Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WARNING: SEXTETTE IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

The good news is that SEXTETTE is one of the most frightening horror movies ever made. The bad news is that it was supposed to be a musical comedy. (Bad comedies are painful, bad musicals are worse, and combining the two, then adding in liberal sexual innuendo involving an eighty-five year old former sexpot is agony.) But Sextette is never boring. It can't be...there's virtually a new TERROR around every corner!

This unbelievably misguided project from director Ken Hughes and screenwriter Herbert Baker takes Mae West's 1926 play SEX and reimagines it as a romance between the 85-year old West and 32-year old Timothy Dalton. And while Mae and her latest hubbie (future Bond star, Dalton) lounge around their palatial honeymoon suite, Mae reminisces about her past conquests while a roster of escapees from the Hollywood Squares stumble through.There's the always-confused Ringo Starr as a Stroheim-like director; leather-skinned George Hamilton as a pinstriped gangster; Alice Cooper in a permed ‘Barry Manilow-style’ wig and tuxedo; Keith Moon as a foppy fashion designer; plus Dom DeLuise, George Raft, Regis Philbin, Rona Barrett -- the list of has-beens and never-will-be's goes on and on ...and on! Meanwhile, the viewer gets to grind their teeth at the loose excuse for a plot, in which the U.S. government begs Mae to spend a night with one of her ex's, a Russian bigwig (Tony Curtis), in order to save diplomatic relations.

But the show really belongs to its octogenarian leading lady, (who at this point in her life must have been giving her corset-maker hazard pay), in her final and most astounding screen role. The most bizarre thing about Sextette is that it pretends that its star is still in her twenties! and has her firing off racy double-entendres that will make every viewer nauseous with their quasi-necrophilic implications. The star is filmed in such soft-focus that one can barely make out her face. She shambles across the sets like she's about to fall over, and when she recites trademark zingers like, "I'm the girl who works at Paramount all day and Fox all night," (Say it out loud), she seems to have forgotten what they mean. The most horrifying exchange comes when she caresses her breasts provocatively, causing Dalton to embrace her and break into an ear-melting rendition of "Love Will Keep Us Together."

YES! Just when you think it's as cheesy as it could ever possibly get, the entire cast breaks into song and dance, and you remember it's also a freaking musical! You haven't lived until you've heard Dom DeLuise creaking out a cover of the Beatles' "Honey Pie"? Other low lights have West crooning "Happy Birthday" while pawing a 21-year-old youth in a gym full of Olympic bodybuilders and lip-synching another standard to which she appears to have forgotten the words. And we'll bet you thought At Long Last Love was interminable!...

The whole mess ends with West singing "Babyface" (astonishingly, she's referring to herself) and sneaking onto Dalton's yacht for a really sick-making seduction scene. We'd like to tell you that the movie has a happy ending, (if having sex with an eighty-five year-old woman qualifies as "happy") but the viewer's side of the experience is something far less pleasant.

Sextette is a jaw-droppingly Bad Move that separates true worshipers of heinous cinema from the fainthearted. It is defiantly one for the record books, and most certainly not recommended for viewing on an empty stomach.

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