Rinse Dream, 1982
Starring: Andy Nichols, Paul McGobboney, Michelle Bauer
“Post-Nuke Thrill Seekers Lookin’ for a Kick.”
Surely one of the most bizarre and interesting porn films to come out of the ‘80s, Rinse Dream’s Café Flesh is a hardcore twist on a popular ‘80s cult subgenre: post-apocalyptic movies. Sure, you may have seen the Mad Max trilogy, The Bronx Warriors, Escape from New York or many other classics, but none of them involved hardcore sex (though that’s probably for the best). After society is affected by nuclear fallout, the majority of the population become known as Sex Negatives. This means that no matter how much they want to have sex, they are physically sickened by any sort of intimate contact. The few remaining Sex Positives are forced to perform in sex shows as entertainment for the Sex Negatives.
Much of the film revolves around a nightclub where Sex Negatives watch the Positives perform, with a few side plots woven in. The main arc of the story surrounds a Sex Negative couple, Nick and Lana, who are growing apart. Nick is frustrated by the club and sick of watching people have sex when he cannot participate. Lana still enjoys going there and may have a few secrets she is keeping from Nick... and herself.
To say that Café Flesh is in any way erotic would be a drastic overstatement. There is a fair amount of hardcore sex, but, like the horror-influenced sex film Through the Looking Glass, the sex is bizarre or uncomfortable rather than arousing. The sex scenes will probably annoy the shit out of anyone who hates performance art, as they are highly stylized and choreographed. In one early scene, men dressed as babies sit in high chairs and dance in the background, while a homemaker-type gets fucked by a man whose costume can only be described as a house-painter uniform meets a Rodent Of Unusual Size.
Though the sets and sex scenes are imaginative and sci-fi tinged, I can’t say much about the film quality, the acting, or the writing. The print I watched was very dark, so hopefully a company like Synapse, Distribpix, or Arrow will pick up the rights and restore this film. The acting and dialogue are about what you would expect and are pretty much on par with most lower-end post-apocalyptic films from the ‘80s, particularly the Italian productions. Which is to say that the dialogue is laughable and the actors often look amazed that they've managed to deliver a line. Michelle Bauer (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers), though billed as Pia Snow here, is likable as the lead, particularly for the second half of the film. Andy Nichols (from some of the Devil in Miss Jones sequels) is the abrasive M.C., and Paul McGibboney, in his only acting role, is wooden as the downtrodden, frustrated boyfriend. Richard Belzer (Homicide: Life on the Street) oddly also makes an appearance.
Rinse Dream is an amusing pseudonym for director Stephen Sayadian, who got his start working for the glorious Hustler Magazine. He produced and directed a number of ‘80s and ‘90s cult films, including the Nightdreams trilogy and Dr. Caligari (yes, it’s a porn remake), though Café Flesh remains his most well-known work. This odd blend of cult film, pornography, and performance art will not be for everyone, but a select audience will absolutely love it. You get the feeling that Sayadian was trying to impart some kind of political message with Café Flesh (HIV/AIDS symbolism has been read into the film, like everything from the ‘80s), but it will probably be more entertaining if you just take things at their own incomprehensible face value. There is a wildly out of print DVD, but you can find a low quality print floating around online if you decide that you absolutely need to watch a really weird sci-fi, post-apoc sex film. There are two sequels not helmed by Sayadian, which I would avoid if I were you.