James Bryan had one of the most promising careers in the 70’s underground film movement, making politically-charged and sexually aggressive films. I first heard of him thanks to Nightmare USA, THE book on the underground exploitation film scene of the 70’s and early 80’s. These were his two first, and in a way held a promise of what might have been a great career as a transgressive filmmaker in the vein of people like Oliver Stone. But sadly it was not meant to be, but still, we have these two little gems to show us a kind of filmmaking that today is not really seen anymore.
The Dirtiest Game in the World deals with a politician named Titus (played by Titus Moody, the hairiest character actor in sex films) who decides that the best way to attract voters into his campaign is to join the legalization of marijuana issue. He gets involved with a bunch of hippies, led by the bearded Frank (Frank Millen) and his sultry, sex crazed assistant, who’s name I forget but was played by the chubby-but-hot Jean Stone. Soon the life of the hippie takes over Titus’ life, and it all falls on the shoulders of his beautiful but sex-starved wife, who’s lust is slowly driving her insane.
The name isn’t listed on IMDB, but the wife was played by Sheryl Powell, in her only film as far as I can tell, which is a shame. It was her performance that kept me interested in this incredible film experience. All under one hour, the film packs in more offensiveness than you can imagine. The wife is sexually starved, and Titus just doesn’t want to fuck her anymore. She fucks everyone: Titus’ assistant, Jean Stone, everyone until her rejection at an orgy causes her to go completely insane. Here is the best part of the performance, and the sickest sequence, as the wife starts to cut herself all over with a razorblade, and even starts cutting herself in her privates, all in glorious close-up, before finishing by masturbating with a loaded gun and shooting herself up her snatch. It’s a sequence that must be seen to be believed. Not only is it hard to watch, but it carries so much power, political and aggressive, I mean, you have to place yourself at the time the film came out, in 1970, something like this could have caused riots. And whenever there were screenings, people would faint and scream in horror. It’s the kind of film that reminds me why I love making movies, and I wish I could make something as strong and violent and sexually explicit as this.
The same year The Dirtiest Game In The World came out, Bryan made another film, this one called Escape To Passion. Instead of keeping with the violent, politically-charged material of his first film, Bryan decided that the best thing he could do was to make a 40’s style crime film, and boy does it disappoint. The acting is way below average, and the characters are so uninteresting that I really couldn’t believe it was made the same year as the previous film. While leaving the politics behind and trying to make something more commercial, he made a real turkey of a film.
However, there is one sequence that is truly a must-see, and will make even the strongest-stomached film fans gag once or twice. I’m talking about the now-legendary Crisco orgy sequence. You see, before the invention of KY lubricant, people used stuff like Crisco to lubricate their privates and assholes before insertion. Yes, you’re already feeling queasy, I know. Here we have an orgy with the substance, and it’s just so disgusting that it was really hard for me to watch it completely. I mean, talk about gross! You see this fat guy with a bunch of hot chicks just smothered in that shit while fucking each other, it’s… ugh it’s like somebody opened the Ark Of The Covenant.
After these two films, Bryan’s career went the way of the porno, but he was able to release one more cult film in the infamous Don’t Go In The Woods…Alone. A lot of people hate this movie, but I find it very fun. I wouldn’t recommend Escape To Passion, but The Dirtiest Game In The World is now in my top 20 of all time, and I recommend everyone to give it a watch, if you can.