The international cinema community was saddened to learn late last month of the sudden death of controversial British filmmaker Ken Russell. Director of such bold cine-sexual experiments as Whore, The Devils, Salome’s Last Dance, and Women in Love, Russell was notoriously obsessed with sexuality and the Roman Catholic church. Passing away at the age of 84, Russell left a number of projects unfinished, one of which was a remake of producer Bill Osco’s 1976 X-rated musical comedy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland… in 3D! The remake was in the final scripting stages and was a collaborative effort by Osco and Russell, but will now go into production as a tribute to the last filmmaker. The original film cost just $500,000 to produce, but ended up raking in more than $100 million in box office sales. With no word on the proposed budget for the 3D remake, we can only assume it would cost substantially more. Russell’s cinematic flamboyance and Osco’s clout as the producer of one of the premiere hits of porn’s Golden Age, make for a uniquely intriguing project and one that will surely be as controversial, exuberant, and salacious as Russell’s memory demands.
Years ago, back when VHS still reigned supreme, I manned the counter and cleaned the shelves of a video rental store. Wandering into the adult section, as I was wont to do on a daily basis, I stumbled upon an erotic film from Hong Kong entitled Sex & Zen II. Although I was never game enough it myself, the title stuck with me for years. Imagine my surprise then, when a 3D sequel to what I thought was an obscure Oriental skin flick became the highest grossing Category III (18 years and over) film in Hong Kong’s history, in addition to beating the tied record held by Avatar and Titanic for highest opening gross, raking in HK$2.79 million over James Cameron’s dual takes of HK$2.5.
August 12th finally saw the US release of 3D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy and, although it’s only playing in one theater in the entire state of California – ironically not even in “The Entertainment Capital of the World”, Hollywood – the latest installment of the Sex & Zen series is attracting movie goers willing to shed their inhibitions, pay a premium price for 3D glasses, and enjoy a rather corny and cliche adaptation of the ancient Chinese equivalent of the Karma Sutra, The Carnal Prayer Mat.
What about American productions, though? When will we see a theatrical release of an erotic film, either softcore or hardcore, shot in three dimensions on our own shores? Until that eventually, inevitably comes to pass we’ll have to content ourselves with Gianna Michaels nude parasailing in the 2010 monster flick, Piranha 3D.