Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pervirella (1997)

Directed by Alex Chandon
Starring Emily Booth, Sexton Ming, Eileen Daly
Rated R

"Duddy, duddy...where are you, duddy?"

Movies shouldn't require an instruction manual, but Pervirella could certainly use one. Or at least a map. Perhaps even a pie chart. To its creators, it was a natural and organic extension of their artistic pursuits - film, music, performance art, porn, folk-art, and interior design, all mooshed together in a hallucinatory stew of fizzy punk-psychedelia. To the outside world, it is pure madness, a clanging slosh of jarring color and sound that makes you so dizzy that you may very well end up puking on your shoes before it's over. So why bother? Same reason that you bother with any artistic endeavor, of course: for the girls. In this case, Miss Emily Booth. A dozen years down the line, Booth is a well-known TV presenter in merry olde, a relentlessly bouncy Brit VJ who specializes in pop-horror journalism and occasionally dabbles in acting and/or disco. But at this point in her career, she was just the-foxiest-thing-anybody-has-ever-seen. The pleasure/pain axis is so neatly balanced here that it almost seems diabolical: you endure10 minutes of incoherent accents, sea-sick camera angles, gross-out gore effects, and eye-rolling attempts at saucy humor, you get thirty seconds of Booth in a pink wig, a pink thong, and nothing else, a gorgeous doe-eyed nymphette staring longingly into the camera , chirping "Duddy, look! A bunny rabbit!" and chasing merrily after it. And then more horrible weirdness. And then Booth taking a bath. You get the drift.

Of course, you could just fast-forward through it, but then you'd be missing the whole point. Not all journeys are joyrides. Some of them hurt. But we all learn something in the end from them, don't we?

I should mention, before we get into the film, who some of the folks involved in this pandemonium are. It might help.

"Pervirella was more than a film. It was a lifestyle."
- Alex Chandon

Josh Collins, producer, co-director, co-writer Collins owned a garage-rock/rockabilly/psychedelic club/hangout in London called, at various points, Gorilla Go Go (everyone dressed up like gorillas), Frat Shack, and the Perv Parlor. One of the club's many eccentricities was its elaborate interior design, which would change frequently to support the mood and whims of the owner and the patrons. Many of Pervirella's head-spinning sets, such as the underwater fuck-scene, were inspired by the set-dressing at the Perv Parlor. By the way, Chandon directed an even less coherent ode to the club, more directly titled Perv Parlor, in 1995. During the time Pervirella was filmed, Collins lived in a Victorian mansion - god knows how - and many of the scenes in the film were shot there. Apparently Collins has since disappeared to either Hawaii or Australia to surf full-time.

Alex Chandon, director, co-writer
Chandon was at the forefront of the British underground horror movement in the 90's. He is well-known for his frequent collaborations with UK black metal darlings Cradle of Filth. Chandon shot several of their videos, and featured COF frontman Dani Filth in his first major horror feature, Cradle of Fear (2001), which also featured Pervirella alumni Emily Booth, Eileen Daly, and Rebecca Eden. He continues to operate on the cutting edge of digital-video and nu-horror, but has mentioned in interviews that Pervirella was largely Collins' vision.

Sexton Ming, actor
Billy Childish, musician
Ming is a poet, artist, and musician, a founding member of the Stuckist Art Group of the late 90's, and the Medway Poets in the late 70's, a group that also spawned the UK's most prolific garage-rock Jesus, Billy Childish. Childish and Ming have been frequent collaborators over the decades, although I think they're currently on the outs with one another. Both were frequent performers at the Frat Shack. Childish and his long-running band Thee Headcoats perform "Beach Bums Must Die", a cut from their Beached Earls album, in Pervirella. Ming plays a sinister version of himself in the film, as well as Queen Victoria.

Above: Ming, lady, guy, Childish, guy. Medway Poets, 1987.

Emily Booth, actress
Eileen Daly, actress

Booth was not an actress, or even an actress-wannabe, when she made Pervirella. She was the younger sister of one of Collins' friends. Collins told her brother Simon that he was making a film that required a lead actress with no inhibitions. Simon suggested Emily, and the rest is history. Booth's ample charms in Pervirella did not go unnoticed, and she's been a near-constant presence on UKTV ever since. She does act on occasion as well, often in films with the lovely Eileen Daly. The undisputed queen of underground Brit horror, Daly got her start doing softcore in the mid 1980's. She still hovers around the edges of Brit-porn, but is most well known for her starring role in sexy vampire flick Razor Blade Smile (1998). Booth and Daly became friends on the set of Pervirella. They appeared together in several films, including Witchcraft X (1998) and Cradle of Fear, and briefly formed a discoporn band, Jezebell. They recorded one song together, Persuasion, and performed in on a TV show called Eurotrash before, sadly, breaking up.

So, that's who is responsible. And here's what they did.

There's a aging queen - a real one, not a transvestite, although the role actually is played by a man in drag - who rules a kingdom called Condon. Her name is Queen Victoria (Sexton Ming), and she is quite evil. She has burned all the history books and all the maps, so no one in Condon knows that there is, or ever was, an outside world. This era in Condon's time is called the Monarchy of Terror, for obvious reasons. She's dying, as old people ultimately do. This is fairly evident, since her face is flaking off like old paint.

Victoria gets the curator (Max Decharne) of the Museum of Curiosities to build some infernal machine made of trumpets and bladders that will keep her alive indefinitely. That's not good enough for her, however, so she dispatches adventurer/over-the-hill James Bond wannabe Amicus Reilly (David Warbeck, who, sadly, died of cancer shortly after filming) to fetch her the Elixir of Life. He has to go over a waterfall in a barrel with a hot blonde to get it, but he does procure the liquid for her. However, when he demands his fee, she sics her guards on him, and he flees.

Meanwhile, there's a deviant underworld at work in Condon, a debauched cabal of sin-worshippers called the Cult of Perv. The queen sends out Professor Pump (Ron Drand) to stab the Pervert Queen, Demon Nanny (Rebecca Eden) in the heart. However, he just bones her instead. I don't blame him. She was pretty hot.

Roll credits.

The professor gets Demon Nanny pregnant. She has a baby and names it Pervirella And then, because she was poisoned by a guard (Ming, in disguise, sorta), she dies, making the guard the new leader of the perverts. Pump, who was chained to a wall this whole time, manages to break free, knocks him out, steals the baby, and gets the fuck out of there. He runs to the Museum of Curiosities, where the Curator helps him out.

Meanwhile, the queen keeps having monster babies and banishing them to the dungeon. There's a 50% chance that this part of the film will make you vomit, so please use caution. She wants no heirs to her throne unless they come out perfectly, and so far, all her babies are grotesque, goo-spewing mutants. Nor does she want any heirs to the Perv Throne running around either, so she sends her evil henchman/nephew Sexton Ming to make sure that doesn't happen. She, of course, knows nothing of his secret identity, although all you have to do is look at him to see that he's not right.

Ming finds out that Baby Pervirella is at the museum and sneaks in, right when the Curator has put her in some kind of spectrogram-y incubator to check her electrical readings, or something. Down in Amazonia, Queen of the Amazons, Cu-Rare (Eileen Daly) looks in her magic birdbath and sees that Pervirella has strange and wonderful powers, and may be the key to saving the world from foul demons like Ming and he Queen.

Back in the museum, sparks fly and the room fills up with pink smoke. The baby starts growing at an alarming rate. Out of the murk comes the full-grown Pervirella, a pink-haired goddess of lust in a shimmery thong and nothing else.

She immediately jumps on top of the Curator's assistant Monty (The Shend) and starts viciously humping him. The Curator figures out that the amulet she had around her neck when Pump arrived with her is the key to keeping her in control. Without it, she is an insatiable demon of lust. With it, though, she's a sweetheart.

Cu-Rare and her hot-chick mystic friends spout - I dunno, are they called pistals? - from the top of their heads, which grant them some sort of power of telekinesis. They're half-plant and half-human, just as Pervirella is half-human and half-Perv.

They use their vibrating plant-thingies to cause a vase in the museum to break. Inside it, the Curator and Pump find a map to the outside world. They also hear Cu-Rare tell them to travel to the land of Amazonia to find a cure for Pervirella. And also to look out for Sexton Ming, that rat bastard.

Pump and his pals need to ask permission from the queen to leave Condon, so they zip over to the royal palace in their steam-ship (this effect is achieved by pulling a model car on a string over a cardboard skyline) and ask her. She initially refuses, but then gives birth to another one of her monster babies. This one she'd like to keep, but it appears to be sick. She has the Curator look at it, and he tells her it's suffering from an addiction to the Life Elixir, and that the only cure is to get more. So, he'll pick some up on the way back from Amazonia, if she lets them go. The queen tells the Curator he'll have to stay back to keep her company, but everybody else can go. Sexton Ming, naturally, volunteers to go with them. He packs up a hatbox full of "jelly treats" (eyeballs) and his trusted girl-servant Ingrid Thorne (Tara Hamilton), and away they all go. The queen, being the devious type, whispers an order to Ming to kill the others as soon as they get the Elixir.

The ship bumbles along, but one night, a horny, half-blind Ingrid goes looking for Monty and ends up sexually assaulting Pump instead. Meanwhile, Ming is wandering around the ship with a giant metal phallus, hoping to jab it into Pervirella. Perv's sleeping innocently with Monty, however, until Pump rips off her amulet accidentally during the scuffle with Ingrid. I know, this sounds like a particularly painful Benny Hill bit. You've nailed it.

Engorged with lust, Pervirella nearly sexes Monty to death before Pump snaps the necklace back on. Meanwhile, Ingrid chases after a panicked Ming, who accidentally sets off a cannon, blowing a hole in the side of the ship. They end up crash landing in "The Wastelands of Africa". We know this because two topless girls painted gold point to it on their globe.

Africa (AKA the beach) looks ripe for exploration, so everyone puts on their safari hats and go exploring while Ming's dwarf mechanic/henchman Hoffman (Lenny Fowler) fixes the hole in the ship.

Pervirella spots a bunny rabbit and goes chasing after it, but then gets sucked down into some quicksand. When Pump pulls her out, he also pulls up Erasmus Cahn (Benedict Martin), who's been stuck in the sand for 14 years. To thank them, he takes them to his Land of White Gold in Asia. They sail to the Golden City, which is now being run by Amicus Reilly.

He puts on a lavish banquet for his guests, which includes a psychedelic sitar band and topless go-go dancing Asian women. Pump asks Amicus if he can help them find Amazonia, but he is much more interested in having sex with Pervirella.

Meanwhile, Ming's trying to steal some gold cups. Amicus catches him and demands him to stop. Ming orders his robot guards (when did he get those?) to seize Amicus. Amicus orders his Ninjas to seize Ming. A huge battle ensues. In the chaos, Pervirella loses her amulet, and ends up fucking Ming's dwarf Hoffman so hard his head explodes and sprays dwarf-jelly everywhere.

Amicus's men win the day. Ming makes it easy on Amicus and just ties himself up. Pump wonders how they'll ever get to Amazonia now that all the henchmen that ran the ship are now dead. Luckily, Amicus has a magic carpet they can ride. He tells them to just fly it south, beyond the land of Oz, and they'll make it there.

The carpet's pretty cool. It's got a monster face. While they're flying over Australasia, Ming drops a gold statue he stole, and it hits a Cannib-Aboriginal in the head and kills him, which causes the tribe to go berserk and stab the carpet until it dies.

Our group of hapless adventurers are chased by the savage headhunting tribe, and escape seems impossible. Then Pump gets this crazy idea for everyone to take their clothes off. They do (he makes Pervirella put hers back on), and then he strings them together to trip the cannibals up. The headhunters take the clothes instead, and put them on. Pervirella takes off her amulet and fucks them to death to get everybody's clothes back. And then they hack off their genitals to use as waterwings so they can swim to Amazonia when they make it to the beach.

When they finally make it to the water, they realize that Pervirella's missing. Pump hears some music and climbs over a hill to find his daughter dancing with a bunch of dreadlocked surfer-dudes. Turns out they've got a submarine, and they'd be happy to loan it to them, if they have something to offer them in return. And then they mention how they've got hundreds of bottles of beer lying around a relic from a past civilization, and they have no idea what to do with them. When they were leaving the Gold City, Amicus gave Pervirella a lucky charm - a dolphin-shaped bottle opener. She uses it to crack open a bottle of the beer, thus introducing the Australians to their first drink of alcohol.

"The birth of a new culture," announces Pump. And so it is. Almost immediately, the beach is filled with girls and booze and a garage rock band (Thee Headcoats) who perform a tune.

After the party's over, the now-soused Australasians hand Pump the keys to the sub (it's a conch shell on a string, pulled through a fishtank) and sends them on their way. They spend a good amount of time staring blankly at the ocean (AKA somebody's tank full of guppies).

The queen gives Ming a call to see what's up. At this point, some of her body parts have begun to fall off. Ming tells her he might just take the Elixir and go to America to get rich and soak up the sun. The queen offers to make him leader of Condon's army if he comes back. He agrees. Then he takes a bath in eyeballs.

Pervirella, meanwhile, dreams that she's a mermaid and that Monty is King Neptune. They make savage, fishy love together. This effect is achieved by having Miss Booth crawl around naked in tinfoil.

The crew finally make it to Amazonia. Pervirella decides to take a topless dip in the lake, but then a giant masturbating one-eyed monster shows up and chases them around. Luckily, it quickly falls into a trap and is stabbed to death by a bunch of Amazon warrior chicks.

So it turns out that Pervirella is somehow the key to saving the world. Who knows how, at this point? Cu-Rare dresses Pervirella up in a fuzzy pink bikini and explains all this to her as she shows her around Amazonia. She tells her that she's in luck, because she's here on Rutting Day, when all the males fill the women with semen. "What about the rest of the time?" The inquisitive Pervirella asks. "The rest of the time, we do this," Cu-Rare says, and then starts making out with her lusty new friend.

Pump agrees to let his daughter taker part in the Rutting Ritual as long as they get to take some Elixir with them when they leave. Turns out it's just semen, so Cu-rare says sure, they can have all they want. "We'll be overflowing with the stuff," she laughs.And then she makes sweet lesbianic love to Pervirella. And then they get banged from behind while slurping down goblets of semen. There's also a psychedelic jam session going on at this point, with a light show and a dude playing a Hammond organ, plus dozens of naked people writhing on the floor, fucking.

While she's woozy with sex, Ming sneaks up on Pervirella, stabs Cu-Rare to death, yanks the seedling/pistal/whatever it is right out of her head, and drags Pervirella off.

Ming takes Pervirella to America, where he vrooms around on a crazy motorcycle. He goes to Vegas and has a dance party with cowgirls and Elvis while Pump and Monty chase after him.

They have a fighter plane battle, but Pump and Monty get shot down and they end up floating in the water on a hunk of the plane. Ming makes it back to Condon and gives the queen the Elixir, but Pervirella tells the old crone that her nephew is actually the king of the Pervs.

Will she believe her? Will Pump make it back from America to reunite with his daughter? And seriously, what the fuck did any of this mean?

I can't tell you that these questions will be answered to your satisfaction. I can tell you, though, that as soon as the movie is over, you will Google "Emily Booth nude" and then masturbate yourself into a stupor.'

Pervirella is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The attention to detail is startling, the sets are mind-bending, and the atmosphere is aggressively psychedelic. It may be the single druggiest movie I've ever seen. I would very much like to call it "Brilliance on a budget", but it's just too woozy and headache-making to be brilliant. Brilliantly insane? Let's go with that.

Availability: Pervirella is available on DVD.

Clip: Emily Booth discusses Pervirella:

- Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. That's no (mere) lady in that Medway Poets photo, it's Tracey Emin, the chap next to her and beside Billy Childish is Charles Thomson, the Stuckist... I think


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