Spermula (1976)

It's not often that you get to experience a piece of cinema that reaches the level of uniqueness that Spermula does. I have truly seen nothing like it - perhaps that indicates I need to see more movies. Ostensibly, it's a French seventies sex film. Then there's the science fiction overtones, and a sizeable element of comedy thrown in for good measure. In the end there's so many quirky bits in it, I don't know what genre to shoehorn it into. That's quite a nice feeling, in a way!

A galactic disaster in the form of a 'dark shadow' is passing over the planet Spermula. This planet will be destroyed by the shadow and the 'Spermulites', creatures made of smoke and mist, must find a new home. 'Big Mother', their supreme ruler, who is just an invisible female voice, asks a group of elder Spermulites to assume the form of the strongest species on planet Earth, an ideal home for the soon-to-be-homeless aliens. Of course, the stronger species is women, and the plan is to assume fleshy form, seduce the males of the species and permanently drain them of reproductive fluids - via some sort of alien super-fellatio. The Spermulites will then take over Earth as humans naturally die off over time. The Spermulites have a disdain for humans and their physical, sexual ways, so wiping them off the planet will not pose a moral problem ...

The newly human - and beautiful - Spermulites arrive on Earth in their little spaceship amidst much solarising effects, Paris to be exact. They move into an art-deco mansion, lie around naked a lot, drive a Rolls-Royce and wear gorgeous vintage clothes. Big Mother warns them not to fall in love, and be seduced by the acts they have to perform. She gives them a robotic example of a (black) man to practice their techniques on. One of the arriving Spermulites has accidentally been formed into a man, Werner (Udo Kier) who apparently has a tiny penis, as he is constantly insulted by the rich family he lives with, including his bride-to-be and her sister. There's also a strange cabaret/freak show in town which includes a dwarf, a contortionist (who pleasures himself), a hermaphorodite and some female dancers. The local priest, along with a painter and his girlfriend, will also play their parts.

The chief Spermulite on Earth, Darlene (Dayle Haddon) lures the priest's wife into becoming a sort of pseudo-Spermulite herself. By making her eyes glow, Darlene converts the woman and watches her collapse. Darlene's eyes glow again, and invisible sexual waves force a gardener to seduce Werner's future sister-in-law. Big Mother exhorts them to stay on track and not be distracted with her usual nagging voice, as we see periodically that the shadow over Spermula is growing. Werner, the urges of his human body taking over and frustrating him, attempts to rape Darlene.

The Spermulites finally get around to doing their job and in their Rolls-Royce, they seduce the young gardener and drain his fluids permanently - off-screen. In an unrelated subplot, the dwarf and a beautiful black dancer fall in love in the freakshow. The artist, Tristan (François Dunoyer) makes love to his girlfriend in a park. Later, Darlene meets this pair and buys a painting from him. She feels the first stirrings of jealousy and leaves. After the Spermulite women invite the priest over for a decadent dinner, he leaves after being appalled by the erotic decor and lascivious women. He falls into a lake and is drained by two 'mermaids'. Later he tries to have sex with a woman but can't bring himself to orgasm.

The middle-aged Mayor's bored wife is also made a Spermulite and dissapears. He blames the cabaret show and gets some goons to smash up the show, off-screen. The dwarf, about to blow him away with a shotgun, is convinced by Tristan to just blow his model airplane out of the sky! I have no ideas how these scenes connect to anything, but they're fun to watch. In a minor plot-point, one Spermulite who actually enjoys sex is aged to fourty-five. Horrors, writes the forty-year old. Once the "den of iniquity" as Big Mother call it, is smashed up, the Spermulites figure the Earthlings in their area have nothing else to do on a Saturday night. The plan is then to throw a big cocktail party, and then drain all the available Earth men. Meanwhile, Werner tells the distraight Mayor, whose wife has left him, to meet him at the paty and all will be revealed.

At the lavish party, which is basically an orgy of all-out lasciviousness and guest-stars the cabaret performers, Werner shows what his wife is truly up to. She's having sex with three men behind a curtain and invites him to join in. The Mayor collapses in shock, then the gibbering mess goes and licks his wife's shoe. Werner confesses his love for his new wife to Darlene, and says he wants to remain a man. Tristan is also drained during the Bacchanalian revels, and is dismayed when he later finds out he will have no married future with his girlfriend. Darlene, finally admitting her love for Tristan, offers to return his potency the only way possible, by having normal sex with him. In a long scene with lots of solarising images, Darlene has sex with Tristan. But the dark shadow threatens to obliterate Planet Spermula, and Big Mother begins to scream that it's all to late ...

I have to admit Spermula wasn't quite what I expected. I was anticipating a kind of verging-on porn film, with a sci-fi plotline. What I viewed was softcore, science-fiction, comedy and art-movie all rolled into one. The version I watched was dubbed in English, perhaps the people behind that put their own senses of humour into it, who knows. Still, the chapter titles that periodically tell us how close the 'dark shadow' is to Planet Spermula end up with saying things like, "the dark shadow looms still closer ... etc., etc. ... you know the rest." Most of the lines Big Mother comes out with are done in a humourous way. Acting-wise we're dealing with a pretty wooden cast, but the women are all beautiful, with Dayle Haddon as Darlene very tall and euro-model like in her beauty. The design of the film is incredible - virtually all the sets are art-deco and their must have a been a reasonable budget to fit in a Rolls-Royce! The sex and nudity are in there, just don't expect masses of them and you won't be dissapointed. I enjoyed this one for the design and quirkiness for the most part. Director Charles Matton has mainly crafted an art-film with some sexploitation qualities.

Quite a beautiful little film in it's way, Spermula is well worth a view as an odd entry in the pantheon of seventies sex cinema.

© Boris "In a Rolls!" Lugosi, 2006.

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Review written: 07/23/2006 22:40:24