Color, 1976, 86 mins. 31 secs.
Directed by Carter Stevens
Starring Susan McBain, Alan Marlow, Terri Hall, Yolanda Stevens, Mary Stuart, David Williams
MOUNT OF VENUS
Color, 1975, 66 mins. 40 secs.
Directed by Carter Stevens
Starring Georgina Spelvin, Jamie Gillis, Eric Edwards, Kim Pope, Kevin Andre, Rita Davis
Peekarama (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), After Hours (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)
One of the more exuberant and colorful personalities behind the camera during the heyday of theatrical XXX films, Carter Stevens never really aimed for the loftier heights of some of his peers but certainly knew how to have a good time. Best known for frothy confections like Tinseltown, Punk Rock, and Pleasure Palace, he kept toiling away well into the shot-on-video era including detours into the kinkier side of things under the name Steven Mitchell. Rarely seen in decent condition, two of his earlier and wilder films from the '70s have now been revived with fresh 2K scans from their original negatives on Blu-ray from Peekarama showing off Stevens' playful touch with sci-fi and fantasy-- as well as some of the industry's prime players.
One of the earliest and funniest of the '70s sci-fi porn spoofs (followed by Ultra Flesh, Sex World, etc.), 1976's Rollerbabies takes its title and classical music soundtrack from the sort-of hit Norman Jewison dystopian film Rollerball from the same year. Instead of James Caan as a conflicted sports star, here we have the story of Sherman Frobish ('70s porn vet Alan Marlow, who appeared in almost every Henry Paris film), a resourceful TV exec trying to serve a population under strict control to not have sex unless the government approves it. Much like Cafe Flesh, public spectacles are mounted to keep people happy, and Sherman comes up with a doozy: have a bunch of people doing the nasty on a roller rink. The unforgettable climax does indeed feature lots of naked roller skaters in a variety of surprising positions, most of which are more suspenseful than erotic. The rest of the cast is packed with interesting actors from the period including the always busy and athletic Terri Hall, newcomer Suzanne McBain's first role (which Stevens claims she was really, really into), charming goofball Mary Stuart, and semi-crossover actor Roger Caine (Martin). It's also a showcase for striking bald amazonian Yolanda Savalas (also a legit fashion model, according to the director, who went on to another, lesser smutty sci-fi, Invasion of the Love Drones). The whole thing is in good fun, and the cheap but creatively handled sets give the whole thing a lot more class and imagination than your average New York quickie.
Also on the Blu-ray is the previous year's The Mount of Venus, an insanely cheap but bubbly fantasy as well as a wacko send-up of Roman mythology. Jamie Gillis is in amazing form as Jupiter, commanding a silly and sexed-up roster of gods wreaking havoc with the lives of mortals. Puns, sight gags, and frisky encounters abound with a very enthusiastic cast including a scene-stealing Georgina Spelvin (as Juno), Kim Pope (as Venus), and Eric Edwards again (as a very silly Mercury), along with solid turns by Chris Jordan, Rita Davis, and Kevin Andre. The Mount Olympus set looks like it was held over from Roberta Findlay's Angel Number Nine, and Stevens definitely makes the most of it.
Rollerbabies first turned up on DVD from After Hours as part of the Carter Stevens Teenage Twins Collection, pulled from a scratchy print and with the audio very visibly out of sync. At least it featured a jam-packed Stevens commentary track filled with revelations, such as the breakdown Marlow suffered after filming that may have been partially due to his demanding role here. Likewise, The Mount of Venus hit DVD in 2010 from After Hours as part of the Stevens Collegiates Collection (along with The Collegiates, The Hot Oven, and In Sarah's Eyes), taken from a very scratchy print. Both films look exponentially better on the Peekarama Blu-ray release with nary a scratch or nick in sight; detail is excellent throughout and the color timing is far more natural and healthy than before. Rollerbabies is framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, while The Mount of Venus is 1.33:1 (a good call as matting it would look awfully cramped). The DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono tracks are also in much better quality than before without all the hiss and popping we've had in the past, and optional English SDH subtitles are provided. The sole extra is a very wild Rollerbabies theatrical trailer that must've stopped a lot of patrons in their tracks (or any other bodily motions) back in the day.
Reviewed on August 6, 2022.