The Lickerish Quartet Blu-ray Review
Directed by Radley Metzger
Written by Michael DeForrest and Radley Metzger
1970, Region B2, 90 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 11th February 2013
Silvana Venturelli as The Visitor
Frank Wolff as Castle Owner
Erika Remberg as His Wife
Paolo Turco as Her Son
That annoying moment when you think someone's a bit of an arse, but they turn out to be really talented and good at what they do. To celebrate Arrow Video's re-release of his trilogy of softcore sexploitation films, I settled down for a chat with Mister Radley Metzger about his career. What followed was the most uncomfortable five minutes of my life. Seemingly moody and uncommunicative, it certainly put paid to any assumption I might have had that being a famous director of classy filth might make you a cheery, talkative person. With that in mind, I was prepared to properly lay into the man in my reviews of Score, Camille 2000 and The Lickerish Quartet. No such luck, for Metzger is a man of immense talent, with an enviable eye for style.
In the wonderfully titled The Lickerish Quartet, we find a wealthy couple and their son watching a dirty movie in their castle home. Most children get embarrassed watching TV sex scenes with their parents, so it's understandable that their son is less than impressed. That said, he's more put out by the lack of production values, rather than the inherent awkwardness of watching a fornication flick with his folks. Imagine the family's surprise when they spot a woman who appears to be the female star of the video, performing at a local circus. They invite her to join them for a nightcap, where she stays overnight. During her time at the castle, each of the family involves her in a very sexy fantasy, while she remains awkwardly (but not entirely unwillingly) stuck in the middle.
Like the rest of Metzger's softcore sexploitation movies, The Lickerish Quartet is more concerned with style and story than the actual rutting. There's plenty of that, but it's not the be-all-and end-all. As with Score and Camille 2000, there's a curious sense of humour undercutting it all, especially in the early scenes which depict the family watching and analysing a porn film in the same manner as you or I might watch a soap opera or family film with our parents. Particularly excellent is a scene in which Dad watches his filthy film in fast-forward, while laughing his head off. Our family prefers the work of Will Ferrell, but comedy is incredibly subjective.
His conversational skills may be occasionally lacking, but if Mister Metzger has proved anything with his films, it's that sometimes the imagery should speak for itself. Like his other movies, it's characterised by a gorgeous sense of style, composure and composition. It seems rougher around the edges than the other films of his, but is no less distinctive. The music is great too, with a sinister undertone marking it as creepier, darker and more serious than some of his other films. There's still that sense of kinky playfulness though. Flirting is almost an art form for Radley Metzger, with some excellent wordplay and a theatrical to-and-fro that Tarantino himself would be jealous of. Elegant, stylish and clever, it's almost like watching a fencing match.
To quote one of the film's characters, “crudity is in the eye of the beholder.” To dismiss The Lickerish Quartet as mere sexploitation or pornography would be a mistake, since it's much more than that. Well, maybe not much more, but it's something special, all the same.
Video and Audio:
Another sumptuous re-release from the folks at Arrow Video. Like the other films in the series, it looks and sounds great.
There's an audio commentary by Radley Metzger and film historian Michael Bowen, a Making of feature, Cool Version Love Scenes and Giving Voice to the Quartet, which documents the film's use of location sound and dubbing.