Sex in the ComicsAdult films have encompassed a lot of techniques and genres over the decades, but few have come out as strange and amusingly cracked as Sex in the Comics. Composed of a string of rapid-fire sketches derived from smutty comic books called Tijuana Bibles, it mostly ribs famous comic characters of the first half of the 20th century like Popeye, Dagwood, Li'l Abner, and so on, all loosely framed by a young woman looking to get the scoop on a famous comic strip artist and getting way more than she bargained for. Punchlines come every couple of minutes and break up the intermittent hardcore action (which is way too little and anti-erotic to qualify this as any kind of traditional X-rated film), with most of the men wearing strange putty and rubber appliances on their faces to mimic their hand-drawn counterparts (but more often looking like terrifying monsters). The entire cast hides behind silly pseudonyms like "Mona Bimbo" and "Reggie Balls," but the two men performing most of the unsimulated activity here are definitely Ric Lutze and Rick Cassidy. Early hardcore vets Cyndee Summers and Carlos Tobalina muse Nina Fause also turn up, and it's been pretty much confirmed that none other than Massacre Mafia Style and Gone with the Pope legend Duke Mitchell turns up behind one of those disguises in a couple of scenes, mercifully with his clothes on; first he's tended bar near the beginning, then applying a sex toy to one of his fellow actresses later on. The packaging credits direction to Anthony Spinelli (Talk Dirty to Me) and Bob Godfrey, so we'll presume that's correct. The feature itself clocks in at 81 minutes, cobbling together the best possible version from what at least two prints (one 35mm, the other 16mm); there's a lot of damage on display but it easily beats the old Alpha Blue copy from 2007, sourced from an incomplete VHS copy. This presentation also features a baffling epilogue (missing from past editions) with George "Buck" Flower flashing the camera, Keith Erickson refusing to have sex, three naked ladies frolicking around a giant phallic maypole, and a billboard for Roxy Music's first album. Also on the disc is Sextoons, the frequently repurposed feature-length compilation of random adults-only cartoons (81 mins.) ranging from a quick and dirty Disney spoof to truly fascinating and experimental hand-drawn animation and stop-motion work with dolls and clay figures. It's something geared far more for stoners than raincoaters and still quite the oddity. The 45-minute The Funky World of Adult Cartoons continues the theme with a slew of crude, pornographic animated shorts; the caliber of work here is a lot lower Up in Flamesand the voiceover work rather clumsy, but it's a fun reminder of the kind of film that used to run after hours on college campuses in the '70s.

Speaking of '70s hardcore films that absolutely don't fit your expectations, get a load of Up in Flames, a grubby 1978 sex comedy unofficially based on the druggy underground comic book exploits of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Ridiculously busy performer John Seeman both directs and stars here in lazy middle-aged garb (including a huge, removable fake beard) as Mr. Natural (a character pilfered from a different comic series), a health food huckster who gets the longest and most graphic sex scenes when he isn't mingling with the three "Fabulous Furry Beer Brothers" Vinnie, Frank, and Fat Freddy (Richard Mailer, Bob Robins, and non-sex one-shot actor Fred Lee as the youngest) and their landlady (Colleen Anderson) who wants to kick them out. Mostly the running time is filled with improvised drug and booze comedy (complete with bouncy rock and country music) in the brothers' dirty, claustrophobic apartment, which makes it valuable as a counterculture comedy you could watch with The Groove Tube but also about as sexy as watching someone mop a floor. This puppy first turned up on video from Something Weird as part of a Dragon Art Theatre double bill with the enigmatic 1972 film A Star Is Born (no connection to those big Hollywood films of the same title) in very ragged condition with splices galore. The standalone 2016 DVD from Impulse Pictures hedges its legal bets by prominently billing this as a "The Unauthorized Classic Adult Parody" (a tactic regularly employed on current XXX films that don't seem to grasp what a parody actually is) The Peep Show Collectionand is presented in far better if still somewhat battered shape; it's unlikely this one will be seen in more pristine condition than this anytime soon. The sole extra is a promo for the label's 42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection series.

Of course, that means it's time to take a look at Volume 17(!!!) of the 42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection line, which shows no signs of slowing down in its quest to bombard viewers with every single silent, scratchy, perverted stag short ever made. This time out there's less star power than usual in these 15 selections, though Seka, Sharon Kane, Herschel Savage (as a cowboy), and Linda Shaw pop up for such discreetly named titles as "Bondage Bootlicker," "Pistol Packer," "Captured Flesh," "The Young Babysitter," "The Longest Tongue," and "Sweet Games." There's even a thematic aesthetic here with the first five shorts devoted to guy/girl action, then groups of three or more for the next five, and then girl-on-girl only for the last batch. None of the scenarios are all that weird this time out, but for 106 minutes of non-stop '70s adult actors making goofy faces and getting cameras up in their nether regions, this should do the trick. The sole extra is a liner notes essay by Dimitrios Otis that doesn't have a direct connection to these shorts but does an interesting job of recounting the experience of attending Vancouver porno shop movie booths.

Body GirlsLet's Get PhysicalThe aerobics fitness craze of the '80s toplined by Jane Fonda resulted in some pretty odd cinematic artifacts like Perfect and Heavenly Bodies, so it was only natural the porn world would try to cash in, too. Case in point: Body Girls and Let's Get Physical, a pair of similar 1983 sweat fests from director Bob Chinn for the usual Caribbean Films outfit seen on past Vinegar Syndrome releases. Once again Hypathia Lee headlines both films (with husband Bud Lee getting his own wraparound sex scenes in the first film), first playing a gym owner fending off saboteurs with erotic tricks of her own and then assuming the role of a famous jazz dancer who opens a dance school run with invalid spouse/ballet dancer Paul Thomas. Body Girls is the more amusing of the two as it indulges in every single '80s health club staple in the book and boasts a hefty cast including Desiree Lane, Robin Everett, and in both films, the always busy Mike Horner, Shanna McCullough, Erica Boyer, and linguistically-challenged Francois Papillon. Like it's companion film, Let's Get Physical is definitely from a female point of view which makes it a nice double feature, and yes, this one has a theme song that very vaguely recalls a certain popular Olivia Newton-John hit. Hypathia really earns her paycheck on this one doing four out of the six sex scenes in the film, including a tender but memorable menage a trois with Thomas and McCullough. These films were released on home video ages ago by Essex and Caballero respectively, but the Vinegar Syndrome edition rehabilitates them with minty fresh new HD transfers that bring out all those aggressive colors so brightly they might sear your TV screen.

Classical RomancePhysical AttractionShanna McCullough and Paul Thomas also turn up in the following year's Physical Attraction, this time helmed by Richard Mailer -- yep, the same guy up above who starred in Up in Flames and had a ridiculously prolific career with over a hundred titles including Gulp and Honky Tonk Angels. Here Shanna gets leading lady duties as Bobbi, a lady of the evening who decides to pursue her dream of becoming a professional athlete -- an Olympic runner, to be specific. Her decision to swap out her domineering pimp for an equally hard-nosed coach (David Cannon), with whom she might be striking some romantic sparks. Much better acting and scripting than usual make this adult twist on Personal Best and Chariots of Fire a memorable one, and that level of quality carries over to Classical Romance, another Mailer/Thomas outing that definitely falls into the popular trend of "couples" titles marketed for male and female viewers alike. Nightclub pianist Eric (Thomas) becomes smitten with Laura (Jacqueline Lorians), whose stuck in an unraveling marriage with the unfaithful Charles (Herschel Savage). Meanwhile Charles is having a fling with Bunny Bleu, and Eric starts sowing his wild oats by indulging in a threesome with Desiree Lane and Renee Summers. It all resolves on an interesting note, even finding some redemption for the worst characters, which makes this one of the more oddly uplifting double features in the VS library. Again both titles have been recently transferred in HD from materials generations better than what we've seen before, and they look excellent from start to finish.

Bad, Bad GangThe popularity of biker movies in the late '60s and early '70s didn't really cross over all that often into the adult market, but when it did, the results tended to pretty grubby and unpleasant. For proof, look no further than Bad, Bad Gang!, a 1972 cheapie that's popped up in very different but equally incomplete versions from Something Weird (hardcore but missing the ending and other bits) and Alpha Blue Archives (softcore and even less coherent but with some alternate footage). The best of both worlds can be found in the Impulse Pictures DVD, which presents the longest version to date. Granted that's still only 62 minutes, but it's a good 4 to 5 minutes more than you'll find in other versions. The threadbare story concerns a quartet of young doofuses (Nancy Martin, Ric Lutze, Rene Bond, and Wayne Chapman) who run afoul of some filthy bikers. Halfhearted rape attempts, lesbian experimentation, and lots of sex in tents ensue, all laced with amusing stock rock music and odd biblical references. Other vets like Suzanne Fields and Andy Bellamy also get in on the action along with the uncredited biker guys, and while the sexual assault angle is obviously very un-PC these days, it's done in such a flat, goofy way that you'd have to try pretty hard to be offended. Bond fans should note that, despite her prominent presence on the cover, she's really only around for the first 20 minutes or so, long enough to sunbathe naked and do a lesbian scene in a mobile home. Impulse has actually done a pretty miraculous job of presenting this orphaned film in watchable condition, offering a version that features actual color and detail compared to the blurry, hacked-up messes we've had in the past. It's an amusing time waster for sure and definitely an odd snapshot of California adult filmmaking just before the wave of porno chic. Again the only extras are a Corporate Assets42nd Street Forever promo and liner notes by Dimitrios Otis.

As early '80s as an adult film can get, here's Corporate Assets, an enjoyable 1985 offering with much better acting (and violent action) than usual. The gimmick here is a big-time stock trading company that fronts a call girl ring, all run by Robert "Cannibal Holocaust" Bolla. Ringleading the girls is Jill (Tish Ambrose), who decides to rethink her career thanks to the abusive Louis (Herschel Savage). A possible way out arrives in the form of romantic pen pal Winston (Eric Edwards), a friend of her late brother. Neither has been totally forthcoming about themselves, but it's up to Winston to come to Trish's aid when things get nasty at work. While the sex scenes here are up to par for the era (including an opener with Harry Reems as a john enjoying a desk romp with Amber Lynn and Rachel Ashley), but the story is strong enough to stand on its own even as a more legit exploitation film. The new widescreen transfer from Vinegar Syndrome looks way better than the rare ancient VHS versions out there; it's a somewhat gritty-looking film (especially when it switches locales in the last third) but it's a pleasant watch all around. Also included are the theatrical trailer and an 11-minute video interview with Edwards, who's his usual good-natured self as he recalls drifting in and out of the industry in between his other acting gigs at the time. He also calls Tamara Longley "one hot, sexy woman!" and praises some of his fellow actors for actually knowing their lines and developing a camaraderie.

MovingTake OneThe ongoing mission of Vinegar Syndrome to preserve and promote the work of pioneering all-male groundbreaker Wakefield Poole continues with another ambitious slab of his work with Take One, an artsy and compelling (not to mention plotless) portrait of sexual variety in early '70s San Francisco. "For your enjoyment,do not try to understand this film: there is nothing to understand. It is only real people doing real things and making them real together." That's how it all starts as we veer between interpretive nude dancing, flashy double exposures, a dinner party, a guy pleasuring himself to automotive fantasy film projects over a silk bed, a heartfelt chat at a nearly empty gay bar, glory hole shenanigans in a porn theater, and other random activity. Long out of circulation, it's presented here in a presentation as pristine as 16mm negatives will allow and looks almost blindingly colorful at times. The film can also be played with a Poole video intro and audio commentary reminiscing about how the various actors became involved and how to create tension via editing. Four deleted scenes are also included, most notably a full hardcore version of a scene that's oddly softcore in the final cut. Also included on a second DVD is Poole's Moving!, a three-part 1974 anthology that will likely go way, way beyond many viewers' comfort levels. We start off with Casey Donovan scoping out a house for sale and getting involved in skinny dipping and a kinky pool side tryst with Val Martin, followed by Burt Edwards and Curt Gerard moving into a hotel room and trying out the bathroom and bedroom. Finally things get rough in an empty house courtesy of an apartment open for rent with Peter Fisk and Tom Wright doing a scene that would've kept this film from being shipped on video to about half the states in the country. Again a Poole intro and a 5-minute featurette provide some context, including his arguments for the more extreme imagery and his state of mind after trying out straight softcore fare just before this with Bible! There's also a brief tour of the original filming locations and a bit from one of those amusing Emerald City local access interviews with Poole from the film's release.

The Little Blue BoxAn odd little mixture of fantasy and erotica is The Little Blue Box, which also happens to be a vehicle for the always welcome Jennifer Welles (in a dual-ish role). Truth be told Welles doesn't have to do much but look striking, sit on a couch a lot, and have sex with John Leslie, but it's all in service of a strange story about a frustrated married writer whose wife (Welles #1), a recent "women's lib" devotee, won't put out. One afternoon a mysterious woman named Miss Azure (Welles #2) shows up at his door to peddle the title device, a magical TV that can show any kind of adult entertainment the viewer desires on demand. (Ridiculous! That'll never happen.) She proves it by calling up some random Euro adult loops, and after a brief setback when wifey throws Miss Azure out, our increasingly revved-up Leslie is writing a check when it turns out he can even be projected into the films themselves. Of course, there's also a double-twist ending heading his way. Neither the best nor the worst from the downslope of the theatrical adult wave, this 1979 production is mostly interesting for predicting the direction of the industry to come within the next decade and offering a showcase for Welles, who was one of the industry's biggest stars at the time for good reason. Some other appearances include Gloria Leonard, Sharon Mitchell, Jamie Gillis, and a show-stopping bit with Ming Toy, but it's really the Welles and Leslie show for the most part. Impulse Pictures brings this puppy to DVD with its first new transfer in decades (an old Visual Entertainment Productions VHS was used as the source for an Alpha Blue Archives three-fer dedicated to Welles), with its proper widescreen presentation restored. The 35mm print obviously has its share of wear and tear, but it's a significant bump up from what we've had before.

Sex RouletteOur last Impulse title here came out a year earlier in 1978: Sex Roulette, an even stranger German/Belgian production that was released in both hard and soft versions over the years with incarnations from Caballero and Gourmet Video. Director Alan Vydra (who earlier helmed one of the more widely distributed German XXX titles, Born Erect) plops French sex star Véronique Maugarski in Monte Carlo as the niece of wealthy Robert Le Ray (the world's busiest geriatric porn star and a once legit actor for René Clément!). He's concerned she's turning into a gambling addict and neglecting the prime time to sow her wild oats, so he conspires with his diminutive butler to initiate her into the ways of love. Mostly though it's about Le Ray finding ways to get women on their knees and stumble into various sexual misadventures, including a pig pen orgy and a freaky nightmare sequence that feels like it stepped out of a Jean Rollin film. Probably not the best choice if you're looking for traditional XXX fare, this is a a strange one to be sure, presented with a remastered widescreen 1.66:1 transfer in pretty nice shape in its extended English-dubbed version versus the hacked-down one that's usually made the rounds overseas.



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