This notorious early roughie, though credited to one “Helmuth Richler”, was indeed directed by our old friend Shaun Costello (aka Russ Carlson and at least half a dozen more noms de porn) who adopted this one time only (?) pseudonym on both sides of the camera. Though the long sideburns and tinted glasses prove distracting, his voice should be instantly recognizable to those familiar with his later quickies. He plays the character of David, boyfriend of the first victim (Jutta David, also in Danny Stone’s 1973 cult fave HIGH RISE) and the only male performer except for Harry Reems who plays the deranged anti-hero Joe. Make that VERY anti, by the way !
A pre-credit newspaper article commenting on the syndrome commonly suffered by shell-shocked Vietnam veterans unable to re-adapt to everyday life after the war and therefore susceptible to battling imaginary enemies lends an air of seriousness if not quite respectability to the sordid saga viewers are about to endure. Haunted by B&W newsreel footage with a heavy predilection towards mangled corpses and various forms of disfigurement, gas station attendant Joe (who’s never referred to by name but he runs a place called “Joe’s Friendly Service”) spouts his interminable interior monologue about how much he hates women in general and the uppity, sexually liberated ones in their big cars stopping by for gas or directions in particular. Getting their address from their credit cards, he stalks and spies on his victims before submitting them to his pent-up rage, ending in bloody murder. Joe’s misogyny seems to stem from his being ambushed by female soldiers in ‘Nam (or so the stock footage would have us believe) and perhaps symbolically none of the women in this movie are given character names, signifying that to him they’re less than human. His MO consists of bursting into the woman’s apartment, demanding oral gratification at gun or knife point and then berating them for not being any good at it (“I’m not enjoying this one bit”), thereby justifying their subsequent “punishment”.
Victim # 2 is played by top-billed Laura Cannon, described by her male co-star in his 1975 autobiography (wittily entitled HERE COMES HARRY REEMS !) as a snooty Jewish American princess with a predilection for anal intercourse who had her heart set on adult movie super-stardom. Though she got off to a strong start with this one and the previous year’s popular sex & horror combo DARK DREAMS, she would rapidly disappear from view. Porn fans expecting to get a thrill from the lady’s extensive back-door activity here should be forewarned that the scene is in no way played for turn-on value, fortunately given the circumstances. It’s rape all the way to the girl’s gruesome demise. A couple of spaced out hippie chicks (Ruby Runhouse & Nina Fawcett) unwittingly turn the tables on Joe as he rudely interrupts their blissful lesbo love fest. High on sex and various mind-blowing substances, the women burst into laughter at the guy’s sadistic taunts and willingly offer him their bountiful bodies. The girls’ compliance proves to be too much for Joe and, rather than submit to their sexual assault, he turns the gun on himself.
Convincingly grimy in every single frame, this flick makes for a harrowing experience which must’ve rattled adult audiences’ cages back when this played theatrically. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting aroused over the unflinchingly depicted violations and even the bookend consensual encounters (the Jutta David-Shaun Costello scene and the lesbian number) are bereft of their erotic potential by constantly cutting back and forth to Reems spying on them. Such stark denouncement of the turn-on, crucial to the genre, may either seem like the makers shooting themselves in the foot by turning their backs on the entire raison d’être of pornography or an actual attempt to make viewers think about the correlation between cinematic sex and violence and the inherent danger thereof. Was this a film ahead of its time then ? Could be.
The biggest surprise remains leading man Harry Reems however. Billed as “Tim Long” (a pseudonym he frequently used before DEEP THROAT made him familiar even to those who would never have set foot inside a porno palace), he makes for an all too convincing madman in the Jamie Gillis mode. He would of course become best known for his many goofy, inoffensive turns that followed in the wake of THROAT’s zany doctor character, making his menacing performance here all the more impressive. By his own admission, FORCED ENTRY was the one movie he regretted doing, apparently having signed on before reading a script. His reticence barely shows through. You may hate both this film and its main character, but you’re not bloody likely to forget either. Ever !