Head to Brooklyn’s Nitehawk at midnight tonight for a screening of the 1974 French softcore classic Emmanuelle, about a curious woman who embarks on a voyage of sexual discovery. “This soft-core porn is fairly faithful to the novel Emmanuelle on which it’s based and it rides the wave of the rise of hardcore pornography and erotic films like Last Tango in Paris that were popular amongst mainstream audiences in the early 1970s,” writes the cinema house about Just Jaeckin’s debut film. Perhaps the most notable thing about Emmanuelle is the absurd number of sequels with ludicrous storylines that it spawned, which found the horny heroine venturing to space and beyond. In the spirit of softcore silliness, we highlight ten eye roll-worthy films that feature plenty of skin, camp, and WTF-ness.
The Witchcraft series
The Witchcraft film series has a small and extremely passionate following. As one of horror cinema’s longest-running franchises, with a proud Facebook group to prove it, this direct-to-video series follows a reluctant warlock named Will Spanner (played by multiple actors) who finds himself at battle with the forces of evil, namely in the form of sexy witches. Witchcraft II features plenty of air guitar, a 30-year-old man passing for a high school student, a bleached blonde witchy seductress cleaning the gutters in her finest clubwear, lots of magical boxes, bizarrely choreographed dances, and super serious meetings at the breakfast table. When Witchcraft II‘s busty antagonist pushes against poor Will’s arm and asks, “I was just wondering, have you seen my cat?” you know it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Emmanuelle: First Contact takes its name from the 1974 Just Jaeckin film, which producers all over the world tried to capitalize on, occasionally altering the spelling of the name to get away with it. Here, our sexually adventurous heroine heads to space to teach a group of intergalactic travelers — yep, aliens — about the ways of human sexuality. Featuring body-swapping, absurd cutaways to nature scenes during sex, and early ‘90s depictions of virtual reality, the made-for-cable First Contact initiated a series of movies with the hedonistic Emmanuelle on a horny interplanetary mission.
Exploitation vet Jim Wynorski loves low budgets and big curves. Wynorski believes that “breasts are the cheapest special effect in our business,” a fact well documented in the Clay Westervelt documentary Popatopolis. The 2009 movie captures the prolific softcore filmmaker shooting the 2005 film The Witches of Breastwick. When a couple heads to the woods, they encounter a trio of bosomy witches. Cue hot tub sex scenes, actresses staring directly into the camera, and plenty of silicone.
A chemist experiments with a new drug, using himself as a test subject. Surprise! Robert turns into Roberta, and spends most of the movie feeling herself up.
The Secret Games series always features a sexually frustrated woman who grows bored with her husband. Naturally, she decides to work at a brothel to pass the time. But Secret Games 3 features this bit of dialogue during a lunch with the neglected missus and her overworked husband: “I’ll have the bus boy . . . I mean, the salad, also.”
Vampire daddy John Carradine recruits a team of undead prostitutes to supply him with tasty, red libations. During shore leave, two sailor pals fall into the bloodsuckers’ trap when they wander into Carradine’s territory thinking they’re about to score with a hooker. Sexytimes and bad fart jokes eventually ensue. Vampire Hookers‘ pimp hand is strong, keeping its ladies in line and sadly not utilizing the fanged fiends for the unexpected — but you do get to hear Carradine recite an awful lot of poetry. Plus, there’s that ridiculous closing credits song.
A secretary works her way up the corporate family ladder, naked. Softcore erotica king Stephen C. Apostolof’s career only lasted 20 years, but he made 17 feature films and got to work with Ed Wood on 1965’s Orgy of the Dead. This one wins points mainly for the absurd title. Pair it with Apostolof’s Suburbia Confidential for badly dubbed moans and other tedious shenanigans.
A farting wizard, women orgying it up in the woods, and characters with names like Dildo Saggins, Benadryl, and Hymen Torn.
Like Michael Bay, but with more boobs and giant snakes. From Paste on the 1987 cult film:
There are dozens of films just like Hard Ticket to Hawaii, if we’re talking about plots. Director Andy Sidaris directed 12 himself, all starring gun-toting Playboy and Penthouse models as busty secret agents, largely in tropical locales. These sorts of films were staples of early cable, commonly premiering on USA Up All Night or ‘Skinemax.’ They’re all trashy. They’re all stupid. But Hard Ticket to Hawaii is the most fun of all of them, the perfect mixture of classless sexuality and hyper-macho 1980s action. Its action sequences are insane, from the inflatable sex doll-clutching skateboard assassin to a henchman named ‘Shades’ who is executed via razor-tipped Frisbee. Oh, and have I mentioned that the subplot revolves around the girls hunting a deadly, escaped snake that has been ‘infected with toxins from cancer-infested rats?’ On its own, the snake could make this an awesome movie, but it’s just one reason why Hard Ticket to Hawaii is the most enjoyable B movie of them all.
A few swingers go to a weird party at a castle that turns out to be something like House on Haunted Hill meets Skinemax, with an extraterrestrial angle. From writer Zev Toledano:
Swingers get together in a mansion belonging to a strange old ‘Uncle’ who hosts all-night orgies and asks couples to act-out bizarre sexual fantasies for which he gives them a reward from a toy box. These fantasies include sex with a possessed bed (huh?), a butcher who hangs dead girls corpses like meat then has sex with them, murder during oral sex, etc. But why are corpses and decapitated heads appearing out of nowhere? Why does the uncle lack eyes and seem deceased? What’s up with the 50 foot naked woman? Is it all a cruel alien conspiracy? A totally off-the-wall & bizarre softcore porn flick that isn’t as interesting as it sounds due to the low budget.