Color, 2016, 740m.
Vinegar Syndrome (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)


The GeekVinegar Syndrome set the bar very high for Hotter Than Hell'70s adult storefront releases with its All Night at the Po-no three-disc set in early 2016, and thankfully that level has been maintained with its successor: All Night at the Bizarre Art Theater. Here the selections go in a far more horror-oriented direction, with all of the films (almost all running an hour or less) involving monsters, the occult, or the supernatural in some form or another.

Things start off on disc one with a bang with one of the wackiest storefront films, The Geek, the world's first and only Sasquatch porno docudrama. Yes, seriously. "The Sasquatch, otherwise known as The Geek, is ancient man. A mutation perhaps, but nevertheless, ancient man," intones a narrator as we see a dilapidated van pull up in the countryside to disgorge six hapless long-haired youths who strap on their backpacks for a trip through the wilderness. Over the course of 56 minutes, we hear profound questions like "Are we really the masters of the earth like we think we are?" and hear about limbs being torn from sockets as the horny cast splits off for some afternoon delight and then runs afoul of a guy in a big furry monster suit, who proceeds to have his way with one of the female intruders. This cuckoo delight first turned up on VHS and DVD-R from Something Weird as part of its great "Sexy Shocker Hardcore Horrors" on a double feature with Sin in '69, this one has finally gotten a fresh new transfer after two decades and looks about as good as you could hope under the circumstances with every pimply, gynecological detail intact. The film was completely dubbed in post as well, which results in some hilarious one-liners that'll have you reaching for the rewind button. Next comes 1971's Hotter Than Hell starring "Paul Dodge," "Jane Fondler," "Elizabeth Tail," and "Raquel Belch" (plus "Englebert Humpsalot"), which starts off in Hell with Satan (in a big fluffy outfit) and two of his demons (one played by Ron Darby in a rare nonsimulated role) getting the news that a big shipment of new souls is on the way. They seem bored with the usual naked women entertaining them, so they decide to speed things along by sending the two devils upstairs to bring in the sexiest and most corruptible of the living women into their fold. Of course, they turn out to get more than they bargained for. This one also hit Something Weird in the same line, paired up with Satan's Lust under the title The Horny Devils, but this print runs almost 20 The Sorceressminutes longer! (A version in between running time-wise also turned up in one of Alpha Blue Archives' Satanic Sickies boxes.) Keep an eye out for early '70s smut film favorites Suzanne Fields and Judy Angel (taking a sudsy bubble bath) among the participants, Cult of the Scorpiontoo. 1977's House of De Sade is an Avon Productions special from Jon Davian, released in more battered form by Something Weird as Sex Seance and also seen in several Alpha Blue sets. There isn't much plot here, with Vanessa Del Rio (whose name is misspelled in the opening credits) looking her best here as part of a group of deviants who spend all their time having group sex, using sex toys, and finding new ways to peel cucumbers. Eventually they decide to step things up a notch by going to a spooky old abandoned house and having a seance (in S&M gear) to summon the spirit of the Marquis De Sade, "one of the most notorious sex fiends and villains ever known to mankind." Rampant abuse and debauchery ensue while fuzz rock plays on the soundtrack. Again this one is the longest print around and looks the best to date apart from the usual speckles and scratches. Finally, The Sorceress just barely flirts with horrific and supernatural content as Lynn Stevens (Touch of Genie) and her boyfriend (Jack Webb) come up with a post-coital plan to rip off his friends by having her pose as a goth fortune teller and palm reader. Various sex scenes ensue, some scored with "Tubular Bells," and Andrea True shows up as one lesbian client distraught over her boyfriend's lack of attentiveness. It all goes south with a shockingly grim and nasty ending involving Eric Edwards that has to be seen to be believed. An uncredited Sonny Landham (Predator) also turns up, though he's stunted in a couple of shots by Webb for some reason.

Disc two kicks off with a macabre film noir spin courtesy of 1974's Cult of the Scorpion, in which a distressed woman hires a private eye to hunt down her missing sister. You can pretty easily guess where she's gone based on the title, which involves a sex sect where everyone has black scorpions tattooed just above their pubes. Orita de Chadwick's the only recognizable name in this one, which features lots of unsexy sound Dr. Sexual and Mr. Hydeeffects (including the squeakiest couch you've ever heard), cheapo set dressing with satin sheets tacked to the walls, and very unflattering shots of body flab. At least it gets points for one of the rudest "The End" title cards in movie history. The transfer here is miles ahead of its own Alpha Blue appearance (which was taken from a dupey VHS), and at 65 mins. it appears to be uncut. The 63-minute Dr. Sexual and Mister Hyde is much more straightforward horror Waltz of the Batas we enter an asylum where young women thrash around in straitjackets and find new waves to make candle holders, all under the supervision of a doctor interested in studying their sexual mania. His assistant Margaret (Fields again) helps his experiments in body chemistry, which encourage him to take a swig of a new potion he's developed. Suddenly the doc turns into a much younger sex fiend who ravages Margaret on the floor after giving her a dose of the potion, too. You can probably guess where it all goes from there. Droning organ music, cobweb-covered skulls, and a dark twist ending make this a low-key but interesting hardcore cheapie with a faintly Jess Franco-style aura at times. Probably the most familiar film on this particular disc is Rites of Uranus, whose title just about covers it as candles and other objects get stuck where the sun don't shine as men in robes stand around chanting "Hail to Uranus" and "Enter my dark passage." The minimal plot involves a new inductee named Sara, who gets tossed into a dungeon, has her booty worshipped and mistreated, and witness some terrible misuse of a sacred sword. This was one of the earliest Something Weird double features in its Dragon Art Theatre series (paired up with Terri's Sweet Revenge), and Alpha Blue also issued this one in a sex-horror set with Hardcore and Angel Above, Devil Below, too. However, this new transfer easily smokes them all, and at 59 minutes it's the longest around, too. Almost as ubiquitous back in the VHS swapping era is feature four, Waltz of the Bat, in which a bearded villain in a top hat and black cape, The Bat (Barry Vane), flits around the soggy streets of San Francisco terrorizing the female populace (all set to classical music). As it turns out, he's been pitted in a century-long battle with another eternally young superhero, The Bee (Kandi Johnson), and almost all of the actors make goofy comments Maniastraight to the camera. This one previously turned up in ragged, splicey form as part of After Hours' Sex Psychedelia Collection, but this version runs about four minutes longer and features a stronger (albeit scratchy) transfer.

Finally Daughters of Darknessdisc three, the best of the set, lets it rip with the nasty sex slasher film Come Deadly, previously seen as half of an After Hours double feature with Wet Wilderness. A really odd one, it involves a masked killer (who looks a lot like the one in Blood and Black Lace) stalking and sexually assaulting members of an amateur upstate theater troupe. This one features a fresher, sharper transfer than the prior release, and it's always a welcome entry. The 56-minute Mania (previously seen from SW in edited form as School for Dead Girls) switches the action to a creepy reform school where all the adolescent nymphets have been sent away after dabbling in lesbianism, apparently. The blonde, bespectacled headmistress isn't exactly a good girl herself, offering her services to a hippie handyman who swings by right in her office. It turns out he might be just the ticket to swerve all these girls in the right direction, and he's hopping from one bedroom to the next in a really unorthodox therapy technique. Unfortunately his arrival also triggers some murders by a black-gloved killer who likes to wrap plastic bags around the girls' heads, and of course, there's a shocking twist ending taken from a certain beloved Spanish horror film. This one is absolutely nuts and very atmospheric, pretty much worth picking up the set all by itself. Equally worthwhile is the Satanic horror romp Daughters of Darkness, which was previously released in drastically censored form as a bonus on the DVD of Wham Bam, Thank You Spaceman. This full-strength version is a real doozy as feline-obsessed landlord Helen Madigan lays some devilish mojo on a young college student studying the dark arts with that can't-miss come on line, "Don't you wanna meet the Devil face to face?" Random mystical sex encounters follow (and Joey Silvera turns up in a minor role) while the soundtrack alternates library tracks with Bach and random Hollywood film score snippets. Last but certainly not least is the early '70s oddity The Unholy Child, which plays like a combination between an art house thriller and poverty row porn film. On shore leave, a naval officer comes home to find his sister dabbling with a woman in bed. He's completely nonplussed and decides to head to the local strip club, where he ends up in a threeway with one of the dancers and some other guy. Afterwards he looks out the window to see he's being followed by a creepy man in sunglasses. All of his subsequent sexual encounters turn into paranoid nightmares as soon as they're over, which leads to, yep, another twist ending. Again the three discs are housed in a cool case designed with vintage storefront ads, all tinted an appropriately hellish shade of red.

Reviewed on October 24, 2016.