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Would you Adam and Eve it but recently unearthed on DVD, The Hand of Pleasure is a California filmed soft core sex and horror hybrid that for some reason pretends its been made (via lots of stock footage) in merry old London. Exactly why seems a tad obscure, its understandable that say the German Edgar Wallace films of the Sixties often set themselves in London in order to capture the feel of the original Wallace books and also to exploit the 'Swinging London' angle, but a California soft core film made in the early Seventies? The plot of The Hand of Pleasure beggars belief, Dr Dreadful a pudgy mad scientist who wears a fedora hat, cloak and a mask to hide facial disfigurement has been up to no good, kidnapping women and brainwashing them by placing on their heads "Dr Dreadful's sex transportation apparatus" (it looks like a modified potty), a few blasts of electricity later and the women become "man-hating robots". These robots dubbed the 'Hand of Pleasure Organization' are then dispatched to Soho where they kidnap CIA agents and hump the men senseless till they reveal various secrets that the good Doctor can sell to the Russians. In the film's idea of comedy a morgue attendant keeps remarking "another one sucked to death, frightful" when the dead CIA agents turn up on the slab. The sole British character in the film is a bumbling Scotland Yard Inspector who narrates the film with an exaggerated British accent reminiscent of one Peter Sellers uses in The Magic Christian and even wears a deerstalker cap. Joe, an American student becomes involved in this caper when a doomed CIA agent slips him a secret file in a Soho strip club. Informed by the Inspector that the Hand of Pleasure Organization will soon be on his tail does Joe return home? go into hiding? no he hop foots it over to a prostitute's flat, "Joe was in no mood for the British museum" notes the Inspector. Eventually Dr Dreadful and his girl robots re-enter the picture by inviting Joe and the prostitute to his London Dungeon type wax museum where the Doctor attempts to turn Joe gay with the potty device "you will soon be wearing lavender shorts my boy", this however has reverse effect of turning poor Joe into an out of control sexual superman.
Very, very odd doesn't even begin to describe The Hand of Pleasure, though in retrospect it doesn't really make the most out of its premise, sideling more outrageous aspects of the story i.e. Dr Dreadful and the Sex Robots (a good name for a band that, actually!) in favour of lots of assembly line sex scenes, flatly filmed and taking place on cardboardy sets. Unfortunately this seems to be a regular trait of the film's director, the greatly monikered Zoltan G. Spencer, who also appears to play Dr Dreadful in the film. I say 'appears to play' because there are no credits save for the title and the credit 'a Satyr XI production' (perhaps tellingly a Satyr is a creature derived from Greek mythology generally depicted as having an erect phallus and thought of as roguish by nature). On a more positive note there is some particularly inspired dialogue to savour here, the Inspector remarks "while Joe's attention riveted on a set of English Bristols an Amercan agent gets spirited away", and Dreadful tells a CIA man "we are going to teach you Yankee agents not to **** around with the Hand of Pleasure". Another standout feature is a rare film appearance by Roxanne Brewer an unreal looking top heavy semi-legendary stripper/pin-up with huge, huge hair. All this is padded out with stock footage of just about every London landmark you can imagine, Big Ben, the changing of the guard, Piccadilly Circus, a horse race, Portobello street market. We also get to see people at Portobello staring directly at the camera and "bizarre London types" like a man wearing a fez, no trousers and playing a flute and someone carrying a 'the end is nigh' sign, all blissfully unaware they would end up in a rock bottom softcore film. I'd hazard a guess that producer Manuel Conde was either taking a back hander to sell London to American perverts as a place full of large breasted strippers and sex crazed automatons, or more likely lots of stock footage of London came his way and he wrote his first 'British' film around it. Aside from Roxy Brewer the only two recognizable names in the film are Maria Arnold a popular starlet of the time and Ron Darby, an unattractive porn actor who tried to make up for his shortcomings by being something of a sex film clown, he plays a Renfield type character in Satan's Lust and a female impersonator locked in a cell with lustful women prisoners in Caught in the Can.
The DVD comes complete with two other features (tellingly The Hand of Pleasure is bottom of this triple-bill ) Evil Come, Evil Go (1972) and another 'Satyr XI' production Terror at Orgy Castle (1971). Of the three Evil Come Evil Go, a twisted mixture of soft core sex, Blood Feast like violence and social satire that invites comparisons with early John Waters (in fact its very easy to imagine Divine and Cookie Mueller in the lead roles) is the real prize. A cult classic lost to the world that hopefully will get rediscovered via the DVD release. I'd recommend the DVD for Evil Come, Evil Go alone, while The Hand of Pleasure if only on account of Roxy Brewer's presence and its pseudo-British horror atmosphere makes for a true curiosity of a support feature.
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