All four girls are processed quickly. That's the only description I can think of for it. It has the monotonous quality of a conveyor belt assembly line. Mostly all we see are the girls' locked-down backsides. We only see their faces in longshot. We'd be able to sense more of what they're feeling from the other girls' faces; they're in front of the stool, watching the recipient's reactions (which is why we can't see the recipients' faces: no room for a camera.) The back-end cameraman, however, is too inattentive - maybe too ashamed - to keep these observer girls' faces in shot. Instead, from a short way into the film, he hides himself from their view behind the immobilised backside of the recipient girl. This isn't much fun to watch. In fact, the production suffers as a whole from a profound lack of imagination. None of the girls is allowed to shine, since we hardly even get to see their faces. All we see is the featureless thump of stick on cheek, and a scene-hogging headmaster who keeps demanding the camera's attention.
Before I go further, I'd like to acknowledge the nature of my own complicity in choosing to watch material of this kind. It's undeniable: I get off on the sight of pretty young women being smacked hard, on or close to their buttocks, with, amongst other things, canes, so that prominent welts rise up. I additionally want to see the girls' reactions: their fearful anticipation of what's to come, and sometimes their reactions to the actual pain. I look for the edge of sexuality that's frequently present: I enjoy, I ogle, the girls' inappropriate nakedness, and I actively enjoy their apparent experience of humiliation. I enjoy the sense of power all this gives me over the girls. They become, for me, representatives of pretty women everywhere. It's like getting my own back for past rejections: I get to enjoying them sexually (if from a distance) despite their normal ability to reject me. This personal sexual circuitry is undeniably fixed in place. It's been locked in for years, and it shows no sign of going away. But even to me, it feels somewhat extreme, and I sometimes feel shame that I feel this way.
So, within this context, it's a pure delight to me to discover that my circuitry has limits, above which any sexual frisson cuts off cold. The first cut-off limit I've known about for some time, and it's this: it's mutilation. Though I crave seeing the girls chastised to the point of reddening, welting, even secondary bruising, I emphatically do not want to witness them being permanently scarred. I scanned a Russian Slaves film for the first time recently (number 23) and witnssed a form of caning I'd never seen before: the cane, on contact, was dragged into and across the girl's buttocks. The intention was unmistakably to draw blood: to cut through the epidermis into the living dermis. In other words, to scar. Call me a wuss, but I felt physically sick.
My second limit has become much more delineated in recent weeks, and it's this: consensuality. I bought "Room No 34," as I did "Two Faces of Truth," because Veronika Pospísilová was in it. First, I looked at the Room No 34 feature on the Rig East website (they even describe her as a "Rising Star" there) and uploaded every image I could find of her. I got excited when I discovered she'd be last up for punishment; I was tittilated further by the promise of a "sexual punishment never before shown" at the end - especially since VP would be its recipient.
The girls, as I said, are strapped to the thing. They're processed by some faceless man who whacks them with fifty identically strong, identically punctuated, apparently passionless cane strokes; they're mostly denied the oxygen of the camera's attention. Karolína Dlouhá is up first, and she takes her caning with some screaming and a couple of pauses in the action. She is followed by a pretty brunette (Michaela Trmotová? Salome Skupcová? I can't tell from the titles which girl is which.) We at least see Dlouhá's and the second girl's faces for a few seconds. The second girl screams more than the Dlouhá. She's pretty and her face is expressive; but I really wasn't turned on watching her. The quality was all wrong: the relentless nature of the caning was too brutalising. Her only facial shot is early on in her punishment, and from that point on, she and the remaining girls are treated as identical featureless screaming machines. In fact, they're treated so carelessly that half of the third girl's punishment (sixty plus hard strokes of the cane - try it yourself) is completely ignored by both the lead actor and the main camera. Scene-hogging Vojtech Cihlár starts ranting on to one of the girls about some German phrase that the rest of us couldn't give a crap about. He upstages the recipient girl, drawing her camera away from her. Maybe this was scripted, but if so, whatever its intended purpose, it completely backfires.
Last up on the woodwork is Pospísilová. She's a performer who experiences her punishments more intensely than any other girl I've ever seen: she screams full-on and shows quaking fear. But, to my eye, in her previous two films, there was a clear sexual frisson evident in her experience. Her nakedness seemed extra-naked. In "Detention House 3," she was bound on her back with her legs apart in front of her; the spanker paddled her relatively lightly (relative to the severity of some of Lupus' films, anyway) and she did her thing: she quaked in fear, all exposed. In "Two Faces of Truth," she wasn't bound, but instead recieved her caning standing naked. She had the ability to walk away at any moment, yet she stayed in place. While her experience was clearly stronger than the average girl's, I still sensed that she was consensual to it.
In Room No 34, instead of being treated as a prized performer, she becomes a faceless, throw-away commodity: she's strapped to the woodwork, then the machinelike dom doles out his relentless, featureless cane strokes. Pospísilová, face unseen, just screams - and screams - and screams - and screams - and screams - and screams. And in no sense is it nice screaming. It contains no embedded sexual frisson. Instead, to me, it's an unmistakable instruction for the crew to stop. From the editing, it's clear that they were concerned enough to pause the filming halfway through (the second and third girls' fifty-odd strokes were seemingly delivered without any pause at all.) Once Pospísilová's caning resumes however, it proceeds exactly the same way, with the same heart-rending result: every expellation of breath is a guttral shriek.
This film for me seems to have passed over the border from consenuality into something else. I can't guarantee this in reality, since I've obviously not spoken to any of the girls; but that's how it manifests to me as a viewer. With consensual play, even when a girl appears to be dominated and controlled, she has still at some deeper level chosen to be there. She's chosen to put herself through an extreme experience for the same reason that we put ourselves on a roller-coaster ride: through exposure to temporary fear, we remind ourselves how alive we are. From the quality of Pospísilová's screams, it seems to me that her experience, once strapped down, ceased to be consensual. My biggest fear was that the poor girl might suffer heart failure. No kidding. This film, like Russian Slaves 23, manifests not so much as erotica, as brutality for brutality's sake.
And we've still not got to the "sexual bullying in a way never before shown." At the end of the film, Pospísilová's room mates decide that she was to blame for the fluff under the bed. So they punish her for it. Two hold her down, and the third picks up a shortish floor brush with a side-projecting handle. The "bullying" action, fortunately for everyone, is implied only. But its intended implication is quite clear: Karolína Dlouhá is supposed to be raping Pospísilová with the handle of the brush, using a slow, repeated stabbing action. Such an action would surely in reality have put her in hospital with severe internal injuries. But even just implied, this action is way off the chart of acceptability.
In Stalin II, the four recipient girls are thumped - really thumped - once each with a police-style baton, high on their chests, with a clear intention to bruise. I found it repellent; but this is worse. For a man with my unfortunate sexual circuitry, there are many erotic things to be found in Lupus' films. But this film is not erotic; it's nasty, brutish, and not nearly short enough. Its only redeeming features for me were the nakedness of some pretty girls, and a few too-brief glimpses of Veronika Pospisilova's limpidly expressive face.
In conclusion, then: no plot. Poor camera work. Sleepwalking direction. Callously wasted actresses. Action more brutish than erotic. Introduction of a dangerously disturbing motif. Oh, and good music: Johan Bruner. Who buys CP films for the music though? The sad thing is, Lupus know how to do erotic. "The Eighth Commandment" is erotic. "Two Faces of Truth" is wildly erotic. "Room No 34" really isn't. I hope I'm wrong, but it made me fear that my favourite performer might never return; that I might not get to see her again. So, to Lupus: please stop squandering your obvious talents on repellent shit like "Room 34." There's lots of the erotic to be found in CP. Let some other bastard do brutality.