Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Deathrow Gameshow (1987)

  Chuck Toedan Wants You ... To Die Laughing!”

Chuck Toedan (John McCafferty) is the host of the popular yet controversial game show Live or Die in which the contestants are death row inmates who get one last shot at fame, freedom and prizes for their families (there's an idea for you President Trump!). After beheading a good old fashioned family man, Chuck is greeted by a rowdy group of protestors outside of the studio, one of which being the beautiful leader of the Women Against Anything Men Are For (WAAMAF for short or what we call feminists nowadays) group; Gloria Sternvirgin (Robyn Blythe). Their paths cross again when they guests on a chat show debating moral value of Live or Die. Their debate bleeds out in to the parking lot until they are suddenly attacked by a couple of armed goons. Making a quick getaway, Toedan makes the realisation that they are grunts from mafia trying to seek revenge for the death of the head of the Pappalardo family, a previous contestant on his electrifying game show. This puts both his and Sternvirgin's lives in danger and he is posed the biggest moral question of all – should he continue with the show or get his well groomed behind out of the picture before it's rubbed out by someone else? Well, money talks so he carries on, but when Luigi Pappalardo (Beano) is sent to finish off the job, maybe that will convince him.
  As you can tell by the concept and some of the names used in the film, this is one of those camp and off-the-wall late 80's comedies. As with a lot of these low-budget horror comedies, the humour is there, but doesn't always work. Some of the character's names did give me a giggle and there is a genuinely funny gag involving a children's crossing and a great moment of fourth wall breaking (probably my favourite segment of the film). That being said, there are many crude jokes, innuendos and all round childish gags that did make my eyes roll. As much as that aspect did often frustrate me, this film never takes itself too seriously and you do get the impression that this was a fun shoot to be involved in. The story is fairly simple, but works and is well paced. Quite well written actually. The actors put in a decent effort and have great chemistry (thanks to the fact that nearly everyone involved has worked with each other multiple times up to that point.), but there are moments that do make you cringe slightly. In terms of production value, I think everyone did a solid job. Craig Bassuk's cinematography is solid with some really nicely staged shots. Tim Shoemaker's editing is equally solid, if not better. As well as that, there's some great stunt work, practical effects and a great score / soundtrack from Gregg Cross (the film's opening theme is great and worth a listen on its own!). All in all, it's a very solidly crafted and executed piece of low-budget comedy. It may not be my cup of tea, but I can definitely see why this has a cult following.
  For fans of the film, you are in for a treat with this release from Vinegar Syndrome. The film is scanned, restored & preserved in 2k from the 35mm original camera negative in a DVD & Blu-ray combo release. The film looks and sounds great, especially the vibrant colours used throughout. As well as that, there's an introduction to film by Mark Pirro as well as a commentary track with himself, Blythe & McCafferty which I found to be both insightful and full of great trivia. To compliment that, there's the 2015 Director's Cut of the film which has some quite questionable additions and tweaks (Pirro does refer to it as a Lucas-like remaster), a trailer, TV spot, image gallery and a director bio. The main special features on this disc are the making of documentary (includes information found in the commentary as well as other entertaining nuggets) and couple of Pirro's short films. These are Buns (1978) and The Spy Who Did it Better (1979). Buns follows a serial killer who murders anyone eating a hamburger and The Spy Who Did it Better is a nice parody (correct music cues and all) of the James Bond films. Both films have the same bizarreness and often bad taste that we find in Deathrow Gameshow and are great additions to this release. I actually think The Spy Who Did it Better is my favourite thing on this disc. All of these wonderful extras are topped off with reversible artwork. All in all, this is a must for hardcore fans of the film and those who like the campy side of 80's cinema. The film wasn't great, but it was by far a dull experience and I have to give credit where credit's due; it's great to see that Pirro is still very active in low-budget scene today. How many times can you say that!?
Deathrow Gameshow is available as a DVD / BluRay Combo from Vinegar Syndrome as well as being streamable on Exploitation.tv.

PDx

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Unspecified Compilation #1: Oh, Manchester...

There's a hell of a lot dust flying around here. If there's one thing I am terrible at – it's keeping this place up to date. I'm sure you've heard it all before. Recently, I rediscovered my Innerspace posts from back in the day. If you are a regular reader (first of all, thank you so much!) you may remember the Innerspace series. It was basically a short-lived monthly series in which I would compile (with help from my soul brother Mr. Daniel Lee Harvey) a selection of songs based around a theme. That died out and turned in to Ultimate Cinemageddon. Eventually that stopped for whatever reason and I stopped compiling songs even though music is probably a bigger passion for me than cinema and craft beer! I basically had an itch to restart Innerspace albeit in a new form and not really under the guise of a specific series. So ladies and gentlemen here is the first in what could potentially be a series of new compilations. Kickstarting with something I love and adore – Manchester.

  Although my dad's side of the family is Welsh / Scouse, I've always seen Manchester as my spiritual home. Before I met the greatest person in my life (my beautiful Jeanny of course!), I even had a “dream” of living and working in inner-city Manchester. A city that isn't trying to show off like Liverpool (a city I do love by the way!) with it's Capital of Culture title and shiny buildings. Manchester has that perfect mixture of contemporary, the old and sometimes scruffy. Manchester is never as beautiful as it is when it's overcast. Yes, that's poncey, but I remember the afternoons, mornings and evenings spent in the alleyways and alcoves of the city during my Graphic Design education at Salford (two completely different places by the way!) just marvelling in the honesty and gloom of the city. I remember the early morning hours after nights out just revelling in the silence. My love for the place began before that in my high school years. Going to Wigan on a Friday night and spending the hangover (and my mum's money!) on Saturday in Manchester. I wouldn't be able to do that now of course. I just need to have a couple of beers to feel sluggish the next day. Another major role to play in my discovery and love for Manchester was the music and culture.

My dad rented Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People a.k.a The Greatest Film of all Time one night and I was instantly hooked. Naturally, next came the Joy Division period of my life and there I was picking up a guitar and getting so impressed with myself when I had learnt Hooky's bass line to She's Lost Control. My dad had always been a fan of Morrissey so he and The Smiths had been implanted in to my psyche from a young age and thus planted the seed. I don't get to visit Manchester all that much now being in Germany, but when I do, it's always a special and somewhat spiritual experience. You'll find me in the Brewdog bar sinking a couple of beers and then making my way through the usual haunts such as Fopp!, Piccadilly Records, The Night & Day Cafe and other historically significant places I won't name off here because I already sound like a pretentious tit. I own the hipster label thrown at me so who the fuck cares, right?

Anyway, the idea to start with Manchester for this series was thanks to getting a tad homesick by reading Hooky's Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, The
Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club (still need to get round to his recent New Order book.) and Mark E. Smith's Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith. What better way to pay tribute to the city by putting together a small selection of my favourite tracks. No, There isn't any Oasis (for good reason.) or Joy Division (too hard to pick a favourite.) and yes, there are a few Factory related songs scattered throughout!
 
1.The Smiths- Barbarism Begins at Home (Taken from Meat is Murder)

A classic Smiths song for me. My all time favourite is This Night Has Opened My Eyes, but I thought that was too obvious and why not kick things off with a bit of a jig? Of course you have Morrissey's scathing attack on the school system juxtaposed perfectly with an almost disco / funk vibe. We all know Morissey was backed up by talented and unique sounding music, but this is Joyce, Rourke and Marr at their finest.

2. A Certain Ratio- I Need Someone Tonite (Taken from the I Need Someone Tonite 12”)

Possibly the most underrated band on this compilation. Things may have started a bit funky, but this is taken to a completely different level. That bass line for a start! You listen to a lot of that electroclash stuff that was popular in the 2000's and all you hear is ACR. True pioneers.

3. The Fall- Iceland (Taken from Hex Enduction Hour)

Ah, Mark E. Smith! Ah, The Fall! OK, when you have released 30+ studio albums alone as well as seeing more lineup changes than Shaun Ryder has had drug dealers, not everything is going to be great. In fact, there's a fair few Fall songs that are downright AWFUL! This however, isn't. I have really no idea what the lyrics are about, but that almost constant pace and rhythm is mesmerising and kinda reminds me of LCD Soundsystem's All My Friends. I think James Murphy owes a lot to the likes of Mr. Smith!

4. The Durutti Column- Messidor (Taken from LC)

Vini Reilly may be odd. Really odd in fact, but my goodness is he a wonderful guitarist. There's something so bittersweet with this piece of music. Gloomy, yet beautiful. Much like Manchester itself. Words can't do this track justice.

5. 10cc- Good Morning Judge (Taken from Deceptive Bends)

It's time for a little pick me up and I think this is just right. A jolly little number from a band that I really need to investigate further. First became aware of this wonderful tune thanks to the fantastic re-edit from Mock & Toof which was part of RVNG Intl's RVNG of the NRDS series. This is one of those tracks you can just loop!

6. Dr. John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell- It's Only Make Believe (Taken from This Time It's Personal)

I am a MASSIVE fan of the original Stranglers lineup and Hugh Cornwell doesn't get the credit from his peers he deserves. I also love John Cooper Clarke's poetry. When I found out they were teaming up together I was confused as I was excited. When I learnt they were collaborating on an album of covers, I was even more confused. This rendition of Conway Twitty's classic is beautiful. In fact, the whole album is a must. Definitely one of the best of 2016!

7. Happy Mondays- Tart Tart (Taken from Squirrel And G-Man: Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out))

Aside from coming from the album with best name ever, this a fucking beaut of a song. Happy Mondays are another band who don't get the credit they deserve when it comes to the music. The pills, thrills and belly aches get all the attention. This is just a perfect party track when you're on the right side of fucked. Brilliant video too.

8. New Order- Angel Dust (Taken from Brotherhood)

New Order, but no Joy Division or at least Warsaw!? Are you fucking mad!? No, it was just hard to pick a Joy Division track and in all honesty, I'm more of a fan of New Order. This isn't even my favourite New Order track, but it just seemed to fit in the context of this compilation. That's not to say it isn't a great track. Why would I put it in here if it wasn't?

9. Doves- Firesuite (Taken from Lost Souls)

You don't hear much nowadays about these chaps and you rarely hear Lost Souls getting mentioned. I recently discovered this album and this track and just fell in love with it. Much like Messidor, it's an instrumental track that has a melancholy beauty to it. Great to listen to this as you're traversing the Northern Quarter on a rainy day.

10. 808 State- Techno Bell (Taken from ExEl)


What a banger this one is. The album itself is one of the greatest electronic albums ever in my opinion. I'm reminded of Mr. Oizo for some reason with this one. This is one of those songs you hear now in most electronic music. Some of the sounds in this are phenomenal.

11. The Manchester Mekon- The Cakeshop Device (Take from the A Manchester Collection compilation)

We're ending on a high with probably my favourite song on the compilation. There's something really charming about this one. Another track that seems to have a range of emotions. The Manchester Mekon are a recent discovery for me and a band I am surprised lasted for such a short amount of time. An unsung hero in Manchester's musical heritage. You play this in an indie club now and you're going to blow minds.

Well there you have it ladies and gentlemen. It's not the most original selection of tracks I know, but I didn't want to come across as one of those “Oh my god I am so cultured!” types. I hope these songs move you and all albums these tracks come from are highly recommended from me!

Oh, Manchester...
Here's to the next one. If there is a next one! Oh by the way, you can still download the Innerspace compilations here.

Cheers!
PDx

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Murder Weapon / Deadly Embrace (1989)

 They lust for revenge... They do it at night... And they're more than lethal.”

When mobster daughters Dawn (Linnea Quigley, CREEPOZOIDS) and Amy (Karen Russell, VICE ACADEMY) by chance meet in an insane asylum, the pair hatch a plan to free themselves. They do this by manipulating and downright blackmailing their psychiatrists Dr. Randolph (Lyle Waggoner, WONDER WOMAN) and Dr. Gram (Lenny Rose, BEACH BABES FROM BEYOND). Once successfully free, the pair decide to celebrate their freedom by holding a little get together. They decide to invite their ex-boyfriends Kevin (Stephen Steward, SHOCK CINEMA VOL.4), Eric (Michael Jacobs Jr, DIE WATCHING), Cary (Allen First, AMERICAN RAMPAGE), Billy (Richard J. Sebastian, DREAM A LITTLE DEVIL), Jeff (Eric “Garbage Day!” Freeman, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2), Bart (Rodger Burt, LADY AVENGER) and Al (Allen Tombello, EVIL OBSESSION) to celebrate their release and hopefully get a little of welcome home action. Although something of a sausage fest, the party is going well and everyone is having a damn good time. Unfortunately however, things take a sinister turn when the boys slowly start getting picked off one by one in bloody and gory fashion by a mysterious clad killer. Is this the work of rival crime families? Maybe there's some jealousy between the male party guests? Could the father of one of the girls be involved or could it just be the girls getting their revenge on past lovers?
  I have to say that going in to this film, I really wasn't expecting too much. Thankfully, what I got was a damn good time. First of all, the story is simple, but works well. It's a solidly written effort from Ross A. Perron (this and AMERICAN RAMPAGE being his only credits) and the use of flashbacks to further the story and answer some of the twists and turns is quite refreshing in such low-budget schlock of its time. There's not too much to some of the characters, but it doesn't matter too much and never hurts the film. Performances through may not be Oscar worthy, but again, it doesn't matter and what are you really expecting? For me, one of the greatest surprises with Murder Weapon is the violence and gore. I was expecting the occasional fit for purpose cheesy gore gags here and there, but what we have instead are a collection of genuinely nasty and quite shocking moments of gore. David P. Barton (300) and his team do a very impressive job indeed with the practical and make up effects. Another quite thing is the fact that the violence and gore is used sparingly adding that punch that most films would lack in that regard. Editing and cinematography are both solid enough and the only slight problem I had with the technological aspects was the sound. Even that is a minor gripe because the only time it was a real issue was when Del Casher's (TROPICAL HEAT) score would be playing over some of the dialogue. Like I said, a minor gripe. All in all, it's far from a perfect film, but it's a damn enjoyable one. It may be a little light on the sleaze and erotic elements, but Karen Russell and Linnea Quigley are a very potent combination so you smut peddlers out there will appreciate that aspect!
  _

When adultery turns to obsession, the climax may be murder...”
Chris Thompson (Ken Abraham, HOBGOBLINS) is your typical teenage college student. He's got himself a stunning wannabe actress girlfriend named Michelle (Linnea Quigley) that he wants to spend the rest of his life with. One day at college after listening to a lecture from rich sleazeball Stewart Moreland (Jan-Michael Vincent, AIRWOLF), Chris finds himself getting a gardening and housekeeping job from said rich sleazeball (it's not what you know, it's who you know!). The only condition is that he has to stay at the residence which isn't too bad of a thing because Moreland's wife is the lonely and horny Charlotte (Mindi Miller, BODY DOUBLE). With her husband away and getting his jollies with his secretary DeDe (Ruth Collins, DEATH COLLECTOR), it's only natural that her cougar sights are set on the fresh meat her husband has bestow upon on her. With a heartless husband and a madly in love girlfriend thrown in to the mix, this could make for a steamy affair or even a deadly one.
  I'd say I hate to surprise you, but I think you know already that it will be the latter. I won't be a prick and completely ruin it for you, but I will say that the final third is probably the strongest aspect of this whole film. The problem with a film like Deadly Embrace is it's not amazing or terrible, it's juts a bit dull. Richard Gabai's (KICKBOXING ACADEMY) script is solid enough, but really doesn't do anything too unique. It's safe to say that you will have seen this film made multiple times in terms of its narrative. The build up to the finale and the psychological aspects however are satisfying, but it's too little too late. Acting is above par and actually a lot more solid than most erotic thrillers of its time and budget, the standout for me being Mindi Miller who plays the bored and lonely housewife perfectly. You sympathise her situation perfectly. The erotic elements of the film work well, mainly in that so bad it's good sort of way. There are those moments where people will be grinding against each other with underwear still clearly visible, but again seeing the likes of Quigley and Miller do make up for that (yes, I'm a pig!). All in all, there's really not too much to talk about with this film. It's your typical 80's softcore erotica, just a tiny bit bland and needing some much spice! Just how was this one of DeCoteau's biggest selling films?

Regardless of what I think of the actual films, this is another winner of a release from Vinegar Syndrome. Both films look and sound great and are presented in 2k from the original 16mm camera negatives. Films of this niche could be seen as undeserving of the restoration they receive, but I for one am thankful that labels like Vinegar Syndrome exist and do exactly this job. The only real imperfections found in the sound and visuals come mainly from the films themselves and the way they were shot, but with that being said, they are both very accomplished productions. Both films come with commentaries from DeCoteau and Quigley, director introductions, a video trailer for Murder Weapon, outtakes for Deadly Embrace and some striking original artwork with some nice gory reversible art for good measure. Yeah, Murder Weapon completely outshines Deadly Embrace for me, but if you are either a fan of DeCoteau, Quigley or cheap erotic 80's schlock – you are in for a breast, blood and cheesy synth filled treat.

Murder Weapon & Deadly Embrace are available as a DVD & Blu-Ray combo from Vinegar Syndrome.

PDx

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Nightmare Sisters (1988, David DeCoteau)

  “Sex isn't their only weapon...”

Melody (Linnea Quigley, SAVAGE STREETS), Marci (Brinke Stevens, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE) and Mickey (Michelle Bauer, LUST FOR FREEDOM) are your typical geeky college girls who just can't seem to find a man. When their fellow sorority sisters leave to have parties and spend time with their significant others, the nerdy trio are left to their own devices and decide to have a little party of their own. With slim pickings in the male department, they call the equally geeky Kevin (Richard Gabai, DEMON WIND) to come over with his friends Freddy (Marcus Vaughter, THE VISITANTS) and Duane (William Dristas in his only role). It seems perfect; three boys, three girls and a house to themselves. That is until they decide to have a séance with a crystal ball that flea market obsessed Marci bought earlier that day. The group unfortunately summon a succubus, possessing the girls in the process and turning them in to beautiful sex crazed demons who are hungry for blood. Thankfully, the boys have some breathing space when a trio of their overbearing frat housemates crash the party and find themselves on the receiving end of the beautiful yet deadly succubi. This gives them time to call rent-a-exorcist Perrin (Jim Culver, LADY AVENGER) to hopefully help them get out of this bind and defeat evil. College should be a safe space after all!

Now before I get in to what I think of the film, it should be noted that the film was shot in around four days using a script that took seven days to write and was shot using loose ends of film from DeCoteau's previous film; Sorority Babes in the Sliemball Bowl-O-Rama. With that out of the way, I have to say that Nightmare Sisters wasn't the greatest cinematic experience I've ever had. For an erotic horror comedy, it didn't really deliver on any of those aspects. Sure, there is a hearty amount of nudity, but it really didn't do too much for me, even though the female cast are easy on the eyes and probably the best thing about this movie. Although overly long, the scene involving nubile bath action did stand out however. Comedy wise, it was your typical schlock humour with more jokes missing than hitting. Aside from one genuinely clever and well executed reference to the The Exorcist, there's really nothing there that will even raise a chuckle. What this film does have going for it is a somewhat intriguing story penned by Kenneth J. Hall (CRITTERS) that ultimately suffered with pacing issues, but did bring something unique to the table. There were also moments that reminded me of Evil Dead that I got a kick out of. That's really all that I can say about this film to be honest. It's one of those films that isn't awful, but just quite dull. However, I will say that under the circumstances, they pulled off a film that actually looks like a film. So it's not all bad.
  Although the film is something to be desired, props should be given to Vinegar Syndrome for not only giving this obscure cheapie a proper release, but for giving it a release it probably shouldn't really have. The film is presented in 2k from the original camera negative. It looks and sounds great with the only visual issues coming from some the film's actual cinematography in places. In terms of extras there's a director's introduction and an intriguing commentary from DeCoteau and Quigley that is more enjoyable than the actual film. To compliment that, there is an alternate TV version of the film that pretty much tones down the sleaze factor and uses alternate takes, an interview with Hall, outtakes, bloopers and some really cool alternate artwork. If you're a fan of this film or those involved, you probably already own this. If not, you have to buy it. Those looking for an entertaining piece of 80's teen sex comedy, you may want to give this one a miss.

Nightmare Sisters is available as a DVD / Blu-Ray combo from Vinegar Syndrome.

PDx

Monday, 8 August 2016

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Dolemite (1975, D'Urville Martin)

  "Bone-crushing, Skull-splitting, Brain-blasting ACTION!”

Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore,
The Human Tornado) has spent a couple of years behind bars after being set up by rival pimp Willie Green ( D'Urville Martin, Black Caeser). His luck changes when his madam Queen Bee (Lady Reed, Disco Godfather) pays the prison warden a visit providing evidence of Dolemite's innocence. With the warden now rightfully suspecting that Green and a few crooked cops including the hot-headed Mitchell (John Kerry, Black Dynamite) are behind Dolemite's imprisonment, he organises an early release so that Dolemite can clear his name. Unfortunately however, it's not all good news as Green is also responsible for killing Dolemite's young nephew. With revenge well and truly on his mind, Dolemite instantly (well, after some back seat limo action at least.) puts a plan in to action. No matter if it's a brother or a no-business, born insecure, honky junkyard motherfucker, Dolemite is kicking ass and taking names. It won't all be plain sailing though because the word is out and both Green's men, the slimy Mayor Daley (Hy Pyke, Blade Runner) and crooked cops alike all have Dolemite in their sights!

Where in the name of all things funky do you start with a film like Dolemite!? Well, probably it's reputation and cult status. From inspiring the likes of Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) and Snoop Dogg, to being played at drunken bad movie nights; Dolemite is a film that every cult film fan should have at least heard of. There's the infamous crude overall filmmaking techniques (BOOM IN THE SHOT!) and the even more infamous and crude dialogue spat out with comedic precision from Rudy Ray Moore. If this film is to be summed up in one word, that word has to be politically-incorrect. In this age of Social Justice Warrior culture and collectivism, there is no way in Hell that you'd be able to make this film nowadays. There's more racial tension here than a Black Lives Matter Tumblr thread! If that stuff isn't your thing, maybe you can revel in the sheer mastery that is the martial arts on show. You haven't seen anything so gloriously amateruish in your rat-soup-eatin' life! Of course, it's not just the boys having fun, there's plenty of hard hitting action from Dolemite's army of Karate Kickin' ladies. This film has it all! If you want a truly psychotronic experience that actually lives up to the reputation, you shoul stop reading this and go buy yourself a copy now, but I'm not finished yet. You dig?
  Dolemite is all about cheap thrills and one of those thrills is the way the film was made. Clumsily staged shots thanks to Nicholas Josef von Sternberg (Tourist Trap) are complimented brilliantly by sub-par acting. Even the boom mike puts in a memorable performance! Although a cheap looking film, there is genuine style with great set design by Rudy Ray Moore himself and wonderfully loud fashion. As well as that, there's a genuinely brilliant score and original music from Arthur Wright (Savage!) that not only elevates the film, but will have you clicking your fingers and tapping your toes. This blaxploitation gem has all the style your pathetic honky ass can handle. Dolemite is about the experience. Sure, you can invite your friends round have a good timke laughing at the film, but when you take in to consideration the time and effort put in, you can't be help appreciate this shoddy little number. Rudy Ray Moore was destined to be a star and this film put him well and truly on the map and in to the hearts of cult films. This is one groovy little number you don't want to miss!
Although the film was somewhat widely available prior to this release, Vinegar Syndrome have put together the definitive edition. The film is presented and restored in 2k and considering it's crude elements, looks and sounds fantastic. To go along with that you also get the option to watch the alternate full frame “boom mic” version of the film which should provide an extra bit of entertainment to you trash conniseurs! In terms of extras there is a wonderfully in-depth and entertaining commentary track provided by Rudy Ray Moore bigorapher, Mark Jason Murray, an equally insightful and entertaining documentary about Rudy Ray Moore and the film, an extented interview from Queen Bee, trailers for both the film and its sequel The Human Tornado, a short then and now location featurette and the reversible artwork consisting of the original poster and newly commisioned art from Jay Shaw. As you can see, this baby got back! This is a must-own release for both hardcore fans and newcomers a like. Vinegar Syndrome have once again done a wonderful job. Do yourselves a favour and find out why Dolemite is his name and why fuckin' up motherfuckers is his game!Dolemite is available as a DVD & Blu-Ray combo from Vinegar Syndrome.

PDx

Friday, 1 July 2016

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Unveiled (1986, Suze Randall)


Your Most Sensual Secret ... Isn't a Secret Anymore.”

Bob (Mike Horner,
Oriental Madam) is a lawyer who has the money, unique sexual tastes and his uptight wife Cindy (Krista Lane, Sensations) who won't fulfil any of his needs. Naturally, Bob turns to his favourite hooker (Patti Petite, For Your Thighs Only) to act out his sexual fantasies. Just like his buddy Bob, Ted (Jake Scott, Flesh Tones) also likes to get his kicks away from home and wife Julie (Erica Boyer, Loose Ends). Unlike Bob however, Ted doesn't need to pay for his thrills as he utilises the “administrative skills” of his secretary (Alexis Greco, The Ultimate Lover). After a hard days “work”, Bob and Ted hit up their favourite bar leaving their wives to do some “catching up” back at Bob's place. Whilst at the bar, the conversation unsurprisingly turns to sex. Sex with each other's wives whilst they are asleep (sure would make an interesting episode of Wife Swap!). The morning after their late night antics, the guys decide to hit up their local sex club and unbeknownst to them, they'll be getting a nasty little surprise of their own!
  After the sheer joy that was Too Naughty to Say No, I have to say that I was pretty underwhelmed with Unveiled. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad film, but I just found it to drag, especially in the final third. There's a feel of scuzziness about it, but at the same time there's also a light-hearted and almost slapstick style of humour. Horner's portrayal of Bob often reminded me of the characters Will Forte played in Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! That being said, he was a joy to watch. The stars of the show for me are Krista Lane and Erica Boyer. What they get up to whilst their husbands are away was for me, the highlight of the film. That's not to say there aren't other memorable moments. Another stand out is the mime sex show performed by Taija Rae (Urban Heat) and Horner in his alternate role. A very strange scene indeed. I think the aspect I enjoyed the most was the style. From the cheesy snyth music credited to Cinema Symphony's (Droid) to Steve Aussi's (Sky Foxes) neon and pastel set decoration; this is definitely a film for fellow 80's style enthusiasts! Aside from that, not one of the most interesting or sensual offerings I have ever seen.

Although the film lacked for me, Guido's (Fleshdance) fantastic cinematography looks even better thanks to Vinegar Syndrome's restoration and overall presentation. The colours really pop out of the screen and the sound is of equally high quality. In terms of extras, there is the original theatrical trailer and a nice video interview with Mike Horner himself. All in all, not a bad little release, especially for those who are already a fan.

Unveiled is available on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.

PDx

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Trashy Lady (1985, Steve Scott)

  (1985, dir: Steve Scott)

Dutch (Harry Reems, Deep Throat) has it all! He's the money, the looks, a happening nightclub called “The Paradise Club”, the reputation and of course; the girl. That is until his girl Jessie (Cara Lott, Taboo 2) has had enough of his attitude and lack of appreciation. Fortunately for Dutch However, a new dame isn't hard to find especially in your own club! On the same night of his split, Dutch sets his sights on the young Katharine (Ginger Lynn, New Wave Hookers), a new girl in town who sells cigarettes at the club. He soon finds out that Katherine (whom he decides to call Kitty) is a little too innocent, timid and ultimately a tad inexperienced. This leads him to reach out to the tough talking Rita (Amber Lynn, Love Bites) who he enlists to loosen up and teach Kitty a few things and hopefully turn her in to a trashy lady. She is more than happy to oblige and begins to school the impressionable Kitty, who of course is a quick learner and a natural. Unfortunately for all involved however, there's a potentially fatal problem; rival gangster Louie (Herschel Savage, Debbie Does Dallas) is Rita's man. He is soon to be released from prison and he may not be too pleased that his girl is playing for (or should that be with?) the other side. Maybe Dutch should have treated his girl a little better?
I remember seeing a trailer for Trashy Lady on one of the many trailer compilations a while back and being quite apprehensive about an adult film shot towards the end of the genre's golden age that was set around the 1920's. Boy was the younger (and slightly less corrupted.) version of me very wrong. Of course, when I found out that the film was not only shot on 35mm, but was also going to get the Vinegar Syndrome treatment, I became very excited. Thankfully, the film lives up to its award-winning and cult reputation. The story is simple, yet solidly told and has gags that genuinely work. Performances are great throughout with the foul-mouthed Rita being my personal favourite. She's trashy, independent and comes out with some fantastic lines. Of course, the bigger names likes Reems, Lynn and Savage once again prove that there was acting skill back in the day. They are backed up brilliantly with much smaller support roles with performances from the likes of Tom Byron (Lust in the Fast Lane) and Rick Savage (Hollywood Vice). To match the acting, the action is also very solid with of course, Amber and Ginger stealing the show.

The biggest thing people will notice is just how cinematic the film is. Ok, Once Upon a Time in America this is not, but for a film that was shot in two weeks, there is so much scope and attention to detail. This isn't one of these cheap looking period pieces. Right from the films opening credits sequence, you know you're in for a treat! Everything from the set design and costumes to the prop newspapers and vehicles look authentic. Even the selection of music throughout is clearly thought out. That being said, some of the interior scenes also give off that “new-romantic” vibe of the time which add another layer to this already stylish piece of sinema. Overall, Trashy Lady is one of the last true greats of the genre in almost every aspect. Not only that, but it does something that films like this often don't; it has plenty of replay value and you won't be fast-forwarding through boring set pieces. Naturally, a film of this calibre has received an equally impressive treatment from Vinegar Syndrome.
First of all there is the choice of reversible artwork which only has one problem; both covers are fantastic so good luck picking which one to use! On disc there is not one, but two commentary tracks; one with DP Tom Howard (A Portrait of Desire) and David McCabe (Creepozoids) with the other coming from Herschel Savage and Bill Margold (Dracula Sucks). Both are informative and entertaining in their own way. To top off this fantastic release there is also Steve Scott's 1971 debut feature; Coming West. Unfortunately, aside from the gorgeous Maria Arnold (Flesh Gordon), Sandy Carey (Deep Jaws) and Starlyn Simone (A Touch of Sweden), I found this tale of three women daydreaming whilst on a rod trip to be a tad dull. Oh well, at least there's a lot early hardcore nookie I suppose! Honestly, it's still great to see early hardcore efforts like this being preserved and becoming easily available to my fellow sleaze-hounds. It's still a wonderful addition and the icing on an already elegantly trashy cake (it's much better than my attempts at wit, that's for sure!) As you can probably tell, this is a must-own release for anyone with an interest in the genre and also a great release for those who still don't think there was artistry in pornography.

Trashy Lady is available as a DVD & Blu-Ray combo from Vinegar Syndrome.


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