Sunday, August 24, 2014

DEEP END (1970- U.K./Germany) BFI blu-ray

D: Jerzy Skolimowski.  An under-appreciated, little known art house oddity from Polanski 's script collaborator on KNIFE IN THE WATER.  John Moulder-Brown (VAMPIRE CIRCUS) is gangling, hormone-wracked Michael, a freakish puberty-impaired boy who gets a job at the local bath house where he is relentlessly teased by his slightly-older mod, mini-skirted, flame-haired co-worker, Susan (Jane Asher of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH).  Abused by the middle-aged female clientele and driven to delirious desire and jealously over Susan's two unworthy boyfriends, Michael tries to get a grip on his raging sexual urges.  One of the film's many highlights includes Michael funny, trippy and infernal trip through the sleazy Soho subculture of strip clubs, hookers and hustlers. A series of erotically bizarre, humorous and disturbing events leads to a sexually dark climax that will challenge your emotions in a revealing way, although many initial viewers were not so pleased.  If you give yourself up to Skolimowski's vision, you will have a great time wallowing in the DEEP END.
All the performances are stellar.  Also features Christopher Sanford (DIE SCREAMING MARIANNE), Dieter Eppler (SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES) and a stand out, mostly improvised ,cameo by bloated ex-sex bomb, Diana Dors.  Keep an eye out for Burt Kwouk (Cato of the original Pink Panther series) as a hot dog salesman.  The score consists of a Cat Stevens main theme and contributions by kraut-rock band CAN and Richard Wagner.
The quality of this U.K. 1.85, all-zone/region BFI restored blu-ray/DVD combo is excellent as well as the generous extras and profusely illustrated booklet.  An odd bit of trivia is revealed in the featurette is that art director Anthony Pratt is the nephew of Boris Karloff and proves it by proudly displaying an autographed photo!  The Paramount print has been shown uncut a few times on Turner Classics but has never had an official U.S. video release.  Asher was probably more famous for her long-time romance with Paul McCartney than her rather extensive film, TV and modeling career.  Moulder-Brown dialed up the freak factor in Skolimowski's more overtly comical follow-up, KING, QUEEN, KNAVE (1972) with David Niven and Gina Lollobrigida and currently not on DVD.

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