Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sex Madness (1938)

This early Sex Hygiene flick tries and fails to cash in on the cult success of Reefer Madness with a similar title. It also went under the title of Human Wreckage and They Must Be Told but when its all said and done was just another syphilis scare flick with very little to offer.

It follows a young soon to be married woman who contracts the killer disease in a one night stand at a burlesque show. She seeks help from various doctors and is mislead into believing that she is cured. She then goes through with her marriage and infects her husband and new born baby. Syphilis quickly takes its toll on the (not so happy) family and naturally suicide seems to be the only alternative.

Sure we get to see some pictures of infected people who are rotting away from the disease which is very necessary for this genre but the film is very tame compared to others in the same category. Sex Madness pales in comparison to films like Mom And Dad. There is no rotting penises on display here nor is there the birth of a baby. Instead Sex Madness focuses more on "Quack" doctors which would translate into modern English as a fraud who is out for the money and dishes out foney vaccines allowing victims to go uncured. Apparently in 1938 there must have been a whole lot of Quacks because just about ever character in this film is fooled by these con-men in lab coats.

The Sex Hygiene films is one of the earliest examples of American Sexploitation and I suppose this film did exploit the subject matter of sexually transmitted diseases to show a bit of flesh but a bit is a over statement. We get a insinuated lesbian couple, burlesque dancing and some young folk chit-chatting about promiscuous encounters with the opposite sex. A sex maniac rapist makes the papers after attending a burlesque show and the most racy scene takes place in a girl dressing room. We see some giant 30's style pointed bras and that's about it. Sex Madness comes from the same madman director who gave us Maniac (1934) which is a much more daring film for the time. I'd skip it and seek out a better and more exploitative title in the genre.

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