Saturday, December 11, 2010

In short: Curse of the Alpha Stone (1972)

The Seventies™! Geneticist Professor Abe Adams (Jim Scotlin) has a dream. He wants to fuse mysticism and science so that the awesome unified powers of chemistrynetics and alchemy will enable him to be the first human being creating the Philosopher's Stone. After some boring back and forth and a little sex, honest Abe accomplishes this feat and now has a merrily blinking piece of plastic that he hides in a miniature treasure chest as sold in every good novelty toy store.

Being a scientist-mystic (scientic?), Adams begins to experiment with a fluid filtered through his brand new Stone. His first experimental subject is the local black gay dope fiend (that's the technical term, right, or did Reefer Madness lie to me?), whom the exciting new drug first turns hetero, then into the kind of guy who has sex with a store window mannequin, then into a (still hetero) rapist. Oh boy.

Since this experiment is going so well, Adams is all too willing to make the logical next step: self-experimentation. After imbibing his tincture, the Professor is getting kind of irresistible for women, and seems to acquire a heightened endurance into the deal too, but as we all know, this sort of thing always ends badly, especially for the poor lesbian girl he's going to rape to death in the end.

Yes, Curse of the Alpha Stone is a late example of the great US wave of bizarre softcore films of the 60s and very early 70s, although it really is one of the tamer films of the late period of this type of exploitation movies I've seen. Ironically, the film seems to have only been released in 1985, a time when its sort of film must have looked incredibly quaint next to the hardcore porn that had long since taken its place.

Like many examples of its particular sub-genre, Curse tries to distract its viewers from its overabundance of technical flaws by drowning them in naked, predominantly female (and this being the early 70s, quite pleasant to look at) flesh and an insane plot. You probably know what's the deal with these flaws. Stiff, ahem, I mean wooden, ahem, bad acting meets point and shoot direction meets a warbling synthie score of the most monotonous merit (could it be I'm turning into Stan Lee?) meets offensive mean-spiritedness (groups the film doesn't like: scientists, gay men, lesbian women, people of colour, feminists).

More problematic than the film's often amusing technical ineptness or its dubious ethics is its timidity. For a softcore sexploitation film with a plot, Curse really is a bit too far on the tame side, never showing as much as it could be and never putting any real imagination into its sex or at least into the ways it avoids to show the audience sex. The vein of nastiness running through the film only truly comes to the surface for a moment or two. That makes Curse less unpleasant than it could be, but also leaves it a weaker film.

But hey, drugs!


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