Thursday, 18 April 2013



Truth in advertising. If you pick up the DVD of this double-bill of sex-themed British films, you'll see it's emblazoned with Odeon's "Slap And Tickle" logo, which has also been slapped on the likes of Ups And Downs Of A Handyman, Cool It Carol and a compilation of the best bits from the Adventures of... series. At which you might reasonably conclude that the two movies contained are the usual cheap rubbish: unappetising tit-and-bum fodder aimed at the dirty raincoat brigade who used to frequent specialist cinemas forty years ago. The British sex comedy was rarely any good: for every halfway decent Eskimo Nell there was a tawdry Emmanuelle In Soho. For some reason, only one of the films on this twofer really qualifies as a proper phwoooar smutcom; the other's actually much more interesting and an unexpected treat.

We can dispense fairly quickly with Norman J Warren's Spaced Out (aka Outer Touch) as precisely the sort of shoddy boobs-and-pubes dross that gave the BSC such a bad name. A spaceship crewed by three bickering alien babes is forced to land on Earth, a random handful of humans climb aboard and find themselves in space. There's a boring ice woman, her frustrated but besotted boyfriend, an obnoxious middle-aged stud and a stammering virgin who looks like Simon Mayo as played by Robin Askwith: the aliens decide to study them as they've never seen men before. It's not exactly Inseminoid. It's cheap and tatty, and the acting is barely of nativity play standard, but that's beside the point in a film which is mainly concerned with watching girls get their clothes off. Nor is it hilariously funny, though there are some amusingly odd moments, making it a kind of Dark Star with tits more than anything else.

Infinitely more interesting, surprisingly good given the context, is Sex Clinic, which isn't the tiresome knockabout it's marketed as: despite the presence of Windsor Davies and Allo Allo's Carmen Silvera, it's not a comedy, not even a failed one. It's easily the superior of the two films, as it's not principally concerned with shoving buttocks and nipples into the camera lens every ten minutes. Even if they're the best damned buttocks and nipples on the face of the planet (which they aren't), that gets a bit boring after a while. The striking Georgina Ward runs a massage parlour, while blackmailing and extorting from her kinkier customers (including aging lesbian Carmen Silvera); her cynical, uncaring heart is thawed by wealthy but mysterious businessman Alex Davion. But he suddenly needs money fast....

It's directed by Don Chaffey, a proper director who'd shot proper films (Jason And The Argonauts, One Million Years B.C.) and TV (episodes of The Prisoner and Danger Man), and written pseudonymously by wrestling commentator Kent Walton and Crossroads creator Hazel Adair, so there's an intriguing mix of talents involved. And it may be melodramatic tosh, but it's immensely satisfying to see the callous Ward get her just desserts; the film may have lots of nudity but it's surprisingly non-exploitative and serious given the marketing, the title on the DVD box (the actual on-screen title is With These Hands....) and the pairing with the tacky and tatty Spaced Out: it's a little like putting Stripes and Full Metal Jacket on the same DVD and calling it "Wacky Army Capers!" or something. Certainly worth a rental for Sex Clinic, the decision for Spaced Out is down to you.



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