Saturday, 6 December 2014

Vinegar Syndrome Peekarama Review: Mai Lin VS. Serena (1981) / Oriental Hawaii (1982)

MAI LIN VS. SERENA
(dir: Carlos Tobalina, 1981)

The Sexual Challenge of the Century"
Carlos Tobalina (THEULTIMATE PLEASURE, I AM ALWAYS READY) has a little bit of a problem. He has a new film lined up and needs to find his leading lady. His options are the cute blonde Serena (DRACULA SUCKS, PLEASURE PALACE) and fiery Mai Lin (ORIENTAL MADAM, PEEPHOLES). To help him solve his casting troubles, the pair decide to play a little game. They set off to compete against each other in the form of challenges. Starting by giving diners of a local restaurant something much tastier than the house special. Yes, this is one dining experience they will never forget! Once they have finished that, they move on to a local “kinda” gay bar and hit it off straight away with a cute lesbian couple. As a result of their public displays of  competitive affection, the pair find themselves in jail (I'm guessing, because it just happens) but, the challenge doesn't stop there. To gain their freedom, they seduce their prison guards, which doesn't go so well for all involved. After all the excitement the day has given them, the pair return home and take a bath. A bath with a difference. Yep, it's bukkake showdown time! So, will the pairs little game work off? Who was keeping score? How was this game even being scored!? Carlos has the answer and the answer is... Oh what the heck, they both win! Yay!
Forgive me for my synopsis of the film being brief. It's not my fault! The plot is simple. Under the circumstances, it kinda works. When you have Serena going head to head (strange pun intended) with Mai Lin, you don't want to get bogged down with something as trivial a plot driven film, you want the goods! Trust me, you definitely get the goods with this film. It's always great seeing Serena doing her thing! Herself and Mai Ling have good chemistry and are as charming as they are hot. There's a good cast of recognisable faces too. If you're looking for a ludicrous plot (especially in reference to the restaurant scene) that makes you ask yourself multiple questions but gives you a laugh, this is a great film to throw on. Usually, I like my Golden Age smut to have a story and some teasing of depth, but I found myself really enjoying this one for what it was, an excuse to see Serena and Mai Lin do the dirty. There's a variety of sexual acts on show and it's entertaining. I have heard some compare this to the likes of an uninspired compilation film, I think that's unfair. It's just a simple, entertaining and (sometimes unintentionally) funny film. Plus.... IT'S SERENA FOR GOD'S SAKE!
ORIENTAL HAWAII
(dir: Carlos Tobalina, 1982)

A sensual tidal wave, Mai Lin goes... Oriental Hawaii"
 Welcome to Hawaii! Home to Sun, sea, sand and hard bodied beauties. It's also home to a financially struggling family headed by Bob, played John Leslie (WILD THINGS, CONFESSIONS) and Mildred, played by Jessie St. James (EASY, TROPIC OF DESIRE). To rake in a bit more money so they can once again eat steak every night (sounds like Heaven), they decide to rent out two rooms to local students. The advert is answered by Mai Lin and Jade Wong (PRISONER OF PARADISE, PURELY PHYSICAL). Let's just say that the family welcomes the new tenants with open arms (and legs). I think it helps when you have four fully grown kids, who enjoy a nice bit of family fun, if you know what I mean? Caring is sharing after all. Things get even weirder when Bob has a vivid dream after taking herbal medicine given to him by his new tenants. He dreams of him and the kids getting down and nasty with each other and the two new tenants. Thankfully, this leads him to having sleep-sex wife. Who says herbal remedies are crap!?
Oriental Hawaii is a fun film. You know you are in for a treat when incest is used as light hearted comedy. It's also amazing seeing John Leslie and Jessie St. James cast as parents to the likes of Jon Martin (BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR, SUZIE SUPERSTAR) and Rhonda Jo Petty (THE BABYSITTER, HOT RACKETS). There is actually more story to this film than Mai Ling Vs. Serena and it makes for an even more enjoyable experience. Just like Serena, I always love watching John Leslie on screen. Of course, Jade Wong and Mai Lin are the main attraction of the film, but John Leslie steals the show for me. The comedy works, the story is simple and the incest angle is strangely fun. Watching the brothers Jon Martin and Jesse Adams (GIRLS U.S.A, OCTOBER SILK) share their Asian roommates is entertaining in itself, for all the wrong reasons. The sex is good and varied, so it definitely delivers the goods there. The icing on the cake is the use of the Hawaiian location and the Black Bison-esque score. A lively and fun score for an equally lively and fun film.

Overall, the double feature is solid. Two completely different kinds of film that somewhat compliment each other. Some may not like the coupling, but I think they are both solid Tobalina / Mai Ling entries. In terms of the quality, both films are presented in wide screen and restored in 2K from original negatives. It's safe to say, these films will never look or sound as good as they are presented here. The release is light on extras, aside from trailers for both films, but the affordability and quality of these films more than make up for it. Whether or not you are a newbie or a veteran to the adult genre, this set is worth in your collection. On a purely selfish note, I just adore the poster artwork for both of these films, so the DVD itself looks great on the shelf. This is typical Vinegar Syndrome quality that we should be thankful for. Oh by the way, did I mention Serena stars?

You can buy this release directly from Vinegar Syndrome here, as well as your favourite online retailers.

Vinegar Syndrome Website
Vinegar Syndrome Youtube 
Vinegar Syndrome Direct
Check out Skinaflix

PDx


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The BFI Werner Herzog DVD Collection Disc 2

It is finally time to look at the second disc of the BFI collection box set. Hope you enjoyed part one and potentially found it useful. This time round, there are only two titles to devour. One being my personal favourite Herzog film, and the other being an example of his early television documentary work.

 THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER (1974)
(Jeder für such und Gott gegen alle)

“Nothing lives less in me than my life”

Up until his late teens, Kaspar Hauser (Bruno S.) was locked in a cellar by a man in an overcoat and top hat. Devoid completely of any human contact aside from his mysterious captor, Kaspar had only a toy horse to occupy his time. One day however,  Kaspar is finally released by the man, taught some very basic phrases, handed a letter and a Bible, and left in a town square in Nuremberg. Understandably, the locals are intrigued by this mysterious fellow and Kaspar becomes something of a sensation. The locals take pity on him and begin to teach him how to speak and become a respectable citizen. However, it goes sour for Kaspar and he becomes the latest attraction at the local circus. Thankfully, appalled by what he is seeing, a well respected schoolmaster by the name of Herr Daumer (Walter Ladengast) takes Kaspar in to his own care and helps further him in to a well respected and decent human being. After a while, Kaspar begins to question aspects of society and religion. Starts to think for himself and even baffles Daumer and his fellow academics. There is much discussion, debate and philosophising. Not only that, but Kaspar falls in love with music. Unfortunately, he is attacked by the man who held him captive and is then mysteriously stabbed once recovered from the initial attack. Facing death, Kaspar ponders about visions he has had and then slowly fades away.
The film is based on the real Kaspar Hauser, a German youth. Of course, Herzog's adaptation does drift away from the original source material in places. We are meant to sympathise with Kaspar's hardships and celebrate his liberation, in both the literal and metaphorical form. What I feel the story teaches us is that more often than not, those who have different ideas than ourselves, are not always incorrect. I feel it also tells us that we should nurture young minds and not completely disregard ideas and concepts based on the background or position in society of the person who conceives them. I found Kaspar Hauser to be such a touching, yet devastating film. It's an emotional roller coaster  Bruno S. plays Kaspar perfectly. The fact Bruno spent the majority of his youth in mental institutions plays heavily in his portrayal of a character that is not too dissimilar to himself. It's the subtlety in his portrayal that makes it work. It may not be Herzog's most groundbreaking effort, but this is his masterpiece. A great example of taking a real life situation and presenting it in film form. It's a simple film, with a simple message that is also full of childlike wonder. 

HANDICAPPED FUTURE (1971)
(Behinderte Zukunft)

The only other feature on the disc is Herzog's 1971 television documentary that raises awareness about how handicapped people (children in this case) were treated by society in Germany at the time and compares it to how handicapped people are treated in America. Herzog's subjects in the German portion of the documentary are a group of children born with missing limbs. It looks at how they are grouped together in complexes and educated. They are somewhat segregated from society. That being said, it does shine a light on those who are genuinely trying to help and educate the children, but you can't help but feel distress at the fact that they are again, grouped together in one housing complex and not integrated in to society. That becomes in a way, hardly surprising after you hear accounts from the parents and the children themselves of how they have been demonised. We then cut to America and follow a German born university lecturer who has his independence thanks to things like an electronic wheelchair and his place of residency adapted to make his life more comfortable. Overall, this is a simple documentary that has the focus purely on the subject matter. Just like Kasper Hauser, you will be touched and devastated. A very powerful piece of documentary film making.

I think that the two films on the disc go hand in hand. They both deal with how society looks at people who aren't deemed as 'normal'. They both tackle and address important social issues. They also show that just because someone is different, there is nothing stopping them from doing the same things you can achieve. Both films are presented wonderfully, especially the documentary. So far I am adoring this set for the supplemental features alone. On the disc you get a stills gallery, trailer and audio commentary for Kaspar Hauser.


Thank you for joining me once again, here is to disc 3!


You can buy this set from the BFI here, MovieMail here and Amazon UK here. Buying from the BFI directly means you can support the great work they do 100%. You can also pick up a gorgeous looking steelbook of Aguirre here and here.

To find out more about the BFI and some of their release check out their website here.

PDx

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Bijou (1972)

BIJOU 
(dir. Wakefield Poole, 1972)


On his way home after a long day at work, a construction worker (Ronnie Shark) witness a young woman (Cassandra Hart) being hit by a car. Of course, being the gentleman that he his, our brave hero is there to help a lending hand. Well, I should say thieving hand. He steals the young woman’s purse and makes it back to his apartment. Obviously shaken by what he has just witnessed, he decides to get a load off (no pun intended) his mind and have a little bit of rub and tug to the music of Led Zeppelin (you know, mood music), he takes it in to the shower but starts to get images in his head of the woman and abruptly stops (fair play). He notices a flyer for a club called Bijou in the woman’s purse and decides to hit the place up to help take his mind off things. When he arrives all is not as it seems and things get a little strange from here on in.


Bijou is the follow up to the hugely successful Boys in the Sand. This time however, we have something more of a hallucinogenic acid trip. What we witness within the Bijou nightclub is a series of highly erotic and often surreal sexual acts. It’s not for everyone, not just for the fact that this is a gay porn film. If you don’t like experimental film, you will most certainly not like this at all. Wakefield’s use of both contemporary and classical music is once again second to none, no matter what your sexual preference or opinions on the sexual content, you can’t deny that Poole is a true artist and visionary. The sets are simple, essentially blacked out spaces (Poole’s own apartment) with minimal use of theatre style lighting, but work brilliantly for what you are seeing unfold on the screen. His use of mirrors and smoke machine certainly add to the affect. In my honest opinion, this is a very tough film to review. From a simple viewpoint, this is a great example of the underground and experimental cinema of the time. However, if you look more closely after repeat viewings, there is a lot that can be potentially dissected, especially in terms of the “psychosexual puzzle” as stated within the synopsis of the DVD. One thing is for certain, this is definitely a film (as Poole himself intended) that will affect people in different ways.


Just like Vinegar Syndrome’s release of Boys in the Sand, you get a healthy amount of special features. There is an audio commentary and video introduction with Wakefield Poole. As well as a vintage interview with himself and an interview with author Linda Williams. Not only that, but you get original audition footage and of course, a trailer. Do I really need to tell you how much of a good job this release is? It’s safe to say that Vinegar Syndrome’s restoration is once again top notch and the overall package is a great thing. If you are a fan of Wakefield’s work or this film in general, you must go out and buy it. If you’re looking for an interesting experience no matter what your tastes or sexual preferences, this is also a release worth owning.

You can read my review for Vinegar Syndrome's release of Boys in the Sand here. Bijou is available to buy directly from Vinegar Syndrome here as well as your favourite online retailers.

Vinegar Syndrome Website
Vinegar Syndrome Youtube

PDx

Monday, 6 October 2014

Ascot Elite Jess Franco Golden Goya Collection DVD Review: Downtown

DOWNTOWN - DIE NACKTEN PUPPEN DER UNTERWELT
(dir. Jess Franco, 1975)


Jess Franco (99 WOMEN, VAMPYROS LESBOS) stars as Al Pereia, a private detective who is down on his luck and waiting for that next big job. Thankfully for him, he gets a job from a glamorous young woman by the name of Cynthia, played by the ever lovely Lina Romay (FEMALE VAMPIRE, LORNA THE EXORCIST). She wants him to photograph her husband Carlos Rivas, a nightclub owner played by Erik Falk (BARBED WIRE DOLLS, SEXY SISTERS) who has an eye for the ladies. Good old Al accepts and begins his newest assignment. Unfortunately, things get a little complicated when Carlos is found dead. Al becomes the prime suspect and on his quest to clear his name, discovers that Cynthia isn’t actually the wife of Carlos. It turns out that she and her lover Lola played by Martine Stedil (WOMEN BEHIND BARS, SWEDISH NYMPHO SLAVES) are working for Carlos’s real wife Olga, played by Monica Swinn (LOVE CAMP, EAST OF BERLIN). Will the police believe Al? Who killed Carlos Rivas? How many close ups of female genitalia will we have the joy of seeing? Well, it’s a Franco film so that last question should be easily answered. As for the others, you’re just going to have to watch aren’t you?


Downtown is a nice gem within Franco’s vast filmography. Once again he shows that he is a man of many talents by directing, writing, shooting and starring in the film. Overall, it’s an enjoyable outing with a solid story that has some nice twists throughout. Not only that, but the comedic aspects of the film work very well too. Of course, being a Franco film, there are moments that are somewhat clumsy, but it all adds to the overall charm and although not one of Franco's more classier efforts, the score from the Swiss composer Walter Baumgartner (ROLLS-ROYCE BABY, JACK THE RIPPER) is toe tappingly wonderful in places. Lina Romay is fabulous as ever, her scenes with scissor sister Martine Stedil are sexy, yet awkward at the same time, which makes for a positive all in its own (some of their dialogue is priceless).Even Franco gets in on the act with the ladies, it’s a tough job being a director sometimes! If you are looking for a lesser known, but competent Franco film, this is a great one to try. If you are a fan of Jess Franco, you already own this right?


Ascot Elite have done a great job with this release. Going of the DVD version, the transfer is as nice as we will probably get of this film so if you are a Bluray collector, you’re in for a treat with this one. The film is presented in German with English subtitles. In terms of extras you are treated to a photo gallery which has some fantastic shots and a selection of trailers from Ascot Elite’s Jess Franco Goya collection. It’s humble, but at least it’s something. Overall, Ascot Elite have done a great job. Like I said, it’s a great release for those discovering the weird and eclectic world of Jess Franco and for fans of Franco’s work, this is a must.

You can buy the DVD version from Amazon.de here and the Bluray version here as well as from your favourite online retailers.

PDx

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The BFI Werner Herzog DVD Collection Disc 1

Werner Herzog is one of my all time favourite directors. Ever since watching his take on NOSFERATU, I knew I was hooked. Exploring both his fictional and documentary films, you will find a fascinating body of work. Sure, some of his opinions I really don’t agree with (I’m talking about you, INTO THE ABYSS and DEATH ROW) but wether you agree with the content or not, a film with Herzog’s name on it will at least touch you in one way. The British Film Institute recently released a 10 disc box set of some of Herzog’s films. Over the coming weeks (and maybe months) I will be going  through each disc here on the blog. Part review. Part retrospective. Hopefully you will join me on my Herzogian journey. Wether you are a fan of Herzog or a newcomer to his work, I hope you at least get something out of this.

AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD (1972)
(Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes)

“I am the wrath of God. Who else is with me?”

The year is 1560. A group of Spanish conquistadors and their Indian slaves, lead by Gonzalo Pizarro (Alejandro Repullés), are on a journey through the beautiful, yet deadly terrain of the Andes mountains. They are in search of the kingdom of gold, El Dorado. Unbeknownst to them, it’s a myth created by the newly conquered Indians. Whilst battling the rugged landscape, lives are lost and the expedition comes to a halt. Gonzalo gives Pedro de Ursúa (Ruy Guerra) a week to venture on a head to see what is in store. He makes Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) the second command. What follows is a descent into madness for Aguirre. After members of Ursuúa’s group are killed at the hands of an unseen enemy (amongst other things), becoming increasingly frustrated, Aguirre stages a mutiny and orders the surviving members of the group to join him on finding the mythical riches. Death follows Aguirre round every corner, even at his own hand. Those who survive slowly become feverish and begin to believe everything they see and hear right up until the end, where Aguirre’s small army and sick daughter are stranded on a raft. Everyone dies when they are bombarded with arrows except Aguirre. Insane, isolated and surrounded by death, Aguirre’s raft becomes overrun with monkeys and together, they slowly drift off down the river.
 What a fantastic way to start off this box set. Aguirre, the Wrath of God is nothing short of a masterpiece. On a technical level, the film is beautiful to behold. The breathtaking landscape of the Peruvian mountains and jungle are shot beautifully by Thomas Mauch. The visuals are complimented perfectly by the equally breathtaking (and not to mention haunting) score by Popol Vuh. Herzog’s documentary style overall is nothing short of spectacular. It’s often rough in places, but you get thrown in to the situation playing out on screen. Klaus Kinski steals every scene he is in, and you really get the sense that Kinski doesn’t just believe he is the character Aguirre, but also a God like figure. The electricity in his eyes is almost as ferocious as his performance.The story itself is loosely based on the accounts of Gaspar de Carvajal, a Spanish Domican monk as well as the life of Aguirre himself. It’s a very well written story but overall, it’s Kinski’s performance and the location that really hold the power of this film. Aspiring filmmakers, take note. 

THE UNPRECEDENTED DEFENCE OF THE FORTRESS DEUTSCHKREUZ (1967)
(Die beispiellose Verteidigung der Festung Deutschkreuz)

“Attacking is good, but living is better, even in poverty.”

This short film from 1966 sees four men breaking into and abandoned castle in Deutschkreutz. The castle was the site of a battle between German and Russian soldiers during World War II. The men discover old military uniforms and hardware. They proceed to act out drills, training and eventually battles. Of course, there is no emery and Herzog claims that his film is “A satire on the state of war and peace and the absurdities it inspires.”. The film is essentially silent except for the use of voice over. It’s a very simple film and crude in some regards. You can clearly see Herzog slowly perfecting his craft with this one. It’s a pleasure to see early short work of Herzog.

 LAST WORDS (1968)
(Letze Worte)

“They tell me to say no, but I won’t even say that.”

Last words is a very strange short film indeed. Filmed in two days on the island of Spinalonga island and Crete, Last Words tells the story of the last man to leave Spinalonga. The film is told through accounts of the locals and those involved in relocating the man to Crete. We find out that Spinalonga was a leper colony and that the man, as a result of being forcibly removed, flat out refuses to talk to people. He can seen during the evening however, playing the lyre in a local pub. What makes Last Words so intriguing is its unusual narrative structure. Characters repeat their lines multiple times, often in long takes. Overall, a very unusual and enjoyable short.

PRECAUTIONS AGAINST FANATICS (1969)
(Massnamen gegen Fanatiker)

“I would like to protect the horses from fanatics.”

The next short on the disc is another quirky one that showcases Herzog’s humour. It was also the first film Herzog shot in colour. Basically, the short is about various people at a racetrack in Munich who like to protect horses from fanatical fans. This includes an oddball played by Mario Adorf who demonstrates his favourite punching technique, man who likes to walk horses round a tree for 36 hours and a young boy who, despite the track owners well wishes, wants to protects horses and then eventually resigns to protecting flamingos instead. To top it off, there’s an old man who interferes with each of their interviews and isn’t happy. This short is seen to be believed and is genuinely funny. 

FATA MORGANA (1971)

“In Paradise, even gentiles move mountains.”

The final film included on the first disc isn’t a short film, but Herzog’s bizarre and often unnerving film, Fata Morgana. Shot in the Sahara desert, the film heavily relies on the image. Herzog and his cinematographer Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein capture the vast landscape primarily by long tracking shots. The cinematography throughout is devastatingly effective. To accompany the striking visuals Lotte Eisner (in the German version) provides narration reciting Mayan creation myth. Some pieces of Leonard Cohen's work are also included. Overall, the film deals with idea of mirage (the definition of Fata Morgana) and you will often find yourself seeing things in the background. Aside from the landscape we find abandoned villagers, the corpses of animals and suspicious looking residents of the area. It’s possible to get lost within the film and many aspects are open to interpretation. If one thing is for certain, there is never a dull moment throughout the film. Newcomers to Herzog may want to watch this after viewing some of his more well known and accessible films. On a side note, the making of the film is just as interesting as the film itself and is well deserving of more research.

I'm not going to go in to the technical aspects of the DVD collection until the conclusion in the final post but I can say that all films look and sound brilliant. Extras on the first disc include English and German versions of Aguirre and Fata Morgana as well as commentaries for both. There is also a stills gallery as well as theatrical trailers. Overall, just by looking at the first disc alone, this set is very promising indeed. It's great to see Herzog's earlier short films as well as seeing his more notable efforts presented so well.

I hope you will join me for my second part in this series where I will be looking at the second disc.

You can buy this set from the BFI here, MovieMail here and Amazon UK here. Buying from the BFI directly means you can support the great work they do 100%. You can also pick up a gorgeous looking steelbook of Aguirre here and here.

To find out more about the BFI and some of their release check out their website here.

PDx

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Graduation Day (DVD Review)

GRADUATION DAY
(dir: Herb Freed, 1981)

"The Midvale Track Team Will Soon Be Running For Their Lives!"
 Laura, played very briefly by Ruth Ann Llorens (THE COMEBACK KID) is a talented high school track runner who meets her demise during a race, where she collapses and dies on the spot in front of her whole school (how embarrassing! Even more so due to the fact she won!) Fingers are immediately pointed towards Coach Michaels, played by the ever charming Christopher George (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE EXTERMINATOR) because he is a determined and often ruthless son of a gun! A couple of months pass and Laura's sister Anne, played by Patch Mackenzie (SERIAL, IT'S ALIVE 3) returns home from the Navy to honour her sister's graduation. Unfortunately, someone has put a spanner in the works... The track team are slowly getting picked off one by one by a mysterious killer wearing a fencing mask. Of course, the terror of a lunatic picking off most of the upcoming graduates means the celebrations must be put on hold right? Oh hell no! This is graduation! Bring on the keg!

 Who exactly is behind the carnage? Could it be the pushy coach taking his revenge on those who question his teaching style? Could it be Anne wreaking a revenge fuelled massacre against the students? Maybe it's even the violent boyfriend of Anne, played by E. Danny Murphy (TOMBOY, FINAL MISSION) who has lost it because he has lost his high school sweetheart? Will the festivities continue, or will the killer have ruined every student's favourite moment? You'll have to watch to find out. The body count is high, there is terror among campus and the Principal sure is pissed off at this damn inconvenience, poor guy!

 I'm just going to get this out of the way, I really don't like slasher movies as a whole. I enjoy horror films and I love giallo films so you'd think I would get a kick out of 70's and 80's slashers but I just don't. Graduation is one of the examples that just cements I dislike the genre. The film has it's moments but overall, it's just pretty damn boring and not even entertaining in an ironic way. Positives first. I really enjoyed the score. The track used in the opening montage is fantastically groovy. The score by Arthur Kempel (DOUBLE IMPACT, BEHIND ENEMY LINES) is used very effectively and there are some great moments of tension. Cinematography is also an enjoyable visual treat courtesy of Daniel Yarussi (TOMBOY, CALIFORNIA HEAT), especially the slow motion segments. Christopher George is always great, Patch Mackenzie has such presence and we are also treated to Linnea Quigley's wonderfully petite chest. Oh and there were maybe one or two genuinely nice deaths (I'm not going to be pole vaulting for a while). Aside from that, it's just a very generic slasher film. I can't really pick out too many because it's not awful, just extremely dull. Even the twists and turns can be seen a track field away.
Like I said, I can't rant on because it's not the worst slasher I have seen. I also can't complain about the treatment this film has received from Vinegar Syndrome. The film has received a 4k restoration and is presented in the OAR. I haven't seen the original Troma release but from what I can gather, the film is certainly a major upgrade. Aside from the high quality presentation, there is also an abundance of extra features. We get two commentary tracks, one with wirer and producer David Baughn (BEYOND EVIL) and the other with The Hysteria Continues team. You also get video interviews with Patch Mackenzie, Herb Freed (PARADISE LOST, BEYOND EVIL) and Jay Sadoff (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3, PINK NARCISSUS). Finally, you also get the original theatrical trailer. I have only managed to watch the DVD portion of the combo pack but from scans I have seen of the blu-ray print... This is one hell of a clean up job. If you are a fan of this film or love slashers, this is an essential purchase. Did I mention it was region free?

You can buy the blu-ray and DVD combo directly from Vinegar Syndrome here as well as your favourite online retailers.


PDx

Friday, 5 September 2014

Vinegar Syndrome: Runaway Nightmare Limited Edition Bluray / DVD

RUNAWAY NIGHTMARE
(dir: Mike Cartel, 1982)

"...when your dream becomes a reality, it's a runaway nightmare"

 Ralph, played by director Mike Cartel (PETS, THE OUTSIDER) and his buddy Jason, played by Al Valletta (THE INCREDIBLE HULK, ALLEY CAT) are just a couple of guys who live in Nevada and run a worm farm (.... you can just smell the American Dream right there). One day, whilst shooting and catching some rays, they see two shady characters dumping a chest. They soon discover there is a body of a naked young girl who lays unconscious. This is Fate, played by Seeska Vanderberg (BITTER HERITAGE). The guys take her back to the farm to nurse her back to health until they are ambushed and kidnapped by a commune of foxy female cultists (THAT'S the American Dream right there right!?) lead by a woman named Hespiria, played by Cindy Donlan (SCHIZOID). After some bizarre initiations, the men become members and are enlisted in the task of stealing a suitcase of platinum from the mafia. Of course, being the only me, seems like it's not just the platinum that some of chicks want to get a hold of. OK, that's as far as I am willing to go with a synopsis because this film is out there man and there are many twists to the tale (not all make sense) for you to enjoy.

So what did I think of this piece of cult cinema? I have no idea! This is one of those films that falls perfectly in to the weird and wacky world of psychotronic cinema. You are either going to adore this, or find it a bot too hokey and camp. For me personally, there were some genuinely enjoyable and out there moments but overall, I just didn't dig it as much as I thought I would. For a film made in 1982, it sure had that feel of a late 60's or early 70's piece of hokey exploitation.... Which is always hit and miss for me. It's something you would expect to see being released by Something Weird back in the day. It wasn't a bad film by any means, not just my cup of tea. If you like absurd moments in your films, you will get a kick out of this. There is a massive cocktail of genres in here. There's thriller, dark comedy and even surrealist touches throughout. Like I said, this IS a psychotronic film in every shape and form. If you stay with this film right to end, you will see EXACTLY what I mean.

Vinegar Syndrome initially released this as a limited to 1000 bluray and DVD combo pack. Even though it's sold out on the Vinegar Syndrome store, you can still pick this combo up from Diabolik. If you don't want to pay extra for the limited edition combo, you can also pick up the regular DVD release which is still widely available. I can only watch DVDs as I refuse to upgrade to bluray and I can safely say, you won't be disappointed as once again, Vinegar Syndrome have done a stellar job with the presentation, that being said, one can only imagine how much nicer the bluray looks. The film is restored in 4k from original elements and is presented in its OAR. On the disc you get a commentary that is entertaining and informative as well as alternate scenes from a VHS copy of the film (basically inserts of lots of tit shots) which has its own fun story on its own. As you can see down below, the film has a wonderful release.
 Overall, this is a great release for fans of quirky cult cinema. The film is not for everyone but for fans this is a must. Maybe a few more on disc special features would have been nice, but the fact that such an obscure film like this is being presented in 4K is reason to pick it up. There's definitely replay value and it's a perfect film to throw on with some good friends, pizza and of course, beer. Give it a try, this could be a revelation!

You can buy the limited edition from Diabolik here, the DVD version is available directly from Vinegar Syndrome here as well as your favourite online retailers. If you keep checking back with Vinegar Syndrome, more copies of the limited edition may become available.

There is an official website dedicated to all things Runaway Nightmare here if you want to know more.

Vinegar Syndrome Website
Vinegar Syndrome Youtube

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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Vinegar Syndrome Review: The Early Works of Wakefield Poole


BOYS IN THE SAND
(dir: Wakefield Poole, 1971)

“The Most Acclaimed Male Movie in the History of Cinema”
 My only connection with Wakefield Poole prior to watching Boys in the Sand was Calvin Culver (also known as Casey Donovan) who appeared in Radley Metzger’s film, Score. Of course, the name Wakefield Poole is one you hear a lot when you are a fan of the Golden Age of adult cinema. Thanks to those chaps at Vinegar Syndrome, us fans of classic smut can now experience the works of Wakefield Poole with their Films of Wakefield Poole Collection. Kicking off the collection is Boys in the Sand, Poole’s directorial debut. The film is a piece of experimental art house pornography that is beautifully shot on the picturesque Fire Island. There is no dialogue or diegetic sound of any kind, in its place is music. Of course, there are hardcore scenes but they are shot tastefully and are in some places, very passionate and intense. That’s where my praise for the film ends. I found Boys in the Sand to be a very dull experience.
 Some may be put off by the sexual content, but that was no issue for me at all. I just found the film so uninteresting. Technically, the film is sound. Wakefield has such skill behind the camera and a great sense of style. The marriage of music and imagery is marvellous. If you are an aspiring filmmaker, this is a great example of what you can produce with a tight budget and creative mind. Although I didn’t enjoy the film aside from it’s aesthetic and experimental elements, I can appreciate just how important this film is. Not only was this a milestone for pornography in general but it also helped show gay sex and homosexuality in a positive light. Not only that, but it made Fire Island something of an international holidaying hot spot. Just like Deep Throat, the film itself is nothing to shout about but its cultural and social impact is something everyone should be aware of.

It’s not all negativity though my friends, this release also boasts four short films directed by Poole.
 ANDY (1971)

Fans of Andy Warhol will definitely appreciate this short. Filmed during a Warhol retrospective in 1971 at the Whitney Museum, Poole documents the event in a way that is exciting and kinetic. Not only that, but it compliments Warhol’s work perfectly. Not only did Poole shoot and edit this, he also created a soundtrack to compliment the imagery. It’s interesting to note that Poole presented the finished piece to Warhol as a present and even screened it before showings of Boys in the Sand. The soundtrack alone makes this worthy of viewing.
 A GIFT (1971)
Shot on Fire Island around the same time as Poole was making Boys in the Sand. This is something of a precursor to Poole’s first feature. The film was made in collaboration with Ed Parente and was shown to Parente’s lover to show how much he loved him. It’s once again a tastefully made piece that is symbolic following creative journey of a man and a shell. I have probably completely missed the point but it’s still worthy of a watch.
 HEAD FILM (1971)

Once again we have a very experimental and fast piece in which Poole combines music from the camp to the epic, with footage and audio taken from various TV shows, commercials and radio. Just for good measure we get lots of cooking (damn the food looks good!). This is indeed a very exciting piece of experimental film that also has a sense of humour about it. Shot on 8mm, this is a pure piece of experimentation at its finest.
 VITTORIO (19??)

Finally, we have what is possibly my favourite short on the DVD. Moving away from live action, Poole turns his hand to stop motion animation. The piece was made as part of a show put on by Triton Gallery to help publicise the art of Vittorio Florucci, a Canadian artist. There’s really not much to tell aside from it’s an intriguing and well made animation that stop motion animation fans will enjoy.

Overall, the main feature is nothing amazing for me but the release in question is fantastic. Vinegar Syndrome have certainly outdone themselves. Aside from the bonus shorts, you get an audio commentary, vintage interview and introduction from Poole himself as well as a featurette revisiting Fire Island. Not only that but there is an interview with Linda Williams, an unused sequence from Boys in the Sand as well as the films original trailer. The presentation of the film is as good as we will probably get, and Vinegar Syndrome have done the best with what materials they have. The shorts are presented here for the first time on DVD and the features are plentiful. This is a great release for fans of classic porn as well as those who are interested in the social aspects. We have come far as a society in terms of equal rights and this film and release could not have come at a better time. If you are open minded and mature enough, there is no reason why you shouldn’t at least check this release out. My hats off to Vinegar Syndrome once again.

You can buy this release directly from Vinegar Syndrome here as well as your favourite online retailers.

Vinegar Syndrome Youtube.
Vinegar Syndrome Facebook.
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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Vinegar Syndrome Drive-In Collection Review: In Search of Bigfoot (1975) / Cry Wilderness (1986)

IN SEARCH OF BIGFOOT
(dir: Lawrence Crowley & William Miller, 1975)


"The Documented Proof of the Mysterious 'Bigfoot'"
 Usually it’s a lot easier and quicker for me to review films one by one but I thought for this release from Vinegar Syndrome, it’s only right to review the release as a whole. First up on this Drive-in Collection double feature, we have the 1975 documentary In Search of Bigfoot, directed by Lawrence Crowley (BIGFOOT: MAN OR BEAST) and William Miller (COWBOY SPIRIT, MYSTERIES FROM BEYOND THE TRIANGLE). The documentary focuses on Robert Morgan (BLOOD STALKERS, MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH) and his team who set out to locate the legendary Bigfoot. While on their expedition they meet loggers and eyewitnesses who all claim to have either witnessed or interacted with the mythical creature. There are highs and lows for Robert and his team and although an often hard faced and determined chap, Robert has lots of respect and good intentions.
 I’m not really too interested in the whole obsession with Bigfoot usually, but this documentary had me entertained from start to finish. Being made in the mid 70’s, there is that instant charm and it reminded me of the wonderfully kooky Mystery of the God’s presented by William Shatner, which I reviewed here. There are plenty of ‘interesting’ characters on show throughout the documentary, especially the locals who claim to have had contact with Bigfoot. To accompany the goings on within the expedition, we have some nicely shot scenes of the American wilderness and nature. Overall, this is an entertaining and sincere documentary about a group of people who have a passion for Bigfoot and the drive to prove their critics wrong. You really want Robert to succeed even if you yourself, don’t believe. I wonder if Wes Anderson watched this before he made The Life Aquatic? You’ll understand when you watch!

CRY WILDERNESS
(dir: Jay Cohen, 1986)

"'Legends Do Live' If You Believe It"
 Eric Foster (THE WONDER YEARS, DARKROOM) plays as Paul, a young boy who once had an encounter with the legendary Bigfoot. One night, he gets a message from his hairy friend that his park ranger dad Will, played by Maurice Grandmaison (NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR, CATACLYSM) is in serious trouble. Paul escapes and meets his father and Indian friend Jim, played by John Tallman (LUST FOR FREEDOM, CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH PART 3) who are being pressured by the establishment (in true Jaws fashion) to get rid of the mysterious creature on the loose because it's tourism season soon. With the help of hot headed hunter Morgan Hicks (Griffin Casey in his only acting credit) the gang go on the hunt to find their prey, well Morgan definitely is. Will Paul save his father and prove that Bigfoot is real? Of course he will, all films like this end that way!
 If you want a film that tops Troll 2 for being so bad it's good, then this is the film for you. It's silly, hilariously acted out and just downright entertaining from start to finish. Paul and his father are so close, that they both share hilariously awful hair. To match the awful hairstyle and acting, we sometimes have some fantastically dire ADR work. The story mashes up the basics of Jaws with pretty much every other family-oriented Bigfoot film ever. This time however, we have a Bigfoot that loves Coca-Cola and likes to gets down to soft rock in his spare time. We also have a Native Indian called Red Hawk played by Foster Hood (BRANDED, LOVE IS A FUNNY THING) who lives in the wood and hammers down the message that us humans are scum. Don't forget lots of footage of animals, sometimes Bruno Mattei level stock footage use and some cheesy late 80's music. We also witness Morgan Hicks nearly strangling a raccoon to death. Lovely! I could go on more about some of the absurdity within this film but that would be no fun for potential first time viewers!
Overall, both films on this disc are entertaining in their own right. In Search of Bigfoot goes extremely well with the family friendly Cry Wilderness. Watching these together reminds me of obscure cable channels having a themed night. There is much fun to be had with this double feature. Both films once again have received top notch treatment from Vinegar Syndrome. They look and sound great as they are both presented in 2K, restored from original camera negatives. As I said at the start of the review, Bigfoot in general really doesn't interest me, but damn did I enjoy these flicks and will definitely be watching again (Cry Wilderness is a great film to share with your friends over a few beers and pizza). If you are interested in the legend of Bigfoot, this is a release for you. If you are in to obscure gems, once again, Vinegar Syndrome have you covered with this. Go buy it NOW!

You can buy the release directly from Vinegar Syndrome here as well as your favourite online retailers.

PDx

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Abduction of an American Playgirl (1975)

"She's more than they can handle!"
Eric Edwards (TEENAGE TWINS, DEBBIE DOES DALLAS) and Alan Marlow (ROLLERBABIES, MARASCHINO CHERRY) star as Will and Fred, two down and out guys who are just as desperate for money as they are some tail. Whilst contemplating their situation, they spot Jackie, a good looking socialite played by Darby Lloyd Rains (NAKED CAME THE STRANGER, PAMELA MANN) exiting a small shop (which happens to be in the middle of nowhere). They hatch the plan to abduct her and give her such a good seeing to that she'll be so satisfied that she won't feel the need to call the police. A kick in the balls later, the pair take their hostage to Will's sister's place so they can have a little bit of fun. After searching through Jackie's stuff, Will cooks up the plan to hold her for ransom. With all this planned out, it should be smooth sailing from here right?
If you said yes... You'd be dead wrong! You see, although a film about a woman being held captive sounds like pretty serious stuff, Abduction of an American Playgirl plays out as a goofy comedy and does it so well.  First off, Jackie's father has no interest at all in shedding out the cash to get his daughter back. As we see through countless phone interactions between Fred and Jackie's father. On top of that, it seems that the boys have bagged themselves quite a frisky little fox. It starts off all fine and daddy but when Jackie gets a taste (literally) for Will and Fred, she begins to demand more and more. It gets too much for our poor captors, so much so that they barter down their price so they can get rid of Jackie once and for all. They could just leave her or escape themselves but they wouldn't want Jackie to phone the cops now would they?
Will the pair finally be free of Jackie? Will they get the money? Will they just forget the hassle of the money? You're going to have to check out the film for yourself to find out. Overall, the film is a nice and compact (the running time coming in at just 71 minutes) piece of adult cinema. The sex is good throughout with a variety of different scenarios and positions to please the trench coat folk out there. What I enjoyed most was the comedy. I am a big fan of Alan Marlow's comedic talents, and it was great to see him and Eric Edwards (who is fantastic as usual) have such great chemistry throughout. Sure the comedy got a little hammy at times but it just adds to the charm of the film. Everyone involved put in a good, solid performance. The story, although fairly straightforward, was written well and if you're one of those types who doesn't care for those pesky sex scenes, was strong enough to warrant a viewing on its own.
 I'm not too sure what sort of home video release this title has had in the past, but as always, Vinegar Syndrome have done an exceptional job with the transfer. For a film of this nature, the quality of sound and video is second to none. The film is presented in 1.33:1 and was restored in 2k from the original negatives. It's also great to see that the trailer is included also. If you are reading this, you probably already know Vinegar Syndrome are doing such a stellar job restoring and presenting their releases.
The film comes as part of a double feature through the Peekarama Collection. The second film on disc is Claude Goddard's Winter Heat starring the ever so wonderful and terribly missed Jamie Gillis (WATERPOWER, MISTY BEETHOVEN). It's a nice and rough little home invasion film and actually makes for a good double feature with the much lighter in tone Abduction of an American Playgirl. If you want to know more about Winter Heat, I welcome you to check out my review on Youtube:
Overall, this is a great release and one that fans of the genre will love but also a good 'entry point' film for people wanting to explore the wonderfully sticky world of classic adult cinema. As with most of the Vinegar Syndrome releases, it's very easy to find and very affordable. You can buy the film directly from Vinegar Syndrome and it's also available on Amazon. For my UK readers, it occasionally pops up on Amazon UK for a great price.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Rock am Ring 2014 Overview


Hello everyone. Long time, no see. Yeah, it's a common thing on my blog but I have good reason... which I'm not going to go in to here because hey, I'm lazy. Seriously though, my studies are over and I have lots of free time here in Germany so I can now get back to writing and that's why I thought it would be a great idea to use this time to talk about my first ever Rock am Ring. You won't be reading this if you don't know what it is so I will spare you the word count of explaining. I did this same exact post for the time I spent at the SouthSide Festival a few years a go so it just felt right. So, let's get on with it!

THURSDAY

THE OFFSPRING

I like The Offspring. Yeah they're a bit cheesy and more comedy music for teenagers than serious musicians (fuck you haters) but I thought they would be entertaining and pretty solid. Well, after a few songs I was totally wrong. Even Jeanny, who is a genuine fan, thought they were terrible. It was just so dull and uninspired. Needless to say, we left after about 4 songs.

IRON MAIDEN

I will freely admit that the majority of bands playing at this years festival were bands that I knew songs of but nothing too serious. Iron Maiden was one of those. Aside from the obvious better known songs, Maiden's discography is largely lost on me. They were the headline act for the first day and for my money, the absolute highlight of the festival. The power of Bruce's voice matched with the musical talent resulted in one of the best live performances I have been to. Just goes to show you that the old school can really wipe the floor with this generations musicians.

FRIDAY

BUCKCHERRY

I can't say I'm a big fan of these guys but damn, did they put on a good show. Fans would definitely have loved this. To me though, Buckcherry are one of those douchey rock bands that just sings about chicks with big tits and boasting about their dick sizes. Seriously guys, you don't need to use the word fuck in every sentence between songs.

KASABIAN

Kasabian is one of those bands that were pretty fucking amazing when they first started. I still enjoy their debut album and own some of their earlier singles. Their last few releases though? Kinda bland and losing what I loved about them when I first heard them. That being said, they did a fairly good job this year but they could played a few more of their older tracks for my liking. I do like the sound of their upcoming stuff though. I think Kasabain suit being heard live in a club or smaller venue rather than a big festival.

MASTADON

I won't lie. I never knew who Mastadon were before I read the lineup. I hadn't managed to hear much before I went to the festival but damn, from the few songs I got to watch. I was pretty fucking impressed. Only saw a few tracks because Jeanny and I were just floating about before going to check out Friday's headliner.

KINGS OF LEON

Just like Kasabian, early Kings of Leon is amazing. What genuinely pisses me off is when bands completely change their sound and image just to be a bit popular. The 14 year old girls who dress like 20 year old women who love 'Sex is on Fire' probably don't know what Kings used to look or sound like.  Jeanny loves Kings of Leon so I was more than happy to join her and listen to the tracks that I know and love. Overall, a very solid performance all round. Do I think they deserved to be a headliner? No not really but yeah, who am I to judge?

SATURDAY

FALL OUT BOY

OK, I'm not a 13 year old girl. I'm not a Myspace tween who says she's bisexual just to get a boyfriend. I'm not even a posey misunderstood goof who self harms purely for picture comments. I have no reason to listen to the shit that Fall Out Boy call music. Why did I watch them then? Jeanny and I were once again pottering about and thought it would be quite funny to check them out. Thankfully, after 2 songs, we left. The end.

DIE FANTASTICHEN VIER

There were quite a few German hip-hop and rap artists at this years Rock am Ring. Some of them are fun but to be honest, most of them are purely comedy based which is bloody annoying. These guys however, are pure old school. This year marked their 25th year together so they're pretty much the German version of The Beastie Boys. These guys were awesome! Some great beats and a great performance overall. I really enjoyed these guys. Another highlight.

LINKIN PARK

I was a little too old to really enjoy Linkin Park when I was growing up. They weren't for me. I wasn't an angry youth who wanted music to relate to. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing these guys by any stretch. They just weren't for me! These guys were the headline act for Saturday and fuck me sideways, did they put on a good show! I can't believe I never truly appreciated just how talented each member was. This was definitely one the best vocal performances I have heard for a while and thankfully, being the more matured cultural vulture that I am now, I am more than happy to get in to these guys properly. Nine Inch Nails were playing around the same time but to be honest, I would rather have seen them at their own gig so I was more than happy to join Jeanny who was seriously enjoying this. Such a great memory for me. *Wipes a happy tear*

SUNDAY

TRIVIUM

Once again, I had very little knowledge of these guys so I didn't know what to expect. Going in with an open mind, I was very pleasantly surprised. Another band for me to hopefully get in to. Great show to start of the final day of the festival.

ALTER BRIDGE

Yep, same old story. No real clue beforehand. These guys were pretty cool. Jeanny pointed out that one of of their songs was used by Triple H so I was more than willing to check them out. What did I think? Great performance but just not for me. Quite dull music but done very well. If you're a fan, you will love seeing these guys live.
METALLICA

Obviously, when you're going to a festival and Metallica are the main headliner.... You HAVE to go see. I was so fucking excited to see Metallica live. There was a bit of drama which meant I was split from the group as they were watching the previous act; Avenged Sevenfold. I got pushed out of the front zone because some douches were fighting and I couldn't get back in. From what I heard, Avenged were good but I didn't care because I thankfully made my way back to the stage. You know what guys? I was so underwhelmed by the actual show. The music and atmosphere was epic but it just felt like Metallica Lite! Seriously, what happened to those guys? They start the show with this goofy advert for 'Metallica: By Request' which is basically, fans choose the set-list (meaning no surprise) and then James Hetfield all the way through was PG-13 party guy. Don't get me started on the cringe worthy parts were (non) fans announced the next song.... Seriously. Metallica have become a band for hire. James, you need to get back on the drinks and drugs because you are nothing more than corporate event entertainer. Metallica should not be child friendly. But like I said, powerful performance showcasing their obvious talents but just no show. You would think that the final act playing on the final year that the event is being held at the prestigious Nürburgring would at least have fireworks or SOMETHING! Anyway, very underwhelming end to what was an amazing and historic experience for me!

Overall, I seriously had a great time. The negatives were totally outweighed by the small negatives. Oh wait, there was the whole Cro incident. Guys, you are Rock am Ring.... Cro should NOT be a special guest. Yeah a few songs off his first album were great but come on, he's on hotel and McDonalds adverts for fucks sake (English readers are like whaaaaa?). Was SO satisfied to see the majority of people who waited (like myself and Jeanny) for over an hour to find out who the special guest was just boo the shit out of him and walk out. Love it. Fuck you Cro! ANYWAY! No idea where next years event will be held but I'm so thankful to have experienced one of the word's greatest music festivals. Hopefully, all the petitions and campaigns for the money hungry owners of the
Nürburgring to lower the rent (I'm guessing) will work because it was just the best surrounding.

Great music and great people (especially my wonderful Jeanny who has opened me up to soooo many cultural experiences) make for a GREAT time.

To find out more about the festival go here.

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