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Angela is the Fireworks Woman (1975)

 Rating: ** out of 4

Cast: Sarah Nicholson, Helen Madigan, Erica Eaton, Eric Edwards, and Ellis Deigh.

Writer: Horst Badorties, and Abe Snake. (Both are pseudonyms for Hollywood filmmakers. Snake is Wes Craven. Badoorties remains unnamed.)

Director: Abe Snake. (Again, Craven.)

After the release of The Last House on the Left, Craven found it hard to find film work. The one murky part of the film industry that welcomed him was the industry of adult film. Yes, you read correctly. Wes Craven’s sophomore feature was an X rated adult film! Speculation is that he used the welcoming porn industry to continue working in order to finance his next Craven credited feature – The Hills Have Eyes. Furthermore, it is likely he made many more adult films during the gap between Last House and Hills, but none have been confirmed. This one is hard to ignore as Craven himself plays a role in the film! (Thankfully not in the nude-y bits.) I am now venturing into unfamiliar territories, as I have never personally critically analyzed an adult film, but here goes. *Deep breath*

The plot is thus; Angela and Peter are brother and sister, but both have a deep attraction to each other. One day, the two get groin-y and that really puts a kink in Peter’s burgeoning career as a man of the lord. That’s right! Homeboy is off to seminary school. Angela is torn up something fierce when he moves away and tries to find a person who can fill her needs as thoroughly as her brother can, all the while fantasizing about her brother. The movie culminates with an orgy that Angela has arranged and invited her brother to in the hopes he will fall to his carnal desires, ending with a montage of fireworks inter-cut with money shots.

Yeah, so this film is weird. Granted, it wasn’t likely meant to be viewed through a critical lens. That being said, there is some oddly redeeming qualities to be found. The characters are at a moral quandary as to the nature of their relationship. Is it right? Is it wrong? And, Peter specifically has trouble with his desire for his sister, being a budding man of the cloth. This leads to a shocking amount of beautiful cinematography that is rich with religious iconography. The film is also obsessed with the right/wrong dichotomy and uses the priest character to represent the good, and Craven plays a wanderer who looks after Angela throughout the film. By the film’s end, the two characters are blended into one with a dissolve.

Beyond the good cinematography and interesting exploration of right v. wrong, the film hasn’t much to offer. The acting is weak from everyone except Sarah Nicholson, who plays Angela, and Wes Craven himself, who has a nice screen presence. The actor playing Peter is remarkably stiff (oh the puns!) in his emotionless portrait of a man lost. The sex scenes are graphic, but they are what they are. This is a porn after all. I will condemn the rape scene, however. It is pointless and adds nothing to the story. Lastly, I have to once again slam the score. It uses the lovely “Canon in D” theme over nearly all the sex scenes, and it just a weird choice. That’s two films for two, Craven, to have tonally awkward scores.

At the end of the day, it is what it is. This is a straight-up porn that offers a mild surprise in that it was headier than I expected. It’s only relevant quality in the pantheon of screen history is that it was made between two iconic horror masterpieces, from the master of horror himself. Still, die hard Craven fans will want to see this, if for no other reason than to say that they have seen it.

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- October, 2015

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