Sex Wars presents itself as a pornographic parody of Star Wars but that isn’t really what it is. For starters, the plot is based on a Star Trek episode from the first season called The Corbomite Maneuver. It’s a creepy story involving a Bacchus-like little person named Balok who lures and then traps Captain Kirk and his crew on his little spaceship. Basically, Balok, (played by Clint Howard, Ron Howard’s brother) is a lonely alcoholic and wants to keep Kirk on the ship as a companion.
In Sex Wars the little person is replaced with a golden quadriplegic. Look, I didn’t write the stuff I’m just telling you what I saw. His skin was gold, he was dressed in flowing gold robes and he was limbless, what else are you gonna call him? I suppose you could call him by name which was Lord Balthazar. He is propped up in a chair and holds court in a funky 1960s mod room. Sex Wars’ set is a step up from the purple curtains used on the StarTrek episode. Below is an illustration for ease of comparison.
Mostly Balthazar just tells everyone to have sex so he can watch. It is implied that somehow he harnesses the energy of the sexual activity and either uses it to power the ship, or himself, or both. The writer didn’t bother with the details. Porn movies like Sex Wars are inherently confusing because it’s never clear what the filmmaker’s goals were. Sex Wars is pretty bad as a straightforward science fiction movie. If it is meant as a parody there is hardly any humor save the names of the characters like Princess Layme and Princess Orgasma, but once you recover from the heaving guffaws that such names inspire, there aren’t any other attempts at comedy. Of course, you could say the purpose of the film is sexual arousal or titillation but it fails at that as well.
The director Bob Vosse, seems to have had a penchant for cross-cutting. All of the sex scenes are cross-cut with stock footage of lava flowing, explosions in outer space, and colorful nebulae. Below is a sampling of how the sex scenes were edited.
Later in the movie, sex montages would also include flashes of negative film. Switching between positive and negative was either done to heighten the eroticism, which it does not, or to be creative, which it is not. Either way you lose.
To Sex Wars’ credit, it wastes no time in getting down to business. There are only two lines of dialogue before the first sex scene. I was unable to discern the protagonist’s name it was either Brink-a-Doodle or Vicar Duo or something.
Brick-a-Doodwho: “What’s a nice girl like you doing on a planet like this anyway?”
Obliging Young Lady: “It’s not so bad really, except for the martian slug worms.”
Then the obliging young lady heads straight for Brank-a-donko’s doodle and the cross-cutting commences. In the very next scene, Broocky D. Doo tries out the exact same line on Princess Layme to no avail.
This all transpires in a bar, because what would a Star Wars parody be without a bar scene. The bar scene is actually pretty impressive. Some 80s makeup artist got to pull out all the stops. Everyone in the bar looks more like refugees from a Duran Duran music video than space aliens, but the makeup is great. All this mixed with a traditional bar from a western movie, complete with swinging doors, old thyme wood furniture, and a grandam who attempts a May West impersonation, makes for quite a scene.
Director Bob Vosse had a curious career. He made more than 70 porn films. In his filmography are such classics as Yank My Doodle It’s Dandy, Debbie Duz Dishes, Dr. Black love, She-Male Spirits In The Night, and Psychoanal Therapy. His close friend John Holmes said Vosse was the “Elvis of The Porn Industry.”
Sex Wars was made in 1985. The 80s were an especially prolific time for Vosse. 1981 seems to have been a special year, you might call it his “Swedish Erotica Phase.” During the 365 days that comprise said year he made 17 films, Swedish Erotica 1 through 8 followed by Swedish Erotica 10, 14, 15, 22, 24, 27, 30, 31 39, and finally 283. It is possible that the strange gaps in the series were filled by other directors, but then there is the matter of the last gap. I’m hoping that there aren’t 256 unaccounted for Swedish Erotica movies floating around somewhere. There is at least one more that was released posthumously in 2007, Swedish Erotica 115. Maybe it was a prequel.
Sex Wars is a strange film, not because it mixes explosions with semen, or centers around a golden quadriplegic with no ears, but because it sort of has, dare I say, character development. Balthazar isn’t so much a diabolical villain as a lonely soul feeding off of everyone else’s vitality. The captured princess does not seem to mind being a sex slave. It’s as if she has found her calling and is sorry to leave Balthazar in the end. The mercenary Brinka Dinka Do never has an epiphany to awaken him out of his opportunism and ends the film unchanged foiling any attempt at a hero’s journey resolution.
It’s some sort of atmosphere of pathos that manages to emerge from this deranged assembly footage. Balthazar’s loneliness and isolation, coupled with his ravenous appetite for voyeurism is a portrait of the viewer. In the 80s the whole nature of porn changed when VCRs hit the market. It was an enormous boost for the pornography industry which no longer had to fuss around with theaters and could simply sell directly to what they termed “the trench coat crowd.” Now porn could be viewed in the privacy of your own home.
Sex Wars seems acutely aware of this shift and offers a melancholy image of the isolated consumer aroused but alone, unable to participate in what he is watching. Soon all the porn theaters would turn into video rental stores, and mainstream video rental stores would install a backroom behind a curtain with a sign above the door reading “Adults Only.” Now in 2021, you don’t even need to mingle with the trench coat crowd or hide behind a curtain, free porn awaits you at a click of a button.
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