Justine's Hot Nights (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros get their freak on with Naughty's new Justine's Hot Nights disc
Wahey! There—we just had to say it, in our best Robin Asquith impression. In times of so much woe in the world, there is always room for smut which brings a smile to the lips and makes you say ‘wahey’. Courtesy of premier smut-peddler Jean-Claude Roy (under the pseudonym Patrick Aubin) comes another opportunity to blow the clouds away.
When a porno producer wants to get his next project half decent reviews, he brings in Mik Farez (Philippe Gaste, avec un pleasing resemblance to the great David Warbeck), with the intention of his artistic background to disarm the more scathing scribes. Our man with the money replaces the originally-intended political revolutions with the sexual kind, and lots of birds. The cigar-chomper wants ‘curvy girls’. Anyone with generalisations about French women will know that he’s in for quite a surprise when he starts calling in potential starlets for his project!
No sooner than a short-skirted, knickerless secretary has shown all she owns courtesy of a highly reflective floor then in comes a randy, red-haired Scotsman, looking like Italian exploitation great Al Cliver! Smut ensues and filth aficionados will be tipped-off that there is more than a whiff of Marty Feldman’s Every Home Should Have One, as our plucky script-writer has to Think Dirty to get his script written before the overnight deadline!
When his lack of sexual imagination fails him, and not even his lusty partner Nina (Michele Barton) can inspire carnal creativity, into the fray comes the mysterious, insatiable Justine (Nadia Kapler), a woman whose genitals seem to come equipped with heat-seeking sensors. Armed with a new muse and a throbbing erection, Mik is set for a mind-blowing series of escapades which would have Valentino reaching for the anti-chafing cream!
Jean-Claude Roy starts as he means to go on, delivering a credit-sequence which is a curious combination of audacious and surreal, with a scoop of juvenile humour mixed in. To start off with a parody of both the MGM and Columbia pictures logos is bold, and certainly ties it into the successes of that particular decade. Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of British comedy would spot similarities between the titles here and those of films like The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins, with OTT animation enlivening an ordinarily dull way to present a list of names.
There can be no doubt that the premise of Justine’s Hot Nights must have been influenced by the previous years’ Eskimo Nell, which saw a highbrow writer brought in to pen a porno, having his mind broadened about the rather cynical business along the way. Whereas the UK comedy was Michael Armstrong venting his spleen at the treatment he received from ‘Deke’ Heyward and others (especially the shafting he had with Haunted House of Horror), Jean-Claude Roy uses the theme to make social and sexual commentaries about the state of France and the rest of the world at the time.
There is a lot to learn about low-budget filmmaking if you just stay alert during the movie, and one of the best is that most effective way to shoot nudity in public is not to bother applying for any troublesome permits, which would probably be denied anyway. With the main sequence which sees an airing of the female bits, the camerawork is very shaky, showing that they were quickly filmed without permission using a handheld camera, epitomising the art of the ‘stolen’ shot.
While kids today might think that times are tough at the moment, they have no idea of just now bad things were in the 70s, when the Energy Crisis was gripping the world. Businesses were ferociously hit, blackouts were commonplace throughout Britain and let’s not even talk about the price of fuel and soaring inflation! Hell, there was even a reference to it in an unused piece from Superman II. Jean-Claude Roy reflects those times in his script, with one of the lead characters saying that they were down to only a single bath a week, along with another which we’ll get to later. And everybody tars Roy with the ‘pornographer’ brush…
Flashes of sexual genius are littered throughout, and one has to be when Mik is brainstorming a series of possible scenarios, and animation takes over to provide thought-bubbles of his thoughts. At one point, he even has an exaggerated, Tex Avery-style double take when he envisages a gorgeous nurse!
With the Emmanuelle movies being the cultural phenomenon of the 70s that they were, it was inevitable that there other adult movies would want to have some of the lustre rub off on them, so just keep your eyes open during the fantasy sequence on the plane, with your cordial stewardess sporting a badge identifying her as the self-same nymphet, with the flight captained by one Just Jaekin. Another iconic image incontrovertibly linked to the 70s is the infamous Burt Reynolds Playgirl issue, which put moustaches in vogue (along with other fashion magazines) and Reynolds himself into every girls’ wet dream when he appeared in Heffs’ distaff publication.
Those who go in blind will be very surprised to find that there’s sex sequences in this ‘18’ certificate which actually deliver on their promise and show you penetration. Yep, when one of our hungry girls decides to munch on a human bratwurst, she really does put it in her mouth! Nerves must have set in during filming, as at least one guy has—what Russ Meyer once called—a ‘limber burrito’, or what John Waters would describe as a ‘Hollywood loaf’, but there are instances of oral sex for all to see. To get this into an ‘18’ rated movie was not easy, as it was ‘touch and go’ with the BBFC, and we doff our (Dutch?) caps to Marc Morris for being able to get Justine’s Hot Nights though unscathed in the UK.
There are some viewers who will be caught up in the whole ‘naked bits’ nature of the enterprise to have one of the key elements of the movie go flying over their heads, and that is the matter of Justine being real or not. You will notice that she only appears during something particularly erotic, either flat out—such as the piece on the island—or when something as mundane as having a bath suddenly starts making trousers flap. The clues are there, and Justine seems to be an element created by our trusty scribe as a way of losing his lusty creativity and ejaculating his thoughts onto the page. Rather like Michael Gondry used Kate Winslets’ hair to colour-code/map events during The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so Roy does the same by having Justine appear to signal fantasy.
Speaking of the dirty bath scene, said sequence induces Justine’s Hot Nights with its greatest head-f**k instance. A run-of-the-mill bathing becomes a pervy delusion when things get spicy. The ornate taps are replaced by huge dildos, making it crystal clear about the fun you can have sitting on bath-taps (though both taps could have been utilised at the same time if she‘d have turned sideways). This hallucinatory imagery is then bettered when the old sexual predilection of drinking someone’s bathwater brought to the screen. To top all of that, the spent fornicators lay in the bath as their spirits rise and walk off to look for something else to do! Would we resort to cheap gags like ‘putting the willies up each other’? Certainly not…
With Catholicism being the main religion across Western Europe, and the primary market for his films, Roy wheels out that most alluring of scenarios to prick up the interests of the devout: the temptation of priests. While Fulci once had a man-of-the-cloth tempted by a line of shapely, nude arses, Roy ups the ante by having his padre ensnared by a nubile nun who proves that she’s no novice when it comes to bed-hopping. Once finished with graphically masturbating in front of him, she’s gotten him so hot under the dog-collar that he jumps into bed with her. This sequence falls squarely into the realms of nunsploitation, and if the brazen hussy involved had any scrap of conscience, she’d stay on her knees afterwards and pray for forgiveness!
While George Lucas was lambasted for putting a musical interlude during Return of the Jedi (it was there before, guys, just not as prominently) with his reasoning being that he thought it would be fun/surreal to drop such a sequence into the middle of a movie in which you wouldn’t expect one, but Jean-Claude Roy beat him to the punch this time. For little reason, our coupling couple indulge in a bizarre Tango, watched by a bunch of naked folk who sit on each others’ shoulders just to catch a glimpse.
Once again reflecting the times, none other than Henry Kissinger is roped into the proceedings, through use of stock footage and spurious expository dialogue. It seems that Justine knew him very well, and so did many others around the world. As a matter of fact, the bespectacled Lothario apparently notched up millions of dollars in plane tickets in order to both spread peace and his seed throughout the world—and you thought that claiming for a couple of porno videos was a scandalous use of public money! We have to debunk the whole notion, though, as a relative of ours had the—ahem—pleasure of meeting Kissinger, and he was flatly described as not only ‘boring’, but ‘the most boring man [they] had ever met’. In fact, ‘every time he opened his mouth, it put you to sleep’. On this evidence, he makes an unlikely sexual dynamo. Oh, and speaking of things involving that corrupt bastard Nixon, there is no way in Hell that you’ll miss the screamingly obvious reference to Watergate when it appears.
Everybody loves a man in uniform, or so they say, but Jean-Claude Roy insists that Legionaries rather like them, too! When Mik fantasies about being a randy French Foreign Legionnaire in a harem, his slinky lover doesn’t quite get the seeing-to she expects when he sticks it up the wrong end! When she protests, he reminders her that ‘legionnaires are used to doing this to one another’. Just when you think this isn’t tasteless enough, it’s revealed that they are brother and sister!! He’s upholding the family honour by taking her up the back, as ‘family is sacred’. Nice to see traditional values maintained so valiantly in the world of adult cinema.
You have to give credit to Roy for cramming in so many whacked-out instances into every surreal sequence he comes up with, and the desert island piece is no exception. Another of our struggling writers’ fevered imaginings finds his characters on a desert island, with little inclination to be rescued. With two good-looking birds and sunshine on tap, who wouldn’t? With such pervy opportunities to be explored, it’s amazing that Roy manages to cram in another piece of social commentary by saying that washing their clothes by hand is a way of saving energy reference, another reference to the energy crisis for the masses.
At the end of this environmentally-minded skit comes another instance of ‘headf**k’, making another reference to bestiality. When our lusty threesome are about to strip of their loincloths and indulge in jungle-love, a great roar is heard. ‘t’s King Kong’, says our girl, calmly, ‘he only likes virgins’. Kong swoops in and grabs… our man with the moustache and the imagination! This delivers two head-scratchers: firstly that of the notion that the ape is more Queen Kong than a King (another Robin Asquith reference!) and the trifling matter that the beast has shrunk considerably, now only approximately the size of anyone they could find to fit the ratty gorilla suit they rented.
Beating the above by far when it comes to being both tasteless and audacious is a commercial for Miaou cat food. It starts out like any other, with a dumb housewife giving their evil creature some tasty chow, but then cuts to footage of starving African children, with one proceeding to detail about the lovely meaty chunks in it—‘something I dream of every day’!
One gag improvised during the editing seems particularly tasteless today, and this took an A-to-B shot of Justine being picked up by an Arab at an airport. Dubbed onto the soundtrack is a voiceover saying that ‘no hijacking is expected today’, but shortly after, the image is optically tossed around to the sound of an explosion, with the rest of the shot played upside-down, as though the airport has been flipped over from a bomb going off. In any case, this was the seventies and plane hijackings were particularly topical at the time. Also in the plane sequence, as the captain and co-pilot get it on with two gorgeous visitors to the cock-pit (in aeronautical terms, they’re altering the flaps…), a tune plays on the soundtrack that sounds suspiciously like an instrumental version of Mud’s It’ll be Lonely this Christmas—with the foursome practicing unsafe sex, you almost expect Les Gray to come bursting into the cockpit and exclaiming ‘take it from me - be smart, be safe!’
Like some of Jean-Claude Roy’s other films, one area where the budget shows is in some of the rather sparse sets. Most of the time it is used to highlight the surreal atmosphere during the fantasy sequences, where bare black stages are dressed with a minimal amount of dressing and necessary props as though to keep the focus on the setup. While this is ingenious, it’s when the same black set is used in the same way during a mundane scene that the lack of budget stands out. Along similar lines, isn’t that the same porno-theatre which appeared in Scandalous Photos?
Possibly the funniest element is the way that intellectual pretence is used as a way of getting filth past the censors. Our man Mik becomes obsessed by the work of auteur Jean-Louis Ribaud(!) who finds success with his own brand of arty smut. We are treated to a look at his hilariously baffling work, showing two naked black couples walking along railway tracks into a tunnel, before the two guys walk out hand-in-hand to the sound of a stream train! Our complements on a great piece of satire on arty porn.
Speaking of arty porn, just after Mik signs on the dotted line to make a porn movie, he tries to convince Nina that it’s not such a bad thing and that ‘everybody joins the sex industry in the end’—anyone who has ever been able to sit through Ed Wood’s tragic drunken appearance in Pretty Models All in a Row can identify with this statement—and implies that the line between ‘respectable’ adult films and pornography is thinner than the skin of a stretched condom.
It’s quite unlikely that Justine’s Hot Nights saw the inside of a cinema in the US when it was originally released, as the subject matter and glimpses of genuine sexual contact would have made it damn-near impossible to get past the MPAA—even a modern American audience would be uncomfortable with the amount of male nudity contained in the film. As this was a fiendish combination of the seventies and France, it goes without saying that Justine’s Hot Nights has more overgrown bushes than a you would find during lengthy industrial action at Wisley.
Showing Roys' gift for character details combined with social commentary, there is a nice little sequence where Mik visits a Parisian sex-show that has the naked performers chatting about mundane things such as how the guy’s wife is and if she can give her a chicken recipe, showing that sex is a business and most involved with that particular line of work are able to psychologically detach themselves from sex itself.
We remember watching an old edition of Electric Blue, and it had a sequence where it reminded the audience that smoking causes lung cancer. OK, nice public service message, but it then pondered what kind of cancer the following might cause: cut to a woman smoking a cigarette out of her Jack n’ Danny! What relevance his this to a dirty movie from the 70s? Well, Justine’s Hot Nights got there first, and serves this parlour trick up to end the film on another head-f**k moment, and does so enviably.
How can you top that as the closer to a European film? Simple, have an ice-cool play-out after the credits, and note that this is a really long specimen, clocking in at around two minutes, probably to help qualify a short movie into the classification of feature-length. Such things always end a movie on the right note, certainly no pun intended.
Much like other titles from Naughty, the original negative for Justine’s Hot Nights was not available, so the transfer has been made from the best surviving materials available. Presented anamorphically at around 1.66:1, the image looks like it has been around the block a bit, with muddy colours and low sharpness levels; whilst you can tell that this isn’t exactly freshly-minted, it still makes for a passable transfer of what is a pretty obscure movie—if anything, the copy presented here adds to the seediness of the thing.
The soundtrack is presented in the original French mono and generally sounds fine; the subtitles are clear and well-translated into English—what more could you ask for, really?
Extras are limited to the original theatrical trailer (which is fun) and trailers for other titles Naughty’s armoury, including Scandalous Photos, Education Anglaise, Dressage and House of Legs, though the ‘g’ in that last title is optional…
Justine’s Hot Nights is a superior slice of Euro-sleaze, a movie with a humour that ranges from the ridiculously broad and obvious to the slyly satirical and subtle. There’s also a surprising amount of nudity and non-simulated sex on display, catering to those who want their satirical sex comedies to actually contain a degree of filth. Naughty have once again dragged another movie from the darkness of obscurity and into the light of day, and they should be commended for their sterling efforts in promoting European muckiness!
We give Justine two thumbs up.
Yes, we know...
Review by Wilson Bros
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 8th June 2009
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono French
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jean-Claude Roy
Cast: Philippe Gaste, Nadia Kapler, Michele Barton
Length: 76 minutes
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