Color, 1970, 75m. / Directed by Nick Philips
Color, 1970, 60m. / Directed by Emilio Portici / After Hours Cinema (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16x9)

After dabbling in softcore with late-'60s fare like Roxanna and Sappho '68, director Nick Philips made a tenative foray into more explicit waters in 1970 with Dr. Christina of Sweden, a typical "curious woman in a new town looking for lust" story embellished with his typical fetish-oriented touches. Here the protagonist is blonde Swedish journalist "Dr. Christina," who goes to Paris to explore the French perspective on sex. When not busy wandering the boulevards, she watches a male-female couple going at it, then dreams about two women making out, and finally observes a lesbian sex show featuring Uschi Digard. Boots and leather wear figure prominently. Though the first sex scene is unquestionably hardcore, the rest of the film feels like a standard "almost-but-not-quite" '60s grindhouse film complete with lots of moaning, writhing, and flailing limbs; the uncredited Dr. Christina may be the main character, but she's pretty much obliterated from the screen when Uschi shows up for the big climax, easily the highlight of the film. Though Philips shot this on location, it has a fairly grungy, low-budget veneer all the same -- which is probably for the best, given the subject matter.

Also included on this disc is another early porn title, Sex Nurse, directed (under a pseudonym) by the mysterious "Emilio Portici." Here we see the randy goings-on at a psychiatrist's office, where the main shrink tries to help a woman who complains of a cuckoo bird that pops out of her nether regions. Meanwhile three male patients are serviced by the female nursing staff, and their various exploits are intercut with each other for about an hour. And that's about as complex as it gets. Luckily the activity here is pretty well done, and the cast is more attractive and clean-looking than usual for a pre-"porno chic" feature (though the brief running time barely qualifies it as such). Not bad at all. New video-generated credits assign random names to the cast, though none of the faces look familiar to this reviewer.

Dr. Christina is presented full frame and looks a bit ragged in spots, though its rarity makes any blemishes easier to forgive. Sex Nurse looks better and is presented in anamorphic widescreen; given the tight cropping at the top of the frame, this was probably shot full frame but cropped for its video presentation here. Unfortunately the AfterHours logo is slapped on the bottom corner throughout, which takes some effort to overlook in a few scenes.

Never one to shy away from talking about his films, Philips turns up here for a good video interview in which he talks about his philosophy on sex and seems as proud of his adult work as his later, more "mainstream" horror fare like Criminally Insane. 42nd Street Pete also makes an appearance, both onscreen (in an energetic video interview praising the main feature) and in print (with written liner notes for both titles). Trailers for the company's other releases are included, mainly for their other Uschi titles (which come recommended as well).

Color, 1972, 78m. / Directed by Nick Philips / Starring Rene Bond, Ric Lutze
Color, 2002, 70m. / Directed by William Hellfire / Starring Darian Caine, Zoe Moonshine, Juliette Charles, Dean Paul / After Hours Cinema (US R0 NTSC)

A film so obscure in the filmography of erotica/horror specialist Nick Philips that it rarely turns up even as a footnote, 1972's Les Chic is an amusing and often quite scorching hardcore romp featuring yet another teaming of that reliable real-life legendary couple, Rene Bond and Ric Lutze (though the film doesn't credit either of them!). This time Lutze carries the film's narrative as Les Chic, a San Francisco honey-hunter in ridiculous outfits who struts around the hilly streets and picks up any comely vixen in a short skirt. He really hits paydirt with Rene, a freewheeling gal who spends the afternoon in his bed. Afterwards they roam the city together, and Chic takes off for a threesome with a couple of other ladies before returning to Rene for some body painting and further sexploits. Then Chic has another three-way. The end.

Obviously shot during Lutze and Bond's busiest hardcore heyday (i.e., shortly after Necromania), Les Chic works quite well as a comedy, both intentional and not; Lutze does a good job as the giddy playboy, who's saddled with one of the goofiest hairstyles ever committed to film and an eye-punishing stream of clothes that would send Tiny Tim running in terror. Some of Lutze-n-Bond's XXX loops must have been shot in tandem with this, as Lutze's goofy silver choker will attest.

Also included in this two-disc set is the 2002 version of Les Chic (also referred to as Les Chic 2: King of Sex on the packaging) by William Hellfire; not surprisingly, it takes quite a few liberties with the concept of the original, turning it into a kinda-hardcore lesbian fest with primping Chic (Paul) now a hopelessly out-of-it record store employee surrounded by hot women who make out with other day and night. He's desperate to get some and finally does, then runs face-first into a "what the hell?" twist ending. Pretty much in keeping with Hellfire's other sapphic-heavy creations, this is a feather-weight video diversion with lots of goofy jokes and pale, naked female flesh, including popular softcore actress Darian Caine (who doesn't do the full nasty here).

Transferred in full frame, both features look fine with the earlier version displaying some signs of wear and tear. It's hard to complain, though, given the rarity of the title. Unfortunately AfterHours has slapped a watermark over the entire running time in the lower right corner, which becomes really obnoxious after a while. If you have a 16x9 television, zoom that puppy in (the compositions still look fine) and cut that annoyance offscreen!

As for goodies, Rene fans will most enjoy two vintage stag shorts, "My Sister's Boobs" and "Naughty Strip." Both look pretty rough, but they still showcase Ms. Bond in all her undraped glory. Once again 42nd Street Pete turns up for both on-camera discussion of the '72 version, a lighthearted audio commentary with Hellfire for the remake, and liner notes for both. While his enthusiasm is admirable, he doesn't seem to know much about the first film at all apart from Bond's participation; he can't identify Lutze and inexplicably refers to Bond as having "natural" breasts here, an astonishing assertion to anyone who's seen her genuine pre-implant softcore films versus her visibly "enhanced" appearance here. Ah, well, you can't win 'em all.

Color, 1971, 72m. / Directed by Nick Philips / Starring Uschi Digard, Lynn Harris

Color, 1970, 70m. / Directed by Ed Stevens / Starring Uschi Digard, Joyce Adams / Retro Seduction Cinema (US R0 NTSC)

The ever-popular, impressively-endowed sex goddess Uschi Digard takes center stage for this fluffy but fascinating pairing of two short "features," designed for grindhouse viewing just as hardcore was poised to take over the market. Though she eventually appeared in XXX features, Digard never participated much in non-simulated action, instead using her irresistible enthusiasm and camera-daunting mammaries to pull in the crowds.

First up is Fancy Lady, directed by exploitation veteran Nick Philips (best known for the zero-budget horror classic Criminally Insane and the sexy Roxanna). Here he barely attempts to construct anything resembling a plot, content to merely follow Uschi on a tour of San Francisco as she plays a Danish journalist, Karin, exploring the city's erotic possibilities in comparison to her own sexually liberated homeland. First she goes to an adult theater where two onscreen women (including softcore vet Lynn Harris) in fetish-inducing leather boots tryst in the woods, and then takes her voyeurism to the next level by peeping on a local couple rolling around in bed (complete with a startling amount of non-simulated visible arousal from both players). Recently returned from a Copenhagen vacation themselves, the man and woman also don't seem to mind the fluffy kitty on their bed that steadfastfly refuses to move out of frame during the entire scene. No longer able to contain herself, Karin goes back to her hotel room where she gratifies herself with the aid of a few handy household objects.

Though Uschi doesn't really get in on the action until her solo routine at the end, Philips wisely keeps her presence strong throughout the entire film by showing her delighted reactions to every caress and revelation of exposed flesh. If that's not enough, she also pops up for an uncredited co-feature, Dirty Pool, which somehow sports even less of a storyline! Here she lounges out by the pool and has sex with her beau; then a couple comes over after driving around a California suburb for an eternity, and they have sex with each other, and the coupling continues as more women arrive. Everyone has more sex. The end. Fortunately for Uschi fans, much of this involves her bouncing back and forth in a swimming pool, so audience members get exactly what they paid for. The action is considerably less explicit and fetishistic than Fancy Lady, but it's an agreeable time-killer all the same.

Pulled from the vaults after a long hiatus from the public eye, the films look pretty nice, comparable to other grindhouse fare of a similar vintage. Fancy Lady is presented full frame and looks quite solid, while The Dirty Pool is widescreen (1.78:1) and anamorphically enhanced; a few dubious head-chops in the framing indicate this might not necessarily be best presented in widescreen, but you take what you can get. The print for this one is a bit more damaged, however.

The omnipresent 42nd Street Pete pops up for a video appreciation in which he expounds upon the film's merits (primarily focused on its director and star), while Uschi pops up again for an 8mm loop in which she gets naked again and writhes around a hotel room after talking to a guy on the phone. Then you can enjoy even more Uschi with trailers for Fancy Lady, Roxana and Pleasures of a Woman. Finally, the package is rounded out with a lengthy Uschi bio by Terry Thome and 42nd Street Pete's very vivid liner notes for Fancy Lady.

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