Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Her Private Hell.

Modelling becomes Her Private Hell!!

Norman J Warren was one of the foremost British directors of exploitation horror, gruesome cult films with graphic violence and SF themed body horror in the 1970’s. But prior to this he directed two feature length sex films one of which has now been released on DVD as part of the BFI Flipside series and is credited with being the UK’s first narrative sex film! 

Various Clips from Britain's first narrative sex film.
Warren’s Her Private Hell (1968) is the cautionary tale of the beautiful but naïve Marisa (Italian actress Lucia Modugno who starred in the spaghetti western parody For a Few Dollars Less in 1966) who arrives from the continent for what she believes is a job as a legitimate fashion model but soon discovers that she is being groomed for the sleazy side of the business. This expose of corruption in the fashion industry allegedly put Britain on the map in the realm of homegrown adult feature films. Obviously Blow-Up (1966) was not considered a ‘sex film’!!

Originally Warren made a short film that in turn introduced him to two prospective producers, one of which Bachoo Sen, owner of many London cinemas, bankrolled the film. Although Warren’s debut feature film was made with limited facilities, an £18000 budget and a two-week timescale, its subject matter guaranteed good box office, running for over a year in London.  However the 2-year contract Warren signed meant that he did not receive any payment for directing the film, nevertheless it got his name known and the consequence was that he went on to make other films on the strength of it.

Friendly persuasion or exploitation?

The director, crew and cast really nailed the look and feel of the 60’s and for this reason alone it a worthwhile watch. Compared with modern movies it’s a very innocent piece, but sex at the time was a very sensitive subject where you were expected to confirm to the old Windmill Theatre rule where if you appeared naked you could not move (see The Look of Love (2013)). Actually during the filming, which took place in a converted cinema, a member of the public caught a glimpse of naked flesh and called the vice squad and consequently the film set was raided which added to it’s notoriety. 

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