Well, you won’t see this puppy at your local multiplex. R100 is truly a product of the underground: an exploitation film that isn’t out for blockbuster bucks and therefore knows it can do pretty much whatever it wants. And does it gleefully. Watching the film is like falling into a well. The farther you fall, the darker it gets, the more disoriented you become until you hit the bottom with a crack and wonder if you’ll ever see daylight again. OK, that’s a tad melodramatic. The film isn’t a painful experience. Unless pain is your pleasure (you’ll get that joke later).
And in fact, it tricks you. It may, in subject matter, be a film that you’d find playing on 42nd Street in New York City in the ’70s but it doesn’t have that Roger Corman or Herschell Gordon Lewis no-budget look and feel.
It looks slick, is well photographed and features a plethora of fine performances, except for one cartoon character performance by an American female wrestler. But by that point in the story, the movie’s become an R-rated Looney Tunes cartoon anyway.
R100 is about a man whose wife is in a coma. He’s lonely and horny and a masochist of the highest order and visits a bondage brothel. The brothel sets him up with a year-long subscription of pain whereby he will be periodically visited by a number of ‘queens’ who will systematically beat a smile onto his face. No refunds, no cancellations. Soon things with the queens get out of hand and his life becomes more and more stressful as his wife’s condition seems more and more hopeless and he wants out of the deal. Instead, the brothel turns up the heat on his contract and the whole shebang (no pun intended) begins to devolve into a whirlpool of violence, vengeance and… grenades.
S&M isn’t as taboo a sexual preference as it once was and while I’m no expert on the subject, from what I hear the Japanese have got it down better than most. And regardless of how familiar the filmmakers are with it, for R100, they seem to have done their research. As someone who doesn’t particularly derive pleasure from pain (a more blunt way of putting it is that I’m a wimp who thinks removing a bandaid is traumatic), this movie found me at times squirming in my seat, at others almost gagging. There’s one particularly peachy scene involving a sadist known as ‘the Queen of Saliva.’ And boy is she. Make sure you’ve finished you popcorn and nachos by that point.
To say R100 isn’t for everyone feels redundant after the description I just gave. I myself thought it was interesting, visually exciting and always entirely unique. Without a doubt, I have not seen anything like it before. It’s an over-the-top exercise in the ludicrous, but knows it is and makes self-referential comments throughout in a way that’s both witty and baffling. It may not be a film I will be readily seeking out in the future for a nice chillax on a Sunday afternoon but as an entry in an underground film festival designed to bring attention to just this kind of film, it’s a pick I’m glad I didn’t miss.
By Dustin Griffin