THE ZONE has my review of Christopher Sun’s erotic fantasy film 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy.
Incorrectly marketed as the world’s first work of erotic 3D cinema, Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy is a film that never quite manages to achieve the levels of inspired oddness that make for a decent cult following. Instead, the film has a few nice moments (including an intersexual vampire lifting cartwheels with her 8 foot-long prehensile penis) that ultimately wind up getting lost amidst a lot of puerile sniggering and some deeply unpleasant misogynistic sadism.
Right from the off, Sex And Zen 3D suffers from translation problems as British culture tends not to cope too well with attempts to combine sex with comedy. While most British people will happily acknowledge the fact that sex – as an activity – can sometimes be very funny, attempts to capture that comedy on screen generally do not fare too well, as ridicule was traditionally one of the means through which matters pertaining to sexuality was repressed. For example, while a case can be made for seeing the Carry On films as agents of social change, one could just as easily say that they helped to reinforce taboos about the human body by presenting sex as a laughing matter. 3D Sex And Zen‘s tendency to move between (rather un-stimulating) eroticism and childish humour is not only unsettling, it is also fiercely reminiscent of the jarring tonal shifts common to the kind of campy Bavarian softcore porn films that were made in the 1960s and 1970s and screened on British cable TV in the early-to-mid 1990s. Sex And Zen 3D ultimately fails as a film because its jokes are unfunny and its erotic content is nothing more than boobies and thrusting bottoms, but the constant shifting between these two registers makes for an experience which, I suspect; would translate better for people from cultures where laughter was not used to drain sex of its power.
I hate to say this but, watching 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy actually made me want to read some Laurel K. Hamilton as while Hamilton writes with all the style and insight of a someone with a pick-axe embedded in their skull, she at least knows how to mine the sweet spot between titillation, repulsion and transgression.