5 Surreal Moments in Pornographic Film History

Categories: Film and TV

Photo by Anthony Easton
The old school, scary way to watch pornography.
The production of pornography has marched along with humans since the dawn of man. Pornographic cave paintings have been found, which confirms that humanity has wanted to see depictions of sexual acts since the very beginning of human society.

When cameras were first invented, their use to create erotica followed closely behind. Hardcore pornography went from back room illegal stag films to a semi-respectable status in the '70s, which is not surprising. When home video took off in the latter part of that decade, pornography was one of the things that helped drive the sale of VHS players.

The kinds of pornography that a person enjoys is a very personal thing. It seems to me that, for most people who will even occasionally enjoy viewing some professionally made erotica, porn falls into four general categories.

There's the stuff that person likes (the type of porn that they personally enjoy), the stuff they just find boring, followed by things they think are kinda gross, and then the dreaded "leaving the room screaming" reaction.

But there's another category that has reared its weird head from time to time - The particularly strange, "how did this get made?" porno. I'm not talking about some odd sexual fetishes on parade. In a post-Internet world, almost nothing surprises me anymore. People are turned on by stuff I'll never understand, and that's fine.

No, these are films where the underlying concept is just weird, not the sex acts on display. There's a vast difference between thinking that a filmed sexual act or some obscure fetish is creepy or strange, and a film where something is inherently odd about the film itself, and the sex is just another thing all together. Let's look at a few of these glorious train-wrecks of porno history a bit more closely.

5. Sodom and Gomorrah The Last Seven Days (1975)

Jim and Artie Mitchell were pioneers of pornography during its 1970s golden age. Shortly after they propelled former Ivory Snow soap model Marilyn Chambers into porn stardom when they gave her the starring role in 1972's "Behind the Green Door," the Mitchell Brothers decided that what the world needed was a pornographic film rooted in the Old Testament. We needed that right?

So, in 1975 the Mitchell Brothers released "Sodom and Gomorrah The Last Seven Days," which is a weird mix of Biblical history, hardcore sex, space aliens, and just sheer weirdness. There's a lot of explicit, sex of course, but the film jumps back and forth between well executed scenes that could've been in some normal movie covering the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, then onto a spaceship where a guy and his talking space chimp are watching the people on Earth. The total effect isn't titillation as much as "what the hell is going on in this film?"

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David McClain
David McClain

Should have mentioned In the Realm of the Senses. The surrealism of this list is largely explained by the state of the law at the time the films were made. At the time, the legal standard was, I believe, whether the film had any "morally redeeming qualities," or was "art." Including some biblical scenes or the like gave the producers an argument that the work was morally redeeming and non-pornographic. The penalties for making porn were quite draconian, too. So producers had a strong incentive to make a case that they were making art and not porn. As the law changed to something like "does it offend local community standards" (a much weaker test), pornographers were able to dispense with the cheese.

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