January 30, 2008

Water Power

This is without a doubt the strangest film to contain a CARRIE reference. WATER POWER is a 1977 pornographic film... and it's not your run of the mill porn movie. It's actually a horrific drama (with a plot, acting and everything!) more than loosely based on Michael H. Kenyon, who bears the infamous moniker The Enema Bandit. It's plays like a real movie with a few money shots.

The narrative is a surprisingly effective, low-budget, rip-off of TAXI DRIVER, and the film was allegedly shot in a few days (which is extremely difficult to believe, given the numerous locations, scenes and set-ups). B-Movie/porn star Jamie Gillis takes the lead role of a Burt, a man who goes to The Garden of Eden brothel, where he witnesses a weird fetish that excites him, so he ultimately ends up, um, brutally cleansing and raping women.

Credited to DEEP THROAT director Gerard Damiano (for marquee value) but actually written and directed by Shaun Costello, the film was designed for and marketed to the sleazy theatre district in New York... but it flopped. Subsequently, it became a hit in Europe under the title SCHPRITZ, and it's since become a cult curio amongst horror, sexploitation and porn fans. Allegedly there's numerous prints with different edits, the Greek version being the most complete. This is the one instance where I'm thankful to have the edited version, sans anal expulsion. Bizarre film that's certainly not for the faint of heart. I feel like I need an altogether different sort of cleansing for even having a copy of it (which I found a while ago with some tapes that someone abandoned at a storage building -- it's not something I sought out!), though it's extremely difficult to obtain today. Yet there's something bizarrely fascinating about the film... it's raw and gritty and unpleasantly entrancing -- even Quintin Tarantino has publicly cited affection for it.

I do have to say that I miss the days when film posters were actually works of art, even if they were for obscure, unsavory, X-rated movies.

Anyway, the connection to CARRIE, slight as it is: As Gillis walks down the New York streets, he passes a theatre with a massive display for CARRIE. Obviously this wasn't set-dressing or meant to be a direct reference (it's not like he growled "They're all gonna laugh at you" as he administered high colonics), it actually just happened to be playing at a theatre on a street where they filmed Gillis walking. The interesting thing is how elaborate the display appears. It surrounds the doorway -- there's huge photos of Spacek and Laurie, and the enormous logo above the ticket booth looks pretty cool. Unfortunately, you don't get more than a poorly-lit, way too close, fleeting glimpse of it, which is a shame (whoever spotted it and submitted it to imdb must've had an eagle-eye). Still, it's a rare glimpse at the marketing of a film in a long-gone, pre-home video era. Here's the clip:

Also notable, director Costello had a penchant for lifting musical scores from other films (Pino Donaggio's "Bucket of Blood" track from CARRIE was later used in Costello's 1980 film AFTERNOON DELIGHTS). Strangely, he never got sued for the unauthorized musical lifts. For WATER POWER, he used portions of the score that Bernard Hermann composed for Brian DePalma's SISTERS.




Anonymous said...

Where can i get a copy of waterpower? email me videodrome88@yahoo.com, thanks. Is the one you have the uncut version or the heavily edited one?

Thomas Eikrem said...

Hi there, I am looking for Waterpower stills, scans, images, posters etc for FILMRAGE magazine. www.filmrage.co.uk. Good prices paid, or scans will do. Thomas