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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 0. Odeon.

Confessions of s Sex maniac / Love VariationsThe latest release in Odeon's Best of British series certainly stretches the truth of that title somewhat, although this double bill is certain to appeal to the specialist demographic who have always longed to see Only Fools and Horses' Trigger stark bollock naked and shagging various dolly birds. Yes, Roger Lloyd pack's disreputable past is dredged up in 1974's Confessions of a Sex Maniac.

Not to be confused with any other softcore British Confessions films, this is the story of architect Henry, who has to design a prestigious new leisure centre in Australia. Distracted after breaking up with his girlfriend, he struggles for inspiration until a dream influenced by architecture books and girly magazines inspires him to make it in the shape of a female breast - well, I've seen worse designs! But not just any breast - this needs to be the 'perfect breast', and when a day wandering around Soho (full of long-gone sex cinemas showing films like Sex of Their Bodies) fails to inspire, he has no choice but to audition numerous models, as well as visit frustrated housewives. But is the answer right under his nose in the form of secretary Vicki Hodge? Frankly, I'd say no, but I'm no architect.

The debut feature of Killer's Moon auteur Alan Birkinshaw, Confessions of a Sex Maniac is pretty shoddy stuff. Lloyd Pack and Hodge are possibly the most wooden couple ever to appear in a British sex film - quite an achievement - and while there are a few amusing lines of dialogue, the film tends to grind along in a thoroughly humourless way, with a musical score that seems more suited to a thriller than an alleged sex comedy. The cast also includes Derek Royle, who you might recognise as a corpse in Fawlty Towers, and a fair selection of Seventies British crumpet - Ava Cadell, Monika Ringwald, Bobbie Sparrow, Cherri Gilham and other familiar faces (and boobs).

Confessions of a Sex ManiacOdeon have sensibly sweetened this pill with a full supporting feature in the form of David Grant's pioneering sex education film Love Variations. Shot in 1969, Grant goes out of his way here to placate the censors, with extensive footage of 'a family doctor' talking the viewer through assorted diagrams (at one point, he spends about five minutes teaching a maths lesson on how to calculate fertility before telling you that it's an unreliable form of birth control anyway) intercut with a couple - 'Steven' and 'Carol' - demonstrating assorted positions, naked, entwined but barely moving, against a sterile white background. Although this was aimed at the sexploitation market, it's hard to imagine anything less erotic and more worthy - a few dated attitudes aside, you could probably show this in school sex education lessons. Nevertheless, the British censor still banned the film.

Those of you used to modern sex education films like The Lover's Guide will find this tame stuff - the closest to an erection you'll see is in a cut-away anatomical diagram, and although assorted positions are shown, foreplay and masturbation are quickly glossed over by the doctor and oral sex doesn't rate a mention. Still, the awkward members of the public consulted at the end seemed impressed.

So, not exactly works of genius here, but for fans of the genre, this is still an essential purchase. The prints are a bit grainy, which actually helps somehow, and the DVD is rounded off with trailers for Odeon's other Brit Smut films, all of which you should buy.





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