Call it a hunch, but I’d be willing to bet that VIOLENCE AND FLESH (Violência na Carne) is a very personal film for either its director/writer Alfredo Sternheim, its producer or perhaps even its cinematographer. It’s a given that anyone who puts forth an effort to tell a story through film is going to hold the experience and its finished product close to their heart, but my reasoning in such speculation is very specific. You see, someone had to sacrifice their car for the production and whoever that person was made damn sure that the demise of their beloved vehicle would not go unnoticed.
The picture opens with a trio of convicts uncovering a buried bag of money. With their fourth man Zecao dead of an apparent heart attack, the remaining men decide to spit the loot three ways. Seeking to destroy any evidence of their recent goings-on, the three men then shoot their driver and torch their getaway vehicle. Said car then burns for what feels like an eternity! Seriously, after watching flames engulf the same junky old four door for two and half minutes I couldn’t help but laugh. Was this a joke? Am I missing something? The only reason I could think of to justify a five minute, dialogue free stretch of a car burning was that it had to be very important to someone involved with the film. Either that or the scene represented the majority of the film's budget, which is also a strong possibility. The scene is actually quite devious in its methods, teasing you with the promise of a fade away before cutting to a different angle of the same car burning.
Meanwhile at a beach house just down the road, Ana and her girlfriend Sandra are waiting for a group of theater friends to arrive for a rehearsal. In a bit of foreshadowing, Sandra expresses concern to Ana and their homosexual roommate Fabio, of her recent decision to “out” herself to both friends and family. Her fear is that she will be punished for what her family considers a sin, a notion that Ana and Fabio, unaware of what is about to transpire, assure her is a load of bull. Driving to the rehearsal, director Renato is persuaded to pull over and help what appears to be a man passed out in the middle of the road, only to be tricked and subsequently car jacked by Jorge, Paulo and Tercio, the three escaped convicts. Continuing down the road, the three men force Renato to stop at Ana and Sandra’s beach bungalow after seeing Fabio lounging out on the front deck. Looking for a place to stay the night, the three men corral their captives in the living room, which quickly becomes crowed with the arrival of fellow actresses Leticia (Helena Ramos, THE CHICK’S ABILITY, BRUCE LEE VS. GAY POWER) and Neila (Neide Ribeiro, BARE BEHIND BARS), who is accompanied by her boyfriend Amano, an economist. With the whole cast finally assembled, the three convicts seek to ease the stress that has built up behind bars and have more than one idea as how to relieve their pent-up anxiety. At Leticia’s suggestion, the troupe performs a scene from their script, but Jorge and Paulo aren’t looking for culture, they're looking for action. What results next is a series of rapes (men and women), stabbings and fisticuffs that deliver on the film's simple yet provocative title.
A softcore thriller that liberally borrows from previous home invasion films (LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH), VIOLENCE AND FLESH starts rather slow, setting up characters and establishing a location. Once the convicts do show up, it’s no surprise as to what is about to transpire, that is until Paulo, a former pimp, forces Ana and Sandra to have sex while he rapes young Fabio in full view of the rest of the cast. Up until this point the film's antagonism is pretty standard sexploitation fare (forcing women to strip, threats of violence, etc.) but after overweight, gnarled tooth Paulo face rapes poor Fabio, it becomes crystal clear that the filmmakers have every intention of delivering on the promise of their title. While extremely seedy, most of the onscreen carnage and carnality is handled rather skillfully, avoiding scenes of penetration, be them from a blade or otherwise, but framed at just the right angle as to titillate the appropriate synapses.
As Leticia, Brazilian screen goddess Helena Ramos, the muse of Pornochanchada, plays a morose actress who pouts her way for the film's first act before catching Stockholm syndrome faster than you can say Patty Hearst at the arrival of Tercio. Helena spends the majority of her confinement trying her best to get closer to Tercio, setting up a romance that has no other option but to end badly. With her dark hair straightened, Helena is far more fetching here than in THE CHICK”S ABILITY, Impulse Pictures' first Pornochanchada release, in which she appears to have a discarded Chia Pet on her head. Attractive as she is, it is Neide Ribeiro’s striptease that is the film's defining moment of flesh. Forced by Jorge to strip in front of the packed room, including her boyfriend, Neide's dance is expertly maneuvered, with the camera thankfully lingering long enough to let every tantalizing gyration sink in. Of course, it’s no five minute montage of a car burning.
Impulse Pictures presents VIOLENCE AND FLESH in a new digital transfer in the film's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. While colors are relatively strong and fleshtones appear accurate, the film does at times display several signs of age, including a rather steady procession of white spotting. Such blemishes do however diminish as the picture progresses. Dolby Digital 2.0 mono is in the film's original Portuguese, with optional, newly translated English Subtitles. The track is solid with no noticeable errors as are the removable subtitles, which along with a chapter selection, make for the whole of options available on this release's static menu screen. A double sided insert that gives a brief overview of Brazils Pornochanchada genre and an eye catching cover make VIOLENCE AND FLESH another firm entry in Impulse's Classic of Latin Erotica Collection.
If you’ve been looking to broaden your Brazilin horizons past the macabre world of Coffin Joe, VIOLENCE AND FLESH is an ideal place to start your journey. But come prepared and take the ride seriously, remember someone’s car was sacrificed for your entertainment. (Jason McElreath)
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