(1977)

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Zebedy Colt goes Ken Russell!
lor_13 December 2010
I've often wondered what would have resulted if Ken Russell had taken one of the offers back in the day (when porn was chic) and actually made a hardcore porn film. The answer my friends is blowing in Zebedy Colt's VIRGIN DREAMS, an abstract erotic exercise made for Jean Jennings fans but bearing the influence of Ken's works.

Plot is minimal and basic: young Jean is hardly a chip off the old block as her unlikely parents Zebedy Colt and Gloria Leonard (she must have been adopted) lament the prudishness of their offspring. They want her to marry boyfriend Wade Nichols, but Jean is puritanical enough to be played by Mary Pickford circa 1914.

Film consists largely of Jean's dreams, escalating in their eroticism and explicitness. Colt has clearly been watching Ken's 1970s movies, as the dreams are accompanied by romantic classical scores, eventually segueing into hard rock (in the vein of Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA track, but predating that film), just as Ken was segueing into the music of The Who and Rick Wakeman in the mid-'70s. Even Colt's imagery evokes the master, though executed on a threadbare budget.

What makes VIRGIN DREAMS most interesting is its odd point-of-view. We are witnessing virginal Jean's fantasies as she dreams, BUT in fact it is obvious that these are fantasies filtered through the weird mind of Zebedy Colt. So when she sees Nichols, riding along on his motorcycle with his erect penis saluting, clad only in boots, it is a homo-erotic image masquerading as a "girl's fantasy". Similarly, in one dream Jean is feeling the penises depicted on a series of full-scale paintings of studs hanging on the wall -we know where this is coming from.

Known for his kinkiness, Colt stresses oddities, with incest frequently recurring involving both Leonard and himself with daughter Jean, an ejaculation scene where not only men but an actress does that deed; a crazy orgy on a bed out in the middle of the yard, spotlighting guest star Susan McBain performing a super-duper deep throat plus Terri Hall dancing around and having sex too; plus strange symbolism (maybe Ken can figure this out?) of Colt's penis represented by a flower as Jean has incestuous dreams about him.

This makes for a highly arousing and definitely more professional movie than others in Colt's canon (e.g., the crude TERRI'S REVENGE). My main quibble was with the ending. Perhaps Colt painted himself into a corner but predictably once Jean's dreams/nightmares cease and she is deflowered in reality by Nichols the film segues to several false endings that are dull & silly. Finale of Jean appealing directly to the camera (first-person TCU to the viewer) with "THE END" appearing inside her open mouth is insulting.

Another misstep is having Jean with heavy blue eye makeup throughout the film. It makes her look like a hooker or the star of a 1-day wonder circa 1971, not the virginal leading lady she's supposed to be playing. It reminded me of the telling scene in the otherwise horrendous 2001 French movie THE PORNOGRAPHER where director Jean-Pierre Leaud tells his leading lady Ovidie to lose the nail polish and other makeup that makes him want to throw up; soon after his mean producer takes over the shooting and immediately tells her to go and put the trashy makeup back on. That says it all.
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