Sometimes, not always, one expects a pretty lush experience at the porno flicks. In Los Angeles, for example. people are lining up around the block to see Deep Throat, one of the top 2S grossers nation-wide. Even the L.A. Times entertainment editor, Charles Champlain, reviewed Throat along with Brando's Last Tango in Paris. In San Diego, however, a typical Saturday night porno round-up is anything but promising.
Every week the Fine Arts Theatre in Pacific Beach shows some cheap. 16 mm, goof-ridden movies under the ominous presence of the cross on Mount Soledad, high above in the darkness. The dressing-room lights flash around the marquee. The features start every hour on the hour, like PSA nights to Los Angeles, and run from 12 noon on. This week there's one subtly titled Forced Entry.
Pushing open the glass door, you come upon a cute, short oriental girl, decked out in her blue and orange-trimmed uniform. She sells you a ticket. She sells you candy. She ushers you to your seat.
"How's the movie?"
"Oh, I don't know, A lot of people leave before it's over." While you're still in the lobby, she doodles with some Jordan Almonds; she fills a cup of bubble-up.
Inside the main part of the theatre. the atmosphere isn't the same as years before, when you used to stumble in, chug free coffee and watch the "lack of talent" contest. Now an older audience, out for pure sex. (the real underground movies have been appropriated by The Fine Arts' sister theatre, the Academy).
A preview for Juice, next week's film, splashes on the screen. A two-minute peep. Heavy eyelids follow initial eye-popping. Very explicit. businesslike and assembly-line.
Forced Entry begins. The first thing you see are grainy newsreels of the war in Vietnam. A quote from an Air Force physician outlines the story. He talks about the returning veteran seeped in a psychosis of killing gook s. The veteran's former training constantly to search out "hostiles" ... "will not end with an airplane ticket home." Next on the screen, a gas station attendant at a rundown station in New York. He is our archetypal veteran, his hair uncut. wearing a greasy finger-smudged baseball shirt and a baseball cap, replete with American flag applique.
Women in polished new cars enter the station for gas and directions, and our veteran ends up getting their addresses. Immediately identifying them as "hostiles," he begins a search and destroy mission. With each "hostile" he forces them to perform assorted sexual acts and then slits their throats. They are symbols of easy bourgeois life and becomes the objects of his insane revenge. And with each sex and slit scene, there is an injection of Vietnamese war footage, the greater part apparently from North Vietnamese sources. As the veteran smiles at his victim, footage appears showing Westmoreland greeting soldiers. As the veteran stalks the apartment, cuts of American soldiers flushing out Cong come on. As our ex-G.I. prepares to sodomize the lady who drives a new Mercedes. there's a quick cut to a scene where bags are placed over young Vietnamese women's heads and then shot by Allied troops.
The movie never forgets that it is pornography. There is a good helping of in-tight sex shots while Vietnamese music plays on the soundtrack. A rare breed of flick: the political porno film. It is reminiscent both of Warhol's Trash and of Robert Kramer's Ice, a 1967 New York underground revolutionary film. The sets are the grimy streets and crowded apartments of New York City. None of the characters are glamorous, but rather pudgy and sallow.
For the fifty- to sixty-year-olds who have come to sit in the shadows. squinting through classes that hang low on their noses, this movie is not right. They slip toward the door and the movie theatre gradually empties, scenes of planes dropping bombs increasing. screams on the soundtrack getting louder, and scenes of Viet Cong peddling their bicycles and paddling their sampans repeating, repeating.