The joys of random stupidity — sure, Showgirls is coming out in an elaborate DVD edition and all, and none less than Marc Almond has proclaimed his love for the Beyond of the Valley of the Dolls of its day, to paraphrase a section of his recent book. But that’s the type of camp classic, though deserving of its title, which was almost unavoidable — like how the folks behind Mommy Dearest gave up on trying to selling it as a serious story and went ahead and pushed the ‘NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!’ aspect. You can’t blame them either, what the hell was Dunaway thinking?

Random stupidity is sorta more fun in the end, though. To wit, Love Camp, to give it one of its many titles, as perfect a piece of tripe as the late seventies/early eighties Europorn world ever coughed up. Much like Showgirls, where one of the attractions of the new DVD is a commentary track merrily ripping into everything about it — apparently some dude in Seattle gained a lot of fame for hosting regular viewings of the film while talking about it, and he has been rewarded suitably — Love Camp could have something similar somebody could do for it — and I did, many years ago when I first taped it off TV randomly because I thought the title sounded suitably ridiculous. As with any such film shown on HBO or Cinemax or whatever I got it from, all the actual sex was cut away, leaving only the plot. So confounded was I by the end result that, a couple of years before I knew about MST3K, I was moved to narrate the oddities of the movie as it screened to friends and willing (or unwilling) victims.

The edited version really can be the only way to see it — runs for about an hour and fifteen minutes (still two hours too long), and is a carcrash of everything and anything. I once described it (in said edited non-sex form) to friends as ‘the world’s only Marxist cultist ex-porn musical,’ and I will stand by that statement until it is proven otherwise. Among its features:

* A badly bleached pseudo-hero who looks like he’s been hitting the coke too hard called Dorian — played by the effervescent Christian Anders, also the writer and allegedly the director, he’s a ridiculous fop of a man with a silly dubbed voice, and is therefore perfect. His job is apparently to recruit nubile women to the cult when not doing blow, which perhaps has its advantages.

* A cult leader called the Divine One, played by Laura Gemser, star of innumerable Emmanuelle films and therefore all too used to this by now. Less an actress than a presence, she’s not quite Dietrich to Anders’ von Sternberg, but there’s a parallel there if you squint. Among other things she talks about Gandhi and at one point during a celebration of random sex boldly insists “Love for any other person is egoism!”

* An American senator, sort of a John Warner-meets-John Forsythe type, who apparently has taken time away from a tense reelection campaign in order to go to Cyprus with his nubile young daughter (about which more later), be greeted at the airport by greasy men, make bad double-entendre comments about incest to the local press and then proceed to do nothing for the rest of the film beyond getting a bit drunk, threatening Dorian and then finally saying Dorian’s actually a nice guy. In this respect the film is refreshingly true to life.

* The daughter. At least the dubbing would have to insist it’s the daughter, but I have to wonder. Anders apparently had trouble with this ingenue, in that while the credits claim one Simone Brahmann, also an Emmanuelle veteran, played the part, no less than three separate actresses clearly are portraying the ‘daughter’ at one point. Differences in facial appearance, tanning quality, etc….it is quite possible Ms. Brahmann was a shape-shifter, though, so let that pass. If anything it would be a fine talent for an actress in such films.

* Tanga. Ah…Tanga. Sascha Borysenko‘s only film role, about his only acting role. If he was acting, I suspect he thought it was a documentary. Muscly bodyguard to the Divine One, as well as half of her on-call love sandwich (don’t ask) and random stealthy murderer, he combines the bodies of everyone in Pumping Iron with the look of the biker guy from the Village People and Lemmy’s muttonchops. At times he appears to have been greased then partially fried. Bold in his takes to the camera, possessed of the ability to hide behind air or blades of grass when stalking escapees from the cult, and eventual deliverer of the only triple-entendre line in the whole film, he is one of a kind. Thank god.

And there are more characters, oh yes, but I can’t talk about the whole film…well, I take that back, I easily could. But to hit some highlights.

* The opening Eurodiscopop “Give Up Your Soul to an Everlasting Love,” which is astounding. Anders himself sings it, in English, in a pinched high voice that turns the lyrics into “Geev Up Yoor Sool to Ahn Ever-laasting Looove,” arguably an improvement. It then features in an a capella mix as Dorian walks down the beach with his followers, and lemme tell ya, they get some great reverb off that sand.

* Moments of DEEP! MEANING! accentuated with long pauses and dramatic musical fanfares of the type of slow-rock-backing with spacy synths that flourished only during the time of “Dream Weaver”‘s reign on the charts. Oh, and smeared unfocused lenses, of course.

* Talking breasts. At least that’s what the editing would imply.

* Huge drunken feasts wherein the only food on offer for the revelling hordes appears to be a roasted and dessicated dog.

* Los Lobos in a brilliant cameo playing backing music for the capering goon who sings about how the Divine One is back. He’s a treat, this fellow, especially when he sings to the Daryl Hannah equivalent doing splits on the ground in front of him (who is then filmed with the butt cam). He then follows that up with air guitar for the solo.

* The many moods of Tanga — glowering, annoyed, contemptuous. All accentuated by his marvellous cleavage, meaty and glistening. He is often discovered lurking behind rocks, crouching behind sheep and hiding in the shadows. I deduce nothing from this.

* Dorian’s chamber of love or something, wherein he has boldly placed on the wall above the fake windows the words “WE ARE ALL LOST.” The effect of this statement is slightly reduced by the fact that the slogan appears to have been created with masking tape.

* The world’s lamest whipping scene. Tanga is a fucking wimp, even Gemser does a better job.

* The two gay guys. No more, no less. “You’re prettier than I am.” “No, you’re MUCH prettier.” *first fellow looks distractedly off towards the director, then hits second fellow with a flower* “No, YOU’RE prettier.”

* The big hole in the cave covered by the gigantic Necco wafer.

* The bomb in the throne. Logically the throne doesn’t blow up, the building does instead.

* Delayed reaction kung fu. In fact, ALL of the kung fu, thanks to Dorian. Anders apparently thought himself a suave martial arts badass, and you have NOT lived until you’ve seen his two moments of glory. First he takes out the random thug with a series of squeals, the noted Ball Grab, and a look meant to convey fierceness but which…well, it can’t be described. I also can’t really describe the flurry of ‘punches’ he throws at Tanga at the end of the film — the Foley artists were obviously high — but it is gratifying to see Tanga take him out with one punch.

And so forth. It’s a joy, a salutory reminder that when you’re watching Kyle MacLachlan’s digital-restored erection as Elizabeth Berkley crawls all over him in that pool that there are other ways to the same end results.