Monday, July 31, 2017

The Love Captive (1969), by Larry Crane

I meant to do this back before I did All Women Are Bad. After all, this was my first Larry Crane movie, and All Women, my second. I mean, All Women Were Bad caught me so off-guard that I couldn't resist. And after that, I always found myself thinking that I had already done this one, just because it's so essential to me that certainly I wouldn't go on without it. But then I smartened up a bit and reminded myself that I have this thing called a search bar and I can, as it were, see what reviews I've already done. And sure enough, I haven't done The Love Captive yet. Let's just get started...we've waited long enough.

Always trust a movie that features "Night on Bald Mountain." Always double-trust a movie that opens with "Night on Bald Mountain." So does The Love Captive commence, before referring itself to our protagonist, a nameless woman who wanders around Greenwich Village. The narrator talks over her wanderings, giving us information on the weird and wild world of Greenwich entertainment, both high- and lowbrow. This narrator condemns movies like Andy Warhol's Flesh and nervously suggests the lady may be a hooker. But that doesn't stop him from creeping on her as she undresses in a hotel room. Eventually our protagonist finds herself in Manzini's Museum of the Macabre, and then the movie really gets going. A fast-paced exploration into Inquisition torture devices, Houdini memorabilia, and vampire coffins ensues, and we jump from brief glimpses of lunatic-painted portraits to extensive fire-eating shows. It's all very overwhelming and wonderful, and if you have a trace of carnival spirit in you, the ridiculous showmanship and spectacle of the whole affair will give you warm fuzzies. Then, our lead is locked inside the Museum after dark, with the intent of making off with a Houdini straitjacket, but she has a surprise in store for her. At night the Museum's werewolves come out! After experiencing a night of terror, she comes back up to her hotel room and has sex with a dude. Then, lesbianism happens. And then, another lady seduces the Museum owner to take it over from him. A dude's junk flaps around in front of the camera, and we conclude.

The Love Captive functions better less as a "movie" and more like a box full of film clips of varying degrees of watchability. Like a lot of B&W sexploitation, you'll want to mosey around the general unappealing softcore fucking, skipping instead to the bizarre travelogue-style footage, and the riveting sideshow touring. The movie is less a "slice-of-life" film and more like a scrapbook laced in with odd tangential Tall Tales. Things that didn't really happen on the vacation, but would have improved it. It may actually also be a slice-of-life film, but for Greenwich Village circa 1969. Y'know, the place and time white hipsters love fetishizing? Well, I guess I can kind of get it. It's hard to resist attractions like Manzini's Museum, or a gift shop that sells a shirt that reads "GODDAMN YOU, CHARLIE BROWN."

Everything about this is so sloppy and weird that it probably is a vacation home-video edited into a sexploitation feature. The hucksters and fucksters of the '60s were desperate enough to do that--it would make them money, after all. Everything is rushed and clipped together. Plotlines vanish and are replaced with alternative circumstances. Various people all dub each other with bad impressions of each others' voices. The music is the same '60s sexploitation library cues every Something Weird fan has heard before and again. It's a marvelous headtrip that I do think only the '60s could produce. Nothing makes sense, and yet everything comes together. I watched Zardoz for the first time recently and this movie is still weirder than fucking Zardoz.

The movie shares this mutant home-video commonality not with A Clockwork Blue...more like the coy, quasi-dignified chuckles of The Hand of Pleasure. The narrator is hilarious. I love voiceovers from movies from this time. They were usually put in to help cut costs, and they really show how slack and alien the scripts for these movies were. This is the history of economics in slow motion--porn grunge seen first hand. This movie, both for its content and its context, is an anthropological dream.

Now I'm starting to get too far up my own ass--I do that when I'm happy. This movie has relieved of me, once again, the weary tensions of our plane. It is my Land of Cockaigne, my Arcadia, my Blue-Rock Candy Mountains. In more serious terms, however, it's yet another record of a crazed brain. It is another gate into the sort of madness that is sometimes necessary to crack open the ice that sheathes creativity. It is another marker by which we understand that the world we take for granted is not always what it seems, and how that's a marvelous and lovely thing. Too often are we Captives of our Hate. We should be Captives of Love instead.

And this movie is so captivating. In good ways and bad. So check it out when you can.

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