When a researcher recently added to the credits of the great Anthony Spinelli many previously anonymously-helmed films, I realized his versatility was tremendous. AWOL is an example of a previously written-off movie worthy of re-examination.
It bears a fake credits card for non-existent actors, also used for SUCKULA. Tale opens and closes in familiar OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN territory, with the tough marine drill sergeant hammering orders at a raw recruit, our nondescript hero Gary (who reminded me a bit of latter-day auteur/actor Mark Baranowski of wife Ryli Morgan videos fame).
Spinelli's direction is to the point without any artistic embellishments as we watch Gary escape from the base and head home to the protective clutches of his mom. Non-actress cast as Mommy is plain, unattractive and no physical specimen for porn, so the film's seriousness is underscored by Spinelli's reliance on a "real people" look. He departs from this format only slightly by employing one of the great beauties of early porn Antoinette Maynard/Lily Foster as one of two girls who pick Gary up hitchhiking and service him.
But the main event is sex with mom, executed mechanically rather than with any passion. In addition mom gives Gary a present of "a real living doll", a Black prostitute who also satisfies his needs before mom suddenly has a change of heart and nastily kicks her out. Since Maynard's gal pal in the car was also Black this emphasis on mixed-combo action is also suspect (seems like a commercial decision rather than an artistic one).
Relatively uneventful hour-long opus ends with Gary returning to base, getting chewed out but given another chance: "We're gonna make a marine of you yet". Corny ending has Gary sporting a mustache some time later, now in the position of the drill sergeant himself, chewing out a recruit and having become a full-fledged member of the establishment. We last see mom at home humming a lullaby and masturbating with a military doll/action figure.
So is Spinelli cloaking a deeper message opposing conformity in our society using the incest taboo as a symbol of not adapting to the norm? Maybe not, but what I first watched and dismissed as just another crude XXX grinder does have a greater impact if you give it a chance.
Not unlike the current TV series "Hellix", film uses disarming music to contrast with its serious, morbid mood, playing Muzak versions of "California Dreaming" and "Where Is the Love?".
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