Sunday, September 4, 2011

Waterpower (Shaun Costello, 1977)

Every time the tepid water would start to spew all over the victim's bathtub, this profound sense of relief would wash over me. Relieved that the worst was probably over for the person being forced to have their bowels cleansed at gun point, yet, at the same time, filled with dread over the fact that someone else was gonna wind up going through the exact same ordeal in the not-so distant future, Shaun Costello's Waterpower is unlike anything I have ever seen. Actually, that's not entirely true, I've seen plenty of films about crazed loners lurking the mean streets of New York City, but none where a quaint-looking item, one that can be purchased at any neighbourhood drug store, is used as the perpetrator's primary instrument of terror. Nowadays, the human beings you see walking the streets of almost every major city in North America have become so pacified by the glowing rectangles they carry around with them, that they rarely ever think about purifying the insides of their fellow citizens. They were originally designed to keep you connected to the world at large, but they're actually doing a better job of separating you from the human experience. In the middle of the 1970s there were no such distractions, everything and everyone was literally in your face whether you liked or not. The people you passed on the street were acutely aware of your presence and there was nowhere to hide as they sized up the structural integrity of your anus. In the like-minded Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle uses his taxi cab as a protective shield (it helped keep the so-called "scum" he is always railing against at a distance). In this film, however, our deranged protagonist is constantly exposed. Armed only with his denim jacket and a thick mane of curly brown hair, he seems to be stalking the streets rather aimlessly. I'm not one who usually likes to give such individuals advice, but I think this guy needs to get a hobby, or better yet, find a purpose in life.

Bored with the ho-hum nature of the pornography that is currently occupying his sock drawer, and clearly unsatisfied by what's on television (an early version of the glowing rectangle), Burt (Jamie Gillis), a solitary man with a lot of free time on his hands, is determined to find something that will sufficiently scratch him where he itches. While I could do without the random muggings, the aggressive dope pushers, and, of course, the surly pimps, I do envy the fact that Burt gets to wander 42nd Street during the time when it was seedy as fuck. However, being a jaded New Yorker, Burt is going to need more than a few hundred adult movie threatres and adult bookstores to keep his penis moist and giggly.

Turning to his trusty telescope, Burt searches for the object of his obsession. This particular object isn't in the sky, though it does spend a lot of time up there, it's the brunette flight attendant (Clea Carson) who lives across the street. Watching as she gets undressed (her imitation Pan Am uniform is gingerly unsheathed from her dainty frame), Burt talks as if he were in the room with her. And judging by the glossy black and white photos he has of her, it's safe to say that Burt has a thing for her. I'm sorry, did I say he has a "thing"? What I meant to say is that Burt is quite fond of the lithesome stewardess (stalkers hate it when you dismissively label their infatuations as a "thing").

After wandering around 42nd Street for a while (an eerie electronic sound throbs seductively the soundtrack), Burt decides to enter an establishment called "The Garden of Eden," a sort of high end sex palace for discerning reprobates. There he meets the joint's Hostess (Gloria Leonard), lounging on a hammock in black boots and hold-up stockings. A tad standoffish, Burt rebuffs her first couple of attempts to offer him some assistance (he says that he's just looking). It's true, I have no way of knowing what exactly is going on in Burt's mind, but I like to think it was the sight of Eve (a long-haired Sharon Mitchell), a woman in a silver, disco-flavoured pantsuit, that caused him to loosen up. Excepting her introductory offer, Burt hands the Hostess ten dollars and proceeds to take Eve to room number six.

While he's walking down the hall to get his half and half from Eve in room number six, Burt can't help but notice a woman named Leslie (the statuesque Marlene Willoughby) dressed like a nurse reciting medical jargon to herself. In the film's lone adorable moment, Burt asks if anyone is sick. She's not a real nurse, that's Leslie, she performs "specials," Eve tells the naive little scamp. As he's getting the first half of his half and half performed on him, you could totally that his mind was preoccupied with these so-called "specials." I'll admit, my heart was filled with a creamy dollop of sadness when I heard Burt say that he wanted to bypass the second half of his half and half, as I was really looking forward to seeing Jamie Gillis penetrate Sharon Mitchell's mythical pussy with his darkly glamorous penis. But the sight of Sharon reclining in the buff after an exhaustive oral workout was like receiving a consolation prize. In other words, her gorgeousness (her distinctive profile is a work of art) alone was enough carry me over to the next scene.

Getting nowhere with Eve when it came to finding out more about the "specials" (she's not allowed to talk about them), Burt is told to ask the Hostess (who is still lounging on a hammock in black boots and hold-up stockings) about the "specials" they provide. After she's finished talking on the telephone (a conversation where the line, "our watersports expert is on vacation" is uttered), the Hostess gives Burt the fullness of her attention.

Selecting the perversion that is right for you is very important step for a man, and the Hostess sees that Burt hasn't got one (an unperverted man is an unhappy man). Listing a wide array of depravity for Burt to choose from, the Hostess rattles off a bunch of kinky acts, including: BDSM, pantie worship, cross dressing, emasculation, spanking, and podophilia. While rifling through the many services they provide, Burt is intrigued by the words "high colonic." Not knowing what it is exactly, the Hostess informs him that "there in," and that one is currently being performed as they speak.

Escorting him to the viewing gallery of the operating threatre they have on the premises, the Hostess allows Burt to watch an enema being performed. A client posing as a doctor (Eric Edwards)—I'm under the assumption that he's not a real doctor—explains, in great detail, the history of enemas (they go back thousands of years). The dialogue employed during the enema tutorial, by the way, was outstanding ("your eyes widen at the mention of the word 'enema'"). Anyway, performing an enema on a woman named Pamela (Jean Silver), while the aforementioned nurse provides assistance (she gags Pamela with a piece of tape), the doctor tells his uncommon patient that she going to receive an uncommon enema. I don't know what that means exactly, but I did like the multiple use of the word "nozzle" as he prepared his inflatable nozzle.

As the murky water begins to exit her thoroughly lubricated anus, the Doctor and Burt both ejaculate semen. It's true, the former enrolls the help of nurse Leslie's mouth, and the latter uses his hand to achieve his orgasm. But make no mistake, it was the rectal water that induced the bulk of their liquid pleasure.

Feeling an overwhelming sense of euphoria, Burt declares enemas to be "where it's at," and disavows conventional pornography. His latest trip to the adult bookstore reflects this change of heart, as all his purchases are enema-based publications ("Water and Power" being the name of one of the magazines). However, this feeling of euphoria doesn't last long. While observing his beloved stewardess through his trusty telescope, he's horrified when he sees her with a man, and not just any man, a man with a mustache. He thought she was different, he thought she was, unlike all those whores out on the street, pure, yet there she was, engaging in a wide array of unseemly acts with a man with a mustache. It's right then and there that Burt decides that he needs to make her clean again, and the only way he can do that is to break into her apartment and perform an enema on her at gun point.

Suffering from delusions of grandeur, Burt bristles at the media's charge that he's a rapist (he sees his "job" as a public service, cleaning the bowels of the city, one anus at a time). On top of labeling him a rapist, the media also dub him, "The Enema Bandit." This distinction causes Burt to take his nozzle work more seriously (a recent trip to the enema store bears the fruit of this new-found seriousness). As expected, the police are determined to put a stop to his ass irrigating ways (they can't have some guy running around the city raping and performing enemas on people). Two rape squad detectives are put on the case, Jack Gallagher (John Buco) and Irene Murray (C.J. Laing). Will they stop him? Who knows.

Call me a cockeyed scoundrel, but I found Jamie Gillis to be strangely handsome as Burt, The Enema Bandit. What am I saying, "strangely handsome," he was a total babe from certain angles. Sure, it is difficult to crush on someone when they're, oh, let's say, forcing girls to expel watery fecal matter on one another while he urinates and ejaculates seminal fluid on them, but the moments when he wasn't doing that, which were few and far between, he looked kinda foxy.

Speaking of watery fecal matter, the way the ghastly scene featuring two teenage sisters named Ginger (Susaye London) and Candy (Barbara Belkin) being brutalized by The Enema Bandit (he catches them whilst dabbling in lesbianism) was edited together with a consensual sex scene that was taking place in another part of the city was downright heinous. If my genitals could talk, they would be cursing my brain for feeding it such a confusing melange of sick and twisted imagery.

The fact that the fake doctor at the beginning of the film did such an amazing job walking us through the ins and outs of your average enema was what helped me get through Waterpower pretty much unscathed. When the taupe water started to flow, I wasn't put off at all. On the other hand, the rough manner in which the enemas were implemented was quite disturbing. Make no mistake, with the exception of the first enema (which was performed in a controlled environment by willing participants), all the enemas performed in Waterpower were unwanted by the recipients. On top of being delusional, Burt is also full of contradictions. He says he wants to rid women of sin, but at same time, he usually ends up engaging in the same sinful acts he's purportedly against. This contradictory temperament gave Burt, and the film, an air of unexpected depth. If you like enema movies that contain more than just enemas, then I recommend you check out Waterpower, you'll probably regret it.

If you watch the Dutch version, the rape/enema/watersports scene has been, like I said, edited together with the consensual anilingus/dirty feet showcase. But if you watch the American version, the two scenes play out separately, which, I've been told, allows for easier self-abuse. Just for the record: I've seen both versions, but the one I'm writing about is the Dutch version (so-called by me because it has Dutch subtitles).

video uploaded by trailerparkblood

Special thanks to Jerry at Dead Eye Delirium for introducing me to, unwholesome ordeal masquerading as a piece of filmed entertainment.


  1. Good lord!! Thanks for covering this odd sounding films so unflinchingly. I hope I never see it, but I'm glad I got to read your review... like watching Werner Herzog listen to the bear eat Grizzly Man on headphones, but better, because I wanted to hear it... and thank to House of Self Indulgence I got to hear it without having to see it.... color me mildly untraumatized!

  2. I like Erich's Grizzly Man analogy. WTF?? is all I have to say to the Enema Bandit. Then again, I like plane crash documentaries, so I guess I have a morbid streak as well.

    Hey, it's TIFF's opening night! Have you seen U2 strolling around T-dot-O? Callum Keith Rennie? I heard he won a Gemini!

    When will there be new Jeopardys! Alex Trebek needs to take shorter vacations!

  3. @Erich Kuersten: Thanks. Having your typed words compared to the sight of a kooky German man listening to the sound of a non-German man being torn apart by a grizzly bear is the highest compliment a person can get.

    Untraumatizing, eh? I like that. I've been untraumatizing folks since 2009 (2008, if you're into being accurate and junk).

    @Karim Amir: There just enemas. ;) Seriously, I'm sure flicks like, The Taming of Rebecca (Sharon Mitchell!) and I Spit On Your Grave are much nastier.

    Were the Geminis last night?!? ;)

    I can't believe I'm about to ask this, but where are the best places in T-dotr-0, in Toronto, to see celebrities? ;) (I don't see many wandering around Queen West after midnight.)

    Yeah, getting the clues wrong twice is starting to get embarrassing.

  4. Yum, truly sorry about this, though I did recant (in parentheses) immediately after suggesting you see this. I myself stumbled upon it quite by accident (in the woods) and ought not have spread it around like candy in a classroom. It was indeed traumatizing.

  5. No need to apologize, I got to watch a movie that features Sharon Mitchell with long hair. Sure, I had to wade through a fair amount of brownish water to do so, but at the end of the day, I'd say it was worth it.

    Oh, and I haven't forgotten about Wet Wilderness. :D

  6. Gee. Sounds pretty icky.

    I was curious who was responsible. And boy did I find out. This is hysterical:

  7. All the pitiful screams...
    Of all those college educated women.

    Oh hang on, that was Illinois, not New York

  8. According to Shaun Costello;
    [on how his most notorious film, Water Power (1977), came about] In the fall of 1976 I got a call from Sid Levine, an elderly, gentle, grandfather type, who was the front man for the porno unit of the [Carlo Gambino] crime family. As I sat across Sid's desk he says, "I'm ashamed to have to say this, but I need an enema picture". He had been given an audio cassette called "The Enema Bandit", and some articles about a guy who was convicted of going on a cleansing spree at the University of Illinois at Urbana, and forcibly giving enemas to coeds. I had recently seen Taxi Driver (1976), and thought that Jamie [Jamie Gillis] would make a great Travis Bickle, but on foot rather than driving a cab, and bent on a quest to cleanse evil bitches in order to save their souls.

    Then a strange thing happened. Sid was ashamed of his involvement in this, the goombahs were too macho to participate, and DB, their boss, didn't want to see it. "Just make the thing", I was told. At this point I realized that my position was unique. I could make this ridiculous enema movie without any interference from any of the people who were paying for it. "Just make the thing", they said, so that's exactly what I did. I wrote what I thought was an absurd story, hired my favorite actors--Jamie, Marlene [Marlene Willoughby], Rob Everett [Eric Edwards], Al Levitsky [Roger Caine], C.J. Laing, etc., and set about making a movie about a tortured soul who was so demented that he truly believed that his quest to cleanse evil bitches of their vile humors was the answer to all of his problems.

    Without adult supervision, I turned the movie into a parody of itself. Of course there was always the chance that the boys would catch on to what I was doing and I would sleep with the fishes, but I didn't think so. The picture played to empty porno houses. The theater owners were afraid of it, and the audiences didn't know what to make of it. So on the shelf it went, and after a few years someone came up with the idea of distributing [it] in Europe. Bingo . . . cult smash. I guess the Germans and the Dutch are a bit kinkier than their American cousins. The picture opened in Germany under the title "Schpritz".

    [To] this day I think it's the funniest movie I ever made.