SEXUAL LABYRINTH (2017) BY MORGANA MAYER

Reviews

Director: Morgana Mayer
Writers: Emma Davis, Lucio Massa, Alan Rainer, Marta Rot
Year: 2017
Starring: Marta Rot, Giada DaVinci, Fausto Moreno, Francesco Malcom, Mary Rider, Silvia Lamberti, Stefania Visconti

Synopsis:
A mysterious woman is in love with a girl who, after yet another rejection, is kidnapped and taken to a bizarre and secretive prison where she will undertake a surreal journey through the maze of pleasure.

Review:
The debut film from German director Morgana Mayer opens with some quality extreme metal (which will later be juxtaposed with classical music – seemingly the go-to genre to lend some sophistication to proceedings) and a dedication to Joe D’Amato (the film is peppered with references) and Luigi Zanuso, SEXUAL LABYRINTH sets its intentions out early in regards to both the content and the audience of this 68 minute bizarre erotic horror. Although a comparison to German director Andreas Bethmann wouldn’t be too far off either albeit with more emphasis on conceptual perversity and desire as opposed to the blunt, more direct approach of Bethmann.

Back to the movie and it really starts with a brief bit of exposition thereby setting the scene for our unfortunate lead female, who I have to say undertakes the most lax security in a public toilet cubicle I have ever witnessed and before you can even say ‘occupied’ she is grabbed, drugged and degraded.

Waking up she is told by a spurned, would-be lover, that she is about to go on an erotic journey, one which would end up not only with feelings of love between the two but also a sexual awakening in our kidnapped woman.  What follows is a series of sexual abuse…or exploration, depending on your point of view.

These experiences take place throughout several vignettes, not all including our unwilling slave, and cover areas such as the sharing of (not the usual) bodily fluids, fisting and much more with some of this activity having a brutal, violent effect and others perhaps possessing a metaphorical meaning.

However the latter was few and far between for me and while the aim might have been a strong critique of religion and contemporary society though post-porn art the reality is that several of these attempts came across as purely there to titivate or shock, particularly in reference to the nun scenes although to be fair these deliver visually what THE EXORCIST could only hint at.

As a result I feel there were several missed opportunities for philosophical musing or genuine commentary throughout the film where perhaps Mayer preferred to prioritise and depict perversity.  It must be noted however that I am approaching this film purely from my own experiences and cultural interpretation and therefore others may read more into the proceedings.

On the other hand one area that does his the mark is the cinematography. Perhaps I am doing the film a disservice here when I say that I was pleasantly surprised at how innovative some of the angles and shots were in this film, no doubt a bit more of the D’Amato influence coming across here and credit has to go to Rhea Silvia and Andrej Chinaski from Hot Chilli Productions for this.

It cannot be understated that if you are prudish or narrow minded in terms of sexuality, even just slightly then this film will not be for you and even if this criteria does not disqualify you there is still a high chance that SEXUAL LABYRINTH is not for you, just like BEYOND MADNESS this film is esoteric with an open mind not only being required of the viewer but demanded.

Nauseating, perverse and oddly compelling there is no denying that at times SEXUAL LABYRINTH is an uneasy watch, although I suspect it is meant to be but ultimately it is not as good at covering gender politics and identity as well as others, most notably UNDERCOVER MISTRESS by Giulio Ciancamerla but nonetheless it does explore a niche area of society and manages to capture, in an extreme form, the Annie Sprinkles book ‘Post Porn Modernist’ which is referenced in the final half of the film.

Is SEXUAL LABYRINTH the most extreme, abstract performance piece that discusses the notion of society, religion, true love and the total submission of oneself to another or purely an unadulterated, unabashed decadent piece of trash with a flimsy narrative holding it together. That I cannot answer for you and no doubt the answer will depend on your own interpretation of the film. If you wanted sadism as a metaphor for politics then check out Pasolini’s SALO but if you are happy to settle for sadism masquerading as political commentary then come on down!

What I will say however is that if D’Amato and Zanuso collaborated it is highly likely that post-porn surrealism like this would be the result.

Discover more about the film and yourself over on the official Facebook page.

On a side note I would like to add that although not everything from Black Lava Entertainment is my kind of thing they do put out decent releases with a relatively high standard and so for them to be associated with this film it should act as a seal of quality for fans of this genre.

Version Reviewed:
I watched an online screener of the film.

FEMALE TOUCH (2018) BY MORGANA MAYER

Reviews

Director: Morgana Mayer
Writers: Eleonora D’Arco, Diane De la Barthe, Lucio Massa, Gughy Rossi
Year: 2018
Starring: Morena Capoccia, Giada Davinci, Ishara Gabri, Rebecca Gems

Review:
From Aborsky Produktions, the company behind the post-porn surrealism of Luigi Zanuso/Luigi Atomico’s BEYOND MADNESS and the directorial debut of Morgana Mayer, SEXUAL LABYRINTH comes FEMALE TOUCH, a film which continues the appeal towards a specific counter-culture of free thinkers.

The film is dedicated to the Italian film maker Alberto Cavallone, a man who himself flirted with surrealist eroticism in his work, and is clearly influenced by the works of Luigi Atomico and Joe D’Amato, so if those names appeal to you then this is certainly one for you but if you are still unsure read on with an open mind.

Opening with what would undoubtedly be an uncomfortable scene for almost every male, the visual representation employed here immediately overpowered the underlying message and while this attempted philosophy hinted at something deeper, something profound, for me it ultimately failed to connect. 

With this opening performance piece over and the introductory credits finished, the sexual tapestry that helps to comprise this film continues although rather surprisingly in a manner more restrained (quite literally) than perhaps one relatively new to this sub-genre would expect. The result being something strangely compelling, whether you want it to be or not.

With movies (or should that be performance pieces) like FEMALE TOUCH it is hard to describe the witnessed narrative in a literal way without losing the meaning behind it while a synopsis is clearly open to interpretation from the non-existent to the pretentious, but this way of looking at a movie is not what FEMALE TOUCH is set up to allow. It proves unconventional from whichever way you approach or classify it. An example being the glimpses of putrid and slimy flesh or organs which are interspersed seemingly at random between sexualised segments while no assistance is provided to explain or help guide you through this series of images that become more bizarre as time progresses – at least until the final two segments in which the message behind them becomes a little more overt.

FEMALE TOUCH is certainly too graphic to be an arthouse film, the scenes of female ejaculation and bondage see to that, and too artistic to be pornography (although I am not overly familiar with  the Post porn movement of which Anne Sprinkles book helped influence Morgana Mayer’s previous film SEXUAL LABYRINTH) but is something altogether different, something esoteric that exists within and for a specific underground movement. 

My interpretation is that FEMALE TOUCH is about embracing our differences and desires, about seeking individual liberation from the restrictions and containment as put into place by the status quo, the white heterosexual males, that run Western society…or something like that. 

Challenging, subversive and (potentially) with a message, FEMALE TOUCH is a great example of the question, what is art? What can be called art? And who decides?

For this viewer I found any message to be overshadowed by the methods employed, its subtext difficult to decipher, if there is indeed anything really there although much of this could have been condensed making much of the 78-minute run time more superfluous.