Flesh and Blood #1: “SEXCULA”Columns,Flesh and Blood,News Alyse Wax
As any fright fan knows, the horror genre has a particularly salacious relationship with sexually explicit content. And while nudity so often goes side by side with decapitated heads and brutal bloodletting, there are also horror filmmakers throughout the years who made an art form out of the human body with an appreciation of our most lurid and lucid desires. And it’s with that macabre mentality in mind that FANGORIA is proud to announce our partnership with Mr. Skin for a brand new NSFW column that looks to provoke our minds as well as our more physical impulses, FLESH AND BLOOD!
One of the few Canadian hardcore efforts to be made during the 1970s “porno chic” craze, the history of SEXCULA is far more interesting than the film itself. While the “-cula” suffix suggests vampirism-a-plenty, the film actually has more in common with a Frankenstein tale than its Transylvanian namesake.
SEXCULA follows a female mad scientist, Dr. Fallatingstein, who creates a sex surrogate for herself named Frank. Unfortunately, while Frank seems like a nice guy and all, he is impotent, leaving Fallatingstein to send for her cousin, Countess Sexcula, who is a specialist in these matters. When including Frank in a threeway and hypnosis don’t work, Sexcula decides he is suffering a lack of “sex cells,” which can be gathered from men’s penises through Sexcula’s bite. Strangely, we never once see Sexcula collect these “sex cells;” In fact, the only thing that hints at Sexcula’s vampirism is the cape she occasionally swooshes around.
I imagine that SEXCULA must have been created during a week-long cocaine bender, because the film is barely a film. It feels like it conceptually started off as a softcore horror spoof, but when they came up short on footage (or interest), random hardcore sex scenes were spliced in. There is a needless framing device of a couple who inherit an old mansion and find an ancestor’s diary within, relaying the antics of Fallatingstein and Sexcula. And with many actors playing double roles, and technology like a telephone and wristwatches present in both the “modern day” story and the nineteenth century story, at some point, you just give up on trying to make sense of it and follow the plot.
The strangest segment is a porno shoot in the 1800s (!) during which a bride and groom get bored during their wedding ceremony and end up having an orgy with their best man and bridesmaid. Hell, the bride even cajoles the preacher into joining for a bit. This segment is easily the longest in the film, going on for a good thirty minutes or so, and culminating in Sexcula cutting the power so she can harvest sex cells… in the 1800s. But then you have a classic segment in which a woman performs a seductive striptease, then has sex with a man in a gorilla suit, all part of an effort to seduce Frank. It doesn’t work, but it is possible that this might be the first furry porno, and this one segment single-handedly makes the whole trip worthwhile.
If possible, things get even weirder behind the scenes. For starters, SEXCULA was made using Canadian tax shelter benefits that basically made the film funded by the Canadian government. SEXCULA was only ever screened once, a private function for cast and crew and “industry insiders” in British Columbia. It wasn’t mentioned on the invitations that the film was hardcore pornography, leaving embarrassed and uncomfortable spectators staring at their shoes at the movie’s end.
It’s probably a good thing that no one knew it was hardcore since it would be another four years before it would be legal to exhibit pornography in B.C. The screening was meant to drum up interest amongst American buyers, but clearly, no one was interested, and it never screened again. Legend has it that director John Holbrook never even saw the final release print.
Director Jack Darcus was at that solitary screening, as was the grip from his last film, WOLFPEN PRINCIPLE. The grip played Frank in SEXCULA, but it turns out that getting an erection on command while binging on blow is harder than it sounds. He couldn’t get it up, and a “stunt penis” had to be brought in for all his close-ups. Darcus was so inspired by his friend’s tales from the set, he later incorporated them into his 1986 film, OVERNIGHT, about a couple who meet on the set of a vampire porno. Ironically, OVERNIGHT is another prominent “lost” film.
Only two complete film prints of SEXCULA have ever been discovered. One was in the National Archives of Canada; the other was in producer Clarence Neufeld’s home. He now lives in the house that served as one of the shooting locations, and he thought he had thrown the film out ten years prior. It’s a good thing he didn’t. As terrible as SEXCULA is, it is an important part of Canada’s film history.
For full clips, pictures and more from SEXCULA, visit the Mr. Skin link below and sign up today with an exclusive discounted membership rate for FANGORIA fans only!