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Radley Metzger's Erotica Psychedelica (Score, The Lickerish Quartet, Camille 2000)

    Ian Jane

  • Radley Metzger's Erotica Psychedelica (Score, The Lickerish Quartet, Camille 2000)

    Released by:
    Cult Epics
    Released on: 8/30/2011

    Director: Radley Metzger

    Cast: Various

    Year: 1972/1970/1969

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    The Movies:

    Cult Epics compiles three of their fantastic Radley Metzger Blu-ray releases and bundles them together as Radley Metzger's Erotica Psychedelica, a fancy boxed set release limited to 3500 pieces - but if you already have the single disc releases, do you need this set? Read on…

    Click on any of the images throughout the review for full size Blu-ray screen caps!

    Score (1972):

    Based on the Off-Broadway play (which starred a then unknown actor named Sylvester Stallone) off the same name and adapted by writer Jerry Douglas, Radley Metzger's Score is a witty and scorching hot look at the (literally) swinging seventies. Unlike the play, that was based in a Queens apartment, the film takes place in the mythical City Of Leisure (actually a small seaside town in Croatia) where we meet a young married couple named Betsey (Lynn Lowry) and Eddie (Calvin Culver). All seems well in their life, though one morning when Eddie, a photographer, goes off to work Betsey decides to spend the morning with the neighbor, Elvira (Claire Wilbur, the only holdover from the stage version to appear in the film), unaware that she and her husband, Jack (Gerald Grant), are swingers and have their eyes on her and Eddie.

    When, during Betsey's visit, Elvira seduces the phone repairman, Mike (Carl Parker), and proceeds to have sex with him on the floor right in front of bashful Betsey, she decides not to return for dinner that night as planned. Eddie, however, arrives just in time and persuades her to join them. As the evening plays out, alcohol is ingested, marijuana is smoked and poppers are popped as inhibitions lower, characters come out of the closet, and the truth about the stability of our young married couples' relationship is exposed.

    Score is a pretty remarkable film and one of Metzger's best known pictures for a few reasons. First off is the cinematography. One of the few instances in which Metzger worked as his own cinematographer, the camerawork here ranges from simple, static shots to tripped out swirling works of painterly psycho-sexual art. Shot with an eye for detail and a great sense of color composition, little things that you might not notice such as frilly costumes or shag bedding all add up and start to make a really indelible impression. Score is a beautifully shot film that makes great use of its (mostly) indoor locations, mid-seventies decor and winds up as atmospheric as any other sex film you could care to name. On top of that it's all set to a remarkable score, highlighted by an opening song, 'Where Is The Girl,' performed by some band that Metzger found playing in a hotel that could and should have gone on to better things.

    Performance wise, all involved do an impressive job. The more naí¯ve character played by Culver and completely knowing character played by Grant are both entirely believable and in this day and age where homosexuality is far more commonplace than it was over thirty years ago when this picture was made it might be easy to see where this is all going, by the standards of the day what happens between these two actors would have been pretty strong and daring stuff. The same relationship develops between the two female leads, with Wilbur's Elvira taking the lead and bringing Lowry's beautifully innocent Betsey into her world and for her own reasons and the competition that plays out between Elvira and Jack anchors the film and its fairly simple plot.

    In the hands of a lesser cast, this picture could have failed miserably but it's hard not to be blown away by the acting here, particularly Lowry's performance. They give their characters such a believable lust and passion that it's not at all difficult to buy them in their roles - you will believe these people want to fuck, and while that may sound crass or unnecessary, it's key to the success of an erotic film.

    Rhythmically edited and written with an acerbic wit, Score is funny, charming and most importantly, very sexy. Those with an aversion to homosexuality on screen won't make it past the menu but anyone with an open enough mind to appreciate the scenarios that play out here will wind up enveloped in ninety minutes of some of the hottest and heaviest on screen sexual tension you're ever likely to see.

    The Lickerish Quartet (1970):

    Made while his career was in full swing and hot on the coattails of films like Therese And Isabelle and Camille 2000 and just shortly before he'd hit it out of the park with Score, Radley Metzger's The Lickerish Quartet stands the test of time as a work of near pornographic art. As is common with the director's films, the picture blends scenes of sophisticated erotica with a stylish and heady arthouse sensibility and the results are uniformly excellent.

    The picture begins when a smug man (Frank Wolff) and his cantankerous wife (Erika Remberg) screen a black and white stag film, much to the dismay of their moody son (Paolo Turco). The husband, however, is quite impressed with the blonde performer (Silvana Venturelli) in the film, while the wife assumes that all the women involved in sex films must be prostitutes. When the son has had enough, the three venture out of the castle they call home to a circus where they watch some daredevil motorcyclists perform. When the female rider takes off her helmet, low and behold she's a dead ringer for the blonde they just watched in the stag film, albeit with darker hair.

    The husband decides to amuse himself by convincing her to come back to their home where he intends to show her the film in question, but when they return and he fires up his projector, the film has changed and now her face which was once in plain view of the leering lens is now obscured. They convince the woman to stay the night, after all, it's late and they're in a remote location, and the next day when they all awake each member of the family engages in a sexual encounter with her before everything unravels as the film brings itself to a close.

    A twisting and turning game of fantasy becoming reality, The Lickerish Quartet contains no shortage of skin on skin but is shot with a considerably more conservative lens than the films that would soon come from Radley Metzger (and of course his nom de porn, Henry Paris). This doesn't detract from their staying power, as thankfully the convincing performances from all four of the central characters ensure that they're plenty hot, but it does allow for some creative camerawork (those familiar with Japanese pink films will see familiar tricks employed here in order to keep the film out of X-rated territory). This really is a very pretty looking film though and Metzger obviously put a lot of care not only into shooting the love scenes but in the entire framing of the picture, from the amazing locations he secured for the shoot right down to the early scenes in the circus.

    Shot without the intent to use live sound (more on that in the extras), Wolff and Remberg do their own dubbing here but Turco And Venturelli do not - none of this really hurts the film though, and it sort of actually works alongside the film's themes of fantasy and reality. The whole things adds up to a surprisingly trippy and at times almost surreal viewing experience, and an all together different sort of sex film than most viewers will be familiar with. Stelvio Cipriani's excellent score adds an additional layer of 'cool' to an already impressive film.

    Metzger would make more involving pictures in the years to come, and this one is a little slow to start and frequently makes its lead characters a little unlikeable, but once the curvy wrench that is Venturelli is thrown into the works, the story really starts to grab you the film winds up a treat for the brain as well as for the eyes as art truly begins to imitate life - or is it the other way around?

    Camille 2000 (1969):

    Radley Metzger's 1969 adaptation of Alexandre Dumas Fils' novel Lady of the Camellias, alternately known as Forbidden Love is a lush, Technicolor fever dream of sex and drugs set some time in the Rome of the future where we meet a man named Armand (Nino Castelnuovo) who lives under the domineering control of his wealthy father. Armand likes the ladies, and more or less has his pick - he's a handsome guy with a fat bank account and this makes him attractive to a lot of people. His friend Gastion (Roberto Bisacco), warns him against the beautiful Marguerite (Daniele Gaubert), a woman he meets who has a penchant for sleeping around and for drug use, but Armand will have none of Gastion's warnings, he knows what he wants and he wants Marguerite, even if Olympe (Silvana Venturelli) would be more than happy to take her place.

    As luck would have it, the feeling is mutual and the gorgeous Marguerite soon falls for Armand pretty hard, though it takes her a few tries to get there and she is initially hesitant to give up her partying lifestyle for one man. Things seem to be looking up for the couple until the doomed lovers eventually realize that their obsessions and selfishness is catching up with them.

    Very deliberate in its pacing (you could call it slow and while there's a reason for it, you'd be right), Camille 2000 does build to a satisfyingly dark and somehow inevitable conclusion, ending its story the only way it can. If the tale is a bit on the predictable side, it's never been told with the amount of style and with such incredible cinematography as it has in this version. Metzger's films have long had a completely justified reputation as being some of the finest looking adult films of all time and when you watch Camille 2000 it's easy to see how he earned that reputation. Each shot is so carefully constructed not only in terms of framing but also in terms of set design and color composition that the whole thing takes on an almost surrealist painterly vibe that goes a long way towards making it easy to overlook the fact that it really does move at a snail's pace. Though the film is really full of visual highlights, you've got to admire Metzger's attention to detail particularly in the BDSM party scene where fetishistic Paco Rabanne style mirrored sex outfits and gilded cages are the order of the day. Enrico Sabbatini's design work and a score from Piero Piccioni don't hurt things at all either, both fit the film and the story perfectly.

    Also aiding in the audience's ability to overlook the films' structural shortcomings is the presence of the stunningly beautiful Daniele Gaubert, a popular actress in French cinema in the late sixties and early seventies who died all too young in 1987 at the age of 44. Here's she's visually perfect, though a very flawed character, as entrancing as she is mysterious and completely charming, so much so that we have no problem whatsoever understanding why Armand would pursue her the way that he does in the film. While the film is very much a time capsule of the late sixties era in which it was made, Gaubert's natural beauty is timeless and she is quite literally mesmerizing in this film. The rest of the cast are also quite good, with Nino Castelnuovo (who popped up in Lucio Fulci's Spaghetti Western Massacre Time!) well cast as the playboy and Silvana Venturelli (who would also work with Metzger on The Lickerish Quartet) also very impressive in her supporting role.

    A note about the three versions of the movies included in this set:

    Score is presented in its unrated form running eighty five minutes. Available separately from Cult Epics is the uncensored version which is roughly seven minutes longer and contains considerably more graphic sex scenes, particularly when it comes to those that take place between the male actors. The cut of Camille 2000 included in this set is one hundred and seventeen minutes, a fair bit shorter than the extended version available from Cult Epics as a single disc release and missing some of the racier footage contained in that longer cut. The cut of The Lickerish Quarter in this set is identical to the single disc release and has the same eighty-eight minute running time.


    Cult Epics presents all three films in this set on Blu-ray in AVC encoded widescreen 1080p high definition transfers that are generally pretty strong - Score in 1.78.1, The Lickerish Quartet in 1.85.1 and Camille 2000 in 2.35.1, just as they should be. Those with an aversion to grain or minor print damage might be put off by the specks that appear throughout but there's a very strong increase in both clarity and detail over previous releases of the films and the image is definitely cleaner looking than it has been in the past as well. Color reproduction is great and skin tones look nice and natural as well. Black levels aren't reference quality but they fare quite well and sharpness and contrast are set properly. There aren't any problems with noise reduction, heavy edge enhancement or compression artifacts and generally this is a pretty strong, film like transfer.

    The sole audio option on each disc is a standard definition Dolby Digital Mono mix, no lossless option is provided. That complaint aside, the audio sounds fine here. The music used throughout the film sounds nice and punchy without coming across as too loud in the mix, and while there are occasional instances where you might notice some mild distortion, if you're not listening for it you probably won't notice and it's never enough to really be much of a bother. Dialogue is always easy to understand, the levels are well balanced, and it all sounds fine for what it is. No subtitles or alternate language options are provided.

    The best extra on the Score disc is a commentary track courtesy of director Radley Metzger moderated by film historian Michael Bowen. Metzger doesn't watch his films so don't expect a scene specific talk here, instead it plays off more like an audio interview but that doesn't take away from the track's value at all. Bowen is smart enough to keep the track moving at a good pace and Metzger proves to be a witty and articulate subject as he talks about casting the film (and lets loose some interesting information about alternate choices), shooting the film on location in Europe, the various sexual themes that the picture deals with, the different cuts of the film that exist, how it was received when it originally played, and quite a bit more. There are periodic gaps of silence here and there but for the most part, this is quite an interesting and enjoyable listen.

    Bowen also narrates On The Set Of Score, which is over twenty minutes of footage shot on the set while the film was being made. There's some interesting bits here as we get a rare chance to see Metzger directing his cast and the various actors and actresses preparing for their roles, while Bowen's narration provides a valuable context for the material and makes it more than just an assembly of random fly on the wall footage. Keeping Score With Lynn Lowry is a twenty minute interview with the still charming actress in which she talks about working with Metzger and her fellow cast members on this picture. If you've seen the movie and ever wondered how she got that bump on her lip you'll notice in on scene, she explains that here in addition to sharing some interesting stories about working with Claire Wilbur and how they got along, how she feels about the picture then and now, and how she got along with her male co-stars.

    Rounding out the extras on this disc are trailers for Score, The Lickerish Quartet and Camille 2000 (all in high definition), menus and chapter stops. The disc comes inside a standard Blu-ray keep case that houses an insert for other Cult Epics releases and which in turn fits inside a classy looking slipcase.

    The extras for Lickerish Quartet once again kick off with a commentary track courtesy of director Radley Metzger moderated by film historian Michael Bowen, who does a fine job of keeping the director on track as he tells us about the making of this picture and working with the various cast and crew members on the film. Metzger educates us on the complications that are involved in shooting love scenes, securing locations, distribution issues, the dubbing in the film, and scripting ideas. It's a fairly involved talk with Metzger in good spirits throughout.

    Cult Epics has also included an eleven minute featurette on the disc entitled Mind Games which features narrator Rick Ulfik discussing the picture's history overtop of a series of stills and some footage shot silently on set during the production. Alternate softer versions of the black and white love scenes are included as is a surprisingly interesting featurette that compares the on-set dialogue with the dubbed dialogue seen in the final version of the film. The trailer for the feature is included as are trailers for the previously released Score and the soon to be released Camille 2000. Animated menus and chapter stops are of course included on the disc and inside the keepcase is an insert advertising other Cult Epics erotica titles.

    The best extra on this disc is a commentary track courtesy of director Radley Metzger moderated by film historian Michael Bowen. Although this commentary does feature some periodic gaps of silence now and again, the good definitely outweighs the bad as they cover quite a bit of ground. Metzger talks quite openly about the cast and crew that he worked with, discussing how the various actors were chosen, why the different locations seen in the film were used and how production design played such a big part in making this film the way it is.

    Additionally, there's a half hour long behind the scenes featurette entitled On The Set Of Camille 2000 that shows Metzger at work directing the film and which gives us a look at a few key scenes as they were being shot. Rounding out the extras are an alternate version of the Cube Love Scene, an extended version of the strip tease scene entitled Sylvana's Bare Strip Tease, a trailer for the feature, trailer for a few other Cult Epics releases, animated menus and chapter selection.

    Exclusive to this boxed set release are two additions, the first of which is an excellent companion CD that you'll find tucked away inside the Camille 2000 case. On this disc you'll find two tracks from Score, twenty-two tracks for Camille 2000 composed by Piero Piccioni and five tracks for The Lickerish Quartet composed by Stelvio Cipriani. There's roughly eighty minutes of music here and its inclusion in this set is quite welcome. The second exclusive to this boxed set is a full color insert booklet called Radley Metzger's Cinema Of Delight that contains a written introduction from the director himself as well as an essay on the three films from Mondo Digital's Nathanial Thompson, a biography for Metzger, a filmography for Metzger (excluding his Henry Paris films), and some reproductions of some vintage promotional materials. It's a very classy addition to the set.

    The Final Word:

    If you've already got the single disc releases, you're going to have to decide how much the bonus CD and booklet mean to you as the transfers and extras are otherwise the same. With that said, if you don't already have those single disc releases and don't mind having the abbreviated versions on your shelf, it's hard not to recommend this set. The three movies stand the test of time as superb examples of mature adult films and are full of wit, class, charm and sex appeal.

    • affrosponge88
      Junior Member
      affrosponge88 commented
      Editing a comment
      You aint the only one.
      Junior Member
      Last edited by affrosponge88; 05-12-2017, 04:18 PM. Reason: Accidentally posted a reply, instead of a general comment.

    • affrosponge88
      Junior Member
      affrosponge88 commented
      Editing a comment
      Can anyone inform me as to whether the Arrow R2 release of The Lickerish Quartet is the same cut or not? Just watched this last night for the first time and loved it. Would love to see a more hardcore cut (if one exists).

    • Lalala76
      Senior Member
      Lalala76 commented
      Editing a comment
      There isn't a hardcore cut of Lickerish Quartet. I own the Arrow release. I'm almost sure its the same as all the other versions out there.
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