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DOROTHEA'S REVENGE [Dorothea's Rache] (1974).

A young girl's exploration of deviant sexuality sounds like the springboard for a standard EuroTrash raunch-fest, but director Peter Fleischman (who co-scripted with BELLE DE JOUR's Jean-Claude Carriere) has more complex and bizarre ambitions. Sure, this German, English-subtitled film is chock full of bare skin and schtupping, but it's primarily an artsy, underground parody of then-popular sexploitation films, with its sprightly opening tune inviting us (as we'll soon learn, ironically) to a "festival of love." Anna Henkel stars as 17-year-old Dorothea Funke, who lives in Hamburg with her working-class parents, including a father who manufactures "canned laughter devices" (bags that 'laugh' when you shake 'em). One morning, Dorothea comes to the breakfast table dirty and disheveled, clutching a red steaming meteorite, and announcing that she was just screwed by a Martian. Obviously Dorothea isn't your ordinary teenager, and armed with her handy movie camera, the inquisitive (and often nude) girl and her friends are shooting an 'educational' dirty movie called "The Lexicon of Love." Dorothea wanders through one strange, sordid or distasteful sexual escapade after another, while maintaining an almost clinical detachment and often commenting directly to the camera. Some sequences are absurd (a clown-masked sex instructor, and a young couple hooking their genitals to a Rube Goldberg-style device made of bicycle parts), others are grim (Dorothea pays a visit to three middle-aged perverts, who take turns fucking the teen, who then turns her camera against them for a post-coitus interview), and the story's tone shifts radically. One minute Dorothea is frolicking about town with streetwalker Sissy, the next she's walking in on a lovesick teacher's suicide or trying out prostitution (with a pissed-off john beating her with a belt for making him cum too quickly). Her journey even leads to an S&M parlor with caged and singed male clientele, including a crucified one-legged guy. What more could you ask for? How about a visit from Jesus Christ, who offers totally worthless advice to sleep with "children and fools," which leads to Dorothea fondling a boy and giving a handjob to a retarded flasher. It's a weird but rather pointless voyage, sprinkled with cute nude girls (particularly Henkel, who seems rather stunned or stoned throughout) and flabby, unattractive men. DOROTHEA'S is half softcore-porn flick, half arthouse oddity, and though it doesn't truly succeed at either goal, it has the distinction of being one of the most twisted and joyless sex-films you'll ever encounter.

© 2004 by Steven Puchalski.