Known for their double- or triple-feature discs collecting lost and forgotten sexploitation and adult films of the 1960s and 1970s, After Hours has now branched out into feature films with their Grindhouse Director Series. The inaugural release, Shaun Costello’s notorious FORCED ENTRY, is a bold choice. While it’s a historically important adult film, for being one of the earliest hardcore releases pre-DEEP THROAT as well as its extreme violence, it’s unfortunately quite a polarizing film for those same reasons. This is a film that should be seen at least once for fans and scholars of the genre, but it’s doubtful many will bring themselves to revisit it, so the worth of an actual purchase is questionable.
A sinister gas station attendant, recently returned from a tour in Vietnam, begins stalking, raping, and murdering his female customers. And that’s basically the whole movie.
FORCED ENTRY is simply one of the most repulsive, offensive films ever made. And I don’t say this for hyperbole or to incite you to watch it. It truly is. Harry Reems called it the only film he truly regretted making! There is very little entertainment value to be found here, unless you really enjoy watching amateurish sex scenes with gynecological close-ups and lengthy rape scenes followed by the women being gorily dispatched in the nude. Yech! Where later similar movies, like the Avon films of Phil Prince or even later Costello works, are at least successful as horror films due to their graphic nature and terrifying aesthetics, FORCED ENTRY is just cheap, lurid trash. Thankfully, it doesn’t aspire to be much of anything else. Don’t let the newspaper and doctor quotes at the beginning fool you. They’re there to appease community standards of “redeeming social value”, and anyone telling you that this is an interesting comment on the Vietnam War is deluding themselves. It’s exploitation, plain and simple. While the film is shoddily written and photographed, it is in the editing department that director Shaun Costello shows some surprising promise, contrasting scenes of Harry Reems running through the streets with newsreel footage of Vietnamese peasants, and drawing the viewer in during the quick-flash opening credits (a sequence later echoed in Costello’s far superior FIONA ON FIRE). Unfortunately, where he excels in those sequences, he also allows a pair of hippie lesbians to drone incessantly to pad the last third of the film!
Harry Reems gives a very good, eerie performance, sans mustache, and seems to be trying his best to instill some kind of personality into the lead character (who, like almost all of the film’s characters, has no name). Laura Cannon, who was Reems’ girlfriend for a time (he called her the ultimate Jewish American Princess) and is best-known as the star of Andy Milligan’s FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET (using the moniker Diana Lewis), is actually pretty decent in her brief bit, not surprising considering her professional acting background. Her likable personality makes it even more difficult to sit through her scene with Reems. Jutta David, a German girl from the early days of hardcore, is cute enough, and appears in the only consensual straight sex scene in the whole film, performing with (naturally) director Costello, sporting a mustache. In the end, FORCED ENTRY is a curio that raises the bar for tastelessness in adult films, but is still far more interesting to read about than it is to actually sit through.
While names like Gerard Damiano and Chuck Vincent are synonymous with the adult film world outside of the fan world, Shaun Costello is still kind of a hidden treasure of the classic adult industry. He made consistently good films, whether they were intensely erotic 60-minute weekend wonders (SHE’S NO ANGEL, SLAVE OF PLEASURE) or larger-budget extravaganzas (HOT DREAMS, PANDORA’S MIRROR), but would never become a blockbuster name through his decade in the industry. Why? Because he couldn’t pick just one name! Warren Evans, Helmut Richler, Amanda Barton, Jack Hammer, and Russ Carlson were his monikers of choice, and by his own admission, he wasn’t too terribly interested in becoming a superstar director. However, he has developed a large fan following in the video age, and a well-deserved one at that! For far better examples of the type of film Costello was capable of, I would recommend checking out: FIONA ON FIRE (a porn version of LAURA, with Amber Hunt in her all-time best role), PANDORA’S MIRROR (his most lush big-budget film starring Veronica Hart as a woman mesmerized by an antique mirror), AFTERNOON DELIGHTS (a loop carrier featuring Merle Michaels, Samantha Fox, Veronica Hart, Vanessa Del Rio, and Serena), MIDNIGHT DESIRES (another loop carrier with C.J. Laing, Eric Edwards, and Jenny Baxter), SHE’S NO ANGEL (featuring Marlene Willoughby in one of her funniest roles), SLAVE OF PLEASURE (a very hot white slavery potboiler), and HOT DREAMS (one of Sharon Mitchell’s finest roles as a photographer plagued by sexual fever dreams).
Previously available on the bootleg market and issued on DVD as part of Alpha Blue Archives’ Avon Dynasty: Shaun Costello Collection, FORCED ENTRY has been mastered from the only known existing film elements. As luck would have it, a 16mm print of the film showed up on eBay and the folks at After Hours won the auction! I actually considered bidding on this rarity myself! The transfer taken from this print is actually pretty good-looking, though black lines are constant and there are a number of print jumps. The film is complete, with all the nastiness intact.
The best thing about the package, and infinitely more interesting than the film itself, is the liner notes booklet containing Costello’s personal memories of the genesis of the film, from his introduction to making films/loops through the shooting schedule and subsequent editing and distribution of the finished product. Costello, a regular fixture on the DVD Maniacs forum for a time, pulled a disappearing act from both the forum and his MySpace (yes, the legendary director had a MySpace), so I was shocked that he actually consented to scribing these notes! If these are any indication of his book-in-progress, it will be an incredible read! Three additional loops, all starring Shaun Costello himself (!), and a trailer vault for other After Hours titles (including the previously-lost A TOUCH OF GENIE, also unearthed on eBay!) wrap up this uncomfortable package. (Casey Scott)
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