Category Archives: guilty pleasures

“Gradiva” by Alain Robbe-Grillet out on DVD Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Still from Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

The good people at Mondo Macabro[1] are releasing Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle), the last film by French master-erotomaniac Alain Robbe-Grillet, Robert Monell points out in a recent post [2].

C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle (2006) is a French language film by Alain Robbe-Grillet starring: James Wilby, Arielle Dombasle and Dany Verissimo. It premiered at the 2006 Venice film festival on September 8 and in French cinemas on May 9 of 2007.

The film, Grillet’s last, is a Franco-Belgian production loosely based on Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy by Wilhelm Jensen. The setting has been updated to modern times, at least, no earlier than the 1970s, based on vehicles and appliances seen in the film. It begins with an English art historian named John Locke is doing research in Morocco on the paintings and drawings that French artist Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) produced when he spent time in that country (back then, a French colony) more than a century before. Locke spots a beautiful, mysterious blonde girl (Gradiva, of course) in flowing robes dashing through the back alleys of Marrakech, and becomes consumed with the need to track her down. Like most of Robbe-Grillet’s cinematic output, this film is highly surrealistic and also involves a surprisingly explicit amount of “sex slave” nudity and S&M, although it is a serious film and not just softcore fluff.

Some of the film’s prehistory.

via Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy

A Pompeiian Fancy is a novel by Wilhelm Jensen published by in German as Ein pompejanisches Phantasiestuck (Dresden and Leipzig: Carl Reissner) in 1903.

The story is about an archaeologist named Norbert Hanhold who holds a fascination for a woman depicted in a relief that he sees in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Hanhold later dreams that he has been transported back in time to meet the girl, whose unusual gait captivates him as he imagines her walking on the stepping stones that cross the roads in Pompeii while the hot ashes subsume the city in 79 AD.


Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s Gradiva (1907) is an essay by Sigmund Freud that analyzes the novel Gradiva by Wilhelm Jensen from a psychoanalytical point of view.

After that, Gravida became a favourite of the Surrealists. Salvador Dalí used the name Gradiva as a nickname for his wife, Gala Dalí. He used the figure of Gradiva in a number of his paintings, including Gradiva encuentra las ruinas de Antropomorphos (Gradiva finds the ruins of Antropomorphos)[3]. The figure Gradiva was used in other Surrealist paintings as well. Gradiva (Metamorphosis of Gradiva)[4], 1939, by André Masson explores the sexual iconography of the character.

In 1937 the Surrealist wirter Andre Breton opened an art gallery on the Left Bank, 31 rue de Seine, christening it with the title: Gradiva. Marcel Duchamp designed it, giving its door the form of a double cast shadow.

via Gradiva

I have always found the odour of my beloved ones exceeding pleasant, and the stronger their transpiration, the more they seemed sweet to me

File:Tomato leaf stomate 1-color.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

a juxtapoetic illustration of sweat

There is a charming Italian restaurant and traiteur right next to my door, called Il Particolare.


In their tiny dining room hangs a quote of the preface to Casanova’s Histoire de ma vie. Its most intriguing bit reads:

“Wat de vrouwen betreft, vond ik altijd dat het liefje, dat ik begeerde lekker rook en hoe meer ze zweette, des te heerlijker ik haar vond.”

Like so many translations of Histoire de ma vie, it was previously bowdlerized.

The original French text reads:

“J’ai toujours trouvé que celle que j’aimais sentait bon et plus sa transpiration était forte, plus elle me semblait suave.”

Jean Laforgue, who translated from the German Brockhaus edition “rectified”: “Quant aux femmes, j’ai toujours trouvé suave l’odeur de celles que j’ai aimées”.

Arthur Symons repeats the bowdlerized version (as he had no access to the original edition): “As for women, I have always found the odour of my beloved ones exceeding pleasant.” It should actually read: “I have always found the odour of my beloved ones exceeding pleasant, and the stronger their transpiration, the more they seemed sweet to me.

Introducing Lisa Yuskavage

Introducing Lisa Yuskavage

Lisa Yuskavage (1999) by Katy Siegel []
[FR] [DE] [UK]

I’ve mentioned the work of Yuskavage several times[1] [2][3][4][5] before but never dedicated a post to her.

Lisa Yuskavage (Born May 16, 1962 in Philadelphia) is a contemporary American figurative painter. She is a controversial painter with loaded subject matter such as that has been referred to as “outrageous quasi-pornographic sirens” and “anatomically impossible bimbos” as they mock the male desires of male fantasy.

Yuskavage is classified as a new figurative painter, to which American artists such as John Currin and Graydon Parrish also belong.

Lisa Yuskavage attended Tyler School of Art and received her MFA from Yale in 1986 but came to prominence in the mid-nineties in a series of seminal museum shows “Figure as Fiction” (1993) Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; “My Little Pretty” (1997) Museum of contemporary Art, Chicago; “Presumed Innocence” (1997) “Pop Surrealism” (1998) Aldrich Museum; “The Nude in Contemporary Art” (1999).

Carlo Jacono @80 and Italian exploitation

Carlo Jacono @80 and Italian exploitation

Segretissimo n° 75 (art cover by Carlo Jacono)

An Italian translation of Malory by American author James Hadley Chase

Cover design by Carlo Jacono

Carlo Jacono (March 17, 1929June 7, 2000) was an Italian illustrator detective novel covers and regular contributor to Mondadori’s gialli and Urania magazine.

A digression into Italian exploitation.

My interest in regional exploitation or pulp culture is that what it tells about the region where it is produced. I am searching for national stereotypes by way of their exploitation culture; regional stereotypes deduced from regional fears and desires (horror and eroticism).

Italian exploitation culture is literature and films in the “low culture” tradition originating from Italy, cultural products which address the prurient interests of its audience. A quick glance at Italian society on the one hand, which its firm anchor in puritan Christianity, and its abundance on the other hand of graphic exploitation material, quickly reveals its double standards.

In print culture there has been giallo fiction, quickly followed by adult comics, the so-called fumetti neri.

But the nature of Italian prurience is most readily revealed in Italian cinema. Genres such as cannibal films, Italian erotica, Italian horror films, giallo films, mondo films, il sexy, spaghetti westerns, sword and sandal films all went a tad further than contemporary products of European exploitation.

Had it not for the world wide web, these maligned genres would probably not have been so widely known, but if you prefer reading books to the internet, here is a list of publications on European exploitation you may enjoy.

Introducing the late Tina Aumont

Tina Aumont in Frédéric Pardo‘s Home Movie

Male viewers pressed for time may want to scrub to 2.37

Tina Aumont (14 February 1946 – 28 October 2006) was an American actress of French, and Dominican descent.

Her parents

She was born in Hollywood, California, the daughter of actors Jean-Pierre Aumont and Maria Montez who he had met in Hollywood. Maria Montez was known as the Queen of Technicolor, an early camp icon and idol to American experimental filmmaker Jack Smith, whose Flaming Creatures (1963) is basically a travesty on Hollywood B movies and tribute to actress Maria Montez.

Back to Tina

Tina married actor and film director Christian Marquand in 1963, at the age of 17.

She made her debut as Tina Marquand in Joseph Losey‘s 1966 movie Modesty Blaise. She worked in Italian cinema with, among others, Alberto Sordi (Scusi, lei è favorevole o contrario?, 1966), Tinto Brass (L’urlo, 1968 and Salon Kitty, 1975), Mauro Bolognini (Fatti di gente perbene, 1974), Francesco Rosi (Cadaveri eccellenti, 1975), and Federico Fellini (Fellini’s Casanova, 1976).

In 2000 she retired from film work and died in France at age 60.

PS: Tina Aumont was brought to my attention via a Dutch blog. Moon in the Gutter was there[2] before me. Here[3] is a Tina Aumont photo taken by Frédéric Pardo from the site dedicated to French counterculture of the fashionable variety (as contrasted to the political variety). I discover Philippe Bone.

RIP Bill Landis (1959 – 2008)

Via Tim Lucas comes the news that Bill Landis is dead.

Bill Landis (1959 – 2008) created the Xeroxed fanzine Sleazoid Express in 1980. It featured reviews of the exploitation films playing New York City’s Times Square’s 42nd Street grindhouse and reports on the local scene. The later issues also featured reviews from acclaimed Jimmy McDonough.

Sleazoid Express (1980-1983, and later editions) was the house journal of the grindhouse movie scene in New York circa 1964-1984. Edited by Bill Landis, a projectionist and devotee of the crime-ridden sleaze houses, the magazine not only captured the genre affections but the whole Times Square milieu of drugs, violence and prostitution. Typical films shown in the movie houses, which centred around the city’s 42nd Street, included Bamboo House of Dolls, Blood Sucking Freaks, The Corpse Grinders, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Miss Nymphet’s Zap-In and The Ultimate Degenerate.

Far from representing a marginal off-shoot of the movie business, the grindhouse films would be later plundered for ideas and imagery by mainstream cinema, while the trash ethic and aesthetic of the magazine itself would be effortlessly copied by many others.

Bill Landis co-wrote with his wife for 22 years Michelle Clifford, who is the principal author of Metasex.

Footnote: Bill Landis was fond of Alice Arno and Karin Schubert

RIP Ray Dennis Steckler (1938 – 2009)

RIP Ray Dennis Steckler, iconic director of Incredibly Strange Films.

Incredibly Strange Films by you.

Incredibly Strange Films (1986) – V. Vale , Andrea Juno [] [FR] [DE] [UK]


If Al Adamson was the poor man’s Roger Corman, then Ray Dennis Steckler was the poor man’s Al Adamson.

Ray Dennis Steckler (January 25, 1938January 7, 2009) was an American film director, born in Pennsylvania.

When he was reportedly fired for almost knocking an A-frame onto Alfred Hitchcock, Steckler turned to the then fledgling B-movie circuit. Steckler made his directorial debut in the Hall vehicle Wild Guitar and co-starred under his on-screen name Cash Flagg.

Kogar & Rat Fink & Boo Boo

In 1963 he co-produced his first solo film, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?, co-starring his then-wife, Carolyn Brandt. Reportedly filmed for a budget of $38,000, the film was photographed by then newcomers László Kovács and Vilmos Zsigmond, a fact that both men acknowledged as their first big break.

Steckler’s next film was his answer to Psycho, entitled The Thrill Killers, released in 1964.

Steckler continued to produce a number of low-budget but fanciful films which soon attained cult status, including Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (a spoof of Batman) and Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters (an homage to the East Side Kids films). By the late 1960s, he also directed the video for Jefferson Airplane‘s “White Rabbit.”

With the decline of drive-in horror films of the nature Steckler was producing in the 1960s, and following his divorce from Brandt, Steckler dabbled with producing porn films during the 1970s and 1980s, and catering to the home video market.

Bettie Page (1923 – 2008)

Bettie Page, Bizarre nr. 14

If your interest goes just a little bit beyond vanilla sex, you’ve probably come across Bettie Page.

Bettie Page (April 22, 1923December 11, 2008) was an American model who became famous in the 1950s for her fetish modeling and pin-up photos, taken by Irving Klaw.


American 2000s documentary


Bettie’s Punishment

The whole of her is Icon of Erotic Art #38.

On the nature of guilty pleasures

Related: Mondo Cane (1962)Mondo BizarroItalian cinemaGualtiero Jacopetti

Mondo Cane (1962) – Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco E. Prosperi

Having recently received comments by Lichanos and o. h. about the validity of guilty pleasure as a separate cultural category I show the film above, Mondo Cane (1962), by Gualtiero Jacopetti and his colleague whose name escapes me at this time.

I always feel tempted instead of arguing to cite a collection of words and concepts which will tautologically exlain the concept. I will not resist the temptation now. Here they come:

bad tastecampkitsch“low culture”trashtaboo

I continue:

See also: “body” genres”bread and circuses“low” artlowbrow (American art movement)working class cultureculturefolk culturepopular culture

Related by connotation: artificialbad tastebasic instinctcampcheapcommercialconventionalcommonderivativeentertainingephemeraexploitationformulaiclow budgetluridmassordinarypoppopularproletariatprurientsensationalismscatologyshockingstereotypetrash under-the-counterundergroundvulgar

Contrast: “high” culture

See also: low modernism

In film: B-moviesexploitation filmsgrindhouse filmsparacinematelevisionvideo nastiesviolent films

In print: comicsescapist fictiondime novelsgenre fictionmen’s magazinesparaliteraturepopular fictionpulp fictionyellow journalism

In music: discohousemusic hallpopular musicpop music

In the visual realm: advertisingapplied artscaricaturedecorative artsdesign graffitikitsch

In performing arts: burlesquecircuspeepshowstripteasevaudeville

By genre: adventure“body” genrescarnivalcomedyhorrormelodramapornographyromance

Perhaps one day I will put all of the above words in the right order, divide them into chapters, add adjectives, conjunctions, phrases and clauses and page numbers.

Furthermore, guilty pleasures are marketing categories (see the Foute CD products in the Dutch-speaking region), and marketing categories are the strongest indication of genre identity.

Notice that all links go to pages, a project which was from the outset a “guilty pleasure” in nature and purpose.

Introducing Undead Film Critic

Introducing Undead Film Critic.

Country Doc via Undead Film Critic

What is Country Doc?

From its first post[1] to its latest[2], exploitation film posters, big breasts and low culture mouthwatering visuals galore. Similar blogs include Hugo Strikes Back, PCL Linkdump, Groovy Age of Horror and Bxzzines.


“C’est Beau la Bourgeoisie”

And while we’re at it, Georgy sent us this guiltiest of pleasure: Discobitch‘s “C’est Beau la Bourgeoisie” [3]. C’est pour la petty bourgeoisie.

The song is in the vein of “Perfect” by Princess Superstar and “Yeah Yeah” by Bodyrox (who started the “rockist” use of synths in dance tracks).