HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Black '47
Godfather Part II, The
Await Further Instructions
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
In Order of Disappearance
Charlotte's Web
Meg, The
Christmas Blood
Equalizer 2, The
1985
Mowgli
Ski School
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Age of Shadows, The
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Othello
First Reformed
Red White and Zero
Death Wish
Cry Wilderness
Heiresses, The
Millhouse: A White Comedy
Skyscraper
Born of Fire
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Lucia
Yanks
Sweet November
Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The
Real Men
   
 
Newest Articles
Ha Ha Haaargh: Interview With Camp Death III in 2D! Director Matt Frame
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
The Big Grapple: Escape from New York and Its Influence
The Conquest of Everett: The Kenny Everett Video Show on DVD
Bout for the Count: Hammer's Dracula in the 1970s
Nopes from a Small Island: Mistreatment of American Stars in British Films
You Know, For Kids: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box
If He Were a Carpenter and It Was the 80s: The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live
Tee-Hee, It's 80s Sci-Fi Horror: Night of the Comet, The Stuff and Night of the Creeps
Chance of a Ghost: The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
3 Simian Slashers: Phenomena, Link and Monkey Shines
   
 
  Cleopatra Carry On CleoBuy this film here.
Year: 1970
Director: Osamu Tezuka, Eiichi Yamamoto
Stars: Chinatsu Nakayama, Hajime Hana, Nachi Nozawa, Osami Nabe, Kazuko Imai, Mineko Yoshimura, Nobuo Tsukamoto, Susumu Abe, Tsubame Yanagiya, Yoshiro Kato
Genre: Musical, Sex, Animated, Science Fiction, Historical
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Second in Osamu Tezuka’s so-called “Animerama” trilogy of adult-oriented erotic anime, Cleopatra actually played grind-house theatres in the States, misleadingly marketed as xxx porn under the title Cleopatra: Queen of Sex. Imagine all those porno patrons puzzling over the opening scene: a spaceship streaks above planet Earth. A stunningly composed live action shot, it immediately evokes 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and reminds us Stanley Kubrick once approached Tezuka to design the visual effects for his groundbreaking space saga.

Meanwhile, Isao Tomita blends sitar, classical music and folk rock into an amazing soundtrack that recalls the trippier side of Ennio Morricone. We segue into a futuristic metropolis where, doing the reverse of cult cartoon Clutch Cargo, real actors perform with cartoon heads! Make no mistake, this is no ordinary cartoon porn.

Three time travellers: Jiro, Maria, and Rupo journey back to ancient Egypt, itching to learn whether the real Queen Cleopatra’s fabled sexual prowess matches her myth. Their trippy, temporal odyssey rockets past still images of historical personages like Napoleon and President Richard Nixon. Unrest in Alexandria is illustrated via a Mad Magazine montage: gory, yet cartoony images show rape, murder, bestiality and a Roman legionnaire peeking up a little girl’s skirt. Chaos reigns until an oddly green-skinned Julius Caesar (Hajime Hana) deposes the cowardly Pharaoh. An Egyptian resistance group send their plump, homely princess to a mad scientist’s lab (lookout for a cameo from Frankenstein’s monster!) where, after an alchemical transformation, she emerges as svelte sex goddess Cleopatra (Chinatsu Nakayama). Delivered naked inside a sack to the unsuspecting Caesar, she swiftly seduces the Roman dictator, who proclaims her Queen.

Meanwhile, our time travellers transplant their minds into the bodies of historical bit-players. Maria becomes Lybia (Mineko Yoshimura), a bare-breasted ingénue in league with Cleopatra. Stoic Jiro becomes Ionius (Nobuo Tsukamoto), a blonde gladiator who rises through the ranks before falling for Lybia. The unfortunate Rupo, having earlier boasted he’d bed Cleopatra, winds up inhabiting her pet leopard. Hopelessly horny, the jungle cat keeps trying to cop a feel or hump the oft-naked queen. He eventually relents and mates with a blue panther, siring a litter of multicoloured cubs! Following the birth of their son and Caesar’s subsequent murder, Cleopatra uses her keen mind and sexual allure to help build a kingdom powerful enough to rouse the ire of Rome.

Cleopatra was something of a financial disaster in Japan, partly caused by defecting animators and a backhanded takeover bid at Tezuka’s company, Mushi Pro., but also due to his own reckless experimentation. Always a restless innovator, Tezuka self-indulged in radical artistic flourishes that range from dazzling (a parade through Rome recreates famous artworks by Degas, Picasso, Botticelli, Hieronymus Bosch, and more), to alienating (Caesar’s murder performed as a piece of kabuki theatre), and often to the detriment of his story. Cameos from popular anime characters including Sazae-san, Tezuka’s own Astro Boy, and Rat Man from Spooky Kitaro (1968) co-exist with violence, surrealism, slapstick (Caesar dosed with a powerful laxative!) and softcore love scenes.

The sex is artfully rendered and often avant-garde as when a pair of undulating lines on a white background slowly morph from abstract shapes into furiously copulating lovers. Or a strikingly sensual set-piece wherein naked Cleopatra, soaping in a bathtub, sings the theme song whilst being orally pleasured. Surely a screen first. Tezuka experiments with split-screen and ambient sound collages, although the erotic frisson derives as much from Chinatsu Nakayama’s sexy vocals as his innovative animation.

In America, distributors attempts to cash-in on the success of Fritz the Cat (1972) drew critical flak, with Tezuka’s film dismissed as “kiddie stuff with breasts.” Yet whereas Ralph Bakshi and Robert Crumb hid their misogyny under a cloak of countercultural libertarianism, the “Animerama” trilogy (which includes A Thousand and One Arabian Nights (1969) and Tragedy of Belladonna (1973)) deals with sex in a more sophisticated, multifaceted way. Tezuka includes bare-breasted maidens and raunchy sex in abundance, but also historical insight and political skulduggery. His Cleopatra is both wily femme fatale and a pawn in the machinations of others.

While the film delivers the scale and spectacle we expect from an historical epic, the sci-fi subplot seems an unnecessary conceit and our time-travellers all too often forgotten. The plot rushes through Cleopatra’s later affair with Mark Anthony (Osami Nabe), portrayed unconventionally as a feeble-minded fool who imagines himself as Napoleon. He can’t even achieve an erection until Cleo feeds him a banana. There is a touch of Up Pompeii about the climactic amusing episode, wherein Egyptian women overcome Roman invaders by shagging them senseless and the whole city shakes to the rhythm of their lovemaking, yet proves a sophisticated bit of naughtiness. Cleopatra was Tezuka’s last feature film for eight years until his comeback with Bandar Book: One Million A.D. (1978).

Click here for the trailer

Click here to watch the incredible opening scenes

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 5169 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Stately Wayne Manor
George White
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
Rashed Ali
   

 

Last Updated: