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  Secrets of Sex Suspicious Minds
Year: 1970
Director: Antony Balch
Stars: Richard Schulman, Janet Spearman, Dorothy Grumbar, Anthony Rowlands, Kenneth Benda, Yvonne Quenet, Reid Anderson, Cathy Howard, Mike Britton, Maria Frost, Peter Carlisle, Stephen Preston, Graham Burrows, Elliott Stein, Sue Bond, Valentine Dyall
Genre: Horror, Sex, Trash, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A thousand years ago at sunset, a judge (Richard Schulman) returned home to find his manservant with urgent news: he believed there was someone in the judge's wife's bedroom, someone who was hiding in the trunk, which was locked. The judge confronted his wife (Janet Spearman) but she denied there had been anyone except herself in the room, and reluctantly handed over the key. The judge dismissed them both and sat with the trunk all night, contemplating it until dawn broke and he ordered his servants to take the trunk out into the grounds and dig a pit, whereupon it was placed within and buried. He never found out whether there was anyone inside...

But what has that to do with the film's title? What are the Secrets of Sex? If you're hoping for a lucid answer to that question, you're better off reading the books of Dr Alex Comfort because this film was an exploitation work designed chiefly to exploit the director's love of offbeat subjects and horror movies. At times it was so personal to the filmmakers that it was difficult to understand, never mind relate to, what was going on, but essentially this was a portmanteau of "daring" shorts introduced by, what else? a recently exhumed Egyptian Mummy.

This means between every story is a short passage of observation from a man wrapped in bandages, blessed with the imposing tones of Valentine Dyall. The man in the bandages was Elliott Stein, writer, critic and friend of director Antony Balch and seen unwrapped in the "Strange Young Man" segment, and the general feeling is of overindulgence. As an introduction, apart from the trunk story, Dyall rambles on about the battle of the sexes as if to apply some meaning to what we're about to see, but Balch and his collaborators could have been making it up as they went along for all we know.

Certainly sex does not feature heavily in all of the episodes, although there is a fair amount of nudity. As can be seen in that introduction where topless women dancing are booed by an unseen audience and pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables, then confronted by machine gun-wielding men (who are cheered). Then it's on to a segment detailing the lengths one photographer (Dorothy Grumbar) will go to for a magazine cover shoot, specifically one with a sadomasochistic theme, and after that a purely horror-themed tale of an ageing businessman (Kenneth Benda) and his attempt to have another son with his young fiancée (Yvonne Quenet) only to have a nasty surprise at the birth.

Folowing this is an encounter between a female cat burglar (Cathy Howard) who is caught by a potential victim (Mike Britton) and one thing leads to another, giving a new meaning to the phrase "telephone sex", but offering her a chance to blackmail him should he not want his wife to find out. The lightest part is an adaptation of a Mayfair comic strip about a bungling female spy (Maria Frost), which is supposed to be funny as far as I can make out, then there's the strange young man and his fixation on lizards, and a greenhouse tale which is baffling with its talk of flowers and imprisoned lovers. Secrets of Sex often comes close to achieving an experimental mood with its planes flying over in the burglar story or its preoccupation with hay, but largely it's simply strange - whatever secrets it contains, it keeps to itself.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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