Judge Geoffrey Miller is pretty sure this futuristic Cinderella would have a completely different definition of "receiving a pearl necklace" than her Disney counterpart.
"Welcome to the future/In the hopes that it will suit you…"
Chances are that no one thought of ever making a soft core porn sci-fi disco musical. That is, of course, until Cinderella 2000 came along. Produced and directed by Al Adamson for the infamous Independent-International Pictures, prolific purveyors of 70s drive-in schlock, Cinderella 2000 is equal parts camp and crap. An almost unbelievably amateurish and incompetent production, it's full of bad acting, worse special effects, and some of the most truly awful song-and-dance sequences in the history of cinema. For all these reasons and more, it's a highly entertaining Z-grade guilty pleasure.
Facts of the Case
The year is 2047, and a despotic leader has banned sex. Anyone caught taking part in illicit fornication is captured and err…shrunk down to miniature doll size. One of the citizens of this future country is a girl named Cinderella (Catherine Erhardt), who lives under her wicked stepmother—this part of the story you're probably familiar with. She has her eyes opened to the possibility of love (and hot S-E-X, of course) by her "Fairy Godfather," who comes out of a UFO and speaks in a lilting British accent. Then the anti-sex dictator decides to hold a ball, where "Cindy" meets the prince of her dreams. Of course, they give into temptation and dance the forbidden horizontal mambo right away, but will they hump happily ever after?
Limited budget + ambitious (but incredibly stupid) concept + utter ineptitude on every level = an alluringly hypnotic train wreck. This is the formula that has fueled many a "so bad it's good" classic, whether it be Plan 9 From Outer Space, Showgirls, or the entire oeuvre of Inside The Actors Studio favorite Hulk Hogan. It's also the only way to summarize Cinderella 2000, a '70s soft-core skin flick that was surely the result of one cocaine binge too many.
Throughout his surprisingly serious commentary, producer Sam Sherman insists that the film was primarily hampered by a lack of funds. That may account for the cardboard sets and laughable costumes; I'll give even give a pass on the lousy, wooden acting. But a horny robot afflicted with echolalia (who's like a cheaper, more annoying version of the robot from Lost in Space) singing a country song lamenting that he doesn't know where to "plug it in?" While fondling and caressing various electric appliances? With a disco dance break in the middle? No monetary crunch can account for that!
Amazingly enough, that's far from the strangest moment. During Cinderella's first encounter with the Fairy Godfather, he illustrates the joy of sex by showing her copulating rabbits. Fair enough. But then these rabbits transform into real people, with bunny masks on, alongside other people dressed as woodland creatures. Maybe it's meant to be cute, but it's just plain creepy in execution. The climatic party is yet another ill-conceived mess. The guys are all in too-tight Star Trek uniforms, the girls are all in blindingly bright, sparkly dresses, and there's one weird dude who's the spitting image of Johnny Ramone standing around looking bored and lonely. It's like a Bizarro World version of Studio 54 where only the ugly people are allowed in.
The songs, by Sparky Sugarman (I have a sneaking suspicion that's not his birth name), are mostly imitation ABBA sprinkled generously with cheese. Most of the actors have their singing dubbed by someone else, and about as much consideration is given to lip synching and vocal consistency as there is there to the disastrous choreography, which is to say, little to none. Then again, when you're watching a couple of past-their-prime porn stars singing a disco-cabaret number about how they're "doin' without," are you really expecting much in the way of professionalism?
As far as the soft core content goes, it's fairly tame and infrequent. It's roughly equal to typical Skinmax fare, except a bit less forced and unnatural, with the silicon-injected girls and muscle-bound men replaced by girl-next-door types and regular, slightly flabby guys. It might elicit a little twinge of nostalgia for a time when soft core porn wasn't all about frustrated wives and all-female prisons filled with surprisingly attractive and well-groomed inmates, but that twinge certainly won't be in your pants.
The transfer job is shoddy at best, presented in cropped full frame (except for the introductory credit roll) with sub-par video and audio quality. Sherman makes some mention of technical reasons why the transfer is so lacking in his commentary, but there's really no acceptable excuse for the butchered aspect ratio. Even if that problem was corrected, the transfer is washed out and full of scratches.
Besides Sherman's commentary (which actually ends around halfway through the film), there's a longer European version with added scenes; an alternate opening sequence that reveals that the original title was Future Sex (no relation to the Justin Timberlake album); and a handful of trailers for other Independent-International Pictures films (all of which are various shades of common '70s exploitation themes). The uncut European version, while featuring even worse video and audio quality than the main feature, contains several additional sex scenes awkwardly edited in that are considerably more explicit (although not quite XXX territory).
Some movies fail based on having a poor premise; others failed based on poor execution. Cinderella 2000 truly is something special: a movie that fails spectacularly on every level. While there are too many painfully bad scenes in between the hilariously bad ones to call it a true camp classic, a couple of friends with a talent for riffing will certainly make the boring stretches more bearable. Beyond that, anyone with an interest in outrageously terrible movies will find this film to be a fascinating specimen to study.
Guilty as charged. As community service, Cinderella 2000 will serve as an example to budding directors of exactly how not to make a movie.
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