We’ve all seen supercuts on the internet, video compilations that highlight some line or trope that is prevalent in so many movies that it makes up the entirety of a lengthy video. But few people dare to try and form a narrative through the supercut formula. That’s what the French filmmaking duo of Nicolas Charlet and Bruno Lavaine have done with In Search of the Ultra-Sex, a supercut film where they duo takes footage from hundreds of adult films and crafts an absurdist science fiction story. But this isn’t merely an exercise in editing previous features, oh no, these two have also overdubbed all of the dialogue and added a number of sound effects – some legit, some vocalized. The resulting film is a mixture of Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and your uncle’s porno collection from the ‘80s.
Using footage from the David F. Friedman produced Space Thing and the infamous porno parody Edward Penishands, Charlet and Lavaine craft a very simple and complex plot within In Search of the Ultra-Sex. Simply, there’s a mysterious MacGuffin known as the Ultra-Sex which has been stolen. If the Ultra-Sex isn’t recovered, humanity will devolve into a race of nymphomaniacs. Society will crumble! Chaos will reign! But, hey, traffic will be lighter.
In Search of Ultra-Sex works on a number of levels. First of all, it’s lively in its editing, never getting too diverted from the insanity at hand. Secondly, the film’s humor isn’t just rooted in the idea that yesterday’s porn is today’s comedy. There’s a craft at hand in the editing as well as the absurd overdubs that the jokes of Ultra-Sex aren’t beholden to the notion that the ‘70s and ‘80s are different and thus funny. When the jokes don’t quite work, the visuals are weird enough to entertain. When the visuals might border on the erotic, the jokes diffuse the arousal with insanity.
Are you familiar with the term psychotronic? If you are, In Search of the Ultra-Sex is exactly for you. As someone familiar with that term, I found a prideful shame in knowing what footage was from Space Thing and recognizing Harry Reems. Even if you’re not a connoisseur of trash culture, there are sick kicks to be had with In Search of the Ultra-Sex. If the jokes in French don’t land, and a few seem quite pointed towards French culture, the visuals are bonkers enough to keep you captivated or confused and amused. At the screening as part of Beyond Fest at the Egyptian Theater, the filmmaking duo announced that there are plans for an American version of In Search of the Ultra-Sex. Since that version doesn’t exist yet doesn’t mean that fans of freaky flicks shouldn’t seek out the French version of In Search of the Ultra-Sex. No matter the language, the film is an insanely entertaining rollick through the annals of porno’s past.