Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gwendoline (Just Jaeckin, 1984)

As I was wading through the first hour of Gwendoline, I would often think to myself: This is not what I signed up for. I mean, ugh. In case you're wondering what the first hour of Just Jaeckin's adaptation of John Willie's The Adventures of Sweet Gwendolyn entails, I can't, unfortunately, describe it to you. Why not, you ask? It's simple, really. I'm not in the habit of watching films that play out like the first hour of this film does. The closest example I can think of is Six Days, Seven Nights, as it too features a man and a woman who meet under extraordinary circumstances. It goes something like this: At first they [the man and the woman] share a profound dislike one another. But they gradually grow to like one another as the film progresses. However, whereas the only worthwhile thing about Six Days Seven Days was the innate sexiness of Anne Heche (who, if memory serves correctly, and it usually does in this regard, puts on a leggy clinic in the film), Gwendoline promises to have dozens of female extras prancing around in skimpy black armor carrying spears. How do I know this? Um, hello? Take a look at the film's promotional material. (Like the photo spread in Lui Magazine?) Exactly. And according to promo pictures I've seen, the film looks like a femdom lovers dream. (Yeah, but, what about the first hour?) You can't expect the entire film to be wall-to-wall chicks in skimpy black armor, can you? (Uh, yes I can.) What am I saying? Of course you can. No, I was referring to normal people--you know, the more mentally well-balanced amongst us. (Oh.)

(Do you have any tips to give to all the perverts out there on how to get through the film's first hour?) Tips?!? You mean other than skipping the first hour completely? (Yeah.) Wow, that's a tough one.

Well, first things first, this film will deliver on its promise. Never forget that. In fact, keep reminding yourself every now and then as you sit through the first hour that the screen will be filled with scantily clad warrior women in the not-so distant future. Trust me, the sets, the costumes, the makeup, the music, the chariots powered by athletic women, and the general awesomeness of it all will be well worth the wait.

The second piece of advice I can give you involves adjusting your perversion meter. (Huh?) Stay with me. Okay, let's say, for example, the sight of Tawny Kitaen tied to a chair with a gag in her mouth doesn't do for you. If that's case, make it do something for you. What I'm mean is, temporarily adopt fetishes that you wouldn't normally subscribe to.

You know the scene where Tawny Kitaen and Zabou Breitman crawl underneath a roulette table? Well, I've adopted that as my new kink. Call me crazy, but there's something about all those faceless legs combined with the image of two women crawling on all fours that is inherently sexy.

Of course, you could just sit back enjoy the first hour without doing any of the things I just said. But let's not do anything rash, shall we?

Thieves in Macao stumble upon a shipping crate that contains a freshly scrubbed white woman named Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen). Tying her to a chair, the thieves present their latest acquisition to their boss, an unscrupulous slave trader. Purely by chance, Willard (Brent Huff), a hunky adventurer type whose actions are always motivated by money, bursts into the room and inadvertently rescues Gwendoline by employing martial arts and good old fashion brawling techniques.

Reunited with her adorable gal pal Beth (Zabou Breitman), Gwendoline decides that Willard is the man to help her on her mission. Her mission is to what? Find a rare butterfly?!? Oh, brother. Luckily for Gwendoline, she looks like Tawny Kitaen circa 1984, or else Willard would have sent her packing immediately. Actually, he does try to get rid of her on several occasions. In fact, I think he throws Gwen and Beth off his ship not once, but twice. So, it doesn't seem to matter that Gwendoline looks like Tawny Kitaen circa 1984, or that the frightfully precise nature of Beth's bob hairstyle is a miracle of follicle engineering.

Managing to scrape some cash together, Gwen is able to convince Willard to help her find this butterfly, the very same one that her father tried to locate not so long ago, but went missing in the process. You could say, Gwen is doing this to honour her father. Which, when you put it that way, doesn't make her mission sound so frivolous.

Wearing khaki-coloured clothing and armed with butterfly nets, Gwen, Beth and Willard set out into the wild frontier to find that butterfly.

Taking a break from bickering with one another, Willard decides to "make love" to Gwen while locked a jail that belongs to a tribe of cannibals. (Huh?) Assuming they're about to be killed, Gwen agrees that she should experience loving making at least once before she dies, and Willard volunteers to lease out his penis to her. Free of charge, of course. Willard may be greedy, but he ain't no prostitute.

(Wait, how is he going to mount her with any hump-related confidence if they're both tied up?) Simple, really, he's going caress her chin with a piece of straw by holding it in his mouth. (A piece of straw?!?) I don't want to alarm you, but there's more to making love than humping, you insensitive bastard.

Able to escape the clutches of the cannibals, and, not to mention, able to weather a nasty sandstorm, Gwen, Beth and Willard spot the butterfly they want flying at the bottom of a canyon.

(Does this mean it's time?) Yep, you can stop pretending to care about Gwen, Beth and Willard's wacky, pitfall laden butterfly adventure, the nitty-gritty of the film is about to get underway. To put it another way, you're a sweaty, pelvically distressed Sting and a reasonably satisfied Trudie Styler just gave you the go ahead to unfurl your precious wad all over her tits and stomach. (I'm curious, how exactly does Trudie give Sting the wad-based go ahead?) Word on the street is, she winks at him three times in quick succession.

Thigh-high boots, spiky helmets, topless chicks, perspiration, industrial scrunchies, bondage, and black thongs for as far as the eye can see, now this is what I'm talking about.

After Beth is captured, Gwen and Willard must infiltrate the steamy subterranean kingdom of the Yik-Yak to rescue her. (The Yik-what?) The Yik-Yak, a society of fierce warrior women. Anyway, Gwen and Willard don the traditional garb of the Yik-Yak warriors: a black thong, black thigh-boots, various elbow pads, gloves, and shoulder pads, and a spiky helmet. And attempt to... Am I wrong? Or does but Brent Huff look good enough to eat in that Yik-Yak get-up? I don't why it took me this long to notice this, but Brent Huff is one handsome motherfucker.

Since the Queen of the Yik-Yak, oh, let's call her, The Queen (Bernadette Lafont), doesn't like the idea of obtuse outsiders roaming around her womanly realm, or, as she likes to call it, "her little community," she tries her best to stop them. When she discovers that one of the obtuse outsiders is a man, The Queen plans to use his genitals to make more Yik-Yak warrior women.

Four women are chosen (not at random but via a pit filled with horny warrior women) to mate with Willard. How will Gwendoline react when she finds out her man is going to used as a turkey baster? Why don't you ask her? Oh, wait, you can't, as she has just hopped aboard a human chariot (a sort of sadomasochistic rickshaw). However, judging by the fact that she just rescued Willard (characters rescuing one another is the film's main reoccurring theme), I'd say Gwendoline doesn't want to see her man's junk exploited in such a dehumanizing manner. Speaking of dehumanizing, the human chariot chase is, to quote D'Arcy (Jean Rougerie), The Queen's male lackey, "superb, superb, superb!"

Did anyone else think The Queen's guards sounded exactly like The Android Sisters? No? Just me, eh? Well ain't that a kick in the taint.

I haven't seen The Hunger Games, but there's no doubt in my mind that The Queen's overdressed gargoyle look in Gwendoline was the inspiration for Effie Trinket.

While lacking the charisma of her peers, Tawny Kitaen manages to get by on looks alone. That being said, if you need to see more movies with people named Tawny in them, then I recommend checking out the cinematic output of Tawny Fere, she's in Angel III: The Final Chapter and Rockula. In terms of acting, I would say Zabou Breitman and Bernadette Lafont were the only one's who possess anything close to resembling talent. It's another story all-together when it comes to costume design, production design, music and even direction, as the film is a pleasure to look at and to listen to. Now, if only someone would have shortened the pre-Yik-Yak portion of the film, as one whole hour is an awfully long time to wait to be fully immersed in French asses affixed with jet black thongs.


  1. Věra Chytilová, the director of Daisies has died. :(

    1. :( I love Daises. In fact, I'm going to scrounge up my DVD and watch it again in her honour.

  2. So an hour of "meh" for 30 minutes of flaming hot femdom madness. Should have let the French crew design the costumes and sets. And a Hong Kong Cat III guy direct.

    1. I'd watch a Cat III version of Gwendoline. But then again, I'd also watch Jess Franco's Gwendoline, Joe D'Amato's Gwendoline and Bruno Mattei's Gwendoline.

    2. Jess Franco: god yes. Give him this set and costume design and watch him film two hours of women walking around. Perfect.

      Joe D'Amato: workman like, solid and violent. Gets the job done.

      Bruno Mattei: nah, he'd fuck it up somehow.

    3. Bruno? Fuck it up? I don't know about that.

      Andy Sidaris, on the other hand, now there's a director who would fuck it up. On the plus side, however, he would have probably cast Julie Strain as the leader of the Yik-Yak.

  3. I believe there are several versions of this fil. There is the version that was released on videotape. Then there was a version rshown on TV that cut out every single shot of a naked breast (with the expected choppiness that rendered the entire last half-hour nonesisical) and replaced the time with an extra fight scene and more Tawny-Brent dialogue that actually made those parts of the movie make more sense. I am certain I saw a version on TV in which Zabou had a French accent (though the entire movie is obviously, and badl, dubbed).

    However, regarding your comment about fetishes? That "fetuish adjustment" may work for you, but as one whohas the fetish for which the source material was created to serve, this movie was disappointing. The bondage was simply too little and too far apart, too unconvincing, and basically unsatisfactory. Heck, "Big Trouble in Little China" was better for that.