Judge Paul Corupe was quite disappointed that the DVD Verdict editorial staff wouldn't post his blurb that used "mountain lions" as a double entendre.
Every afternoon she was free…to forget every night at Margareta's house!
Having cranked out more than 200 sexploitation flicks since the early 1960s, Joe Sarno is one of the biggest names in sleaze filmmaking, a legendary figure who easily holds his own against softcore kingpins like Radley Metzger and Russ Meyer. To the delight of Sarno's fans, many of his films have arrived on DVD courtesy of EI Independent Cinema Studios' Retro-Seduction Cinema line, an imprint that aims to preserve classic erotic filmmaking in all its hedonistic glory. Swedish Wildcats, also known under its distinctly less exploitable name, Every Afternoon, is EI's latest release, a film that once again proves that Sarno is a more than capable purveyor of scintillating celluloid delights.
Facts of the Case
Orphaned Swedish sisters Susanna (Cia Löwgren, Smoke) and Karin (Solveig Andersson, Eva) are raised by their Aunt Marghareta (Diana Dors, Theatre of Blood), a cheerful pimp who runs a posh Danish brothel. There she holds nightly cabarets in which her girls perform unique shows for a small audience of men (and women), who are then invited to select a companion for the evening. Aunt Marghareta soon initiates her nieces into the fold, marketing their joint services as her four-star attraction, but as she pushes the precocious pair toward kinkier clients, Susanna and Karin start to look for a way out from under her thumb. Dreaming of a new life, Susanna fills her free afternoons with walks in a local park, where she meets test pilot Peter (Peder Kinberg, Dirty Fingers) under the guise of a ballerina who rehearses in the evenings. But nebbishy Peter isn't what he seems to be either—he's actually a pencil pushing clerk at the airport. Unfortunately, Peter's cruel drug-smuggling boss recognizes Susanna from a former visit to Marghareta's, and takes Peter to the brothel to expose her falsehoods and ruin the relationship.
Although the bulk of his films were made in New York City, Joe Sarno's most infamous pictures were made in Sweden and Denmark in the late 1960s and early '70s, a European excursion that resulted in a long string of sleaze classics like The Seduction of Inga and The Young Playthings. Swedish Wildcats, which also dates from this period, is far from Sarno's best known work, most likely because of its uncharacteristic sadomasochistic undercurrents.
By the late 1960s, the nearly plotless "nudie cuties" had given way to "roughies," a more sadistic type of sexploitation best exemplified by films like Lee Frost's David Freidman-produced The Defilers. Always more interested in doing what interested him as opposed to pandering to an audience, Sarno rejected the association of sex and violence in his films, but in this case, he was overruled producer Vernon Becker. According to Sarno, Becker, who was behind other Euro-sex romps like Dagmar's Hot Pants Inc. as well as the later classic disco vampire tale Nocturna, retained the editing rights to the film and added sadistic scenes and dialogue after Sarno had completed it, angering the prolific director.
Beyond these supplementary scenes, however, Swedish Wildcats is typical Sarno, from the throng of innocent nude girls and the exceptional cinematography to the simplistic plot. The introduction of strong psychological themes gave Sarno's work a dramatic punch that set it apart from his less talented contemporaries, but the plot to Swedish Wildcats is a melodramatic trifle; a silly love story between two naïve protagonists who are both the victims of a manipulating boss. It's a pretty flimsy frame to hang a narrative on, but Sarno manages to win over audience sympathy for the sisters early on, engaging viewers with his hokey story for the full running time. From the first dishonest meeting of Susanna and Peter, it's obvious that their deceptions may prove to be their undoing, but it's all handled relatively well, and there is some genuine question as to how a clerk and a prostitute can reconcile their passion with the truth.
Lovey-dovey moments aside, it's really the fascinating erotic cabaret scenes that figure as the feature's main drawing point. The tone is set early in a surreal scene that has the girls covered in full-body paint to resemble panthers, zebras, and snakes; a bizarre sexual menagerie in which they are eventually chased by patrons with butterfly nets. This segment also features Swedish sex siren Christina Lindberg, Andersson's co-star in the recently released exploitation classic Thriller, done up as a leopard—her only scene, despite receiving top billing on the DVD box. The other floorshows, including a Middle Eastern-styled slave auction and a whip-and-chains beating may be less imaginative, but they're also highpoints of the film, and serve to give Swedish Wildcats a unique identity in the often repetitive sexploitation genre.
Diana Dors, a former British sexpot who had taken on more matronly roles as she got older, is quite excellent as the lusty Aunt Marghareta. As the sole source of humor in the film, she's obviously having a great time chewing up the scenery, and her enthusiasm really brings this production up another notch toward legitimacy. Cia Löwgren and Solveig Andersson come off perhaps a little too earnest to be taken seriously, but their acting is more than enough for these lightweight roles.
Telecined from a newly discovered 35mm print, Swedish Wildcats looks fairly good for a 30-year-old Euro-skin flick. Sure, it's slightly grainy and subject to minor artifacts, but print damage is minimal, and the colors are bold and occasionally striking, especially during the animal cabaret. The film's mono soundtrack doesn't fare quite as well, with noticeable pops and an underlying hiss present throughout much of the film, but it's nothing that's going to detract from anyone's enjoyment.
The main extra on the disc is New York Wildcats, a 2002 softcore "remake" starring Misty and Chelsea Mundae. This featurette is as predictable as it is boring, a 45-minute long piece which uses the menagerie scene in Swedish Wildcats as a jumping off point to have girls dressed in animal outfits paw at themselves wildly. Featuring reprehensible acting, an annoying strip club soundtrack, and the sketchiest of plots, this illustrative display of dry humping fails to recreate anything of worth from Sarno's fairly innocent little film. Classic sexploitation and modern DV softcore features are really two different beasts entirely, and I doubt there is much crossover between fans of either, which makes this pairing of films more than a little unsatisfying.
Things noticeably improve after New York Wildcats, however. You can check out a five-minute interview with Joe Sarno and his wife, Peggy, who worked on many of his sexploitation films. It's an interesting piece, but I wish it had been a little longer. Then there is a massive selection of trailers on this disc, no less than 28 separate previews for new DVD in EI's Shock-O-Rama line, and recent softcore efforts like Spider-Babe and Lord of the G-Strings, fan favorites if only for their titles. Additionally, nine of the trailers are for other Sarno films including Inga, Seduction of Inga, and even a new DV feature Sarno is doing for Seduction Cinema called Lust for Laura. It's worth noting that the trailer for Swedish Wildcats, however, is not original, and has been recreated by EI for this release.
EI deserves to be commended for their Retro Seduction Cinema line, an admirable effort to safeguard these time capsules of depravity against being lost forever. While more of a curiosity than an essential sexploitation classic, Swedish Wildcats has a passable story and enough Swedish skin to appeal to Sarno fans, despite the fact that the film is a little rougher than most of his output.
EI Studios is issued a restraining order to keep Misty Mundae and Cia Löwgren at least two DVD shelves away from each other, and stick to period-appropriate extras in the future.
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• New York Wildcats Featurette
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