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Sep 19

Gay Porn Classics: Born to Raise Hell

Born to Raise HellOn the week of the Folsom Street Fair, we’re taking a look at one of the all-time legends of gay leather cinema.

There are plenty of porn films that like to set the bar high, but plastering the cover of your adult video with the line “Acclaimed as the best gay S&M film ever made” is quite a claim to have to live up to.

Born To Raise Hell from Bijou Pictures is an interesting one to review both for this reason and for the fact that it is, by gay porn standards, reasonably vintage — made in 1974. Seeing whether it stood the test of time as well as living up to its classic status was a big task right off the bat. But it’s probably no more audacious a question than the film’s tagline was in asserting the league in which it considered itself to rank.

Shot on film and directed by the iconic Roger Earl, its release marked the beginning of the “Marathon legacy,” featuring the best in all-male S&M classics. It was also responsible for bringing us the considerable talents of the now-famous leather daddy Val Martin. For both, it deserves a fair amount of credit, but is it any good?

Even by today’s envelope-pushing standards, Born To Raise Hell is fairly brutal. It’s genuine S&M and from its long opening scene it’s fairly obvious that there are no tricks in trying to portray the action as rougher that it is. These performers were fully committed to being smacked around and subjected to everything from nipple torture to pissing, fisting, some very aggressive spanking and bondage, naturally. Their responses to these different stimuli are, at times, even disturbing in their authenticity, with cries of anguish you very rarely see in porn today, unless they’re put on. The third scene in particular is hard to watch at times, as the unsuspecting “victim” is put through a range of sexual torments, including what can only be described as a crucifixion halfway through.

Aesthetically, the film quality is pretty much what you’d expect from a piece of pornography of its age. It’s always clear enough to see the action taking place, but certainly not the hi-def visuals we’re used to today. Audio is mixed with some moments clearly dubbed, but others authentic enough to pass as live. The outdoor scene that finishes the video doesn’t bother with vocals, however. The music is classic 70s porn camp, which is fine for those used to the genre during that era.

The best part of its age is the men. Even today, the quality of men in vintage porn from that decade seems to get a rise out of a lot of people. There’s just something about that rough around the edges, non-groomed and muscled archetype that seemed to epitomize performers in the medium during that time. Star Val Martin certainly doesn’t disappoint in his skills or on-screen presence either.

How does it stand-up against modern-day fetish pornography? Hard as it is to believe, you almost feel like we’ve regressed since this age of brutal, hardcore sex (some might say this is arguably for the better). You’ll rarely see scenes as intense, even from studios such as Dark Alley Media. It’s hard to know whether this is because these men were more open to pushing their limits than the adult film actors of today, because our porn watching habits have changed, or whether the lack of regulation for porn performers has improved since this time. Regardless, you will undoubtedly be shocked by the extent these scenes go to.