Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cafe Flesh

The Movie: Cafe Flesh

Year: 1984

Format Viewed: VHS (Purchased at a Flea Market.)

Score Card:

Premise: In a post-apocalyptic future dystopia some sort of plague or virus or something renders people (Sex Negatives) impotent, or rather physiologically disinclined to having sex. Those whose bodies are capable (Sex Positives), whether or not they are willing, are required by law to perform live sex shows for those who can't. Café Flesh is one of the clubs where these stage shows take place.

How do we know Café Flesh takes place in a post-apocalyptic future world? Well there's the door to the club. .

It's large and round like a bank vault door. And when the doorman (an Igor in-training) opens it a smoky mist roils in from outside. .

There's also a character or two with what could be radiation sores on their face. .

The Reality: Virtually the entire movie takes place inside the titular club where jaded patrons sit, watching impotently, the various vignettes unfold on stage thus making Café Flesh something of a surreal anti-porn porn movie with pretentious psychotropic art house delusions. .

The Plot: The premise, as outlined in the opening narration, paints this as being the usual sort of post-apocalyptic bleak future world. Yet the actual story that unfolds on screen defies genre expectations. Not to repeat myself but, honestly, those used to high octane Mad Max clones will be disappointed as Cafe Flesh really is simply a bizarre movie with art house pretensions. .

Could it have been better? Perhaps. Then again the same can be said of many low budget sci-horror movies of the period. Despite the short running time, and the fact this is an "adult" feature, this is one strangely fascinating flick. .

While it never becomes gibberingly incoherent Cafe Flesh nevertheless has the feel of a film that began with a threadbare concept whose details were hastily revised and hashed out during principle shooting and post. For instance one thing that is hard not to notice are the stage shows. They are all performance art pieces. From the start you are assailed with weirdness. .

How bizarre is it? Well there's three men in diapers in the background. A woman sits in a recliner. Suddenly, from out of the darkness, comes a guy wearing white tights, a rat mask and tail carrying milk who then proceeds to dance around and 'seduce' the woman. .

All this while the man-babies look on. Very odd. Disturbing even. But what does this have to do with anything? Perhaps nothing, perhaps everything. The survivors are merely going through the motions of living, thus it is an effectively bleak representation of life in a post apocalyptic world. As each stage show gets progressively more surrealistic and bizarre the movie draws you into it's absurdity until it's strange incongruous crudity crescendos with a rather abrupt conclusion.

Verdict: For a Flea Market find this was not half bad. However this being an "adult" movie my expectations going in were pretty low. But if you ignore that aspect of the film this plays out like a post-modern parable. Alas it also comes close to breaking down as it's internal suspension of logic falters and totally bursts the bubble well before the final scene. But that may have been intentional as the final scene ends rather abruptly, as if the director either just gave up and decided to call it quits or is asking the audience to decide for themselves whether any of what they just watched meant anything at all. Definitely not for everyone. Even hardcore (no pun intended) fans of post-apocalypse movies may want to think twice about renting this one.

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