October 16, 2009

Naughty Netflix: Spetters

(Think that you can't rent movies at Netflix that contain legitimately explicit sexuality? Think again, my frustrated friend! In this special essay series, I look at a total of thirty mainstream films made over the last forty years, all of which contain scenes of such actual graphic sex acts as fellatio and penetration, reviewing them not in only in terms of the movie's quality itself but also the amount of sex it portrays, and whether this sex is any fun or not to actually watch. For more about how these movies were chosen, as well as the full list of all thirty titles, you can click here; and don't forget, these reviews are also mixed into the master list of all movies reviewed here, over at CCLaP's main movie page.)


Today's movie: Spetters, 1980 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

The story in a nutshell: One of the first big hits by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Starship Troopers, Total Recall and a lot more), as well as the movie that convinced him to leave Denmark for Hollywood in the first place (because of the controversial reaction it received in his native country), Spetters is basically a combination of Porky's and Breaking Away from the same time period: It's the story of three young horny male friends living in the blue-collar outskirts of Rotterdam, using their mutual love of motocross as a way to escape the drudgery of their current existence. As such, then, the movie itself is kind of a tender coming-of-age tale, kind of a raunchy sex comedy; we basically follow the troubled ins-and-outs of all three over the course of maybe a year or so (including one member's rise to fame and then unexpected paralyzation from a motorcycle accident, and another's habit of beating up gay prostitutes until realizing that he's gay himself), along with the wacky erotic adventures they're always getting into, most of it spurred by the arrival of a slightly older, sexually adventurous vagabond owner of a fast-food trailer, who provides many of the catalysts for the characters' emotional growth.

What I thought: You know how Porky's was originally marketed as a raunchy sex-laden comedy, but then when watching it you realized that it's actually surprisingly sweet and surprisingly serious? Yeah, that's exactly how Spetters is as well; although filled with juvenile sex scenes involving plenty of T&A, in reality it's an unexpectedly moving tale about friendship, growing up, and the struggle to break out of what sometimes seems like unbreakably dreary surroundings. And speaking of which, that's an extra reason for Americans in particular to enjoy this film, for the fantastic location shooting on display, showing us a beautiful yet ugly industrial and rural side of Scandinavia that we in the US rarely get to view. (And man, don't even get me started on this movie's glorious New Wave soundtrack, which in true 1980 style will often cut straight from disco to punk and back again.) Surprisingly powerful, surprisingly relevant, it's a shame that Verhoeven stopped making little character dramas like this.

What makes it an explicit movie? Almost nothing, except for one scene featuring a very brief shot (two seconds or less) of gay oral sex. Except for this, consider the rest of the movie as the same "hard R" of many American '80s sex comedies, only with a lot more flaccid penises than you usually see in a Hollywood film.

Is the sex actually fun to watch? Well, it's funny, that's for sure; because again, just like Porky's, the sex scenes in Spetters are designed primarily to show how bad most teenage boys are at lovemaking, due to their inexperience and naive machismo. (For example, take the scene where two of the buddies are with their girlfriends in adjacent rooms of an abandoned warehouse in the middle of the night after leaving the bars, both too drunk to get erections, so convince both their girlfriends to loudly fake the sounds of sex in order to impress the other couple.) Those looking for something erotic will be unfortunately disappointed by this movie; most will find themselves laughing through the sex scenes instead of getting turned on. (Plus, for all you straight people and couples, please realize that there's a surprising amount of gay sex in Spetters as well, including a pretty intense scene of a simulated all-male gang-rape, not exactly the thing to put you and your partner "in the mood.")

Strangest piece of trivia: In '80s Dutch slang, the title of this movie has a triple meaning: not only "hunks" (good-looking beefy guys), not only "splatters" (as in the deep-frying oil of the fast-food trailer), but also a crude term for ejaculation.

Worth your time? If you're looking for a good general movie, yes; if specifically looking for something erotic, no

P.S. And no review of this movie is complete without mentioning the appearance of a very young, Dutch-speaking Rutger Hauer, playing the national motocross champion who all the rest of the characters idolize. What a jarring sight to come across when you're not expecting it.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 3:30 PM, October 16, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |