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  • They're Playing with Fire (1984) Blu-ray Review

    They’re Playing with Fire (1984)

    Director: Howard Avedis

    Starring: Sybil Danning, Eric Brown, Andrew Prine & Paul Clemens

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Combining skin and thrills, They’re Playing with Fire stars Sybil Danning (Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf) as a sultry college professor who seduces a horny student (Eric Brown, Private Lessons), entangling him in a dangerous plot to obtain her in-laws wealthy inheritance.  Andrew Prine (Amityville II: The Possession) and Paul Clemens (The Beast Within) costar.

    Shrouded as a wild sex-romp in tune with most young men’s desires, They’re Playing with Fire, albeit being very tantalizing, pulls the carpet under its audience in one of the oddest genre switch ups of the decade.  Incessantly drooling over his foxy professor, Mrs. Diane Stevens, and performing odd jobs aboard her luxurious yacht, college student Jay Richard’s lusting pays off when seduced by the blonde bombshell.  Unknowingly plotting a scheme with her husband Michael (Prine) to inherit his family riches from her in-laws, a virtually harmless crack at prowling to scare off the elderly Stevens’ backfires on Jay when a masked assailant ruthlessly knocks off Michael’s mother and grandmother instead.  Trapping him in a seductive love triangle with life or death stakes, Jay’s hormonal jackpot grows grayer by the day.  Regarded as exploitation royalty, Sybil Danning makes mouths water with her fiercely flirtatious performance and sizzling nude sequences that, much to the delight of teenage boys during the video boom, are plentiful.  In a deliriously unexpected spin for viewers assuming the plot from its provocative poster art, They’re Playing with Fire morphs into an erotically-charged thriller with slasher elements that pollinate the film with bloody bursts of violence catching first time watchers off guard.  Helmed by Howard Avedis (Scorchy, Mortuary), They’re Playing with Fire, rightly earning Danning one of her finest performances in a career of countlessly sexy and sleazy roles, is a wild effort right down to its even kookier reveal of the true murderer that is as unusually different as it is libido driving.

    Newly remastered, KL Studio Classics upgrades They’re Playing with Fire with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Revealing satisfying layers of detail in facial features, skin tones are sound with Danning certainly showing off her fair share during the film’s many moments of passion.  Meanwhile, costumes, background pieces and bolder colored vehicles pop quite decently with the film’s source material arriving in tiptop shape and generally free of any unsavory scratches.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that handles character exchanges, both in intimate, hushed tones and louder barroom environments, nicely while, music cues are well orchestrated and ear-pleasing.  Special features include, Sun & Seduction with Sybil Danning (18:25) where the still mightily attractive lead reveals she landed the role based on her appearance in Playboy Magazine and her initial concerns that the script was overly convoluted.  Furthermore, Danning recalls many a fan encounters where the film played heavily into their puberty and instances of teens stealing the videotape from their fathers!  The genre titan, although finding him cute, reveals costar Eric Brown made the shoot difficult due to his unwillingness to be nude in the film.  Lastly, Trailers for They’re Playing with Fire (1:25), The Bitch (2:38) and The Stud (2:52) conclude the disc’s supplements.

    Beloved by Mr. Skin himself and most young men who experienced the film’s sumptuous offerings during its heyday, They’re Playing with Fire offers plenty of bare-breasted Sybil Danning and a chameleon-like plot that supplies an alarmingly fun touch of slasher elements for fans of the decade’s body count pictures.  A career high for the buxom B-movie queen, carnal delights never tasted this sweet or deadly before her voluptuous college professor wraps her legs around such impressionable hound dogs.  KL Studio Classics’ high-def handling of the sexy sizzler is a solid boost in quality with Danning’s newly recorded chatty sit-down a fine inclusion.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from KL Studio Classics, They’re Playing with Fire can be purchased via KinoLorber.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Assault on New Releases #11 - Halloween Edition: Count Dracula's Great Love (1973), Child's Play (1988) Collector's Edition, Burial Ground (1980), Waxwork (1988) / Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1991) & Lady in White (1988) Blu-ray Reviews

    Count Dracula’s Great Love (1973)

    Director: Javier Aguirre

    Starring: Paul Naschy, Rosanna Yanni, Haydée Politoff, Mirta Miller, Ingrid Garbo, Álvaro de Luna de Luma & José Manuel Martin

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Starring Spain’s premiere horror star Paul Naschy (Night of the Werewolf), Count Dracula’s Great Love finds a carriage of travelers derailed and kindly taken in by the handsome Dr. Marlow (Naschy).  Secretly harboring his true identity as the Prince of Darkness, Marlow stalks and seduces his way to the necks of his gorgeous guests, transforming them into bloodthirsty slaves while, shy virginal Karen (Haydée Politoff, Queens of Evil) becomes the apple of his eye and essential to his much grander plan.  Boasting gothic ambiance, full moons and eroticism, Javier Aguirre (Hunchback of the Morgue) directs with elegance in this atmospheric tale that presents a memorable interpretation of Dracula who is quick to whip and axe his victims as commonly as sink his fangs into them.  Weaving a narrative of originality and rich complexity, Count Dracula’s Great Love remains effective for Naschy’s understated performance and the film’s blood ritual used to resurrect Dracula’s deceased daughter, concluding in lovesick tragedy.

    Beautifully scanned and restored in 2K from the 35mm internegative, Vinegar Syndrome presents Count Dracula’s Great Love with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  While minor intrusions from scratches and cigarette burns are evident, the Spanish feature has never looked better.  Bringing vibrant life to skin tones and the colorful costume choices of its actresses, detail is crisp preserving the fog-entranced tone while, black levels seen in Count Dracula’s cape, casket and dark dwellings are exceptionally inky.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, the film’s English dub track may register t’s and s sounds too sharply but, overwhelmingly exudes clean and audible dialogue levels while, cracks and pop are minimal and of little to no notice.  Presenting both its uncut U.S. edition and its original Spanish language version, viewers are informed that the latter, lacking proper elements from its licensor (and missing shots due to content that are only found in its English counterpart), is presented from lesser quality video sources and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix in order to appreciatively appease fans yearning for both cuts.  Meanwhile, special features include, a never before released Audio Commentary with Director Javier Aguirre & Actor Paul Naschy featuring optional subtitles in both English and Spanish plus, a newly captured Video Interview with Actress Mirta Miller (8:22) with optional English subtitles.  Furthermore, the U.S. Theatrical Trailer (3:04), a Still Gallery (2:16) and a 6-page booklet featuring an informative essay from Mirek Lipinski are also included alongside a DVD edition of the release and Reversible Cover Art.  Fans of horror’s more gothic and erotic outings will take pleasure sinking their fangs into this significant Spanish offering, splendidly brought to high-definition by Vinegar Syndrome for the first time ever!

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Vinegar Syndrome, Count Dracula’s Great Love can be purchased via VinegarSyndrome.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

    Child’s Play (1988)

    Director: Tom Holland

    Starring: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent & Brad Dourif

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Instilling a new titan for modern horror and ushering in a frightening franchise of sequels each varying in quality, the original Child’s Play still reigns as the most effective and chilling of Chucky’s many chapters.  When innocent six-year-old Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent, Wait Until Spring, Bandini) is presented with a Good Guy doll on his birthday, strange occurrences and the death of his babysitter raise questions of responsibility in their wake.  Unsuccessfully convincing his single mother and a homicide detective that his doll is alive and behind the recent string of murders, Andy finds himself pursued by the tiny terror in order to take over his soul.  Before the bodycount pictures its later entries would become with the foul-mouthed killer serving as their marketing mascot, Child’s Play’s less is more approach keeps viewers questioning the validity of Andy’s claims more so than blindly assuming his doll is truly possessed.  Wrapped in mystery and edge of your seat suspense with an oftentimes forgotten voodoo subplot, Child’s Play holds up strongly with a believable blend of special effects wizardry, an urban Chicago setting and top-notch performances with Dourif’s shrieking voice as the crazed Chucky leaving an indelible mark on the nightmares of viewers for years to come.

    Newly scanned in 2K from the interpositive, Scream Factory presents Child’s Play with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Casting a darker yet, more natural appearance during nighttime sequences, skin tones are accurate and nicely detailed while, colors found in Chucky’s red-striped and denim attire along with the neon-lit signage of the toy store in the film’s opening pop well.  Scuffs and other blemishes appear to be absent while, softness during daytime exteriors and inside the Barclay’s apartment look similar to its previous release.  Admittedly modest in its improvements, Scream Factory’s latest stab at Child’s Play unquestionably ranks as its best looking.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that projects solid dialogue and booming displays of authority during thunderstorms and Joe Renzetti’s (Poltergeist III) creepy score, sound quality is superior.  In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix has also been included.  Impressively packed with new and old offerings, Disc 1 features a new Audio Commentary with Director Tom Holland plus, a repurposed Audio Commentary with Actors Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks & “Chucky” Designer Kevin Yagher.  Furthermore, another vintage Audio Commentary with Producer David Kirschner & Screenwriter Don Mancini along with hilarious Chucky Commentaries on select scenes are also included.

    Kicking off Disc 2, Behind-the-Scenes Special Effects Footage (1:00:08), Howard Berger: Your Special Effects Friend ‘Till the End (40:53) and Life Behind the Mask: Being Chucky with Ed Gale (40:02) comprise the release’s newest and highly fascinating featurettes while, Evil Comes in Small Packages (24:49), Chucky: Building a Nightmare (10:05), A Monster Convention (5:26), Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child’s Play (6:15) and a Vintage Featurette (4:54) from MGM’s previous release are ported over.  In addition, a TV Spot (0:17), Theatrical Trailer (2:02), a Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery (37 in total), a Posters & Lobby Cards Photo Gallery (20 in total) and Reversible Cover Art featuring the original 1-sheet poster conclude the all encompassing slate of extras.  A frightening sophomore followup from Director Tom Holland (Fright Night), Child’s Play maintains its reputation as one of the better supernatural slashers of the 80s while, Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition, sprawling with bounds of extras, is nothing short of a gift from the mighty Damballa himself.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available now from Scream Factory, Child’s Play can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

    Burial Ground (1980)

    Director: Andrea Bianchi

    Starring: Mariangela Giordano, Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Peter Bark & Roberto Caporali

    Released by: Severin Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Presented under its alternate The Nights of Terror title, Burial Ground hosts a smorgasbord of guts and bloody depravity when a country getaway for several couples quickly turns into a fight for their lives against reanimated corpses.  Preoccupied with their own sexual appetite when a scientist’s tinkering with evil forces unleashes hell’s hungriest zombies, the couples struggle to defend themselves while keeping the rotting forces from gaining entry into the mansion.  A wall-to-wall bonkers example of Italian exploitation at its finest, Burial Ground’s plot may be paper thin but, graciously overcompensates with gallons of gore and some of the genre’s most memorable zombie designs befit with gaping facial holes, horrific skeletal features and squirming maggots oozing from their pores.  Weaponizing themselves with pickaxes, scythes and other garden tools, the ravenous undead decapitate the help and repeatedly feast on the torn out organs of their prey.  Perhaps even more memorable than the zombie’s persistent attacks, Burial Ground’s bizarro meter soars when Michael (Peter Bark, Arrivano i gatti), the peculiar-looking son of Karen, grows oddly attracted to his mother and makes an incestuous pass at her in the heat of zombiepalooza.  With options running low and escape unlikely, nothing can prepare viewers for Burial Ground’s absurd mouthful of a finale that draws its line in the sand as one of the great “what the…” moments of splatter cinema.

    Gorgeously restored in 2K from pristine elements, Severin Films presents Burial Ground with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.66:1 aspect ratio.  True to its description, this newly struck scan is leaps and bounds superior to past releases with a blemish-free appearance, strong facial tones and impressive detail bringing out the intricacies of the many zombie makeup designs and their intendedly heinous features.  Furthermore, the film’s plethora of blood pops loudly while, black levels, even during the film’s more dimly lit sequences, are effectively inky, allowing viewers to fully appreciate all that is occurring.  Definitive as can be, Severin Films deserves the utmost praise for their esteemed handling of this Italian gorefest.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is perfectly audible throughout without any static or pops detected.  In addition, a separate Dolby Digital 2.0 Italian mix is included with optional English subtitles.  Bonus offerings include, Villa Parisi - Legacy of Terror (15:47) where Movie Historian Fabio Melelli revisits the filming locations that date back to the 17th century and have been utilized by Italian film productions beginning in the 1960s through the present.  Meanwhile, Peter Still Lives: Festival Q&A with Actor Peter Bark (7:35), Just for the Money: Interview with Actor Simone Mattioli (8:57) and The Smell of Death: Interviews with Producer Gabriele Crisanti & Actress Mariangela Giordano (9:20) are joined by Deleted/Extended Scenes/Shots (10:24), the Theatrical Trailer (3:31) and Reversible Cover Art.  Lastly, limited to the first 3,000 units, an exclusive slipcover featuring new artwork by Wes Benscoter is also included.  Riding high on a profoundly successful 2016, Severin Films continues to spoil exploitation enthusiasts with their treatment of Burial Ground, so definitive that the opening of hell’s gates can be the only justification for quality of this caliber.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Severin Films, Burial Ground can be purchased via Severin-Films.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

    Waxwork (1988) / Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1991)

    Director: Anthony Hickox

    Starring: Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson, Dana Ashbrook, Michah Grant, Eric Brown, Clare Carey, Patrick Macnee & David Warner / Zach Galligan, Monkia Schnarre, Alexander Godunov, Martin Kemp & Bruce Campbell 

    Released by: Lionsgate

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Melding the humorously wacky with the horrific, Waxwork finds a group of collegiate friends who stumble upon a mysterious wax museum displaying the most vile monsters, madmen and psychos albeit without victims.  Before long, their innocent tour lures them into its dark magic to become permanent members of the establishments morbid offerings.  Starring Zach Galligan (Gremlins) and Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl) with appearances from distinguished Englishmen and talented thespians Patrick Macnee (The Avengers) and David Warner (Tron) as the villainous museum owner, Waxwork’s greatest strength lies in its animated displays that honor the classic monsters of yesteryear and submerging would-be victims into their appropriately themed worlds.  Transforming into mini films within a film, the high maintenance China (Michelle Johnson, Death Becomes Her) finds herself immersed within Count Dracula’s gothic castle and forced to duel against his bloodthirsty brides while, the chain-smoking Tony (Dana Ashbrook, Twin Peaks) stumbles into the full moon lit backwoods where the beastly Wolfman (John-Rhys Davies, Raiders of the Lost Ark) hunts.  While the rather busy narrative throws touches of black magic, evil trinkets, freakish butlers and interdimensional realms to the forefront that occasionally scatterbrains the proceedings, Waxwork’s free-for-all conclusion pitting the likes of Marquis de Sade and zombies against the privileged Mark (Galligan) and his wheelchair-bound godfather right the ship in this clever sendup of classic chills under the guise of 80s video age eye-candy.

    Surviving the fiery events of the original film, Mark and Sarah (replaced by Monkia Schnarre, The Peacekeeper) return in Waxwork II: Lost in Time when a resilient zombie hand from the wax museum murders Sarah’s stepfather, pinning the blame on her.  Determined to prove her innocence, the two recover a magical compass enabling them to time travel through dimensions in order to gather the proper evidence to clear Sarah’s name.  Far more fantasy based than its predecessor with the characters winding up in medieval times to combat a black magic wielding sorcerer, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, using Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking-Glass as a loose template, makes greater use of hilariously parodying genre films than properly traveling through historical events.  Making stops at Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory and the streets of London during Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, Alien, The Haunting and Godzilla among other films all find their way cheekily homaged in this more refined sequel.  Graced with brief roles from B-movie legends Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) and David Carradine (Death Race 2000), Waxwork II: Lost in Time widens its universe even more so, delivering a followup with more comedic oomph that surprisingly exceeds its originator by a narrow margin.

    Digitally restored, Lionsgate, under their Vestron Video Collector’s Series imprint, presents both Waxwork and Waxwork II: Lost in Time with 1080p transfers, sporting 1.85:1 aspect ratios.  Bearing generally clean appearances with scant scratches and slight speckling during darker sequences, colors pop effectively with skin tones reading nicely although, softness is not wholly uncommon or overly unpleasant.  Furthermore, its sequel noticeably improves during its extended black and white sequences mocking The Haunting that shine more sharply than the first film.  Respectable upgrades on both features will leave the overwhelming majority of fans more than pleased with the results.  Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes, dialogue is admirably conveyed while occasional moments during the first film find character lines at odds with other dominating sound factors.  Otherwise making solid use of their respective musical scores, both tracks strongly live up to expectations.  

    Providing each film on their own Blu-ray disc, special features on Waxwork’s Disc 1 include, an Audio Commentary with Director Anthony Hickox & Actor Zach Galligan and an Isolated Score & Audio Interview with Composer Roger Bellon.  Additionally, The Waxwork Chronicles (1:22:17), another first-rate Red Shirt Pictures production divided into six parts, explores the development and making of both films with newly captured interviews from Writer/Director Anthony Hickox, Editor Christopher Cibelli, Producer Staffon Ahrenberg, Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor Bob Keen, Actors Zach Galligan, Monika Schnarre and many others covering everything Waxwork related fans would ever want to know.  Also included, a vintage The Making of Waxwork (24:06) featurette, the Theatrical Trailer (2:02) and a Still Gallery (7:55) conclude the disc’s helpings.  Next up, Waxwork II: Lost in Time’s Disc 2 opens with another Audio Commentary with Director Anthony Hickox & Actor Zach Galligan, an Isolated Score & Audio Interview with Composer Steve Schiff, a Music Video (3:50), Theatrical Trailer (3:03), Still Gallery (7:17) and a Reversible Cover Art capping off the double feature’s supplemental package.  Nostalgia will surely ring loudly for viewers raised on both Waxwork features during the heyday of video rental.  A clever and unique injection of horror and comedy during the slasher prominent decade, both films, with its 1991 sequel having a slight advantage, are enjoyable excursions into silliness that have been passionately peppered with ample bonus features to continue making the legacy of Vestron Pictures proud.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Lionsgate, Waxwork / Waxwork II: Lost in Time can be purchased via LionsgateShop.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

    Lady in White (1988)

    Director: Frank LaLoggia

    Starring: Lukas Haas, Len Cariou, Alex Rocco & Katherine Helmond

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Set in the wholesome suburb of Willowpoint Falls circa 1962, Lady in White centers on monster kid Frankie Scarlatti (Lukas Haas, Mars Attacks!) who narrowly escapes death at the hands of a mysterious child murderer.  Aided by the first victim’s ghost, Frankie vows to bring the elusive killer to justice who may be closer than he knows.  Capturing the virtually lost magic of small-town Americana and shot on location in the picturesque region of Upstate New York, Lady in White weaves its atmospheric tale of local legends, ghosts and cold-blooded murder with expert direction and grounded performances that shine with pure naturalism.  Following Frankie’s supernatural encounter, the neighborhood myth of the lady in white searching for her fallen child ties into the picture’s larger story with the very real threat of her assailant still at large injecting a genuine undercurrent of thrills.  Reminiscent of Stephen King’s best coming of age fables, Lady in White’s acute capturing of simpler times while, injecting deeply rooted themes of family, facing fears and discrimination come from a creative voice of passion and experience that Writer/Director Frank LaLoggia (Fear No Evil) conveys in earnest.  An underrated masterwork with an innate connection to the heart and mystery of childhood, Lady in White remains as riveting as ever, eclipsing its reputation as one of the finest ghost stories of its kind.

    Debuting on high-definition with 2 Discs featuring the Director’s Cut (1:57:49, Disc 1), Theatrical Version (1:53:34, Disc 2) and the preferred Extended Director’s Cut (2:06:52, Disc 2), Scream Factory presents Lady in White with 1080p transfers, sporting 1.85:1 aspect ratios.  Utilizing the film’s interpositive and an archived film print to assemble the never-before-released lengthier director’s cut, the inherently soft photography is perfectly maintained while, fall leaves and seasonally appropriate greenery are lively looking.  Seamlessly blending its two elements for a first-rate restoration, the director’s intended cut looks excellent whereas the film’s alternate versions are of equal merit.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that forewarns hiss and pops that are hardly noticeable on its extended version, dialogue is never inaudible with the subtle ambiance of howling winds and crashing waves complimenting the proceedings nicely while, the film’s beautiful music selections, handled also by its Writer/Director, perform most effectively.  In addition an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix has also been included.  However unfortunate that no new supplements were produced for the release, vintage bonus features found entirely on Disc 1 include, an Introduction with Frank LaLoggia (0:46), an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Frank LaLoggia (Director’s Cut only), Behind-the-Scenes Footage with Introduction by Frank LaLoggia (16:21) and optional commentary from its creator.  Furthermore, Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Frank LaLoggia (36:13) and optional commentary, a Promotional Short Film (7:18), the Theatrical Trailer (1:57), Alternate Trailers (7:10), TV Spots (1:34), Radio Spots (2:21), a Behind-the-Scenes Photo Montage (28 in total) and an Extended Photo Gallery (21 in total) wrap up the on-disc extras while, a Reversible Cover Art is also included.  An evocative coming of age chiller ripe for rediscovery and annual viewing, Lady in White is a prime ghostly offering for the Halloween season that stands out for its relatable themes and haunting narrative worthy of the deepest respect.  

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available now from Scream Factory, Lady in White can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

     

  • Felicity (1978) Blu-ray Review

    Felicity (1978)

    Director: John D. Lamond

    Starring: Glory Annen, Christopher Milne, Joni Flynn, Jody Hanson, Marilyn Rodgers, John Michael Howson & Gordon Charles

    Released by: Severin Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Presented in its unrated director’s cut, Felicity stars Glory Annen (Spaced Out) as sheltered teen Felicity Robinson who finds herself experiencing a series of changes and sexual curiosities.  Whisked away from her uptight English all-girl school for a holiday in Hong Kong, Felicity engages in the many pleasures the bustling city has to offer in order to quench her voracious appetite for the erotic.  Christopher Milne (Thirst), Penthouse model Joni Flynn, Jody Hanson (The Call of the Wild), Marilyn Rodgers (Patrick), John Michael Howson (Nightmares) and Gordon Charles co-star.

    Erotically charged yet, tantalizingly classy, Felicity centers on the sexual awakening of a shy Catholic schoolgirl whose rapid libido can hardly keep up with her curiously wandering thoughts.  From innocently staring at the evolving bods of her classmates in the showers, Felicity (Annen) is treated when her father arranges her to stay with associates of his in Hong Kong for holiday.  Reading from the not-so-subtle Emmanuelle, the teen finds herself turned on while spying on fellow passengers who have chosen to join the mile high club in their seats.  Arriving in the exotic eastern city to stay with a hip, wealthy couple, Felicity’s desires increase as she peaks on her hosts having intimate sex while pleasuring herself to the sight of their thrusting bodies.  Beautiful and bubbly, Glory Annen, aged 26 at the time, convincingly plays the precocious schoolgirl with ease while her appetizing figure is proudly put on display for much of the film’s runtime.  Following an empowering shopping spree for sexy lingerie, Felicity wines and dines with an older crowd before uncomfortably losing her virginity on the hood of a sports car.  Relishing the Pandora’s box that’s been opened, sexually adventurous Me Ling (Flynn) takes Felicity under her wing where steamy lesbian action takes place before the young woman falls for handsome photographer Miles (Milne) who rescues the damsel from Chinese hoodlums.  Unquestionably exploiting its markedly “barely legal" starlet, Felicity’s intent feels far more sincere than most similarly themed films and presents its hotter sequences with obvious taste and appreciative lightheartedness.  Crowned with genuinely romantic notions, Felicity remains an erotic wonder that made target audiences quiver with lust, continuing to keep its reputation instated today.

    Restored in high-definition for the first time, Severin Films presents Felicity with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Appearing softly with white levels overblown at times, the dreamlike aura of its photography appears to be intentional yet, compromises a more detailed image.  Meanwhile, skin tones are moderately pleasing while, black levels show slight traces of murkiness with only scant instances of dirt and debris spotted throughout its runtime.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is surprisingly crisp while, the film’s catchy song numbers make stronger impacts.  Nicely packed, special features include, an Audio Commentary with Producer/Director John D. Lamond & Star Glory Annen.  In addition, previously available on DVD via Severin’s Intervision sub label, two of Lamond’s other features, 1978’s The ABCs of Love and Sex (1:22:58) and 1975’s Australia After Dark (1:28:08) are included both with optional audio commentaries with Producer/Director John D. Lamond & Not Quite Hollywood Director Mark Hartley.  Finally, Not Quite Hollywood Out-Takes with Actress Glory Annen, Director John D. Lamond and Cinematographer Garry Wapshott (59:03) are joined by a John D. Lamond Trailer Reel (18:24) featuring Nightmares, The ABCs of Love and Sex, Felicity, Pacific Banana, Breakfast in Paris and Sky Pirates.

    Deflowered on high-definition courtesy of Severin Films, Felicity continues to make fans of the erotic sensation shake in glee from its sexually charged exploration of a young woman’s titillating discoveries.  Exceedingly stuffed with two extra features from Lamond’s career and extended interviews from Hartley’s insightful Ozploitation documentary, Felicity’s Blu-ray debut is a treasure trove of sexy Aussie cinema!

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Severin Films, Felicity can be purchase via SeverinFilms.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Pretty Peaches Trilogy: Pretty Peaches (1978), Pretty Peaches 2 (1987) & Pretty Peaches 3: The Quest (1989) Blu-ray Review

    Pretty Peaches Trilogy (1978-1989)

    Director: Alex de Renzy

    Starring: Desiree Cousteau, Juliet Anderson, Joey Silvera, John Leslie & Paul Thomas / Siobhan Hunter, Tracey Adams, Hershel Savage, Ron Jeremy & Jamie Gillis / Keisha, Tracey Adams, Marc Wallice, Eric Price, Rachel Ryan & Jamie Gillis 

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Vinegar Syndrome, the sultans of smut, proudly present erotic maestro Alex de Renzy’s Pretty Peaches trilogy in all its uncut glory!  In the original classic, Desiree Cousteau (Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls) stars as the bubbly and vivacious Peaches who after attending her father’s wedding, winds up in an accident resulting in a severe case of amnesia.  Rescued, for better or worse, by two horny men, Peaches’ road to recovery will be a long and hard one.  Next up, Pretty Peaches 2 centers on the sexually curious Peaches (Siobhan Hunter, Summer Lovers) as she hits the road to educate herself only to end up in San Francisco at her eccentric Uncle Howard’s (Ron Jeremy, Terms of Endowment) house.  Finally, Pretty Peaches 3: The Quest finds Peaches (Keisha, Uniform Behavior) ditching her trailer park life to search for spiritual enlightenment, leading to a series of sexual explorations.  

    Long considered de Renzy’s pornographic masterpiece, Pretty Peaches is equal parts scandalous and humorous made possible by the optimistically dopey performance of the gorgeous Desiree Cousteau.  After being knocked unconscious and sneakily raped by an uncontrollable fellow, Peaches awakes with no memory of herself prompting her two manipulative rescuers to take her in.  Concerned for his daughter’s whereabouts after her speedy exit from his wedding, Hugh (John Leslie, Candy Goes to Hollywood) attempts to enjoy his honeymoon with his black bride.  Between penetrating his new wife to a soundtrack of bed squeaks and engaging in a sweaty threesome with his blonde housekeeper, Peaches is no closer to remembering her identity.  Shuttled to the uncle of her rapist to help with her condition, the four-eyed horn dog instead performs an enema on Peaches, prompting the short-haired beauty to geyser everywhere in the film’s most hilariously over the top moment.  In addition, more bizarreness occurs when Peaches attempts to secure work as a dancer only to be sexually dog-piled by a swarm of strap-on wearing lesbians for the enjoyment of an audience.  As her unfavorable keepers get lucky with a duo of blondes, Peaches gets her own education from an especially thorough doctor.  Increased silliness and sexually-charged pandemonium converges at a lubed up swingers party where a most unexpected family reunion takes place restoring Peaches’ memory.  Deservedly awarded Best Actress by the Adult Film Association of America for her performance, Desiree Cousteau drives the picture in earnest with her adorably cute performance and unbelievably natural curves.  Providing wall to wall sequences of hot sex, Pretty Peaches’ notable sense of humor separates itself from other efforts as a bonafide erotic classic.

    Nearly a decade after the original film’s debut, Pretty Peaches 2 focuses on nearly 20-year-old Peaches (Hunter) longing for a crash course in sex.  Blocked from going all the way with her hunkish boyfriend Bobby (Peter North, The Bigger the Better), Peaches’ foxy mother Eunice (Tracey Adams, Angels of Passion) instead helps to ease his “lovers nuts” while, her stepfather (Hershel Savage, Losing Control) influences Peaches to seek answers out in the wild.  Hightailing it to San Francisco to shack up at her uncle’s pad, the sexually clueless picks up tips from a truck driver’s private party with a prostitute before arriving at casa de weird.  Ron Jeremy’s hilarious turn as the brightly dressed Uncle Howard is the film’s nonsexual highlight before engaging in an incestuous threesome with his wife and equally wacky son at the dinner table.  While former star Cousteau is sorely missing in action, Siobhan Hunter does well as the luscious Peaches of the 80s although, her role is limited to that of an observer until the film’s final act where she finally puts her lessons to use with a masquerading grandma played by Jamie Gillis (Corruption) and a steamy lesbian engagement.  Furthermore, although her fictional daughter headlines, Tracey Adams arguably steals the show with her knockout figure and increasingly hot encounters with several gents.  Sexier and surprisingly funnier than its predecessor, fans of big hair, amongst other “big” things, will take delight in de Renzy’s better late than never followup.

    Recasting the title role yet again, Pretty Peaches 3: The Quest finds sex queen Keisha stepping into the iconic role of Peaches in de Renzy’s underwhelming final chapter.  Unrelated to its previous installment where our protagonist was in search of sexual knowledge, Peaches, living in a trailer park with her attractive mother (played again by bombshell Tracey Adams), longs for spiritual enlightenment in her mundane life.  Under motherly orders, Peaches meets with the not-so-subtle Dr. Thunderpussy (Rachel Ryan, Private Places) to help ease her mind.  After a very lubricated examination, the lesbian doctor retreats to a backroom to fornicate with a sex doll.  Consistently gullible, our virginal lead then takes pity on a grieving TV preacher (Jamie Gillis returning in a new role) and aims to join him and his big-breasted assistant.  Just as things are getting hot and heavy, the FBI zeroes in on the deceitful preacher, edging Peaches out of her chances of enlightenment.  Persistent as ever, Peaches continues her journey leading her to a religious commune where she backs out of a lesbian threesome before losing her virginity to a hunk in a dojo-looking room.  Concerned for her whereabouts, Peaches’ mother and meathead boyfriend Bobby (Gene Carrera, Rock ’n Roll Heaven) pursue her, only to predictably end up riding the hobby horse together with muscles keeping his Reeboks well fastened.  Ultimately failing to find what she was searching for, Peaches is rejuvenated by a drunken hobo, inspiring her to be a strong voice for the needy.  Far too redundant to be original, Pretty Peaches 3: The Quest seemingly forgets the humor and boundary pushing elements that made its predecessors so memorable.  In addition, although attractive, Keisha is the least charismatic of the Peaches stars while, the film’s scandalous sequences appear by the numbers and lacking steam.  Understandably all great things must come to an end but, unfortunately Pretty Peaches 3: The Quest stands as the weakest chapter in a franchise that began so enthusiastically.

    Boasting a new encode restored in 2K from 35mm elements, Vinegar Syndrome presents the original film with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Filmically beautiful, natural grain is ever-present while, skin tones are highly detailed with colors of every variety making stunning impressions.  Mild instances of light scratches are occasionally spotted but hardly a cause for concern.  Meanwhile, its sequels, also restored in 2K from 35mm and 16mm elements with 1.85:1 aspect ratios, share equally pleasing presentations although, Pretty Peaches 3: The Quest suffers from noisy backgrounds and vertical splices appearing every now and again.  Individually equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mixes, dialogue is well-handled while music choices are appropriately balanced with wailing cries of ecstasy.  Once again, the third installment does suffer from noticeably lower pitches that require increases in volume to fully collect dialogue deliveries and other potent audio.  Although special features from Pretty Peaches’ original limited edition Blu-ray are not ported over making it a worthy keeper, the sole supplement is the Pretty Peaches 2 Trailer (3:38).

    Collecting underground pornographer Alex de Renzy’s trilogy of forbidden fruit, these golden age classics of erotica are of noted importance to adult connoisseurs for their sense of humor and sexual explorations of its charismatic title character.  In what appears to be a monthly basis, Vinegar Syndrome has yet again proven to porn preservers the labor of their efforts with another first-rate accomplishment sure to be appreciated for years to come.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from Vinegar Syndrome, the Pretty Peaches Trilogy can be purchased via VinegarSyndrome.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers. 

  • The Babysitter (1995) Blu-ray Review

    The Babysitter (1995)

    Director: Guy Ferland

    Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Jeremy London, J.T. Walsh, Nicky Katt & George Segal

    Released by: Olive Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Following her turn as ditzy blonde bombshell in Clueless, Alicia Silverstone stars in The Babysitter.  When Harry and Dolly Tucker (J.T. Walsh, The Negotiator and Lee Garlington, Psycho II) attend a local party, the attractive Jennifer (Silverstone) is entrusted to babysit their children.  As the night progresses, Jennifer receives advances from her drunken boyfriend Jack (Jeremy London, Mallrats) and his manipulative friend Mark (Nicky Katt, Insomnia).  In addition to being the object of the elder Harry’s sexual desires, Jennifer’s quiet night of babysitting spirals into an unnerving evening she won’t soon forget.

    Overly relying on erotic daydreams of its attractive lead concocted by most of the supporting cast, The Babysitter lacks knowledge of its own intentions.  While Harry quietly drools over the teenage babysitter, Jennifer’s boyfriend Jack is pursued by his estranged former friend Mark forcing viewers to endure meandering dialogue of little value.  As the film’s parental figures drunkenly long for passionate affairs, Jack is duped into stalking his own girlfriend after kindly being told to not visit her while babysitting.  Crosscutting between the film’s reality, Harry’s own scandalous fantasies and Jack’s never ending thoughts of “what if” possibilities, The Babysitter never finds it footing as the erotic thriller it strives to be.  Attempting to resuscitate itself in its final fleeting moments with the core characters brought together by tragedy, Director Guy Ferland’s (Telling Lies in America) directorial debut fails to weave a compelling tale with character development greatly suffering.  Unsurprisingly, The Babysitter was lambasted direct to video during its original release with time doing little good to this tensionless feature.  Scared and confused, Jennifer asks her bizarrely weak-minded boyfriend what he was thinking following the film’s events, leaving viewers asking similar questions regarding the film’s quality or lack thereof.  

    Olive Films presents The Babysitter with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Presumably struck from a dated master, the picture boasts a softness that yields a less than desirably sharper appearance.  Colors are mostly satisfying with Mark’s sports car popping nicely and black levels possessing inky levels.  Meanwhile, skin tones range from mediocre to unpleasantly muddled in closeups while flakes and speckles are largely kept to a minimum but still occasionally present.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is sufficiently audible with little else of merit.  No special features have been included on this release.

    RATING: 2/5

    Available now from Olive Films, The Babysitter can be purchased via OliveFilms.com,

    Amazon.com and other fine retailers.  

  • Going Under (2004) Blu-ray Review

    Going Under (2004)

    Director: Eric Werthman

    Starring: Roger Rees, Geno Lechner & Miho Nikaido

    Released by: Blue Underground

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Set in the underground world of S&M dungeons, Going Under centers on Peter (Roger Rees, The Prestige), a married psychotherapist, and Suzanne (Geno Lechner, Schindler’s List), a professional dominatrix.  Engaged in a rule abiding affair of carnal pleasure and sexual dominance, the two tortured souls decide to see each other in the outside world.  As the line between fantasy and reality blurs, Peter’s rampant obsession matched with the revelation of Suzanne’s own skeletons sends the pair on a dark journey of self-exploration.  

    Erotic and revealing, Going Under investigates the dark realms of fetishized fantasies for those daring to explore their sexuality.  Set in the city that never sleeps, Roger Rees stars as withdrawn psychotherapist Peter, in search of sexual fulfillment and unabashed dominance.  Journeying into the world of S&M dungeons, Peter encounters the hauntingly beautiful Suzanne (Lechner), a leather-donning dominatrix, prepared to fulfill Peter’s fantasies by any means necessary.  Utilizing real New York City fetish dungeons, Going Under plays far more psychologically showcasing the emotional strain and obsession Peter experiences after Suzanne agrees to finally meet him on the outside world.  Genuinely fixated with Suzanne while, combating the desires he had fulfilled in the dungeons, Peter’s determination to be with Suzanne is often met with resistance.  A struggling artist with a worrisome girlfriend, Suzanne harbors her own dark past involving the bond shared with her late father and broken relationship with her mother.  Although, Suzanne is as willing to engage with Peter on the outside, her scattered feelings and constant change of heart only fuels Peter’s obsession to be with her more.  Married with a child, Peter’s wife is aware of his ulterior lifestyle but, does little to dissuade him from engaging in it.  What began as a professional interest has slowly crossed into a very personal part of Peter’s life without causing any discernible harm to those closest to him.  While, Rees and Lechner convey bold performances, Going Under miscalculates by not fleshing out Peter’s background to allow insight into his growing desires with S&M fetishes.  In addition, Peter’s home life and acknowledged but, noticeably absent daughter is a missed opportunity that could have benefitted substantial drama to the picture had they been explored more heavily.

    Shining a heavy light on the taboo culture, Going Under explores the leather-bound spankings and piercing pleasures that thrive in these underground circles.  Rees bravely bears all while partaking in his unordinary turn-ons as the submissive with Lechner dominating said scenes with sexual authority.  Eye-opening to many, Going Under is not nearly as smutty as one would think, taking its sexual risks only so far.  Shot by first time director Eric Werthman, Going Under takes the dark and often misconceived world of S&M culture and unravels a tale of tortured individuals longing for desire.  Unfortunately, Going Under makes several missteps including, underdeveloped backstories for its characters and an unsatisfying conclusion, that could have propelled the film to a higher stature.  Although, the film pales in comparison to Radley Metzger’s explicit submissive/dominate masterpiece The Image, Going Under still maintains its authenticity by shooting in real bondage locations and rewarding the viewer with earnest performances from Rees and Lechner.

    Blue Underground presents Going Under with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Shot on 35mm, Going Under looks natural with healthy skin tones and moderate detail.  Transferred from a somewhat dated master, the film’s black levels slightly suffer with minor noise appearing in several dimly lit scenes.  Otherwise blemish free, Going Under makes a suitable leap to high-definition.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue levels are clear and free of any hiss or dropouts with New York City ambiance relayed nicely yet, never overbearing.  In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track has also been provided.  Ported over from Blue Underground’s previous 2007 DVD release, special features include an Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Eric Werthman & Star Roger Rees, Pushing the Boundaries capturing interviews with Stars Roger Rees and Geno Lechner (16:37), NYC Black & Blue Ball gives viewers a fly on the wall perspective of New York’s annual fetish celebration (5:55) plus, a Theatrical Trailer (3:14) and Teaser Trailer (1:27) round out the supplemental package.

    Unquestionably capitalizing on the phenomena of Fifty Shades of Grey and its upcoming Hollywood interpretation, 2004’s Going Under weaves a decent tale of erotic obsession and explicit fetishes with notable performances from Roger Rees and Geno Lechner.  Lacking a strong handle on character development, Director Eric Werthman’s sole effort shortchanges itself from becoming something truly special.  Meanwhile, Blue Underground’s high-definition release contains a satisfying transfer, well-balanced sound mix and all the previous DVD supplements carried over.  Mildly engaging amongst its narrative issues, Going Under still manages to be a decent footnote in cinema’s exploration of S&M culture.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available now, Going Under can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Purely Physical (1982) / Cathouse Fever (1984) DVD Review

    Purely Physical (1982) / Cathouse Fever (1984)

    Director: Chris Warfield

    Starring: Laura Lanzare, Michael Morrison & Juliet Anderson / Becky Savage, Rhonda Jo Petty & Rick Cassidy

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Injecting a much needed dose of 1980s pornography, Vinegar Syndrome welcomes a Chris Warfield double feature into their popular Peekarama banner.  Working under the pseudonym Billy Thornberg, Warfield weaves tantalizing tales of hotel room romps in Purely Physical and whore house exploits in Cathouse Fever.  Restored in 2K from their original camera negatives, the kings of kink take you back to a decade where more than just Olivia Newton-John was getting physical.

    Purely Physical stars Laura Lanzare (Pleasure Zone) as a journalism major who takes a job as a motel clerk.  Guests check in for a wild time while Lazare develops her own sexual daydreams.  Cathouse Fever centers on Becky (Becky Savage), a lonely secretary desperately in need of a lifestyle change.  Shy and withdrawn, Becky heads to Las Vegas to join up with a popular whorehouse.  Rhonda Jo Petty (Little Orphan Dusty), John Colt (Fever), Rick Cassidy (Swinging Ski Girls) and Chica Moreno (Debbie Does Las Vegas) co-star.

    MOVIE(s):

    Brunette bombshell, Laura Lazare, who held a modest porn career before calling it quits mid-decade headlines Purely Physical in an early role as journalism major, Kathy Harrington.  After landing a job as a motel clerk, Kathy accommodates horny patrons obsessed with one thing on their mind.  Guest highlights include a teenage couple, who falsely check-in as “Mr. & Mrs. A. Lincoln”, embarking on their first sexual encounter.  Slow and cautious, a premature orgasm influences the couple to try again leading to hand jobs and doggy-style romps.  In addition, Charlie (Michael Morrison, Meatballs Part II), a fact touting movie nerd sporting a tacky striped jacket hits the jackpot with a sultry woman.  After some mutual oral play, Charlie is wiped out allowing his lucky lady to make off with his cash.  Meanwhile, Kathy uses her new position to work on her writing, imagining what sexual pleasures her guests are getting themselves into.  High-strung businesswoman, Claudia Sinclair (Juliet Anderson, Aunt Peg), attempts to unsuccessfully put the moves on Kathy prompting her to instead admire her own reflection while pleasuring herself.  An exhausted man frustrated with life is surprised to have two attractive lesbian lovers (one of whom looks eerily similar to Sarah Silverman) pay him a visit.  The trio engage in a sexually-charged threesome including several position changes.  Talk about room service!  Finally, after completing her shift, Kathy submits to her sexual urges and gets wild with a frequent guest.  Purely Physical is a fun early 80s sex fest that continuously feels fresh with each hotel guest hornier than the last.  Laura Lazare is a stunner while, Michael Morrison‘s movie obsessed character is a hoot to watch.  Hosting a cast of attractive players, Purely Physical is rarely boring and almost always engaging.

    RATING: 4/5

    Contrary to what the film’s synopsis indicates, Cathouse Fever has nothing to do with college coeds seeking desperate measures to pay for their tuition.  Instead, Becky Savage (Sex Games) stars as a lonely secretary longing for a change of pace in life.  Gap-toothed and bearing a slight lazy eye, Becky spends much of her time living in her head, fantasizing about herself in sexual scenarios.  Eventually, Becky follows her desires and moves to Las Vegas to work for a popular brothel.  Cathouse Fever captures splendid early 80s footage of Sin City’s iconic strip in all its neon lit glory.  Becky knows she has great legs and is finally ready to soil her oats.  Endlessly moaning and groaning, Becky fornicates with a leather boot wearing cowboy while sporting an Indian headdress.  The performers of Cathouse Fever never shy away from talking dirty and exaggerating their moans, increasing the film’s tantalizing context.  In addition, the cathouse runs rampant with leather clad, chain wearing whores experimenting with dildos on one another.  The staff tirelessly attempt to get a gagged client off resulting in several humorous inserts.  As the newbie, Becky is a vocal vixen when it comes to pleasure and dishes it out as hard as she takes it.  Fearing an addiction to the lifestyles’ fever, Becky longs for meaningful love and fantasizes about the perfect sex session with a well-groomed man under neon lights and sensual music.  Cathouse Fever concludes with Becky returning back to her regular lifestyle but looking back on her wild times with fondness.  Cathouse Fever serves as another refreshing slice of 80s adult entertainment packed with incredibly vocal performers going the distance, all to bodacious tunes that could only emerge from that radical decade.

    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:

    Restored in 2K from their respective 35mm camera negatives, both films bear 1.85:1 aspect ratios.  Both films look very respectable with only minor flakes and speckles cropping up occasionally.  Purely Physical experiences brief frame jumps but are hardly significant.  Colors pop decently with bolder ones such as the hot red hotel sheets reading well.  Skin tones are very accurate with detail quite crisp, capturing close-up action and near transparent bodily fluid clearly.  Unsurprisingly, these 1980s efforts look as squeaky clean as possible thanks to Vinegar Syndrome’s usual TLC.  

    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with Dolby Digital 1.0 mixes, each film is audible with relaying their dialogue but issues still exist.  Purely Physical is plagued with an undercurrent of static throughout its runtime.  Similar to a skipping record on a turntable, the noise is most noticeable in quieter scenes but is always apparent which can become tiresome.  Hiccups aside, each film’s hip synth music comes across just dandy.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Purely Physical Trailer

    - Cathouse Fever Trailer

    RATING: 1/5

    OVERALL:

    Vinegar Syndrome has successfully filled a void of 80s pornography from Chris Warfield’s late directorial career.  Purely Physical’s motel setting keeps things fun and light allowing each hotel guest to act as a short vignette.  Laura Lazare is a sight to be seen and does well as the journalism student who eventually walks on the wild side.  While, Cathouse Fever’s description is far from accurate, the actual film has much to enjoy for porn enthusiasts with a lonely girl spreading her wings at one of Las Vegas’s popular whorehouses.  Becky Savage is a loud, energetic sexual force that is complimented by an equally dirty talking supporting cast.  Vinegar Syndrome’s treatment of these forbidden pleasures is another satisfactory effort that should sit handsomely with fans of the beloved, big-haired decade.

    RATING: 3.5/5

  • 42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 DVD Review

    42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3
    Director(s): Unknown
    Starring: Annie Sprinkle, John Holmes, Susan Nero, Bobby Astyr and Jamie Gillis
    Released by: Impulse Pictures

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Impulse Pictures wastes no time welcoming viewers back to the dingy underworld of 42nd Street sleaze.  Another round of classic adult loops make up this copious collection of hardcore hijinks.  Re-mastered in high-definition, 42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 is a look back at nasty nudies from the golden era of grime.

    42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 features 15 8mm adult loops from the 1970s and 1980s.  Totaling nearly two hours worth of content, 42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 invites the seediest of voyeurs to saddle up with vintage stag reels featuring Annie Sprinkle, John Holmes, Susan Nero, Bobby Astyr and Jamie Gillis.

    MOVIE(s):
    Whether you were hunting the back of sex magazines or staking claim in one of the many peep show booths located in the country, a vast variety of hardcore stag reels were never in shortage.  42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 continues to award adult entertainment hounds with all the skin it can handle in two hours.  Karen finds a beautiful blonde, presumably the title character, rocking an Andy Warhol’s Bad shirt as her and her lover read up on the art of massaging.  Deep throating eventually turns into manual and doggy-style positioning before concluding with an Elmer’s Glue-like eruption on Karen’s face.  Don’t Splash finds a man, with a supremely 70s stache, and woman trading off oral and finger foreplay before the main event.  The nameless auteurs work is highlighted when a final climax shot is captured in slow-motion.  Classy!  Last Tango in Paris kicks off basic enough with a couple killing time at a poolside bar before some private fun.  Far from shy, the woman loves looking directly into the camera lens as she goes down on John Holmes’ uncircumcised shaft.  Things take an odd turn when Holmes uses butter as a lubricant before entering the backdoor.  Meanwhile, in Uncle Harry a schoolgirl virgin is given a pair of roller skates by her lusting uncle.  Sex ensues but, our virgin has tremendous difficulty placing a condom on her mate before oral play can proceed.  Finally, Uncle Harry of course rises to the occasion with his naughty niece chugging away at the prize that awaits inside.  Love Machines centers on two attractive lesbians getting hot and heavy before one of the girls intensely uses a strap-on, doggy style on her lover.  Shortly after, a buffet commences with salad tossing as the main course.  Other notable reels include Army Bitches, Playgirls (featuring Annie Sprinkle) and Her First Experience with two jailbait looking lesbians getting frisky before one gets basked in a golden shower.  42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 concludes on The Barbarian Girls, an incredibly bizarre and violent reel kicking off with two women wandering aimlessly before arguably, the worst fake hit and run takes place.  The injured female is quickly taken by her Ronald McDonald wig wearing companion to a secluded location to be tortured.  Bound by rope, the victim is whipped repeatedly before a sharp instrument is used on her no-no zone resulting in a bloody mess.  The nightmare seems almost over until the torturer puts her prisoner out of misery by stabbing her to death.  Somber and creepy, The Barbarian Girls is most certainly not for the squeamish.

    42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 does it again, providing former peep show attendees a diverse line-up of salacious material to escape in.  Treading on waters pertaining to straight and lesbian encounters, The Barbarian Girls is certainly the most eccentric of the bunch leaving you more spooked than aroused.  Nonetheless, 42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 does its service of putting these long dormant stag reels back into the laps of the perverts who adore them.
    RATING: 3/5

    VIDEO:
    Remastered in high-definition from original film prints, 42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 is presented full frame sporting a 1.33:1 aspect ratio.  On par with previous volumes in the collection, the reels are loaded with scratches, lines and debris, but still watchable.  Offered with a “play all” option or an individual loop select feature, some reels suffer from more blown out light than others due to the cheap, unprofessional nature of the shooting.  Capturing the sleazy atmosphere you’d expect, these reels don’t look pretty but reek of their bygone period which is welcoming.    
    RATING: 2.5/5

    AUDIO:
    Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix, 42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 only presents a projector sound effect.
    RATING: -/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Liner notes from Cinema Sewer Publisher, Robin Bougie: Bougie compliments this release with his latest essay, Dear Old Dad.  Bougie touches upon the lengths Americans would go to procure stag reels before the dawn of the internet.  In addition, Bougie discusses finding his own father’s porn stash as a way of “passing the torch”.  A master of sleaze, even Bougie warns viewers of The Barbarian Girls‘ nightmarish nature.     

    RATING: 2/5

    OVERALL:
    42nd Street Forever - The Peep Show Collection Vol. #3 is another fitting entry into the endless world of hardcore stag reels.  Erotically charged and amateurishly shot, these grainy short form sex flicks capture skintastic footage, all in desirable close-ups.  Passionate porn enthusiasts will be delighted to own this retro compilation of steamy cinema from Impulse Pictures.   
    RATING: 3/5

  • Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #12: Countess Dracula, Happy Days, Vampire Academy, Twilight Time & More!

    This week's installment of the Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #12 includes:

    - Grand Piano (2013) (0:42)
    Street Date: May 20, 2014
    Magnolia Pictures: http://www.magpictures.com/

    - Wild at Heart (1990) (6:59)
    Street Date: April 8, 2014
    Twilight Time: http://www1.screenarchives.com/display_results.cfm/category/546/TWILIGHT-TIME/

    - Used Cars (1980) (14:10)
    Street Date: April 8, 2014
    Twilight Time: http://www1.screenarchives.com/display_results.cfm/category/546/TWILIGHT-TIME/

    - Vampire Academy (2014) (21:10)
    Street Date: May 20, 2014
    Anchor Bay Entertainment: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/Entertainment.aspx

    - Happy Days Season 5 (27:31)
    Street Date: May 20, 2014
    Paramount: http://www.paramount.com/

    - House of Dust (2013) (31:47)
    Street Date: May 20, 2014
    Anchor Bay Entertainment: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/Entertainment.aspx

    - Countess Dracula (1971) (35:42)
    Street Date: May 6, 2014
    Synapse Films: http://synapsefilms.com/

    - Flying Tigers (1942) (41:32)
    Street Date: May 13, 2014
    Olive Films: http://www.olivefilms.com/

    - Farewells/Sneak Peeks (46:52)

  • Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #10: Newhart, Escape from Tomorrow, The Demons, Vinegar Syndrome & More!

    This week's installment of the Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #10 includes:

    - The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio (1971) / A Clockwork Blue (1972) (0:39)
    Street Date: March 28, 2014
    Vinegar Syndrome: http://vinegarsyndrome.com/

    - Newhart The Complete Third Season (9:25)
    Street Date: April 22, 2014
    Shout! Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/

    - Godzilla: The Complete Animated Series (14:06)
    Street Date: April 29, 2014
    Mill Creek Entertainment: http://www.millcreekent.com/

    - Escape from Tomorrow (2013) (20:37)
    Street Date: April 29, 2014
    Cinedigm: http://www.cinedigm.com/

    - The Demons (1973) (29:25)
    Street Date: April 29, 2014
    Kino Lorber: http://www.kinolorber.com/

    - Farewells/Sneak Peeks (34:20)

  • Marilyn and the Senator (1975) DVD Review

    Marilyn and the Senator (1975)
    Director: Carlos Tobalina
    Starring: William Margold, Nina Fause, Serena, Sharon Thorpe & Dominique St. Clair
    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    A prolific career consisting of over 50 feature films, Director Carlos Tobalina accomplished all this and also found time to own two Los Angeles movie palaces.  Tobalina would craft one of his most eccentric efforts in 1975 with his mistress, Nina Fause (Sexual Insanity, Jungle Blue), co-starring.  Skin, political scandals and more skin, Vinegar Syndrome is proud to present Marilyn and the Senator in its full length director’s cut, available for the first time on home video.  Bizarre and humorous, let’s find out just how far this flick swings...

    Marilyn and the Senator stars William Margold as The Senator, a married man who has happily agreed to impregnate a gorgeous CIA agent (Nina Fause).  As the senator lacks the ability to perform, his snoopy wife and colleagues become suspicious of his under the radar engagements resulting in hilarious plot twists and plenty of skin to bear.  The film co-stars Serena, Sharon Thorpe, Dominique St. Clair and John Waters star Liz Renay.

    MOVIE:
    Presented under the title Swinging Senators, Director Carlos Tobalina’s opus kicks off with a series of insightful and humorous quotes from the likes of John F. Kennedy and Tobalina himself.  William Margold (Hollywood She-Wolves) appears as a respected senator in Washington, D.C.  Shortly after arriving in his office, adorned with drug store equivalent portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Margold unloads his morning glory (complimented with humorous fart sounds) as a beautiful woman awaits to see him.  CIA agent Marilyn Right (Nina Fause), expresses her admiration for Margold’s character and her desire to become pregnant.  Right has carefully selected Margold to impregnate her in exchange for $10,000 which being a senator, Margold gladly accepts.  As beautiful as Fause is, her inability to remember lines and lack of energy plagues her performance for the duration of the film. The senator and Agent Right make scheduled rendezvous‘ at the Watergate Hotel as per their agreement.  Beautiful and blonde, Fause is a true knockout that bares her goods on full display.  Hilariously, Margold has a difficult time “going to bat” insisting that Right pleasure him with oral sex which she rejects.  This first instance of skintastic footage takes nearly 30 minutes to occur with less than satisfying results.  Thankfully, no stranger to infidelity, the senator has his regular call girl, Nancy (Sharon Thorpe), make orally pleasing visits and then some.  While, the plot and the majority of the performances are humorous enough, Tobalina’s overambitious 128 minute runtime sacrifices the quality of the film.  

    Margold and Fause tread through the same circles of the senator failing to perform causing the routine to run stale quickly.  The senator’s wife, Mildred (Heather Leigh), grows suspicious of her husband’s lack of affection and witnesses secret footage of his recent conquests.  Oddly enough, Mildred blames herself for her husband’s actions and vows to please him the way he deserves.  Scoring tips from his own call girl, Mildred subjects the senator to an orgy with several other women as well whipping him repeatedly before she’s treated to oral pleasure.  For such a lengthy runtime, the film doesn’t have nearly as much sexual situations as one would imagine.  That said, oral sex, lesbianism and plenty of penetrating close-ups do their best to work some erotic magic.

    Marilyn and the Senator fell short of my expectations due in part to Tobalina’s overlong runtime that drowns the film in endless circles.  Luckily, the players are quite attractive with Fause the shining star of the movie.  Humor is present throughout but runs out of steam as Tobalina recycles far too much material.  Marilyn and the Senator would have benefitted from a much tighter runtime enabling the hijinks and story to play out more smoothly.  
    RATING: 2.5/5

    VIDEO:
    Vinegar Syndrome presents Marilyn and the Senator in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the film looks remarkable.  Minor instances of faint lines come into frame occasionally but overall, the film looks as clean as can be with colors presented bright and bold.  Detail is nicely relayed in close-ups especially during more erotic scenes.  Another fine job by the sultans of smut!
    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:
    Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix, Marilyn and the Senator is surprisingly quite clear with little to no hiss or pops present.  At times when characters are speaking in hushed tones, audio is still nicely picked up without ever missing a line of dialogue.  The mix does little to blow your speakers but for what’s needed, this is more than sufficient.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Audio Commentary with Star & Co-Writer William Margold: Moderated by several folks including Distribpix, Margold provides a very informative and humorous commentary that rivals the actual film itself.  Margold insists that Tobalina was far from a great filmmaker and his loathing for America birthed the idea for Marilyn and the Senator.  The track never bores and provides plenty of great insight.  

    - Original Theatrical Trailer

    RATING: 3/5

    OVERALL:
    While, Marilyn and the Senator disappointed due to Tobalina’s much longer and exhausting cut, it’s still a treat to see that Vinegar Syndrome have preserved his original vision for the first time on home video. The film looks and sounds as pleasing as one would expect with a generous amount of special features for fans of the film.  There’s no denying that Marilyn and the Senator would most likely play stronger with a shorter runtime, but witnessing Tobalina’s original vision should make plenty of adult entertainment fans happy.
    RATING: 3/5  

  • Dracula 3D (2012) Blu-ray Review


    Dracula 3D (2012)
    Director: Dario Argento
    Starring: Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Asia Argento, Unax Ugalde & Rutger Hauer
    Released by: MPI Media Group

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    The king of Italian horror, Dario Argento, has returned with his unique vision of Bram Stoker’s original classic.  Adapted countless times in various forms, the gothic tale of Dracula is indeed eternal and thirsty for yet another retelling.  Argento’s interpretation also marks his first foray in the 3D realm, inviting viewers that much closer to the prince of darkness‘ deadly bite.  Soaked in mystic atmosphere and eroticism, Argento’s Dracula 3D wishes to suck your blood.  Does Dracula’s latest attempt in three dimensions have what it takes to cast a spell on its audience?  Let’s not dawdle any longer and find out...

    Dracula 3D finds famed Italian horror master, Dario Argento (Suspiria, Tenebrae), conducting his own unique vision of the iconic Bram Stoker novel.  400 years have passed since the passing of Count Dracula’s (Thomas Kretschmann) wife, leaving him eternally lonely.  Upon discovering that newlywed Mina Harker (Marta Gastini) bears a striking similarity to his wife, Dracula is obsessed with making her his.  Utilizing Mina’s husband, Jonathan (Unax Ugalde) and best friend, Lucy (Asia Argento) as pawns, Dracula slowly embarks on uniting with his newfound love.  Fortunately, noted vampire expert, Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer), arrives in order to put an end to Dracula’s unholy ways before it’s too late.

    MOVIE:
    As many famed auteurs age, the quality of their output is generally criticized for not being on par with past accomplishments.  In recent years, no horror director has been critiqued more so than Dario Argento.  Many would argue that after the 1980s, Argento’s genius seemingly stopped with the majority of his later work failing to capture audiences.  After completing his Three Mothers trilogy with 2007’s Mother of Tears and the tumultuous road to releasing 2009’s Giallo, Argento seemed overdue for a comeback of sorts.  Dracula 3D is Argento’s unique vision of the Bram Stoker novel without being a direct adaptation.  In addition, Argento assigned this film to be his first experiment with the 3D format.  As hopeful as Argento adapting Stoker sounds, Dracula 3D is yet another devastating disappointment from the man that delivered such classics as Deep Red and Opera.  The worst offense Dracula 3D is guilty of is the abysmal screenplay.  Oddly enough, this “unique vision” of an already established novel took four writers, including Argento, to bring the painfully wooden dialogue to screen.  The bland writing contaminates the film like a plague resulting in hollow performances from the entire cast.  Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted) invokes sex appeal but lacks any charisma as Dracula, resulting in one of the most boring performances of the character.  The remainder of the cast suffers the same fate as the poor writing hinders them from a serviceable performance.  Luckily, Argento has not lost his touch when hiring beautiful actresses, including his daughter Asia Argento (Land of the Dead) and Maria Cristina Heller (Angels & Demons), who are never shy when bearing their assets.  In addition, cult icon, Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, The Hitcher), appears as the vampire avenging Van Helsing.  Unfortunately, Hauer’s appearance comes fairly late in the film and does little to invigorate the film’s energy.

    Dracula 3D, while tame compared to Argento’s previous efforts, still manages to deliver decent gore in the form of slashed necks, axes to the head and of course, good old fashioned vampire bites.  Unfortunately, decent gore is trumped by horrendous CG effects including a laughable wolf to human transformation as well as an odd gigantic insect murder that will leave you dumbfounded.  Luckily, the set design and costumes do a fine job establishing the intended gothic atmosphere with more than decent results.  Interestingly enough, Argento’s first forary into 3D is a wildly effective one.  A nice sense of depth is coupled with gimmicky “in-your-face” effects that include swords, tree branches and animals charging the screen.  Sadly, Argento’s Dracula 3D disappoints on nearly every level.  The bland screenplay works as a domino effect resulting in wooden performances from the cast and an overall boring cinematic experience.  The gimmick of 3D is the only effective piece of the film that acts more as an odd curiosity.  As hopeful as one was, Dracula 3D lacks any of the spirit and originality Argento once possessed.  Argento completists will have difficulty finding any merit in this film that deserves to be staked through the heart.
    RATING: 1.5/5

    VIDEO:
    MPI Media Group presents Dracula 3D in a 1080p anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer.  The film is nicely detailed with excellent handling on black levels for which there are many.  Night scenes and the darker clothing of some of the actors show no signs of crushing whatsoever.  A tint of softness is present, but welcome, at times to capture the dreary gothic atmosphere.  Skin tones are also well preserved making this transfer more than ample.
    RATING: 4.5/5

    3D VIDEO:
    Having both 2D and 3D versions available on one disc, the 3D version of Dracula 3D is surprisingly stunning.  The opening title sequence sways through the village of the film creating a wonderful sense of depth.  Continued instances of depth are furthered in backwoods scenes where the branches of trees invade your eye-line.  Gimmicky, yet wildly effective, uses of 3D are seen in swords through actors‘ bodies, animals charging the camera and actors‘ fingers that practically reach out and touch the viewer.  A handful of blurring moments occurred throughout the film which were noticeably inferior to the otherwise stellar majority.
    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:
    Dracula 3D comes equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.  For the most part, the mix is sufficient with frightening moments capturing a loud push and Claudio Simonetti’s score, which invokes shades of the 1960s gothic soap opera Dark Shadows,   beautifully projected.  Unfortunately, dialogue seems to be more of a mixed bag.  At times, speech is loud and robust while others, most noticeably whenever Dracula speaks, the mix is a struggle to hear causing a wrestling match with your volume button.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Behind the Scenes: This surprisingly lengthy making of featurette captures fly on the wall shots during production as well as incredibly informative interviews from nearly every member on the show including actors, screenwriters, art designers, 3D effects artists and more.

    - "Kiss Me Dracula" Music Video: Performed by Simonetti Project.  Presented in 2D and 3D.

    - Trailer

    - Red Band Trailer

    RATING: 3.5/5

    OVERALL:
    Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D is another poor addition to Argento’s recent canon.  The horrendous screenplay all but doomed this production as its cluelessness gravely affected the performances of the cast.  The passion and creativity that oozed from Argento’s earlier works is all but lost here as Dracula 3D plays as a boring attempt at gothic horror.  Thankfully, MPI Media Group’s presentation is a delight with a superior video presentation and effective 3D treatment.  In addition, the few supplements provided, namely the behind the scenes featurette, is far more interesting than the film itself.  The real tragedy of Dracula 3D is what it could have been had the right components and passion been in place.  Sadly, Dracula 3D is another Argento effort best forgotten.
    RATING: 2.5/5

  • Wakefield Poole's Bible! (1973) DVD Review


    Wakefield Poole’s Bible! (1973)
    Director: Wakefield Poole
    Starring: Georgina Spelvin, Gloria Grant, Bo White & Caprice Couselle
    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    The Bible seems like unusual and risque subject matter to utilize for a softcore effort.  Nonetheless, Director Wakefield Poole (Bijou) did just that when he unveiled his own erotic interpretation of collected stories from the good book in 1973.  Starring Georgina Spelvin (The Devil in Miss Jones), Gloria Grant, Bo White (Blue Summer) and Caprice Couselle, this is definitely not The Bible you remember reading in Sunday school.  Restored from the original negative, Vinegar Syndrome proudly presents Wakefield Poole’s Bible! for the first time on home video.  After 40 years, let’s see how this scandalous biblical tale holds up...

    Wakefield Poole’s Bible! is an erotic avant-garde retelling of stories from the holy book including Adam & Eve, Bath Sheba and Samson & Delilah.  Sexual twists are made to all the tales along with a stunning array of visuals and a soundtrack of classical music.

    MOVIE:
    Having never been a religious man, my interest was peaked at the idea of someone taking a source material so worshipped and injecting a sexually charged edge to it.  Director Wakefield Poole introduces the film and cites homages to Walt Disney’s Fantasia, Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, which led me to believe that I was in store for a much more sophisticated softcore effort.  Interestingly enough, I was right.  As the film opens, the viewer is treated to beautiful cinematography where Adam is being birthed on a gorgeous beach setting.  Shortly thereafter, he encounters Eve and the two experience the touch and sexual pleasure of another human being for the first time.  The sequence is visually arresting and presented in a very classy manner.  The bite of the infamous apple segways into the next tale.  Bath Sheba (Georgina Spelvin)  grows jealous of her husband’s attraction towards a scantily clad servant and spends the rest of the story attempting to be more sexy.  Spelvin stuns as she bares all and ends up attracting the interest of a peeping tom.  The tale definitely injects the most humor of the lot as the two chase each other around until finally succumbing to their desires.  Finally, Gloria Grant stars as Delilah in perhaps the oddest story of the three.  Midgets covered in body paint along with a muscle man who Delilah goes down on before he’s killed will definitely raise a few eyebrows.  Grant, always proud of her body, shows off everything and is one of the highlights of the entire film alongside Spelvin.

    Wakefield Poole’s Bible! takes a silent film approach and is told with no dialogue (minus a few lines delivered by Eve).  The interactions between the characters and the classical music accompaniment bring the film to life in a similar fashion to Walt Disney’s Fantasia.  The film has plenty of beautiful sequences along with Spelvin and Grant on full display but even at a 75 minute runtime, the film tends to drag its feet.  I would cautiously recommend the film as a tasteful, albeit odd, and elegant execution in softcore, but be advised it may be appreciated for being more “artsy-fartsy” than it is tantalizing.  
    RATING: 3/5

    VIDEO:
    Vinegar Syndrome has restored Wakefield Poole’s Bible! from the original negative in 2K and presents it in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio.  The film stumbles early on as footage (assumingly stock) of the big bang is loaded with scratches and debris but stabilizes soon after.  Colors are decent enough with milder scratches and pops apparent throughout the runtime without imposing on the viewing experience.  A serviceable presentation for a film that could, and probably should, look a lot worse.
    RATING: 3/5

    AUDIO:
    Wakefield Poole’s Bible! comes equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix that does what it needs to.  With barely any dialogue spoken, the mix does a fine job relaying the classical music soundtrack as well as subtle background noises like chirping birds and wave crashes.
    RATING: 3/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Introduction by Director Wakefield Poole

    - Audio Commentary with Director Wakefield Poole: Poole explains how his original intent was to make this a hardcore film but seeing as how this was during the Nixon administration, he opted for softcore.  Poole remains quiet for many portions of the film choosing to set up a scene and and allowing it to play out.  Poole occasionally offers some thoughtful injections on his artistic choices for the film but they are far and few between.

    - Women of Bible - Interviews with Georgina Spelvin & Gloria Grant: Spelvin enthusiastically discusses her early work in hardcore films which eventually lead to her role as Bath Sheba in Bible!.  Spelvin touches on the lightning speed pace of the film shoot and her admiration for Poole.  Meanwhile, Gloria Grant explains how working in a restaurant lead to her being cast in the film.  Grant goes on to explain that she hailed from a family of ministers who were unaware of her appearance in the film.  Grant also discusses her shift to becoming a make-up artist which earned her an Emmy for her work on As the World Turns.

    - Emerald City Interview: Director Wakefield Poole discusses Bible! on a public access network circa 1977.

    - Bible! Screen Tests

    - Stills Gallery

    - Theatrical Trailer

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:
    Wakefield Poole’s Bible! is an odd but often unique softcore retelling of biblical tales.  The cinematography and classical music add a layer of beauty to a film that already accomplishes a lot visually.  While, the appearances of Spelvin and Grant are the highlights of the film, it does tend to get a little too artsy for my own taste and causes the runtime to stretch itself thin.  For those expecting a sexually graphic interpretation of Adam & Eve going at it, think again because this is far more tasteful than that.  Vinegar Syndrome does a great service by providing a wealth of interesting special features and insight into a film that evaded home video for 40 years.  Wakefield Poole’s Bible! is a unique beast that is sure to have a divided audience but for fans of adult cinema, this is a rare softcore experiment that should be experienced at least once.
    RATING: 3.5/5

  • Fanny Hill (1964) w/ The Phantom Gunslinger (1967) Blu-ray Review


    Fanny Hill (1964) w/ The Phantom Gunslinger (1967)
    Director(s): Russ Meyer / Albert Zugsmith
    Starring: Letícia Román, Miriam Hopkins & Ulli Lommel / Troy Donahue, Sabrina & Germán Robles
    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Vinegar Syndrome continues their mission of saving and preserving lost film oddities with this latest Blu-ray release of two strange and unlikely executions in exploitation.  Director Russ Meyer, (Faster, Pussycat!  Kill!  Kill!) and Producer Albert Zugsmith (Touch of Evil, The Incredible Shrinking Man) team up for a hilarious interpretation of the erotic literary classic Fanny Hill.  Beautiful women and black & white photography make for a truly unusual experience in this blending of low-brow laughs pitted against high-brow settings.  Next up, Zugsmith takes up directing duties on The Phantom Gunslinger, an ever odder film of slapstick comedy set in the Wild West.  Restored and presented uncut for the first time, will this unique pairing of films produced by two cult icons earn a spot on your shelf?  Let’s dive right in, shall we...

    Set in pre-Victorian London, Fanny Hill tells the story of a young girl who finds herself taken in by a madame at one of the city’s most popular brothels.  Surrounded by a household of buxom beauties, the young girl’s innocence and sheer ignorance blind her from realizing where she actually resides resulting in hilarious hijinks.  Italian bombshell Letícia Román stars as Fanny Hill with Miriam Hopkins (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and Ulli Lommel (Blank Generation) co-starring.  In addition, Albert Zugsmith takes over directing duties on The Phantom Gunslinger which stars Troy Donohue (The Godfather: Part II) as Phil P. Phillips, fresh out of divinity school and living in the city of Yucca Flats.  Trouble strikes as a ruthless gang of seven criminals take the town hostage with Phil as their only hope.  

    MOVIE(s):
    When the name Russ Meyer is spoken, images of big-breasted women immediately take shape in your mind.  Meyer helped catapult the “nudie-cutie” subgenre into a profitable business where females made great use of some of their more “notable” assets.  Teaming up with Producer Albert Zugsmith, Meyer headed to Germany to helm a sexy re-telling of the iconic Fanny Hill tale.  The lavish costume designs and upscale set decoration make the film feel extremely classy and authentic to its time period.   Letícia Román shines as the gorgeous albeit ignorant Fanny Hill, her inability to understand she has been taken in by a whorehouse gives the film all the hilarity it needs. Román is surrounded by no shortage of beautiful actress’ which should come as no surprise for a Meyer film.  The women are all strikingly beautiful and manage to only tease the viewer without revealing any true skin.  Apparently, Meyer and Zugsmith butted heads immensely during production as Meyer demanded the film to be more sexy while Zugsmith insisted on more comedy.  The friction between the two men could explain for Fanny Hill being more tame compared to Meyer’s other film efforts.  That said, Fanny Hill makes great use of comedic situations that involve a man pretending to sleepwalk in order to seduce Fanny while a hilarious chase ensues around the bedroom.  In addition, a communication breakdown occurs when a would-be john walks into a female hat shop inquiring with Fanny about her “products”.  One might assume that Fanny’s ignorance might run its course prematurely and sour the remainder of the film but interestingly enough, it does not.  Román’s lovely performance makes the film a breeze to view and the comedic situations she finds herself in are quite effective.  While some may not find this film as tantalizing as Meyer’s other efforts, I found Fanny Hill to be a very tasteful and humorous period-piece.  The cinematography as well as the costume designs make the film far more high-class than one would imagine a film bearing Meyer’s or Zugsmith’s name on it would be.  The film could have afforded to shave a good 10 minutes or so from its runtime but nonetheless Fanny Hill is a fun retelling of a classic story that manages to be just as sexy as it is funny.
    RATING: 4/5

    Next up, Albert Zugsmith takes over directing duties on The Phantom Gunslinger, an odd blend of slapstick comedy and self-aware parody of westerns.  Troy Donohue stars as a would be preacher fresh out of divinity school who arrives in the frontier town of Yucca Flats.  It doesn’t take long before a gang of seven criminals arrive and take the town hostage with the bumbling Donohue as the residents’ only hope.  When viewing the film, one can only assume that Zugsmith wished he could have been directing Charlie Chaplin or The Three Stooges.  Over the top slapstick gags are found at every turn and while initially the humor is fun, it runs its course far too quickly.  Gags and dialogue are recycled in hopes that what worked earlier in the film will pack another punch.  Unfortunately, a rolling of the eyes and a look at your watch is all that will come of this.  On a positive note, the colorful costumes are quite a sight to see as well as the usage of the small but effective sets the film was shot on.  Donohue does what’s expected of him but after his character is shot in the head (for the first but far from the last time) and whisked away to heaven, the film really starts to grow tiresome.  It’s hard to understand exactly what Zugsmith was trying to achieve with The Phantom Gunslinger but it was pleasing to see a director so tickled by slapstick humor.  The characters are far from interesting but all manage to get in on the physical hijinks which involve pies to the face and even broom fights.  If the film was a little more polished and focused, The Phantom Gunslinger could have achieved to be a little better than decent.  Unfortunately, only so many pies to the face and turkey legs used as handguns can go so far, The Phantom Gunslinger is not a terrible film but not necessarily a great one either.  At best, the film is a curious novelty from a director who was still trying to get his rocks off with slapstick so late in the 1960s.
    RATING: 2.5/5

    VIDEO:
    Vinegar Syndrome has restored Fanny Hill in 2K from original 35mm camera negatives and presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio with the results looking gorgeous!  The black and white photography shines with detail looking nice especially in the many close-ups found in the film.  A modest, practically insignificant, amount of scratches are found early on in the film before dropping off, never to appear again.  Exterior shots appear slightly softer, while natural looking, they seem to be attributed to a lack of controlled lighting than anything else.  A healthy layer of grain is intact the entire runtime and looks just marvelous.  This has to be one of Vinegar Syndrome’s cleanest and most well presented films to date!  Bravo!
    RATING: 4.5/5

    The Phantom Gunslinger has also been restored in 2K from original 35mm camera negatives and presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio with results shining as well.  The opening title sequence sees a light case of scratches and flakes but once the actual film begins, the print stabilizes to a wonderful clean appearance.  Colors pop beautifully especially in the costume designs with skin tones looking natural and clean.  Donohue’s blonde hair and blue eyes practically jump off the screen.  For a nearly lost film, the original elements were kept in terrific shape and Vinegar Syndrome’s restoration is top quality.
    RATING: 4.5/5

    AUDIO:
    Fanny Hill comes equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix that is clean as can be.  One noticeable drop in audio was caught in the film’s final act but only lasted for a second.  The rest of the film’s dialogue comes across clearly with no hissing or pops heard on the track.  A terrific audio mix that goes along nicely with a superb video presentation.
    RATING: 4/5

    The Phantom Gunslinger is also presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix that presents its dialogue clearly with no distortion and a score that is loud and robust that makes great use of a round bass sound.  No distracting pops were caught on the film’s track which makes for an even better listening experience.
    RATING: 4.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    Vinegar Syndrome presents this combo pack with a Blu-ray that holds both films as well as two DVDs.  The first DVD presents Fanny Hill while the second holds The Phantom Gunslinger and all the bonus feature content.

    - The Zugsmith Connection with Ulli Lomell: This 10-minute featurette interviews Fanny Hill co-star Ulli Lomell discussing his work with Russ Meyer and Albert Zugsmith as well as how he landed the role in the film.  The interview comes equipped with hilarious inserts of Lomell exercising in a park.

    - Interview with Film Historian Eric Schaefer: This impressive 20-minute interview with Film Historian Eric Schaefer is incredibly informative as Schaefer discusses the evolution of the “nudie-cutie” genre, Russ Meyer’s career, Meyer and Zugsmith’s headbutts on the set of Fanny Hill and more.  Pixelation plagues Schaefer’s face throughout the entire interview but regardless, this is a fantastic featurette that contributes a very scholarly approach to the subject material.

    - Reversible cover

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:
    Vinegar Syndrome’s latest release of Fanny Hill with The Phantom Gunslinger is a strange pairing of two films that were close to being virtually lost.  Fanny Hill is a fun experiment in taking a risque literary classic and making it a sexy and hilarious cinematic effort.  While, Meyer and Zugsmith both practically disowned the film in later years, it’s still interesting to see what brought two acclaimed talents like them together for such an unusual project.  The Phantom Gunslinger played to the slapstick crowd in an obvious parody of the Wild West with minimal results.  The recycling of gags and physical humor wore out their welcome and the less than focused direction made this one a struggle to get through by its finale.  Fortunately, Vinegar Syndrome has presented both these films in quite possibly the best presentation they are sure to see matched with terrific audio mixes and a small but incredibly rewarding selection of special features in the form of Film Historian Eric Schafer’s interview.  For those that can’t get enough of discovering lost cinema, look no further than Vinegar Syndrome’s release of Fanny Hill with The Phantom Gunslinger.
    RATING: 4/5