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9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (1976): Driller Thriller

photo credit: Oregon State University

9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (Abel Ferrara, 1976)

[note: review originally published 1Dec2008]

 

photo credit: whosdatedwho.com

“It’s an art film… a SWEDISH art film.”

One of my favorite parts of being a film buff is finding those early movies that directors would love to disown once they get more famous. Ferrara, who would become an underground sensation a few years later with Driller Killer, helmed his first feature in 1976, a basement-budget porn outing called 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy. It has been called the most boring porn film ever made, probably because even while Ferrara was trying to churn out porn to make a quick buck, he couldn’t stop himself from adding the art-film structure and substance that would propel him to the status of cult legend.

 

photo credit: wildhotels.tumblr.com

“I’m not so sure about the sex thing, but I got this art-film expression down!”

The film follows the exploits of Pauline (Pauline LaMonde in her only film role), as related by her in letters to Gypsy (Dominique Santos who, again, never acted in anything else). As the film progresses, the exploits get wilder and wilder, including a very odd fantasy flashback involving Pauline’s mother, grandmother, and grandfather.

Porn films have a pretty simple structure; there’s a loose framing mechanism surrounding the sex scenes. This is, in general, why porn doesn’t work as film; no one thinks about putting much into the frame. Such is the case here, which I have to say kind of surprised me; Ferrara is well-known for coming up with great story ideas, however the end result turns out. As well, watching this makes it pretty obvious why neither LaMonde nor Santos ended up a star; both of them sound as if they’re sitting through a boring college class instead of getting it on with anyone and everyone (or reading about it). It’s possible that this was intentional, of course; it would certainly fit in with the world-weary attitude of the characters in Driller Killer, and would have certainly been a counterpoint to the porn films of its day (Emmanuelle had come out two years earlier, as a reference), but if so, it’s one of those clever Ferrara ideas that didn’t pan out. (It should be noted that other directors have taken this tack as well, most recently, to my knowledge, Michael Winterbottom in 9 Songs; I’ve never seen it actually work.)

photo credit: imcdb.org

There’s not really much footage I can show you containing characters. So here’s a Rolls-Royce.

Worth seeing for its archival value if you’re a Ferrara nut. Otherwise, you can avoid it. *

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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