I just finished watching Cashback (2006) which features a rather beautiful Emilia Fox opposite a cast of oddities in a story line that made me feel just a little…queasy. Maybe it is the sickly sweet romantic element. Or maybe it is the film’s gratuitous play with young naked women posed hither and yon.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not bashful about nudity, especially young naked women, but the film’s protagonist, a struggling young artist, stops time so he can disrobe women and study their beauty. Kind of creepy, isn’t it?
Voyeurs will love the film, however. It delivers plenty of graphic nudity packaged in a mainstream film. Watching Cashback gives you the kind of cover Playboy magazine does; you can always talk about the fun romantic narrative and skip right over the nudity. “Naked girls? Oh, that…yes, well, I really thought the casting of Frank Hesketh as Young Ben was powerfully convincing…”
Cashback confused me at times. Left me with an uncertain feeling.
So, not wanting to forget what real sexploitation cinema is all about, I thought I would balance the polished exploitation of Cashback with something a bit more raw, something a bit more desperate.
Island of Despair (1969) seemed like the answer. But hold on…right out the chute I am confused. (What’s with these films?) The film seems to be titled 99 Women, not Island of Despair as advertised, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. “Behind bars: 99 Women…without men!” Who doesn’t want to see that?
This film runs like a bad fraternity skit. In fact, some of the actresses look a bit like old fraternity brothers in drag. After all, who really thinks you can find 99 women to star in a film with a script that repeats the line “She was dead when we found her this morning in her cell.”
Anyway, who would have thought a film featuring sadistic lesbians locked together on a remote island could be so horrible? It is horrible.
I found I was able to fast forward without missing a beat. A film without much of a plot has that benefit. It is simply a story of false hope and despair with unnecessary sadistic eroticism thrown in for fun. And we all know where that goes. No where! Definitely worth watching.
Cashback, on the other hand, gives you reasons to watch. It has a story. Ultimately the film feels like a “chick flick” designed to appeal to the boys, literally the boys. The humor is often immature and the nudity overly abundant. And it has that uncomfortable element of voyeurism.
Nonetheless, Cashback has a story. It is a simple story and at times silly, and I believe it does exploit nudity as a theme, but compared to sexploitation options out there, Cashback feels like a well-mannered neighbor you enjoy having over for dinner.
If you’re looking for a sweetly romantic film that has some fun moments and a bit of flesh, choose Cashback.
Now I need to go see how Island of Despair ends. On the edge of my seat…
- Lorna Maitland – Sexploitation Star (retrorambling.wordpress.com)