MAY 16, 2017

BUY FROM DIABOLIK

I100 Girls by Bunny YeagerBest known as one of the photographers who catapulted Bettie Page to pin-up superstardom, Florida beauty queen and model Bunny Yeager took the unusual path of stepping behind the camera to capture female beauty starting in 1954 and continuing for decades. Her story and work is captured in 100 Girls by Bunny Yeager, which takes its title from one of her most popular books. The 1997 film shot on 16mm and narrated by Yeager herself makes its Blu-ray debut from Cult Epics, who outfits the short feature (44m13s) with enough extras to make it worth snapping up for vintage nudie cutie fans. A wide bevy of models are covered here like Darlene Bennett, Shelby Young, Ginger Meadows, Rusty Allen, Carol Paullus, Virginia Remo, Dodi Mitchell, Virginia Booker, and dozens more, with anecdotes and vintage photos covering a wide variety of models who ranged from burlesque dancers to pageant winners to new mothers. Produced by label head Nico B., it also works in snippets from Bunny Yeager's Nude Camera and Bunny Yeager's Nude Las Vegas, creating an oddly innocent portrait of cheerful entertainers celebrating themselves in the sun. A 2016 exhibition of Bunny's Bettie Page photos is represented with "Bettie Page Uncovered" (17m16s) at the Catalina Island Museum with Helmut Schuster discussing the photos' importance and their historical representation of body freedom and sexuality. A separate 5m16s piece covers the contents of the exhibition itself.


Lolita Goes to CollegeYou only get one guess what to expect from After Hours' two-disc Lolita Goes to College Collection, which features a grab bag of features about coeds getting into sexy predicaments. Luckily all of the women look significantly older than what the title implies, so no worries on that front. Things start off oddly with a film called Frat House Girls, which turns out to be a retitling of 1983's Natural Lamporn's Frat House. Inspired by a certain hit 1978 comedy by John Landis, it's a virtually plotless look at the antics of some frat brothers at I Phelta Thi who try to compete to see who can bed the most women on the Faulk University campus. There's a heavy roster of familiar names here like Lisa De Leeuw, Turk Lyon, and Hillary Summers, while this was also one of the few hardcore films directed by "Sven Conrad," a.k.a. Poor Pretty Eddie director and Frat House Girlsaction movie cinematographer David Worth. One of the main frat guys, Roger, is played by "Lou Denny," who turned up in more legit films like No Way Out and Hollywood High Part II under his real name, Bruce Dobos. You'd be hard pressed to tell whether he did the deed for real here though since all of his originally simulated scenes have been given an extreme optical zoom here, but most of the other explicit scenes have been left intact. Go figure. Despite the bizarre tinkering, this scratchy print is still much, much longer than the VHS and DVD versions released by VCX, which were hacked down to 71 minutes versus the 80m26s version we have here. Things get much more obscure with the rest of the films here, starting with something from Cine-Cal Productions called, yep, Lolita Goes to College, bearing a 1971 release date here. Basically an ill-tempered dean welcomes a new blonde nymphet to school, Lolita, after dealing with a horny older (much, much older) student named Ms. Winters who keeps hitting on him at his desk in front of the students. Of course, that means Ms. Winters follows Lolita to her dorm and jumps her out of the shower, after which a couple of guys stop by for some fun with Lolita taking a sex toy break in the bathroom for a breather. Cheap, silly, and sort of funny, this one doesn't overstay its welcome at 54 minutes and functions as one of those odd in-between titles from the era, mostly softcore but with a few brief bits of unsimulated oral action thrown in to mix things up. Bonus points for the swanky Herb Alpert-style stock music. The popular Ortita De Chadwick headlines 1973's Pledge Sister, a typical campus programmer also available in various versions from Something Weird and After Hours. This "enhanced version" replaces a bit of unlicensed Donovan music with some spacey stereo tracks (but leaves the rest of the soundtrack intact) for a 55-minute wonder as Cheryl (De Chadwick) welcomes little sis Melanie (Becky Sharpe) to campus. Melanie wants to stay faithful to her (really homely) boyfriend Chuck back home and get a good education, but Cheryl figures it would be better to have her go Greek -- which means sullying herself with guys like Ric Lutze and Paul Scharf. The whole thing is framed with Greek hazing rituals that feel a lot more like a horror movie, and you won't buy the pensive coda for a single moment. Disc one wraps up with "Sorority Sisters," a silent Super 8 short with two big-haired ladies having a sapphic afternoon in the backyard. Disc two kicks off with the earliest title in the bunch, 1969's Girls School Scandal, a 42-minute quickie (with a replaced music track) with the gorgeous Barbara Mills (Blue Money) as Melody Anthem(!), a reporter who goes undercover at a girls' finished school where all the students (including Suzanne Fields) hang around topless all the time. Of course, it all quickly devolves into a looooong softcore orgy with participants including Richard Smedly from The Abductors and Brain of Blood. The even short, 34-minute Lessons in Love is a mostly dialogue-free softcore offering from what appears to be about '69 or '70 with a schoolgirl getting it on in an apartment, mostly on the floor, with other people randomly drifting in and out. Lots of giggling and bathtub frolicking gets thrown in, too. Finally, the 27-minute School for Sex (directing by "Ann") is a hilariously ratty sketch about a blonde teacher with a massive overbite training a "stable of talent" about the use of erogenous zone stimulation for a porno movie production company. It's not terribly impressive as smut, but the execution is amusing as clearly out-of-it unknown thesps do mechanical demonstrations on a desk and a bed for the class.


Sherlick HolmesOne of the most fascinatingly odd double features in Vinegar Syndrome's unpredictable line of Peekarama vintage adult double features brings together a pair of '70s mystery-themed offerings that mix whodunit with bodily fluids to truly bizarre results. First up is the time-tripping Sherlick Holmes from 1975, which features Harry Reems as a horny take on Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary sleuth along with director-actor Zebedy Colt as his right-hand man, Watson. After a freaky cartoon opening we're taken Edwardian England where the men are conferring over their newest case while being simultaneously Reunionserviced by their scullery maid. However, Sherlick is more interested in his newest invention, a time machine that could revolutionize crime by sending him back to the committing of any crime. Testing it out proves tricky though when they're accidentally zapped into 1970s New York, complete with pimps, thieving hookers, and orgies scored by wacko synthesizer and kazoo music. Dressed up in swanky pimp duds, they work their way through the local sex trade to find the likely culprit (Bobby Astyr) to find their (tiny) stolen time machine. Directed by Sex Wish filmmaker "Tim McCoy," this is a very goofy stew of tacky fashions, comedic sex scenes, and absurd British accents, with Reems and Colt at their absolute hammiest. None of the female cast members (including Bree Anthony and Cheryl White) can make much of an impression given how fast the film jumps around, but as a goofball porno sketch pulled out to feature length, you could do worse. Far more ambitious and unexpected is Reunion, a 1976 mystery from director Leonard Kirtman (Carnival of Blood) with Bree Anthony returning along with her frequent on screen partner and real-life spouse, Tony Richards (Vixens of Kung Fu). They're two of the handful of old high school classmates invited to a weekend at a remote island for a class reunion, but after having some carnal fun on the way over and at the house where they're staying, it's clear something is amiss. The host doesn't show up for dinner, the maid is obviously porn stalwart Alan Marlow in drag, and there's no way to get in touch with anyone back on shore. Soon a recorded voice after dinner accuses them Ten Little Indians-style of bullying behavior back in the day, which means they're all now targets for an elaborate revenge scheme. Soon Marlow's skulking around in a cape hypnotizing and seducing the various women including Vanessa Del Rio, Marlene Willoughby and Nancy Dare, before sticking them in a hidden room behind his den. The mood and structure here feels like a slasher film by way of Agatha Christie, though there isn't much overt violence and it all ends on a more upbeat, hedonistic note than you'd probably expect. Check this one out for sure. Both films come from the Taurus Productions stable and are presented uncut in colorful, mostly clean transfers in their original widescreen aspect ratios.


Also The Night BirdNight of the Spanish Flydiverging a bit from what you might expect is the disco-heavy The Night Bird, one of the first 1977 films to ride on the coattails of that film's pop culture sensation, Saturday Night Fever. Marc Valentine stars as Southside, a hustler who spends his days hawking hot jewelry on the street and his nights at the local disco, which also features live stripped and sex acts. He and his regular club buddies (David Morris and Michael Ronds) bond by cruising for women and hurling racial epithets (sound like a certain John Travolta hit?), including Southside's on-and-off friends with benefits relationship with the easy Sweet Lips (Beth Anne). The sex scenes are infrequent but well executed (including a menage a trois with club owner Christie Ford, Martin's Roger Caine, and Cannibal Holocaust's Robert Kerman, all under their porn names here), but the real novelty here is the thumping disco score and the colorful patter between our three buddies and the variety of sharp-tongued women they encounter. It's colorful, nicely shot, and another of the better entries in Vinegar Syndrome's Peekarama line. Paired up on the same DVD is the episodic Night of the Spanish Fly from 1976, which opens with a radio announcer from WFUK announcing that a batch of frankfurters from the Go Go label has been contaminated with the titular aphrodisiac, which means Brooklyn will be flooded with loads of "turned-on women." From there we bounce through a string of horned-up, hot dog-loving ladies from housewives to working girls, all accompanied by narrative commentary and featuring decidedly shots of women munching on hot dog wieners (the food, that is) during coitus. Toss in lines like "Sandy sucked like a vacuum pump" and a terrible Rod Serling imitator, and you have a really odd outbreak film that seems Cronenbergian in concept but utterly goofy in execution. The radio reports are actually way more colorful than what we see on screen (including scenarios involving the Empire State Building, rampaging political wives, and a molested bus load of twenty men), but what's here is still daffy enough. This one was previously issued in a lousy, outdated transfer from VCX with a distracting watermark through much of the running time, but both films are clean and intact here with solid transfers and crystal clear audio. Their respective trailers are the sole extras, the former narrated by Ford and the latter film touted as a must-see because "the whole city gets excited when the hot dogs are on the loose!"


The Pussycat RanchHere Comes the Bride1978 was a busy year for New York adult director John Christopher, who turned out no less than four features in twelve months. Two of those are collected in one Vinegar Syndrome Peekarama release, starting with the period western The Pussycat Ranch. A weird French landowner is threatening to foreclose on the title ranch, which is home to three nubile beauties (Samantha Fox, Daisy Mae, and Heather Young), their protector Ma Belle (Molly Malone), and dim-witted ranch hand Johnboy (Roger Caine again) whom the girls enjoy molesting out in the barn. Things get even more complicated when notorious outlaw and horndog Billy the Kid (Eric Edwards) shows up on the premises with his sidekick Snake (Joey Silvera), which leads to a tiny crime spree and the seduction of the family lawyer. Oh, and would you believe the whole thing is scored with disco music and pilfered tracks from Once Upon a Time in the West?? Bearing no relationship to the notorious real-life cathouse, this is a pretty typical example of that odd subgenre of '70s porn westerns, though that nutso soundtrack definitely sets it apart a bit. Another film from the VCX home video stable, this one has been given a sparkling fresh makeover and looks great here despite some baked-in technical issues like frequent out-of-focus shots and one camera that appeared to scratch the film as it was being filmed. And if that isn't enough disco, you'll get plenty more in Here Comes the Bride, which takes place in a snowy suburban neighborhood where we first see happy married couple David Morris and Samantha Fox get intimate in front of the fireplace. That leads to a string of flashback vignettes showing how they met (she flirted with him while he was shoveling snow, then went off to have a morning kitchen session with David Christopher and, yep, Roger Caine again, this time scored with disco bagpipe and fiddle music. From there it's a long, carnal path to the wedding day with participants like Silvera, Heather Young, and Clea Carson showing up, not to mention an orgiastic bridal shower and a, uh, unique bit involving Morris and a tub of buttered popcorn at a drive-in. A pretty impressive showcase for Fox (in one of her first starring roles), this one was also out before from VCX but looks much better here, and its theatrical trailer is the sole extra.


Boiling DesiresThe Love ChampionsWant more Peekarama insanity? Well, that naturally means it's time for the most frequent director seen on that label, Carlos Tobalina, whose oeuvre on home video has been boosted considerably by Vinegar Syndrome over the years. His cheapjack San Francisco epics span the early '70s through the second half of the '80s, and you can get a sample of his later work in Boiling Desires from 1987, which still displays his utter disregard for basic components of filmmaking like framing and pacing. Bunny Bleu and Candy Evans are roomies who like to shower together, but Candy's pretty naive in the ways of love. That's okay, says pigtailed Bunny, because she knows all about the birds and the bees, even bumping up her grades by seducing her recently divorced teacher, Ron Jeremy. From there we follow them on separate dates with two of the decade's most ubiquitous actors, Marc Wallice and Tom Byron (who turned out to have very, uh, different fates in the industry after this), and then they all decide to join forces on the couch. And that's about it. From there we move back two years for Love Champions, a look at the Bay Area's most overlit sex therapy retreat run by Tobalina himself (still speaking in very halting English). The newest arrivals are nickering couple Tom Byron and Danielle, both of whose frequent line flubs are left intact. The always charismatic Colleen Brennan takes top acting honors here by a long shot as a sex demonstrator as the film descends into a feature-length, marriage-saving orgy on some of the ugliest green shag carpeting you've ever seen. The DVD has no extras, but both transfers are impeccable and, as with the label's past Tobalina titles, come from negatives that likely haven't been touched in decades.


Ladies NightHer Wicked WaysThat leaves us with one more Peekarama offering, this time from the Michigan siblings Harry and Louis Lewis, the guys behind such films as Visions of Clair and Screwples. Though not terribly prolific, their films became VHS mainstays in the adult sections of video stores throughout the '80s and feature more of an appealing female perspective than usual for the period. Case in point: 1980's Ladies Night, with the always magnetic Annette Haven having a ball as a frustrated housewife who lounges around in the hot tub while her husband (Richard Bern, who's really funny; whatever happened to him?) watches football all day. That spurs some erotic sports fantasies courtesy of an adult video on TV (involving Ken Scudder and Phaery I. Burd in the lockerroom), but that's nothing compared to what gets unleashed when she and her girlfriends, Lisa De Leeuw and Nicole Black, decide to hit the town after some very potent experimentation on each other. A night out at the bar leads to some freewheeling sexual escapades both real and imagined involving bartender Herschel Savage and ringleader Paul Thomas, including a lively pool table scene and a hot tub finale. Highly amusing and nicely scored, this is a prime example of how good 35mm "couples" films of the period could get. Released three years later, Her Wicked Ways is a diverting, vinegar-flavored little soap opera with Jessie St. James in fine form as Ruby, whose millionaire husband has recently died. She consoles herself by nailing the family chauffeur (David Cannon) and planning how to keep her husband's entire estate and his company, Sutton Industries, even though the family lawyer doesn't think the three-year marriage merits her keeping every single thing. Ticked-off daughter Catherine (Joanna Storm) has plans of her own, and both women end up seducing their way through anyone who will get them what they want. The cast is clearly having fun, especially Paul Thomas as the shifty RIff Rafferty (who has to deliver a ton of dialogue under highly distracting circumstances) and Debi Diamond, who comes fully into play in the final scene. In short, a double feature that delivers plenty of bang for the buck. The one extra here is an audio interview with the Lewis brothers (recorded separately) that takes up most of the running time of Ladies Night as an alternate track and covers their adventures in the business, with anecdotes about collaborators including a lot about Bob Chinn.


Ladies NightGetting back to the '70s, you'll definitely see the scuzzier side of the decade with After Hours' Peeing Tom 1970s Grindhouse Triple Feature, which focuses on -- you guessed -- voyeurism. 42nd Street Pete introduces the set, which kicks into gear first with Fade to Red, which was supposedly shot somewhere around 198 and 1973. A narrator intoning facts about the Spanish Inquisition starts rambling over kinky S&M dungeon antics, and he keeps rambling on and off as we see some random sex scenes (likely stiched-together loops) telling the story of compulsive suburban voyeur Claire. Suzanne Fields, whipping, Las Vegas travelogue footage, and psychological insights about Claire's "abominable secret urge" made this a real head scratcher, though the last-second twist ending is absolutely hilarious. Though uncredited, it wouldn't be surprising at all to find out Ray Dennis Steckler had something to do with this. Then there's The Peeping Detective, an early '70s quickie about a broke, sad-sack, southern-fried private eye (Jim Mayer) who's about to have all his office furniture repossessed. While whining to his secretary and bedmate, he gets a novel idea: thanks to a peephole in the wall, he can snap photos of unfaithful husbands and extort enough money to keep himself afloat. However, his attempts at marital exploitation turn out to have a few flaws he couldn't have expected. Ric Lutze also turns up as one of the philandering spouses for this comic yarn that was probably shot in about three hours with actors who didn't have time to learn their lines; it's a pretty typical piece of nonsense, newly transferred from a very banged-up print that's missing the last couple of lines of dialogue. Finally 1971's Peeper Creeper, also known to Something Weird fans as Peek Freak, is another early '70s anonymous cheapie with frequent early '70s performer Jim as a a peeping tom college student whose inability to ask a girl out has him wandering all over his campus and the neighborhood imagining himself bedding all the women around. The execution feels more like a bunch of loops with the same actor strung together than a coherent film, and like the SW print, this one feels curtailed as it closes in the middle of a sex scene.


A Place Beyond ShameIt’s rare but not unheard of for adult actors to make the move behind the camera, but few have done it with the proficiency of the late Fred J. Lincoln, who’s still best known for playing Weasel in Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. His more explicit acting ventures were few and far between (only going all the way in a handful of titles and most famously headlining the excellent The Defiance of Good), but his career as a director was ridiculously busy with over 300 films to his credit by the end of his lifetime in 2013. One of his earliest and most accomplished films, A Place Beyond Shame (co-directed with Sharon Mitchell and co-written by, yep, Roger Caine again) was released in 1980 and makes for a fine opportunity for the legendary Seka to strut her stuff as both a comedienne as well as a standard performer. She’s given some solid material to work with here as a character named, well, Seka, who’s suffering from a sudden and inexplicable aversion to sex, especially when it involves men. She decides to pay a visit to shrink Paul Thomas, who thinks hypnotherapy is just the ticket to get her libido kickstarted again. Sorry, no extra credit for guessing whether it works, but you’ll never believe the path it takes to get there through a variety of past lives that turn this into kind of a porn version of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Yes, really. Seka’s kink involving inanimate metal objects is also a new tweak to the formula, and the cast is spiked with plenty of welcome supporting actors like Don Fernando (as our leading lady’s frustrated beau), Lori Blue, Jon Martin, R.J. Reynolds, Lysa Thatcher, Mike Horner, Jesse Adams, and the infamous Veri Knotty as a very unorthodox mom. This one’s made the rounds over the years from companies like Video Home Library (on VHS) and Alpha Blue Archives (at least two DVD editions), but the standalone Vinegar Syndrome DVD kicks them all into the dust with a pristine new widescreen, uncut transfer. The theatrical trailer is the only extra.


Hot FlashesMore blatantly comedic is another solo feature DVD from Vinegar Syndrome, 1984’s Hot Flashes, another episodic offering from a time when the industry was starting to really phase out 35mm in favor of video. This one keeps the old porno chic tradition alive with high production values (relatively speaking) for a colorfully shot slice of goofiness about WSEX (Channel 69, of course), where news anchor Nicole Blanc, intrepid reporter Dorothy Onan, and weather girl Karen Summer doing a lot of local coverage in the naughtiest possible sense. Barely structured as a narrative at all, it’s mostly an excuse for tons of sex scenes (way more than the brief running time would normally support) with Reunion director Leonard Kirtman doing a far less proficient job than that prior film. As a silly diversion likely shot in a couple of days it gets the job done, but Henry Paris this ain’t. Once again the superb new transfer makes prior editions completely obsolete, restoring the original widescreen framing and making the film feel a whole lot more glossy and expensive than it really is.


That's Outrageous!Finally, we return to Fred Lincoln with 1983’s That’s Outrageous!, an attempt to make an American version of all those ridiculous French hardcore comedies with Richard Lemieuvre and Guy Royer about goofball Swedes on the loose having sex with everyone in sight in Paris. Here it’s Jamie Gillis and Joey Silvera doing the honors, with Gillis getting the lion’s share of sex scenes as fashion photographer Paul, who keeps a separate apartment as lothario Philippe—with two girlfriends he has to keep juggling at once. Various deceptions, mistaken identities, and marital mishaps ensue with a hodgepodge of American and French actresses thrown in like Tiffany Clark, Natasha, and Anna Ventura. The packaging touts this as an attempt to bring the classic Hollywood screwball aesthetic to the world of XXX cinema, which is fair as far as it goes – but we’re definitely not talking about Blonde Ambition here. If you’re a Gillis fan this one is pay dirt though as he’s on screen almost nonstop for the entire running time (and speaks French!), and there are a few decent one liners dropped in throughout when everyone isn’t busy thrusting and moaning. To give it an artsy touch there's also a lengthy costume ball sequence and a dreamy fantasy scene in a metallic room, but on the other hand, a brash theme song gets played over and over complete with a wailing guitar solo. Extras include an image gallery and an 11m51s interview with John A. Mozzer ("Alan Adrian"), who talks about appearing briefly in this film in the party scene and going on to a busy career in front of the camera including a memorable kinky scene with Joanna Storm, with a few stories about Plato's Retreat and the Hellfire Club in his spare time.


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