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With: Silvana Venturelli, Frank Wolff, Erika Remberg, Paolo Turco
Written by: Michael DeForrest, based on a story by Michael DeForrest, Radley Metzger
Directed by: Radley Metzger
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 88
Date: 10/13/1970

The Lickerish Quartet (1970)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In Radley Metzger's The Lickerish Quartet, three people watch a porn movie (projected on film). Then they go out and accidentally meet a girl who looks like one of the actresses in the movie. They invite her home, and she proceeds to sleep with each one of them over the course of the next day or so. It's basically the loosest of plotlines upon which any porn movie would be happy to hang its sex scenes. But Metzger (Score, Camille 2000) had something better in mind, and he makes The Lickerish Quartet into something truly interesting and satisfying, as well as titillating.

The characters are not named. There's a man (Frank Wolff), the owner of the grand castle in which this trio lives. There's his wife (Erika Remberg), who may or may not have been a prostitute "rescued" by the man. And there's her grown son (Paolo Turco), a petulant soul. Silvana Venturelli plays the gorgeous "visitor" who may also have appeared in the porn movie. The family discovers her working at a carnival as a motorcycle stunt rider (which is just as sexy as being a porn star, frankly, especially given her leather riding suit).

Metzger has a great deal of fun with the castle setting, and its various rooms, all with their different moods. The first sex scene, between the man and the female visitor, takes place in a library, with large dictionary pages laid out like tile on the floor. These pages, of course, have all the dirty words visible. The visitor seduces the son outdoors, and then seduces the wife in the living room, while the movie projector is running. More scholarly viewers than myself can decide what each of these episodes means.

Metzger's editing also adds a strange mood, jumping randomly to the sex act during the foreplay, or showing sexy drawings, or the words on the floor. He is very much aware that the audience is watching, and he makes watching into one of the big themes in his film. At various points in the story, the characters watch the porn film again and again, the content of which seems to change around. (It changes around further at the end.) As voyeurs, we're watching sex, but we're also watching a film, and Metzger keeps reminding us of this. Watching a film requires so much of our memory; we must remember what came before to make sense of what's happening now, but how much can we really trust our memory, especially when Metzger keeps jumping outside of time, suggesting images, and creating false histories?

All of this makes for a fascinating viewing experience, a treat for both the mind and the body. Cult Epics has released the film on a new high-quality DVD as well as a Blu-Ray. Extras include a "making-of featurette," an audio commentary track with Metzger, the "cooler" versions of the sex scenes, a featurette on the dubbing, and trailers.

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