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Hypnorotica (1973)

Hypnotized! (1973) AKA Hypnorotica  
Director: Peter Savage
CAST: Helen Madigan, Jamie Gillis, Cindy West, Marc Stevens, Darby Lloyd Rains, Tina Russell, Jason Russell, Andrea True & Peter Savage

My nominee for worst porn filmmaker of all time is one Peter Savage, an ego-tripping contemporary of Gerard Damiano who used the genre for self-aggrandizement rather than entertainment. Alpha Blue Archives has unearthed his embarrassing 1973 feature HYPNOTIZED! and I suffered through it, movie masochist that I am.
Beyond the hype of crediting him with small parts in Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, ABA somehow omitted the warning label (WARNING: Do Not See This Film If You Are Easily Hypnotized Or Suggestion Prone) on its new DVD tribute to Tina Russell that contains this dubious junker. Not since the golden days of William Castle, or perhaps more relevantly the 1960 release of the delightfully demented horror picture The Hypnotic Eye, has such a mental irritant been foisted on the public. Of course besides writing, producing and directing Hypnotized!, Savage wearing a phony mustache and beard plus an iconic made-man necktie insists on appearing non-stop on-screen, except for the few sex scenes. He has rounded up a topnotch cast of NYC porn talent to do the hardcore routines and fast-forwarding past Savage’s scenes is a must to preserve one’s sanity. Credited with his nom de porn Armand Peters, Savage stars as therapist Lawrence Thurston, we see his diploma on the wall in his office late in the film, crudely taking a real NY state-issued document with the fictional name sloppily pasted over the real name on the parchment. After the fake opening credit card proclaiming these stories are all true and a thank you to technical adviser Dr. Sidney A. Orens, Savage presents five inane case histories involving seriously messed up patients.

First up is Betty, who is a masochist with marital problems cured by hypnotherapy. Film’s structure emphasizes flashbacks or regressions showing the characters’ problems but mainly their sexcapades, hence its alternate title Hypnorotica.
More interesting is segment 2 about a nubile young virgin Nancy, whose Jack Warden-esque daddy opposes her taking up with Jamie Gillis after bumping into him accidentally near Times Square in front of Robbie’s Mardi Gras strip club. Of course Jamie deflowers her and Savage’s droning narration emphasizes the psychological basis of ‘love at first sight’. I enjoyed this footage because the actress had a Peggy Church type of underage innocence paired with beautiful breasts; a potent porno combination. Savage ruins this section by holding up a photo of Katharine Hepburn and relating a boring anecdote of hers about her experiencing ‘love at first sight’ in Europe. You gotta see this dragging of Kate into a porno movie context to believe it.
Episode 3 showcases Savage’s penchant for drawing dreadful acting performances from top- notch porn talent. Jason Russell appears as John Smith, a nut-case who’s impotent despite being married, as usual, to the divine Tina Russell. After Savage flubs his line reciting “sounds like a seekeyactric term” in hilarious mispronunciation, Jason memorably replies “I’ve slept on more couches than Fanny Hill”. Turns out John suffers from self-hatred stemming from his incestuous lust for his momma when he was young, and has put wife on a pedestal. There’s a sex scene with two lesbian hookers thrown in, then Tina masturbating with a cucumber. Savage supposedly cures John via hypnotherapy – Jason declares “Now I’m the greatest”, and he successfully has sex with fan fave Tina.
Next up is more incest: Jerry has the urge to kill his sister’s lover and needs help. This stems from his incestuous desire for her back when they were younger – as a sleepwalker he had come into her bedroom and she got used to enjoying his humping her in his sleep. Since sis Paula is a busty beauty (again unidentified by me), the fans should enjoy this segment. Savage refers twice to Jerry’s “noctambular” escapades, a new word for me, likely coined by the auteur. Again, hypnotherapy supposedly cures Paula of her “family chains” and knocks off Jerry’s guilt feelings.
For the finale, the usually reliable Marc Stevens annoyingly chews up all the scenery as a damaged Vietnam War vet when Savage mounts a soap box to lecture us on the dehumanizing practices of the military brass who turn young men into killing machines with disastrous results. Marc screams “I want to kill every girl I screw”, traced back to his raping and shooting a pretty girl in Vietnam played by an unknown all-American looking girl. There’s some stock footage representing the war thrown in. Not political correctness but rather ineptness has Marc shouting “kill a lot of geeks, kill a lot of geeks”.
Present-day Stevens humps Helen Madigan, but afterward picks up a conveniently placed rifle to threaten her, and screams to Doc Thurston “I killed her too!”, though if that’s true is left to the viewer’s imagination. Post-hypnotic suggestions do the trick on curing Marc who gets a third sex scene with a redhead sporting pretty, rosy nipples. Idiotic ending has Savage’s eyes in tight close-up as he hypnotizes us hapless viewers into telling all our friends to “come and see this interesting film”. I guess that’s what I’ve just done some 40 years later, forced by his powers of suggestion to make this piece of crap sound vaguely interesting.

Date: November 29, 2021