The Film: Angela is the Fireworks Woman (1975)
The Principles: Directed by: Wes Craven, Written By: Wes Craven, Hørst Badörties, Starring: Jennifer Jordan, Eric Edwards
The Premise: Angela and Peter are siblings and have loved each other since they were kids. They are both physically attracted to each other but Peter is studying to become a priest. She finally gets in bed with him and after that Peter start to have second thoughts on his plans for the future.
Is It Good?: That really depends on what you want out of a pornographic movie. If you’re wanting something sexy to get your rocks off to, then no. If you’re wanting a thought-provoking and beautiful sexual film that makes you think about the nature of taboos and lust and sexual attraction, then no. If you’re wanting a movie that Wes Craven wrote and directed in-between The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes that is more tonally jarring, sexually graphic, and existentially disturbing then both combined, well then you have found your holy grail.
If you told me this movie was directed by a horror director, I would not be surprised. If you told me this movie was directed by an escaped mental patient, I would not be surprised. If you told me this movie was found clutched in the iron grip of a blood-drenched incessantly giggling woman kneeling atop a mass grave in the basement of an abandoned doll factory, I would not be surprised.
The movie starts with an outdoor orgy as people dance around with road flares and set off fireworks. There’s a tribal drum cadence and I feel like I’m watching the opening of an Italian cannibal movie. We then go to meet our titular Angela as she finally convinces her brother to let go of his inhibitions and have sex with her. As we watch the first of many scenes between our incestual couple, the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon can be heard on the soundtrack; this is Angela and Peter’s love theme.
Peter finishes banging his sister and realizes that that’s kind of messed up and goes to join the priesthood as he had planned. Angela now goes on a sexual journey with a sadistic couple featuring a man who looks like he spends his off days wearing a top hat and tying women to train tracks and then another couple who save her from drowning. All these people come to Peter’s church and confess their sinful behavior to him in minute detail.
It would seem that Angela has some sort of supernatural power that just makes people want to have dirty rutting animal sex with her, this seems to be tied with some sort of devil figure represented by a bearded hippie-looking guy in a top hat. At one point she is assaulted by a dock worker but saved in the nick of time by his buddy who uses his quick thinking to incapacitate his would-be-rapist buddy by knocking him over the head with a large fish. And then the guy who just saved her from getting raped rapes her. And the movie shows the rape, full penetration and everything. It’s really uncomfortable.
Angela now goes home and angrily masturbates as she writhes around on the floor like Natalie Imbruglia and dreams about Peter having anal sex with her. The soundtrack tells me that I’m supposed to find this transcendent and inspirational, this is meant to be a dramatic turning point but I’m just left wondering if this is even real life anymore.
Angela comes up with a grand plan, she invites all of the people who are going to the 4th of July banquet at Peter’s church over to her house for a party and uses her devil woman sex magic to make them have an orgy. This orgy is scored by music that sounds like it belongs in a funky 1970s cop movie during a car chase scene. They then all concentrate their lust on her in what feels like the sex version of that scene in Day of the Dead when all the zombies tear Rhodes to pieces. Peter arrives in the nick of time and wraps his jacket around her and carries her off as Love Lift Us Up plays on the soundtrack (in my head, in reality it’s just more Pachelbel’s Canon.)
We now see Peter and Angela loading up on a sailboat and taking off as his voice reads a letter he wrote to his priest colleague about how this is natural and he’s never been away from her. The priest runs to the beach just as Peter and Angela’s boat sails off into the horizon and then he turns into the top-hatted hippie devil and laughs. He’s probably laughing because he tricked Peter out of his faith, but it feels like he’s laughing because my sanity has been taken from me.
Angela is the Fireworks Woman is a fucked up movie. I don’t know who its audience is but they have to be cool with incest, BDSM, Catholic guilt, ’70s crotch afros, graphically simulated rape, sex scenes that are shot in such a way that you feel like Norman Bates watching through a peep hole, and trying to kill The Batman. (I just added that one because it seems appropriate in the context of the rest.) I hope every member of that target audience is locked away in a deep pit somewhere far from the rest of us. It seems like this movie is trying to say something because all of the sex scenes with Angela that don’t involve Peter are scored by music that sounds like it was ripped from a documentary about spiders.
This is an extremely uncomfortable watch for me and I can only imagine it was intended as some sort of masturbation endurance test like that L for Libido short on The ABCs of Death. This comprehensive reviewing of Wes Craven’s filmography was supposed to be fun, it was supposed to pay tribute to a master of horror with a long eclectic career, but we dug too deeply and greedily. We unearthed that which was better left buried! Liberate te ex infernis!!
Random Anecdotes: Wes Craven directed and co-wrote this movie under the screen name of Abe Snake, which is a pretty great porn name.
Hørst Badörties only wrote this movie and seems to be a psuedonym for someone who is better at hiding their identity than Wes Craven. My going theory is that he’s The Zodiac Killer.
Cinematic Soulmates: Deep Throat, Maniac Too