting a fence. It’s non stop. In fact I’m still not sure if it was real or actual horse (may have been too small to be an actual horse penis).
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who horsecock and those who run. Which kind of person you are will be determined by your checkout cart at the end of this review as you slyly deliver your hand onto the mouse and press “order”.
The Beast is loaded with extras including commentary and a making of featurette to help introduce you better to the film works of Walerian Browczyk. There are a number of commercials shot by Browczyk as well as a short documentary produced and edited by Browczyk. If you’re a fan of Walerian’s work, this has got a tons of content for you to enjoy including the standard Arrow packaging and booklet.
You can order The Beast now. Keep your mind open and perhaps you should make sure the kids are locked into their rooms. I kept looking over my shoulder waiting to have to explain hair monster dong to my eleven year old.
Synopsis: Originally turned down flat by the British Board of Film Censors and initially released exclusively in London in a version heavily cut by its nervous distributor, The Beast is Walerian Borowczyk’s most notorious film, although it’s much wittier and more playful than its subject matter might suggest.
Lucy Broadhurst (Lisbeth Hummel) is due to inherit a substantial fortune, but on condition that she marries the son of her late father’s best friend. But Mathurin de l’Espérance (Pierre Benedetti) seems more interested in his horses than in his bride-to-be, and when Lucy finds out about the story of his 18th-century ancestor Romilda (Sirpa Lane) and brings her to life in one of the most outrageous dream sequences in cinema history, we begin to realise just how bizarre Mathurin’s bloodline truly is.
Receiving its Blu-ray world premiere, this new high-definition restoration by Argos Films is supported by the original short-film version of The Beast, and Venus on the Half-Shell (1975), Borowczyk’s portrait of the painter Bona Tibertelli de Pisis and her erotic fusions of men, women and molluscs.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
New high definition digital transfers of the feature and the shorts
Uncompressed Mono 2.0 PCM Audio
Optional English subtitles
Introduction by film critic Peter Bradshaw
Venus on the Half-Shell (1975)
The Making of ‘The Beast’: camera operator Noël Véry provides a commentary on footage shot during the film’s production
Frenzy of Ecstasy, a new visual essay on the evolution of Borowczyk’s beast and the sequel that never was, Motherhood
Reversible sleeve featuring original poster design
Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Daniel Bird and archive pieces by David Thompson and Craig Lapper, illustrated with original stills
Immoral Tales on the other hand is actually more tame. It holds up to a more erotic standard rather than a grotesque erotic nightmare that you may have enjoyed or been frightened of in The Beast. The opening sequence with a young lady playing submissive to her “kidnapper’s” strange sexual fantasies is actually a complete tantric tease. Of course as he expresses on repeat, his goal is to educate her on the tides… not a mere physical romp. That pretty much kept me staring at my ceiling for the rest of the night. It’s hot and… it’s educational.
The rest of the movie seems to take similar approaches to sexual scenarios providing life or cosmic lessons intertwined with sexual endeavors. It’s not smut mind you. This is pure arthouse. I suppose that won’t stop you from enjoying it like pornography but you WILL be graded on the lessons you should have learned during your viewing.
Immoral Tales has all the hallmarks of a light DeSade picture with philosophical lessons intermingled with some standard adult fare, kept moderate for the general public. Enjoy your lessons.
Immoral Tales is a gorgeous transfer and shot beautifully. Walerian Borowczyk makes one Hell of a pretty movie. The aforementioned opening sequence was stunning. This edition also includes two variations of this movie, one shorter and the other one inclusive of a short film that would eventually become The Beast (the horsecock monster picture we previously discussed). Also included are an archival interview, a video essay about the film and the standard Arrow booklet and packaging that truly provides a fan with insight in Borowcyzk’s creation.
Walerian Borowczyk’s first explicitly erotic feature, Immoral Tales presents a veritable cavalcade of depravity: cosmic fellatio, transcendental masturbation, blood-drenched lesbianism and papal incest.
It tells four stories, each delving back further in time, as if to suggest that the same issues recur constantly throughout human civilization, whether involving notorious historical figures like Lucrezia Borgia and Erzsébet Báthory, or present-day teenagers.
Capitalising on the relaxation of censorship laws, Immoral Tales would transform Borowczyk’s image from brilliant but obscure avant-garde artist to one of Europe’s most confrontational filmmakers when it came to trampling on sexual taboos.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- New high definition digital transfers of two versions of the feature, the familiar four-part edition and the original five-part conception including the short film The Beast of Gévaudan (which later became the feature The Beast)
- Uncompressed Mono 2.0 PCM Audio
- Optional English subtitles
- Introduction by Borowczyk expert Daniel Bird
- Love Reveals Itself, a new interview programme featuring production manager Dominique Duvergé-Ségrétin and cinematographer Noël Véry
- Obscure Pleasures: A Portrait of Walerian Borowczyk, a newly-edited archival interview in which the filmmaker discusses painting, cinema and sex
- Blow Ups, a visual essay by Daniel Bird about Borowczyk’s works on paper
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring Borowczyk’s own original poster design
- Illustrated booklet containing new writing on the film by by Daniel Bird and an archive piece by Philip Strick