As I cover everything apocalyptic at this blog, it was only a matter of time before I got around to reviewing CAFE FLESH (1982). It’s a wild ride. This feature-length New Wave pornographic film is set in a post-apocalyptic world during the ’50s after America and the USSR drop atom bombs on each other. Humanity has survived, but 99% of the population has been rendered impotent–in fact, they get violently ill if they try to have sex.
To prevent extinction, the government set up Cafe Flesh theaters, in which the few who can have sex, the Sex Positives, perform live staged sexual acts to try to stimulate the Sex Negatives into procreation for the good of the Nation (but end up tormenting them instead).
The sex itself is explicit–this is clearly a porn film–but bizarre, mechanical and impersonal, with actors dressed up as rats, giant pencils and so on. The MC of the Cafe Flesh central to our story, Max Melodramatic, sadistically taunts the audience about their need (and, with a wink, those of us watching at home).
The story, meanwhile–yes, there is a plot, and it’s actually interesting–focuses on a Sex Negative couple, Nick and Lana, regulars at Cafe Flesh. Nick keeps trying to make love with Lana, but falls ill each time. Lana, meanwhile, only fakes being ill. Nick doesn’t know it, but she’s actually a Sex Positive faking being a Negative.
If she reveals herself as a Positive, she’ll have to leave Nick to perform, and she loves him too much to let him go. Her sexual desires and frustration are mounting, however, which leads to the haunting climax.
Despite its intriguing elements, as a post-apocalyptic film, CAFE FLESH mostly falls flat, while as a porn film, if that’s your thing, it’s actually kind of boring. Put them together, however, and it strangely works, particularly with the Mitchell Froom soundtrack, marking it as a cult classic.
Check it out if you’re looking for something weird, something different.