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Joe Davian - Alpha Blue Archives
Has anyone gotten to view this collection of any of the films in it? The following is a lengthy review I wrote on APPOINTMENT WITH AGONY after being shocked by it when I saw it a few years ago...
APPOINTMENT WITH AGONY (1976)
An In-depth review (contains spoilers)
Throughout the 1970’s and into the early 80’s, pornographer Joe Davian was responsible for crafting numerous sleazy hardcore features loaded with sexualized violence and embracing themes of rape, prison, dominance/submission, crime and corruption. Open attitudes concerning sex films upon the arrival of the sexual revolution of the late 60’s /early 70’s coupled with a lack of a “politically correct” society (in terms of today’s standards) permitted Davian and other pornographers to create numerous sex films explicitly depicting rape, torture, and other forms of sexualized violence.
While the nature of these 1970’s sex/violence hybrids today may seem a bit “wrong” or “evil” to those with a conscience, when viewed they are sometimes laughable, often uninspiring (although at times arousing), and in general unable to affect the viewer in an real way. Many of these films simply don’t work on a dramatic level due to low budgets, poor acting quality, incompetent filmmakers, etc. and hence come off as being silly and more frequently, contrived. APPOINTMENT WITH AGONY however, Davian’s 1976 tale of the kidnap, rape and torture of a girl (Vanessa Del Rio) as recounted by her jailed captor (David Pierce), is an accomplished work and one of the decade’s most mean-spirited and vile efforts.
AGONY’s power to move (and shake) lies within several elements – most significant of which are: Davian’s solid storytelling skills and casting, Vanessa Del Rio’s rather astonishing performance, eerie music stolen from pre- Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd (an early Davian trademark), and the villains’ uncanny ability to bring their characters to life. The fact of the matter is – the actors [Al Levitsky (a.k.a. Roger Caine) from THE TAKING OF CHRISTINA (1975) and dozens of other XXX features and loops, David Pierce from INSIDE JENNIFER WELLES (1977), HER NAME WAS LISA (1979) and others] are playing scumbags. And while their performances are both well-executed and effective, one gets the feeling that these men are simply being themselves and taking advantage of the opportunity to behave how they’d really like to – essentially capitalizing on the chance to rape and ravage a woman without fear of reprisal – a get out of jail card so-to-speak…
APPOINTMENT WITH AGONY opens behind bars with David Pierce playing his guitar in his jail cell, sing about prison life. He stops and addresses the camera: “The whole thing started with this bitch…” The guitar playing resumes with a cut to a title card: “appointment with agony.” A woman is heard pleading on the soundtrack. It’s Del Rio. “Hey! Stop! You’re hurting me!” Title care change: “a film by Joe Davian.” Several cards with obvious pseudonyms follow – no recognizable names other than Del Rio and the big-dicked Red Baron from other Davian films like DOMINATION BLUE and NIGHT OF SUBMISSION.
Cut to the interior of a car racing down a dark road at night. Del Rio sits in the back seat between Pierce and a manic Al Levitsky. Red Baron rides shotgun while a female friend Jan (Crystal Sync, a.k.a. Sandy Long, etc.) drives. They’re giving Vanessa a ride home. The vibe emanating from the car is that of sickness, perversion…danger. Something bad is going to happen. “Hey! That was the road to Lander,” Del Rio cries. “You just passed the road to Lander!” Levitsky explains that they know a shortcut. “There is no shortcut!” Vanessa pleads. “Stop. Hey, you guys are getting rough…” Mmmmm. It’s only the beginning.
Vanessa is taken to the garage of a private residence. There amidst the pitchforks, hedge shears, tools, and auto parts, she is bound with rope to a dirty cot and violated by the three men at once. Her acting is believable, effective and consequently disturbing – she weeps, cries and pleads for mercy the entire time as they swap positions, taunt her at knifepoint and finally ejaculate on her face. What functions to make the scene even more disturbing is the eerie music in the form of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sun.” In fact, early Floyd recordings are used throughout the film [(and in other Davian films like HOUSE OF DESADE (1975)] adding to the film’s dark and menacing atmosphere.
Meanwhile a dull, middle-aged man and his pretty wife are on a road trip with their two hot (and horny) daughters. Both girls appeared in Shaun Costello’s infamous WATERPOWER (1977) - one playing the stewardess, the other one of the two schoolgirl enema victims. The discuss plans for their trip as while cruising in a van towing a Winnebago. Action unfolds inn b-movie fashion.
Back at the house, Pierce and Baron gaily sing and play guitar in a scene that smacks of narcissism. As they talk to their female counterpart they ponder pulling another “side-of-the-road scam.” It appears in this scene, as well as others in the film, that dialogue isn’t scripted – rather ideas are convey by the actors behaving how they themselves would behave in that situation. You know…How would you behave in preparing for an abduction/rape? Even the actress who plays Jan doesn’t seem to have to put forth too much effort into appearing genuine, coming across as an authentic jaded hustler and petty thug.
Red Baron goes back to the still-captive Vanessa for a second helping. He beats, rapes and sodomizes her, violently pulling himself out of her and finally shoving a water bottle in her snatch in some sort of half-assed attempt at a douche.
As the road-tripping sisters engage in sexual horseplay in the back of the family van, the family comes across a woman lying still on the side of the road. Emphasizing the parents good nature (to contrast with the villains’ cruelty), the father pulls over to offer help. Pierce runs over to ask for assistance. Before they know it the family is being held at knife point. They are taken hostage and brought to the abductors’ hideout.
The three men tie up the father and force him to watch his wife and daughters being sexually assaulted. The actor playing the father certainly does an adequate job at conveying the horror a man in his position would be feeling. Things get really disturbing when the men force the daughter to fellate her father. Naturally the father doesn’t become aroused in such a situation. Many a porn would have played upon the incest fantasy at this point, which would have seemed like a porno cliché and more importantly would have gone again the grain of this nihilistic film. However, true to form, Davian has the villains’ attempt at forced fellatio between father and daughter essentially result in a terrorized woman slobbering on her poor old man’s limp dick.
Meanwhile, Jan returns to the garage. Vanessa is relieved to see it is the woman and not the men. She sees a glimmer of hope (as do the audience) when Jan begins to untie her. However her hopes (and our faith in humanity) dissolve when she realizes Jan is simply re-tying her before raping her herself. The lesbian scene that ensues actually turns out to be of a more gentle nature than any of the other sex scenes in the film as it paves the way for the film’s conclusion.
Levitsky and Pierce molest the mother. She offers herself to her abductors in exchange for leaving her daughters alone. They agree. She urinates before they do it and the wicked Levitsky watches as she tries to relax enough to relieve her bladder in what is a truly evil scene. They rape her while Baron torments the daughters. When they’re finished, Levitsky and Pierce are ready for the daughters. “But you promised!!!” the mother reminds them. Yeah, well… The two men do a daughter each in 70’s 8mm loop style balling.
Back to pierce in his cell. He informs us that Jan “joined the enemy,” thus explaining his apprehension/incarceration. Back on the road, the father explains to the mother how Jan “wasn’t too into it” and how he was able to convince her to untie him. “Good thing she was around,” the mother says. Yeah, good thing.
APPOINTMENT WITH AGONY is a highly engrossing and potentially dangerous film, due largely to its keen ability to bring its “story” to life, allowing the viewer to become immersed in its world as if it were a Lifetime Original Movie. Simply put – It’s too real. Because of the inherent ability of hardcore material to initiate arousal in men, it’s somewhat dangerous to combine that material with graphic and realistic portrayals of violence against women for the reason that the juxtaposition of these two elements (graphic sex and violence) may create an association between the two in the minds of some viewers. Just as Pavlov’s dogs salivate at the sound of a bell, viewing these types of films could potentially “condition” some men to feel violent upon becoming aroused or to become aroused by sexualized violence. This isn’t to say that this is likely – only possible.
As horrifying as AGONY must appear to most, it still has a right to exist. It took some sort of talent to make, and no how inappropriate it may seem to some, censorship too as we know is dangerous. Well-adjusted people will not become rapists after viewing this film, or the likes of it. The true danger lies in the fact that the film may viewed by those invisible men – unnoticed, unloved sociopaths who harbor resentments against everyone and anyone, especially women. Or it’s the child who found the videotape in his parents’ VCR. One should tremble when pondering the effect AGONY might have on a young innocent adolescent mind.
Americans enjoy many freedoms, like the right to own firearms. But this right must only be granted to those well-adjusted responsible individuals who aren’t likely to abuse the privilege. Guns should be kept out of reach of children and away from the hands of unstable, irrational, or irresponsible persons who should not be in possession of them. The same ought to apply to APPOINTMENT WITH AGONY. If you’re a “normal” (i.e. not a sociopath) adult and you harbor rape fantasies and want to experience them vicariously (which is obviously the way to go if you don’t have a partner to play with) then AGONY should be quite a turn-on. It should be (and thankfully is) available to those people for use as a safe outlet, and can even be used to alter one’s state of consciousness without using drugs. Film can have the power to do just that and AGONY is a film that goes so far, that whether is gets you off or makes you ill, it’s still stronger that crack cocaine.
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