director Dwain Esper
What’s there to say about Sex Madness? First: Great title.
For me, the real reason to see this particular exploitation film is that it is the work of one Dwain Esper, whose 1934 film Maniac I found to be one of the most mind-bogglingly wild movies I’ve ever seen. I figured his later film on the horrors of syphilis and gonorrhea had to be worth seeing, even if it is on a pretty shitty copy on DVD.
This is the reality of movies in the public domain. For all the film restoration that goes on, some movies are never going to really warrant the work. And the version of Sex Madness I watched was as poor a copy of any movie I’ve sat through in the past decade or so.
It has its moments. A bunch of young people go to a burlesque show and get all hyped up on sex. In fact, in a throw-away moment, the film intimates that one man all hopped up on sex from the burlesque show hunts down a child to rape and kill. The others just go to a party at a house to pair up and “get it on”.
Oh, but there are diseases. Shameful diseases. Pretty devastating diseases if untreated. We even go to a hospital to see the ravages of syphilis on the human body. It can ruin a good person.
The film is actually quite progressive in its way, actually trying to foreground the talk about sexually transmitted diseases rather than shaming and hiding them. It encourages people to know their facts and seek treatment, to “come out” if you will about their illnesses. So, give it credit for that.
It’s no Maniac, sadly. Still, quite interesting in its way.