Friday, 10 February 2012

The Touchables (1968)

Another obscure artifact from the swingin’ Britain era carries a bizarre title "The Touchables", which is probably one of the reasons it survived in bootleg circuit till that day – it definitely stimulates your neurons. The picture was pushed on American market with "Love in the fifth dimension" slogan, but never made a blast and has been omitted by all potential "reanimators" ever since. Amazingly it flew back to the surface with a wave of reborn psychedelia to amaze the next generation with it’s pseudo erotic flare and cheesy touch. Directed by Robert Freeman – an original photographer of The Beatles, who took a picture used as a cover of "Rubber Soul" (1965) – it brings to the screen four lovely 60’s models from Vogue Magazine (Judy Huxtable, Esther Anderson, Marilyn Rickard and Kathy Simmonds) starring as a mod/feminist posse and David Anthony as Christian, a rising pop star.

However, it dries up your wet dreams having very little to do with genuine sexploitation as nudity is practically absent. Some mild erotic, fetish games are a nice spark, but there’s too little to talk about something explicit anyway. What it sticks to instead are music, clothes and interior design, all neatly framed into a showcase of swingin’ 60’s scene… after all it’s a very minor cult exploitation movie. On one side we have stunning, but bored ladies nicking wax figures to keep themselves on the beat and on the other one some cartoonish gang capo, who extorts hard cash from the celebrity world and wants money from Christian’s manager very badly! These both threads intertwine and eventually create a very dull plot. Christian gets kidnapped by the gals during a charity wrestling match and taken away to a mysterious, Buckminster Fuller inspired, ball-of-inflated-rubber-hideout at the brink of a lake. There he’s tortured by getting teased, kinked, made out, laid and by other terrifying weapons of ars amandi… but we will never see the details, cause director probably didn’t want to get an X rating and dropped the sex bits.

As the story moves ahead, Christian tries to escape in order to talk to his people, but he gets shot by one of the hosts and is forced to bed them all over again. Finally, the gangsters track him down through one of the girls visting her flat and invade this private paradise bringing chaos and destruction. However, one woman manages to break free and brings professional wrestlers to help out! The story ends happily and we can watch another movie. A real downslope of this soapy flick is the story, but its’ so flat that at least everybody can take it… but there’s "All Of Us", a stunning psychedelic ballad by Nirvana featured during the opening credits, somewhere in the middle and in the end. These guys were found by Robert Freeman through Island Records having their first album released at that time. They scored the song for "The Touchables" and afterwards cut their second album, named "All Of Us" (1968) – one of the most amazing UK psych-pop albums of the late 60’s. Another part of the soundtrack was provided by Traffic – a short instrumental piece used in a boat speeding scene.

If not for the music, the movie might be suggested to fashion or interior designers looking for the feelings and styles marking the epoch. When these do not matter, I’d watch it for the chicks, who make some connection with British celebrity world of that time. Kathy Simmonds was George Harrison’s girlfriend and broke many hearts while the other ones are just very pretty and in the end make this movie a pleasant experience on the visual side. I won’t say we won’t find any good frames in "The Touchables". In fact you can see clearly a photographer’s hand in most of the scenes, it’s just they alienate the viewer from the experience making it extremely distant. Lacking nudity, drugs or any kind of psychedelic freak-out, which mark shitloads of American exploitation flicks of that time, the movie fails to deliver it’s psychedelic-erotic message remaining one of these 60’s oddities enjoyed only by journalists, musicians or book writers.

[The movie can be purchased from Cinema de Bizarre]

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