Movie Art: Hot Lunch

I was going to make some pithy Thanksgiving quip here because I thought this was just some schlocky D movie. But it turns out that it’s really just a porno. (Who knew pornos had posters? I guess people who frequent porno video stores…) And, really, how can you not talk about the it’s-a-porno-so-obviously-it’s-overwrought symbolism here?

The flight attendant/military officer/cop/<insert generic occupation here> serving up herself on a platter is groan-inducing enough, but in case you don’t get it there’s a slice of pie in the foreground (a full 20 years before American Pie became a Porky’s-redux-on-steroids cottage industry). Yet the pie is on a plate, situated next to a knife, fork, and spoon. The pie is the obvious metaphor (“like warm apple pie…”), yet is the poster implying some sort of violence—and possibly cannibalism—by introducing these violent utensils used for stabbing, scooping, picking, stirring, and consuming? Then there’s the poster’s focal point. I suppose we’re meant to assume the steam/smell wafting up from the platter is this temptress’ way of luring us in with the promise of some irresistible main course. Yet we could just as easily read it the other way: She was tempting, until she pulled up that lid and we caught wind of those day-old leftovers (Thanksgiving quip!). Visual art history, especially comics and animation, is rife with stink lines and the like meant to convey how awful someone or something smells. This image is tapping into both the apple-pie-on-the-windowsill image of tasty foods and the we-know-that-smells-like-crap-because-of-the-stink-lines tradition of comic art.

At first I thought this poster was hilarious, but the more I thought about it the more I found it lazy and disturbing. On the basest level, it doesn’t really entice you to watch what it’s advertising. Maybe porno viewers in 1978 were good at deciphering poster art for what would be time-well-spent and what would be flaccid excuses for titillation, but this poster conveys neither, at least to these 21st century eyes. And, granted, not every porno viewer is a discerning cultural critic (anyone have numbers on this from 1978?), but look at this poster for more than a minute and you can’t help but be turned off not only by the allusions to violence and worse, but also by the revolting implication of what’s being touted as “finger lickin’ good.”