Unbridled body worship, a delectable mud-with-sperm mixture and devastating discoveries in the family vault fuel writer/director John Albo’s considerable imagination but never quite burst into spontaneous creative combustion.
The quirky relationship between two brothers (muscle addict Monty gets a buff and flexible performance from the late Trevor Goddard who, sadly, died five years before this curiosity was completed; intellectual and much younger sibling Bertin is played with general conviction and a stellar turn on the massage table by Rudi Davis) shifts into high gear with the arrival of Lilith (veteran Sally Kirkland gaily jumps into the camp and cock talk). The wily nun’s on a quest that threatens to turn everyone’s world upside down.
Bertin has an animal streak that manifests itself in keeping Manny Gates in a cage, bursting into Ave Maria when appropriate. The blood brothers’ (don’t miss their consummation) Granny (Gwen van Dam) is blessed with magic hands, which wouldn’t dream of shying away from a two-cheek massage of her stress-filled grandkids.
Despite all of the male skin in evidence, Monty isn’t anywhere near gay-friendly, bringing on an encounter with a telephone trick (Mitch Hara) that should make anyone think twice about engaging in near-instant gratification.
The film is awash in strong references and lingering resonances with masters from the past: a menacing snake on flesh is at one with Derek Jarman’s Edward II, the nasty nun’s habit evokes Tinto Brass’ Caligula or Ken Russell’s The Devils, the costuming of Inflatable Doll (Venus Le Dome) would have been right at home with Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange—the list could go on.
Intentional or not, this cinematic buffet of forms and styles, understandably, can’t find its own skin, yet still provides several zany moments of fun and an overall pace that helps the time evaporate.
It’s a pity that one of Brahms’ Six Pieces for Piano(Op. 118, No.2) was used on several occasions as a kind of leitmotif for she who must be obeyed. The performances (Debbie Sealove and Diane Lindsay) were, necessarily, bare (just the theme informed the first few instances) but then never fully formed when the German master’s autumnal work was allowed to be heard as intended. For those unfamiliar with this magnificent gem, no matter; for the rest a feeling of rage on behalf of the composer was doubly stoked.
Nonetheless, for those who enjoy a touch of voyeurism or a humourous walk on the wild side, Flexing With Monty fits the bill. JWR