4. Coprophilia - Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
One of cinema's most infamous taboo breaking films, Salo tends to fiercely divide viewers - there are those who consider it a mighty piece of transgressive art and there are those who view it as a sick and pointless litany of highly depraved acts. One of those acts that features highly in the film is coprophagy - the eating of excrement. The film is a transposition of the Marquis de Sade's novel - The 120 Days of Sodom onto Fascist Italy in its dying days. Four very wealthy and respected libertines with filthy sexual practices set up camp in a mansion and bring with them kidnapped children, prostitutes, their daughters and all manner of sexual freaks and deviants. The general idea is to wallow in extreme sexual perversion. Of course it all ends up with the hideous sexual torturing of the children and their deaths. What really arrests the viewer is the sheer transgressive nature of the film - best exemplified by the generous attention paid to acts of coprophilia and coprophagy. A young girl is forced to eat the Duke's poop and then there is a lavish (!) meal where everyone tucks into a plate of good old human excrement. The film is very stark, bleak and without hope. It is difficult to watch from its beginning to its end, not so much due to all the coprophagy that goes on, but due to the pervading atmosphere of nihilism through the film. Poop eating becomes a metaphor for the worst excesses perpetrated by those in charge of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy - how debased society becomes under totalitarian regimes with corrupt ideals. Coprophagy was also used to make similar comments about society when it was utilised by the radical performance artists - Otto Muehl and the Vienna Aktionists. Disgusted by the Holocaust and the extent to which their native Austria had participated in the horror - the Vienna Aktionists felt that only extreme defilement of the body (via coprophiliac acts such as administering enemas) reflected the world in which they lived. Pasolini's film, with its acts of coprophagy, sends a powerful message of despair at the baser instincts of the human race. It is a howl of rage against the lack of tenderness and compassion in the world - .portrayed in the vilest of terms as a sucker punch to the gut of the viewer.
My first film watched was Carrie aged 2 on my dad's knee. Educated at The University of St Andrews and Trinity College Dublin. Fan of Arthouse, Exploitation, Horror, Euro Trash, Giallo, New French Extremism. Weaned at the bosom of a Russ Meyer starlet. The bleaker, artier or sleazier the better!