[this is a five-part movie with one horror episode - the episode under review contains no dialogue whatsoever, unless you count a bit of orgasmic moaning!]
[review by Darrell Buxton]
The British sex movie, eh? Good old end-of-the-pier fun, usually with some Flash Harry climbing out of a window with his trousers around his ankles. Delve deeper, however, and you'll find a considerable sex/slash crossover. Undisputed king of the genre, Robin Askwith, had already served time in horror items such as TOWER OF EVIL and THE FLESH AND BLOOD SHOW before he first essayed the role of 'Timmy Lea' in the 'Confessions' series, and many aspiring stars flitted across the screens of Odeons and ABCs up and down the land, in a cheap shocker one week and an even more poverty-stricken shag-fest the next. Linda Hayden, David Warbeck, scripter David McGillivray, directors Pete Walker and Norman J. Warren, all were dab hands at both fright and fuck flicks in their time. In the latter days of this era of great British tat, Willy Roe even managed to grind out a rather sorry English giallo, THE PLAYBIRDS ("a murder thriller with thrilling bodies"), designed as a vehicle for the legendary Mary Millington, which featured a spectacular 'star' cast including Windsor Davies, Kenny Lynch, Alan Lake, Glynn Edwards, and Gavin Campbell from 'That's Life', plus Dudley Sutton as the chief suspect in a series of cover girl strangulations where the victims are each found with a number daubed on to their corpse.
One of the leading lights on the U.K. sexploitation scene was director Derek Ford, best known for titles such as GROUPIE GIRL and WHAT'S UP NURSE. In 1975, Ford devised the ambitious SEX EXPRESS, a five-part sex anthology with 20-year-old starlet Heather Deeley appearing in each of the quintet. It's the second of the film's episodes which enters into 'Hysteria!' territory - within 20 minutes or so, Ford and his beautiful young protégé managed to craft what ought to have become one of the most controversial moments in British exploitation film history! However, the 88-minute movie was submitted to our censor in a cut-down 50-minute version only (presumably ideal for programming as part of a sex triple-bill), being released for export only in its full version, under the title DIVERSIONS. As a result, this edited title escaped the attention it has undoubtedly deserved all these years.
The basic outline of the movie is that Deeley appears to be playing a female prisoner, being escorted by police from St. Pancras to an unspecified Northern location by rail (a climactic surprise reveals her to actually be the escorting police officer). As the journey proceeds, Deeley's mind begins to wander, and she begins to create sexual fantasies involving her travelling companions. A tall, dark, handsome chap sitting diagonally opposite is leafing through a copy of the old 70s horror comic 'Vampirella', and inspires the bloody events of the movie's second such vignette.
This tale opens with Deeley and British sex film superstud Tim Blackstone bonking away on a black couch in her apartment. After several minutes of frenzied shagging, Deeley goes into flashback, recalling her experiences as a military nurse, transporting a wounded patient across hostile terrain before being set upon by a group of enemy troops. The soldiers shoot the invalid, before turning their attentions to Heather, raping her across the bonnet of an army jeep. The scene fades and we rejoin Deeley and Blackstone on the couch, where their X-rated activities are reaching a peak - suddenly, the mood shifts, and Heather fumbles beneath the cushions, produces a glinting dagger, and savagely plunges the weapon into her lover's naked torso! He falls to the floor in agony, and as he enters his death throes, the film takes a turn into uncharted waters - first of all, Heather begins to writhe and wriggle on the sofa, covered in her victim's blood, which she smears all over her breasts and body, before frantically rubbing the gore-streaked blade all over her exposed crotch. If that were not shocking enough, she then rolls off the couch, kneels by Blackstone's corpse, and in detailed, graphic close-up, bloodily castrates him in full view of the camera, before fellating his severed member and re-commencing her state of orgasmic ecstacy! All this several months before Oshima's AI NO CORRIDA, and years before Sharon Stone grabbed for an ice-pick in BASIC INSTINCT.
Next, we see Heather in an open-top sports car, cruising through the bright lights of London in search of her next victim. If you've not already put two and two together, the suggestion appears to be that the flashback rape has affected Deeley, to the point where she decides to use her tantalising body to lure men back to her flat before dispatching them at the height of passion, as some kind of twisted revenge on the soldiers and/or mankind in general. Anyhow, she encounters her latest pick-up - and yes, it's the saturnine figure from the train. Before we know it, they're having it away on the old leather couch, Heather's reaching for the knife, and we're anticipating murder number 2. However, in a twist ending, as Deeley slashes at her latest conquest, nothing happens - no puncture mark or stab wound, no gush of the red stuff - all of which is explained as her paramour reveals himself to be, yes, a vampire, sinking his fangs into her luscious neck.
The other episodes, although non-slasher, are not without their points of interest - the opener could almost be an out-take from THE WICKER MAN, featuring a student waxing lyrical about the erotic qualities of the humble apple, as a means of getting into Heather's knickers; the third story is a 'mistaken identity' comedy resulting in more raunchiness; the fourth (completely missing from the U.K. cinema version, not surprisingly!) is a grim and sadistic military fantasy, worthy of a Sergio Garrone S.S. exploiter; and we wind up with a further played-for-laughs segment, with Heather and another girl being screwed by the moustachioed ghost of a lascivious Victorian photographer.
Director Ford continued his stalk and slash/horror association, turning up
as 'associate producer' on the 1985 Swedish shocker BLOOD TRACKS and
directing 1988 obscurity URGE TO KILL (a.k.a. ATTACK OF THE
KILLER COMPUTER), starring Peter Gordeno as a man residing in a high-tech
apartment block controlled by an intelligent electronic security system which
kills off any female callers in a variety of gruesome ways - this one was apparently
unreleasable and doesn't appear to have made it to cinema screens or video anywhere
in the world. What a shame, though, that SEX EXPRESS remained ignored
for so long - at least 20 minutes of this remarkable movie cries out for the
attention of those jaded genre fans who think they've seen everything.
BODYCOUNT 3 female:1 / male:2
1) Wounded soldier shot by enemy troops
2) Naked man stabbed to death and castrated by female psycho
3) Female psycho killed by vampire's bite