Professor Raspoutine (1981)

Directed by Andrew Whyte (Andrei Feher)
Starring Gabriel Pontello, Christina Andersson
Release Date: May 14, 1981 (Finland)
88 Minutes (Softcore Version)
80 Minutes (Hardcore Version)/Color

What can one possibly say about a sex thriller shot by Swedes in Paris, starring several stalwarts of French smut, released in hard and soft versions under a million different titles in dozens of countries with a production year that no one can seem to agree on and a budget of about $27.50?

Well, one can start at the beginning.

The ever-horny Professor Rasputin and his equally-libidinous wife Doctor Christina run a sex clinic to help the idle rich finally hang up their hang-ups. All work and no play makes for dull doctors, so the two come up with a hobby – seducing and murdering hitchhikers for kicks.

As Pontello whizzes by some rather magnificent Parisian scenery, his outing is accompanied by the film’s theme song, a delirious ripoff of the Boney M “classic” RASPUTIN. Finding his nubile young victim hitchhiking, he takes her home to the wife and the party begins.

Of course, after they have their sweaty, smutty way with their guest her body is discarded and the film promptly forgets that it all happened as we head off to the Rasputins’ sex clinic. Their wealthy clientele swans in, moans about a lack of sexual fulfillment, gets banged by Professor Rasputin (or his wife) then goes about their merry way.

Wipe off the spunk and repeat.

PROFESSOR RASPOUTINE is a perfect example of cinematic schizophrenia. Is it a sex comedy? A straight-up bonkfest? A sex thriller? Yes and no, yes and no, yes and no. One really can’t expect the audience to know when the film itself has no idea what it’s trying to be. The promotional artwork indicates a sexy comedy. The soundtrack (full of disco ripoffs and generic New Wave) hints at a delirious non-stop sex romp. The dirty doings of our protagonists point towards an erotic thriller. The problem is none of it fits together. It’s like three films with the same cast inter-cut and repeated a dozen times over.

Having said all that, I must have hated it, right? Oh no, I loved every blessed second of it!

I wouldn’t say PROFESSOR RASPOUTINE is a film of many flaws. I’d say it’s a film of nothing but flaws…delightful, endearing flaws that make a film so absolutely bonkers that it becomes irresistible! The soundtrack has to be heard to be believed. The aforementioned theme tune is abominably daffy and the attempts at American arena rock during the sweaty sex scenes are laughable (if, I admit, finger-snappingly catchy.) The sex scenes themselves are actually very erotic, mostly because of the cast’s enthusiasm.

The film plays out in such a way that the viewer might feel themselves trapped in a GROUNDHOG DAY situation. The Professor and his wife pick up a hitchhiker. Bang her. Dump her. Go to work. Bang their clients, then do it all over again and again. I mustn’t fail to mention their favorite nightspot where they woo their victims…a nightclub whose set is just a few smutty posters tacked to the wall, spinning lights and the endlessly-repeated theme song.

No motivation is ever given for the lead characters’ affinity for fuck ’em and dump ’em scenes or for one of them catching a case of remorse in the final reel of the film. Without giving anything away, the “shock” ending just happens with no lead up or wind down. Daft.

Both soft and hard versions of the film were released. The soft version was issued on VHS in the United States and UK as ECSTASY, INC. and SWEDISH SEX CLINIC respectively, with a marvelously wobbly dub job. The French release PROFESSEUR RASPOUTINE (which bears a 1980 on screen copyright but wasn’t actually released there until 1982) is more rare and cuts a bit of the, erm, “plot” to fit in more screentime for Pontello and pals’ “private practice.”

Once quite rare, PROFESSOR RASPOUTINE has recently found it’s way onto the Internet in both its soft (ECSTASY, INC.) and hard cuts (PROFESSEUR RASPOUTINE.) Worth a look for a dopey good time.

-Johnny Stanwyck

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