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Herschell Gordon Lewis
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I can't exactly say what the plot is because there isn't really much to say. The film starts off with a lot of flashes of two men performing oral sex on each other in a dark shack littered with dismembered human body parts. Then there's this gay guy named Anthony who gets beaten and tortured at the beginning of the film by a deranged mobster for somehow screwing up a mob hit. Then this one guy who kidnapped him shows up out of nowhere and then shoots the torturer and releases Anthony and then Anthony and him take turns raping this guy and taking pictures. Then the film randomly flashes forward and suddenly Anthony has a girlfriend and is living with her and her younger brother who they take turns messing with in a variety of silly and cruel ways. Suddenly the girlfriend's mom calls and tells her that her father is dead, so Anthony and her decide to drive to the funeral. Along the way they encounter a lot of weirdos, mostly prostitutes, and have a bunch of crazy sex adventures before running into the man who saved Anthony's life. Things get crazy.
Basically, if Kenneth Anger decided to co-direct a full length film with John Waters and borrowed the basic ideas of the writings of the Marquis de Sade and Gaspar Noe's style, FLIRTING WITH ANTHONY would be, more or less, the result. The result is a mixed bag. There are a lot of admirable ideas and interesting themes that the film has. The film mostly plays around with the idea of sadomasochism, but doesn't really go too far with it. There are also a lot of really campy comedy moments throughout that seem very out of place. Then again, this film doesn't really have a personal style. The whole film is completely random. The first fifteen or twenty minutes of the film are full of graphic gore, torture, rape, and shocking sex acts. Much of it is shown in extremely graphic detail, so this isn't a film for the squeamish. After all that, however, the film completely switches gears and becomes almost like a deranged road movie with a lot of campy and cheesy comedy thrown in for shock value. The last third of the film is kind of like a cross between a gay hardcore porno film and a coming-of-age movie. That's really the best way I can really describe it.
Strangely, despite the drastic differences in film genre styles, the music score in the film never changes. The whole film has a very Industrial sound to it, much like TETSUO: THE IRON MAN, ERASERHEAD, or pi. It's an angry sounding film. There are also a lot of flashing camera effects, so be warned that this is a film to be avoided if you're an epileptic. This is kind of a hard film to watch, not just because of the gore and the graphic sex, but also because of the camera. The camera movements are very jarring and they really don't ever slow down. I wouldn't normally mind this if it were for a thematic purpose or if it were a music video, but for a gay torture porn road movie like this it does start to grate on the nerves and distracts from the narrative quality of the film.
The film also lacks the necessary character development meant to keep the audience watching. This becomes a problem late in the film when the dramatic elements of the film build up and you realize that there is no reason to care about this psychotic man who used to dismember people for the mob. Pretty soon the film just dissolves into a bunch of stuff happening for no reason. There's no point, there's no plot, and there's no chemistry. The end result is more of an experimental film than anything else. For a while, the style of the film makes up for the lack of substance, but it doesn't sustain the entire running time of 88 minutes.
I do want to give the director credit. There really are a lot of cool ideas here and they do get some good treatment. The film currently has a 1.3 rating on IMDb, but I honestly don't think it is THAT bad. There are things about it that do work. Ultimately I think it has more to do with the screenplay than anything else. I think that director Christian Calson should just stick to directing for now until he takes the time to come up with a better and more fleshed out screenplay. This film does work as an experimental shock film, and if you're into that idea then I do highly recommend that you see FLIRTING WITH ANTHONY.
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