The year is 1977. An urgent transmission from home crosses the comms onboard a spaceship patrolling the cosmos. Back on Earth, a horrifying epidemic is spreading. People everywhere are turning on one another: Strangers, neighbors, dentists, bodybuilders, businesswomen—they’ve all been overtaken by an insatiable, unexplainable, sexy, sexy, desire to bone and the fate of all of humanity hangs in the balance.
Cut together from dozens of vintage 1970s-1990s boom-chicka-wow-wow porn pulled from the archives of French broadcaster Canal+, the insane sci-fi XXX film In Search of The Ultra-Sex tells a shockingly cohesive science fiction narrative filled with disco robots, spaceship battles, roller skating sex, laser vaginas, and Power Rangers-esque warrioresses shooting milk from their breasts.
Taking their cues from Woody Allen and his 1966 remixed spy flick What’s Up Tiger Lily?, French directors Nicolas Charlet and Bruno Lavaine also manage to make a delightfully bizarre monstrosity more sublime than its forgotten, mostly Eurotrash parts. To make their absurdist opus, the duo sifted through over 2,500 adult titles made between 1974 and 1995 before writing, directing, and overdubbing new dialogue. That sort of research has got to damage one’s psyche, but the result is, inexplicably, a brilliantly deranged 60-minute space saga more coherent than it deserves to be.
The genius of In Search of The Ultra-Sex lies in its conception as a pasted-together pastiche of great-bad Golden Age porn, but how Charlet and Lavaine do the deed is a masterstroke in itself. Scenes culled from 1970s space porn flicks are recycled into the overarching story as horrified astronauts tasked with solving the coital crisis, while a greatest hits onslaught of cheesy skin flick setups, recontextualized in deadpan overdubbed lines by bewildered characters, fill in scenes of erotic mayhem back on Earth.
News broadcasters give breathless blow-by-blow accounts of the strange, sexy times overtaking the populace as the epidemic sweeps the globe: Ladies in a jazzercise class start peeling off their spandex and licking each other as they gyrate to the beat. A gym rat is accosted by one of his female clients while pumping iron in floral briefs. Couples in a furniture store suddenly start doing it all over the wares. An airline stewardess spills coffee on a pilot’s pants and dutifully unzips his fly to clean off the mess. The phenomenon is so startling, amateur photographers start documenting the madness on home video.
As civilians down below find themselves getting horny in the most mundane situations—all the way to Queen Elizabeth, who takes a randy ride to the auto shop, where she propositions her mechanic—a super team of heroes finger the culprit while fending off the encroaching madness themselves: Someone has stolen the Ultra-Sex matrix that keeps humankind’s libido in check.
Along the way the footage gets weirder and weirder as Ultra-Sex weaves in the strangest adult flicks from the vaults. Inanimate objects come to life and tie up a female office worker in what seems to be an office supply-fetishizing Japanese bondage pic. A pretty blonde intently fellates a man with a penis for a nose. An orgy of action figures come to life and start having sex on the shelves in an impressively crafted stop-motion animation porno, the XXX answer to Toy Story.
Keen-eyed cult cineastes will ID scenes from 1991’s Samurai Cop re-envisioning actor Matt Hannon as an inept chestnut-maned hunk hero named Kevin Blowdry. The film’s holy grail source clip just might be the Edward Scissorhands porn sendup featuring a Johnny Depp look-alike with phalluses for hands instead of shears, trying in vain to scoop up a plate of pasta. That alone is worth a dive into the deranged recesses of Ultra-Sex, which comes with a warning: “This film may arouse desire in you. It’s totally normal.”