Monthly Smut: Cafe Flesh 3 (2003)

Cafe3 DVD Cover

Reviews for the first and second movies.

Directed by Antonio Passolini

Synopsis
“At the end of the twenty-first century, the world went to war once again.” the disembodied brain of the first film’s emcee, Max Melodramatic, reminds us from its fish tank. “But this time, it was different. This time, some wise guy with his finger on the button thought he could get the jump… So he fired, they fired back, and everyone else let theirs go too, just in case. Boom, boom. Out went the lights…

For a hundred years, the world was covered by a doomsday shroud of toxic gas that blocked out the sun and turned everything on earth into one giant graveyard…” the brain continues.

“Nuclear war is nasty, but nuclear winter is even worse. And when it was over, just about everyone on earth — 99.9% — were rendered incapable of having sex without becoming violently, mortally ill. These were the sex negatives, or neggies for short. And the lucky few who could still hump, they were the pozzies, sex positives. And by law, they were required to perform bizarre, sexual acts for the twisted pleasure of the neggies, who could only watch, and yearn.” Hmm, sounds kinky.

By this point, the titular dive from the first two films has evolved from a walk-in sex bar to a TV network. Positives (endangered from the get-go, mind you) are now on the brink of extinction. The human race, it appears, is down to its final fuggable female, Little Miss Mayhem. After a lengthy run on top, Mayhem, the world’s most cherished celebrity, has a meltdown and quits — or dies, it’s very unclear. This newspaper headline seems to insinuate she literally combusts. Like, into flames.

Cafe3 2

The article even repeats itself, but fails to clarify what actually happened and reads like an unrelated snippet lifted from something else.

Right, so 325-time porn director Fred Lincoln shows up as the network’s unenviable producer, Marvin Gardens (yeah, the Monopoly property), now tasked with pulling a miracle out of his ass. In living up to his character’s name from one of the only mainstream films he was part of, Wes Craven’s legendary Last House on the Left, Lincoln Weasels out of a call with an irate investor by falsely claiming he’s already found a replacement pozzie. “[Mayhem] was not the last.” he insists. “That was a, uh, marketing ploy.”

Cafe3 3

His master plan: to blast a ridiculous Travis Barker look-alike and a Bettie Page wannabe (then-porn couple Rob and Rachel Rotten) one-hundred years into the past with an old school furnace retrofitted into a time machine to retrieve a top porn star. Sounds crazy enough to work, right? And it does, for a while. But you know, time travel and such. You can’t just pluck things from the past without setting off a chain reaction of consequences. Can our horny heroes find a way to restore order to the universe before it’s too late, yet keep the network afloat?

Review (SPOILERS)
During a live chat with members of Adult DVD Talk in 2000, director Passolini (real name Anthony Lovett) said of his debut, Cafe 2, “I hit my peak with my first movie and it’s downhill from there. I’m the Orson [Welles] of porn…” Also during that chat, he revealed his biggest influences, confirmed his name was a tip of the hat to Pier Paolo Pasolini (the guy that made Salò), and more. It’s a fun read, if you’re interested. Click here for the transcript.

That said, Cafe 2 is by no means a masterpiece. It pales when compared to the brilliance of Rinse Dream’s original cult classic, but like I’ve written before, it’s well-made for a porno — and heck, for a sequel of any kind. While lighter in tone, and heavier on the sex, it’s full of great costumes, set pieces, props, even CGI. When you watch it, it’s evident Passolini possessed not only an appreciation for cult film, but a certain amount of artistic skill his own right. With Cafe 3, eh, not so much. In his commentary track for the VCA disc I’m reviewing, Passolini admits to scrapping a number of scenes due to budget cuts and “wood problems with the talent”. Disappointingly, the final product reflects that. To better tie together what he ended up with, Passolini himself voiced a bunch of narration, then set it to recycled footage of Max’s brain as a wraparound device. Without the inclusion of Max (who wasn’t even in the original script), it’s safe to say we’d be left with an incohesive mess.

Cafe3 1

Unlike the first two movies, there’s barely a story, and some of the scenes even contradict it. Question: if we’re to believe Miss Mayhem was actually the world’s last positive female, then how can there be all these scenes — like the 50s sitcom riff, or the age-old Croatian-Nazi-interrogating-then-sexing-a-prisoner gag — featuring women that aren’t her? Right?

And what’s with the opening, you know, the part where the guy and the female Grim Reaper type get it on atop a Plexiglas sarcophagus in a graveyard, before he bursts into flame, apparently not unlike Miss Mayhem? I dunno either.

Sadly, the moments that do serve to advance the story are lacking. I feel like a whole lot more could have been done with this thing, and more attention could have been paid to its details. There’s tons of sex, but the rest is phoned in. To illustrate: Mayhem dies, but it happens off-screen. Time machines transport their voyagers back in time, but it happens off-screen. A woman is tranquilized, off-screen. You get the idea. Just show us the little things, it goes a long way in suspending our disbelief. And your movie won’t seem so friggin’ lazy.

Bah, disappointing.

TRIVIA
The actor portraying the mental patient reportedly had a bad attitude and threatened to quit, so director Passolini dressed another actor up as a doctor and sent him on set mid-take to escort the guy offstage and take over. The line that doctor utters, “Well, Mr. Shrimp, the test results are in and you’re definitely gay.” was most likely a jab at the actor in question.

The Verdict
Cafe 3 is still pretty good for a porno, but sucks for a Cafe Flesh movie. Now somebody make a fourth, and make sure it’s good!

Recommendations
New Wave Hookers Seven (2003)
Cap’n Mongo’s Porno Playhouse (2000)

Total Run Time: 1 hour 59 minutes 45 seconds (VCA DVD)

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