Cast: Mary Mendum (Rebecca Brooke), Carl Parker, Marilyn Roberts
Synapse Films / All Region / Unrated / 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / 5.1 DTS-HD Surround and 2.0 Mono / 91 minutes
Extras: Director’s Filmography / Liner Notes
It’s no secret that I like the sleazier side of exploitation, the retro-sleaze in particular. The old movies played by the Times Square grindhouses brings a smarmy charm to the present day DVD and Blu-ray that cannot be recaptured by the films of today. That’s not to say that they don’t have their own thing going, it’s just not the same. Henry Paris aka Radley Metzger is one of those directors from that period that really made a name for himself not only because he is a fantastic director, but because he is a fantastic director who makes porn. There aren’t many of those guys around, then or now. He has an eye for the classier side of a potentially filthy business where quality often takes a backseat to boning. Even when tackling a more fringe adult theme like S&M as he did with The Image, Metzger somehow pulls off the artsy yet shocking with a large side of erotic.
Carl is at a high class party where he runs into Claire, an old friend he hasn’t seen in three years. He also notices a beautiful young blonde woman across the room and immediately becomes enamored. Clair notices his interest and introduces him to the young woman, Anne. The three leave the party together and Carl notices that Claire is treating Anne as someone would treat a young child; telling her what to do, being very stern with her, threatening punishment, etc. But her taunts soon turn sexual and somewhat perverted the more time the trio spends together. After figuring out that the ladies share a master/slave relationship, Carl becomes more curious and voyeuristic until he finally becomes involved with the goings-on. It isn’t long before boundaries are crossed and relationships are built and destroyed as their sadistic and masochistic fantasies are realized.
This is my third Radley Metzger film –the others being The Lickerish Quartet and Score— and to this point, the most challenging as far as shocking and jarring content, both aesthetically and emotionally. The Image is a love story wrapped in very sleazy trappings. Don’t let the “love story” part turn you off, the tale is told in a very deep, twisted and erotic way. You have a hard, stone faced, incredibly sexy Claire whose only desire is to humiliate, degrade and cause exquisite pain to the subservient, sultry, cute little dish Anne who only wants to please her master. The love, respect and co-dependency between the two is apparent in their interactions but to the outside observer you don’t see that there are any boundaries. That is until Carl, a man who has inner cravings he doesn’t know exists, basically shoe-horns himself into their lives. From there cracks begin to show and the balance of power is thrown off and everyone must suffer the consequences.
Metzger is another of those talented directors, like Argento and Jodorowsky, whose films beg to be released in the highest quality way possible, in this case high definition Blu-ray courtesy of Synapse Films. Aside from being a fantastic film, the new 1080p transfer looks fucking amazing. The only flaw I could see was at around the 18 minute mark there is a weird squiggly blur that pops around the screen for a second. Apparently that is the result of the original film negative getting exposed to light and not a problem with the transfer. The new 5.1 soundtrack also sounds great with no pops or crackles, only sweet ’70s music and the moans and screams of the perverted. There are no real extras on the disk but the liner notes written by my favorite genre scholar and author of the amazing DVD Delirium series, Nathaniel Thompson (http://www.mondo-digital.com/) is a extra treat in and of itself.