J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fantasia ’16: In Search of Ultra-Sex

Canal+ has long offered full service programming to a wide spectrum of customers, including special scrambled overnight broadcasts. Those were exactly what you think they are. As a result, the venerable media company had quite an extensive archive of soft-core and not-so-soft-core naughty movies for filmmakers Nicolas Charlet and Bruno Lavaine to plunder. The resulting hacked-together and over-dubbed Frankenstein’s monster of a supercut takes the narrative shape of a psychedelic science fiction film. The Earth is in trouble, but nobody is complaining in Charlet & Lavaine’s In Search of Ultra-Sex (trailer here), which screened during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Part of the fun of watching Carl Reiner’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid with friends comes from showing off your recognition of the incorporated film clips. Here, you’re on your own. Fortunately, there were more than enough bargain basement Star Trek and Power Ranger knock-offs to supply the skeleton of Charlet & Lavaine’s narrative. Some nefarious force has stolen the Ultra-Sex, the mystical mojo holding Earth’s collective libido in check. Now that its gone, there is actually a halfway credible cause for all the hanky-panky breaking out in public places.

Naturally, various teams of naughty starship crews, private detectives, and superheroes take up the case of the missing celestial inhibitor. Yet, perhaps not so ironically, the cheapest, goofiest looking footage comes not from the Skinimax spoofs, but from the notoriously cheesy but “legit” Samurai Cop.

If you are not prudish or a color correction professional, Ultra is an amusing exercise in cult movie eccentricity. Mercifully, Charlet & Lavaine wrap things up in exactly one hour, because this concept could easily become a case of “too much of a good thing.” Although they arguably have a greater narrative through-line than the films they are sampling (mostly from set-up and foreplay scenes rather than consummations), it is still pretty loose. Of course, any meaningful attempt at characterization is necessarily impossible. It is literally a gag reel.

Be that as it may, it is pretty bizarre to see what some blue movie makers thought viewers would find titillating and even more mind-blowing that Canal+ apparently aired them at one point (granted, in the early a.m., but still). We’re definitely talking about the sexually explicit puppets here.

Yeah so, Ultra. There are plenty of opportunities to chuckle and shake your head at the wacky barrage of images, but there is no danger of anyone busting gut from laughter. Frankly, Charlet & Lavaine probably cobbled together the funniest film they could, but their source material might just be inherently limiting. Nevertheless, it is never dull. Recommended for cult fans who like to be able to say they have seen films of notoriety, In Search of Ultra-Sex is out there someplace, following its Canadian premiere at this year’s Fantasia.

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