Judge Bill Gibron is now fully prepared to open his own pleasure palace.
The Ins and Outs of Erotic Massage, Early '70s Style
After spending one of the most memorable nights of his life with a professional masseuse named Sonia (Elisabeth Volkmann, Red Heat), a reporter (Felix Franchy, Der Kommissar) returns to Munich with one goal—find this woman and discover/re-experience her many sensual secrets. Somehow, he convinces his editor to let him travel to all the massage parlors in town in hopes of locating her. What our hero doesn't know is that Sonia is now working for salon magnate Maurice (Lukas Ammann) and is really not interested in monogamy. In fact, she has a standing invitation to come to Paris and show the French a thing or two about the "hands on" approach. As our hero moves from place to place, he runs into a blousy mother and her naïve daughter, an Asian hottie who has horrible memories from her past, and sundry variations on the same theme. When he finally finds Sonia, their relationship appears destined to fail. Naturally, a massive orgy solves all problems.
Let's get one thing straight right up front—Salon Massage is one talky bit of carnality. Talky…talky…TALKY!!! While men are groping women and the ladies are lounging around their gentlemen's generous pubic hair, we hear nothing but chatter. Chatter…chatter…CHATTER. It's like phone sex without the phone…or the sex. Indeed, the most arousing aspect of this entire movie is its relatively short (85 minutes) run time. Otherwise, we get carefully controlled snapshots of smut that wouldn't look out of place in the latest Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. Yes, there are some unfortunate full frontal moments—the Me Decade redefining the notion of (and need for) intense personal grooming—while the bedroom follies are on the decidedly dull side. Since faux fornication is not really an option—this is a movie about MASSAGE, after all—we are stuck with faked fellatio and far too many scenes of men/women manipulating each other's lower bellies.
Indeed, if insinuation was an art form, German softcore expert Eberhard Schroeder would be Picasso. This is one filmmaker who can sure allude to possible perversion. As his characters rattle off facts and figures about the fine art of folding flesh, he gives us lots of blurry visions of possible pleasures. All the women here are pre-plastic surgery selections, none of them offering the kind of fake rubber regression of today's ballooned bimbos. Indeed, one of the most intriguing aspects of this film is how odd some of these supposed sexpots are. Make no mistake, however: the men are no better. All of them are clearly seeking product placement for the next "Dry Look" ad campaign and wear fashions that would make Lady Gaga weep. In addition, their body types could best be described as "in desperate need of a sandwich" while their acting is—well, it's no worse than the lax ladies we have to deal with.
Indeed, all Salon Massage tries to be is a men's magazine with motion. There's no real sense of purpose other than implication and sexual simulation—and there's very little of that. In fact, all you will really get out of this near hour and a half experience is a primer on using your palms to please your partner. Gentle pressure, rounded motions, and focused fumbling are key, as is lots of soft focus fluff. When viewed in today's XXX saturated world, a place where adult actors strive to be machines, not real men and women, this all looks rather silly. But there's an underlying sense of innocence and passion that plays right into a certain male mindset—say the brain circa the 10th grader? Something like Salon Massage becomes perfect Skinemax fodder if for no other reason than its non-threatening, teen boy tenets. If you can get past the constant yakking, you might actually enjoy it.
As for the technical aspects of this release, Mya Communications has some explaining to do. The image here is awful, like a recently unearthed copy from a dingy basement that was basically thrown into the optical printer and then tossed on DVD. There are scratches, dirt, and other issues ever-present. While the cover art offers an explanation about the aspect ratio, let's make something clear: 1.66:1 is barely 16/9, and the end result here is more full screen than wide. Indeed, any HD set-up will find the film occupying much of the middle—and little else. The Dolby Digital Mono is okay, if nothing spectacular. The Italian language dub is clearly substituting for some other-language-speaking cast members, and the rough ADR can be annoying. As for added content, there is none.
Unless you include lectures as a necessary part of your Euro-trash lewdness, skip Salon Massage. It's not a bad film for those in need of instruction in the art of the rubdown. For others, it will offer little to rub…out?
Guilty. A goofy relic from the past, if little else.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Mya Communication
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