Café Flesh is a 1982 post-apocalyptic cult erotic science fiction film.
Before this was created, the director, Rinse Dream (whose real name is Stephen Sayadian) and a writer, Herbert W. Day (whose real name was Jerry Stahl) co-wrote a surrealist porno movie called Night Dreams, which got some major notice from film critics as an artistic pornographic film that told a story and featured creative sex scenes (more information on that flick can be found when someone decides to write an article on it; until then, The Cinema Snob did a review on it). Sayadian was later allowed to direct, and one of his most famous efforts after Night Dreams was Café Flesh, which recaptured some of the surrealism of Night Dreams, but had a more clear story, but still retained the bizarre imagery and unusual sex scenes.
The plot of Café Flesh involves society being hit with a disease that renders most of the men and women impotent. The people that don't become sick when they try to have sex are forced to perform in live sex acts for the impotent members of society. Problems ensue when a woman who is not impotent pretends to be so, but soon has to face her fate when she accidentally lets her own sexual frustrations with her impotent boyfriend slip. This also makes the film almost visionary and Harsher in Hindsight, because later that decade AIDS became prominent. Even the nicknames of the people, the Positives and Negatives, bring up Squick connotations. Café Flesh was very ambitious in its satirical message and alienated most of its target audience who just wanted to see some explicit sex, but got some mind boggingly surreal story instead. On the other hand it did gain mainstream notability and even good reviews by major film critics, which made it prominent enough to be included in Danny Peary's third edition of his book series Cult Movies.
Comparable to Night Dreams and Sayadian's non-pornographic film, Dr. Caligari (not to be confused with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari). Jerry Stahl also wrote for sitcoms like ALF, and scripted Bad Boys II. No, really.
This film provides examples of:
- After the End: "Café Flesh" is set in a post-apocalyptic world.
- Alliterative Name: The stage host's name is Max Melodramatic.
- Biting-the-Hand Humour: It's a clever parody of the typical pornographic/erotic film spectator.
- Come to Gawk: Healthy people are forced to perform in live shows for the impotent people.
- Dress-Up Episode: The stage shows have people dressed as animals, secretaries and giant pencils.
- Erotic Film: A surreal one for that matter.
- Fan Disservice: This is perhaps the most unusual major erotic film in existence. Why? Well, because the scenes are so surreal that people who wanted to see some nudity or sex will be more interested or mind boggled by the surreality of it all. Apart from that the plot is about a sexual disease, a topic that downright torpedoes all feelings of lust.
- Film Series: Inspired two sequels which had nothing to do with this movie, none of the original creators were involved and the films weren't succesful either.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: Despite having copulation in the film it's all so odd and surreal that you be more perplexed by the visuals than aroused.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Impotence is a main theme.
- Meaningful Name: The host of the sex nightclub is named Max Melodramatic.
- Playing Sick: Lana isn't really ill. She fakes her disease because she loves Nick.
- Satire: The film satirizes people who watch porn. Everybody in the audience of Café Flesh are impotent people who just stare at the proceedings.
- STD Immunity: Averted. People are impotent as a result of a disease.
- Surrealism: The stage acts are downright bizarre.