SCARECROW ON SEATTLE
In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with Scarecrow Video to bring you weekly reviews of historical Seattle films. Each week we will showcase a new movie, with special emphasis on how these films show Seattle's most filmable locations.
The Last Bath (1973)
With all the urban renewal that has transpired over the past couple decades, it is easy to forget how many adult movie theaters were once sprinkled throughout the Jet City. Yep, the early '70s were the pinnacle of the so-called porno-chic era, and it makes sense that local filmmakers would want to crank out some homegrown indecencies for Seattle's smut hounds. Funded by the guy who owned the Apple Theater (a tiny joint located on Boren that managed to stay in business longer than its competition, lasting through most of the '90s) The Last Bath (also called Dark Dreams) was directed under a pseudonym by local experimental filmmaker Karl Krogstad. The psychedelic porno combines a variation of Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge with lots of artsy cinematography, polarized images, trippy optical effects, reverb-drenched music, disorientating editing, mumbly post synchronized dialogue, dream sequences, and, of course, hardcore sex. David, the protagonist, is a photographer who lives in a houseboat on Portage Bay. He spends a lot of time fantasizing about oral sex, taking pictures of nude women, and standing on the University Bridge staring blankly out at the water. While hitchhiking along Aurora Avenue, he gets picked up by a couple of nurses and the trio heads out of town to a farmhouse where they do lots of drugs, take a bath, drink wine, look at Tarot Cards, and fornicate repeatedly (including a romp in a pasture to an audience of cows). Amidst the druggy haze are glimpses of Seattle during the far out, hedonistic '70s. I wonder how this film was received during its original release, as The Last Bath was probably too sexually explicit for the avant-garde scene while simultaneously being too freaky for the overcoat crowd. After its initial theatrical run, the picture spent the next 25 or so years in obscurity until a rare print was unearthed and screened for a modern audience at The Grand Illusion Cinema, a small arthouse theater in the University District. I have long been involved with the GI and we have shown all sorts of movies from countless different genres, eras and countries. Few of these films have generated as much burning interest as this "lost" local porn. While the crowds did feature a significant number of old-school smut fiends, a wide variety of folks bought tickets to the movie. Perhaps some audience members were like me, curious about the film's vintage geographic scenery and unique place in Seattle's cinematic (or should I say skinematic) history. But there are numerous rumors regarding the actual identity of the cast as most all the talent involved with The Last Bath used a fake name, and I think several viewers were probably looking for familiar faces. Regardless of your feelings about prurient entertainment, The Last Bath remains a strange artifact from a very different time.
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