MUBI UK film review: Hot Thrills and Warm Chills (byNWR)
Ryan Gumbley | On 14, Nov 2017
Director: Dale Berry
Cast: Rita Alexander, Lorna Maitland, Susan Branson, Jeane Manson, Dale Berry
Watch Hot Thrills and Warm Chills online in the UK: MUBI UK
Hot Thrills and Warm Chills doesn’t have much in the way of a narrative. It’s a series of mild sex scenes interspersed with a girl gang meeting up, discussing their sex lives and planning the robbery of the King of Sex’s crown. Director Dale Berry doesn’t show much concern for things like blocking and shot composition, with characters occasionally standing in front of the camera and blocking the audience’s view. However, for all its amateurishness, you come away from Hot Thrills and Warm Chills knowing you’ve had a cinematic experience you’ve never had before.
At 69 minutes, the whole thing breezes by quickly, and that’s probably for the best. There are some interesting things going on here, but not many of them hold the interest for very long. As soon as things seem to be getting a bit boring, Berry cuts straight to an out of context sex scene to get the punters back on board – a cheap tactic, yes, but it helps keep things moving.
The mention of a girl gang heist might conjure imaginings of Ocean’s Eleven-style shenanigans, but Hot Thrills and Warm Chills outlines the heist and then jumps to its aftermath a little later (once we’ve watched a few more sex scenes and dance sequences). You can decide for yourself whether this decision was a product of the filmmakers’ artistic choices or their budgetary limitations. The result gives the impression of an extended daydream; the characters deliver their lines with strange cadences, the sex scenes are accompanied by canned moans and groans that repeat ad infinitum and the characters themselves seem to spend a lot of time lost in their own thoughts.
In one sublime scene, one of the girls becomes captivated by her own reflection, going as far as to kiss the mirror. You can understand the base reasons why a 60s exploitation film would include a naked woman kissing her reflection in the mirror, but the scene drags on for so long that it becomes almost transcendent. There’s more palpable passion in these images of a woman kissing herself in the mirror than in all the other bedroom scenes combined.
Hot Thrills and Warm Chills is the second film to be restored by Nicolas Winding Refn and distributed via MUBI. Although it might not seem like the obvious candidate for a revival, that’s kind of the point of Refn’s whole byNWR project. Many viewers will be bored stiff by Hot Thrills and Warm Chills, but anyone interested in the most bizarre wormholes of American exploitation cinema should give it a chance.
Hot Thrills and Warm Chills is available exclusively on MUBI UK, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. For more on Nicolas Winding Refn’s restoration and streaming project, byNWR, click here.