If you’re going to do horror-themed sexploitation, vampires are the most natural choice of monster. Everyone from Hammer Studios to Ray Dennis Steckler has tried their hand at vamp-themed erotica – and the emergence of the lesbian vampire subgenre during the 1970’s proves that it can be profitable and memorable when done correctly. However, it’s just as easy for the “vampires + sexploitation” equation to go awry and the results can be just as memorable, albeit in a different sort of way. Sexcula represents what is probably the strangest use of vampires in a sex film – in fact, it ranks amongst the brain-frying examples of the sex film, period.
In fairness, Sexcula has much more ambition that just exploiting the erotic allure of the nocturnal bloodsucker. Instead, it aims to be both hardcore porn and a spoof of the horror genre at the same time, with several different horror archetypes mixed into its crazy-quilt of a narrative. It starts with a framing device in which a free-spirited lass (Debbie Collins) takes her boyfriend to explore the ruins of an old home that belongs to her family. She locates the diary of her ancestor, the femme scientist Dr. Fellatingstein (Jamie Orlando), and the boyfriend starts reading it while she tries to warm him up for some afternoon delight in a meadow.
This is where the film’s narrative fractures, along with the viewer’s concept of reality. The film becomes dominated by the adventures of Fellatingstein: she has created a sexual plaything named Frank (John Alexander) but his tragic flaw is that he doesn’t understand or feel sexual desire. She calls in Sexcula (also played by Collins) to help her cure Frank, a process that will ultimately involve visiting a porn film shoot where an orgy is being filmed on a church set(!). Other diversions include the misadventures of horny but perpetually frustrated hunchback named Orgie, a bisexual and rape-happy ape and a female sex robot. The finale frantically intercuts a variety of sex scenes without ever completing them before reaching a weird, fourth wall-breaking coda.
Horror-themed porn is often an aesthetically disorienting experience and Sexcula does not disappoint in that regard: it’s shot with the finesse of an industrial film, the acting exists at the “just trying to remember the lines” level and the attempts at humor range from numbing to baffling. On the plus side, Collins is a cheerful bedroom athlete – one sex scene ends with her giving a peace sign to the camera – and the editing and camerawork during the sex scenes is often weirdly artsy. If you’re patient enough to stick with the film, the final half-hour is a real brain-melter of ragged sex scenes and bizarrely timed crosscutting that will have you doing double takes.
In short, Sexcula is the kind of bizarro artifact that sexploitation collectors live for. If you’re brave enough to take it on, you’ll be picking up pieces of your blown mind from the floor after it ends.
DVD Notes: Sexcula was a lost film for decades until some brave cult film historians teamed up to unearth the one existing print left. Said print was used for this disc from Impulse and it is in pretty good shape: no amount of technical finesse could polish up the amateur night cinematography here but the colors are pretty bold and the overall presentation does well by the threadbare visual style. There are no extras on the disc but there is an insert that includes some fascinating notes from Dimitrios Otis about the film’s bizarre history as well as a witty Motion Picture Purgatory cartoon about the film by the great Rick Trembles.