Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Too Naughty To Say No (1984, dir: Suze Randall & Victor Nye)

Nasty Enough To Say Yes!”

Betty (Angel, For Your Thighs Only) is your typical innocent Catholic schoolgirl. One day after studying her bible under the supervision of Sister Rose (Lisa De Leeuw, Pink Champagne) with her party loving friend Catherine (Ginger Lynne, Lust in the Fast Lane), she doses off (religion does that to you.) and finds herself in a world filled with lust, debauchery and some very questionable individuals indeed. Her adventures begin with her watching Catherine get down and dirty with an older guy (Jamie Gillis, Corruption) who thankfully has better taste in women than he does clothes! After the free show, Catherine promises her much more and instantly delivers by sending her to a brothel ran by Madame Rose (De Leeuw again). She's treated once again to a free show, but finds herself the subject of a bidding war between Senator Bribe (Eric Edwards, Laura's Toys), Nazi-like Colonel Vice (Klaus Müller in his only role), Hollywood director Stephen Swinestein (Edward Longly also in his only role) and Bishop John (Milton Ingley, Fantasyworld). Freaked out, she escapes, but things only get weirder! From crooked cops (Paul Barresi, Co-Ed Fever & Rick Cassidy, Widow Blue!) to perverted undertakers (Harry Reems, Deep Throat), Betty's journey through dreamworld is as sordid as it is erotic. Oh well, she'll have some juicy material to share at her next confession!
  Too Naughty To Say No is a naughty little film indeed. Based off characters from de Sade, taking influence from Alice in Wonderland and almost structured like Juliette et Justine, both Randall and Nye have produced a trip of an adult feature. It's not as explicit or as mean spirited as de Sade's work or as outright trippy as Alice in Wonderland, but there are some strange goings on, but the action is still sexy. That's no surprise as Randall herself directed the sex. Some scenes drag on a tiny bit, but they are wonderfully staged and shot. Plus, when you have the likes of Ginger Lynne getting down and dirty, it's OK by me! The dialogue oriented scenes are fun and well acted. Angel's portrayal of the virginal Betty slowly getting corrupted is fun to watch and hey, she's cute as a button. To compliment Angel and Ginger (the latter should have had much more screen time!), there is a very solid supporting cast. It may not be the most memorable performances from Gillis, Edwards or Reems, but they do more than get the job done in their small roles. This is one of hose films that is really quite simple, but very enjoyable. For me personally, films like this from around the mid-1980's often seem to lack charm, but there's really no complaints here aside from some of the sex scenes being a few strokes too long. All in all, this is one of the more interesting films adapted from or influenced by the writings of de Sade.
  In terms of presentation, Vinegar Syndrome deliver the goods (as if they wouldn't) once again. Not only is the film restored beautifully in 2k from 35mm source materials, but it's presented in the correct aspect ratio, a much more superior print than the previous Caballero release. The colours are vibrant and the image is sharp. The only extra is a Joe Rubin moderated audio commentary with Suze Randall, Victor Nye, Amber (of Suze Randall Productions) and Christian McLaughlin. It may be the only extra, but it's a welcome one that is informative as it is entertaining. There is a lot to be gained. Of course, a trailer would have been nice, but I am not aware if one exists, so I won't hold it against Vinegar Syndrome! All in all, this is another solid release of a film that could have been forgotten. Definitely worth picking up!

No... I won't clumsily use the title as a pun to end this review!

Too Naughty To Say No is available on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Vinegar Syndrome Review: Corruption (1983, dir: Roger Watkins)

  “One man's fantasy is another man's reality!”

Finding himself with a debt that he just can't pay off, Williams (Jamie Gillis, Dracula Sucks) is tasked by shady mafia-like Franklin (Michael Gaunt, Maraschino Cherry) with something of a retrieval mission to a mysterious warehouse containing three coloured rooms; a blue, a red and a black one, each housing a beautiful woman. Williams sends his associate Alan (George Payne, The Taming of Rebecca) to carry out the task on his behalf, but with balls of steel, Alan has taken the item for himself and has disappeared. This leads Williams to pursue him down a gaping glory... I mean rabbit hole. Frustrated and desperate, Williams visits a seedy, desolate nightclub to meet his even seedier half-brother Larry (Bobby Astyr, Punk Rock) for help. Larry offers his help as well as a spot of voyeurism, leading Williams to witness Alan indulging in a spot of necrophilia. Rightfully disgusted, Williams confronts Alan, a man now consumed by his own desires. As this is going on, Felicia (Kelly Nichols, The Toolbox Murders) the young sister of Doreen (Tiffany Clark, Oui, Girls), the girlfriend of Williams is kidnapped and raped by Franklin. With his descent in to madness consuming him, Williams seeks “comfort” literally in his mistress Erda (Vanessa Del Rio, Dominatrix Without Mercy). It will take more than just some sexual healing to get him through what will is already an unforgettable night. God help him when he discovers the true cost of selling his soul.
Forgive me for my somewhat truncated synopsis, but I don't think I can truly give a detailed retelling of the film I am reviewing. Not only that, if you haven't watched this gem yet, go in as blind as you possibly can! My peers had praised this film and although I tend to overhype films for myself, I have to say that this one not only met my expectations, but completely blew them out of the water! In a nutshell, Corruption is a nightmarish dive-bomb down a psychosexual rabbit hole. What strikes you straight away is the genuine sense of foreboding right from the off. I have never watched a film of this nature that has had such a genuinely sinister atmosphere. If it isn't the desolate and gloomy locations, it's the juxtaposition found when bursts of vibrant neon colour consume the scenery. You are constantly unnerved and it reminds me of Argento's masterful use of light and colour in his nightmarish masterpiece; Suspiria. I know you're probably sighing at me for making that comparison, but it's true goddamnit! Much like Suspiria, no one is who they really say they are, but instead of witches, we have sexual deviants and scumbags. Everyone has their secrets, motives and will go to great lengths to get what they want. Although Gillis is our protagonist, this is by no means a one man show. Those he comes in to contact with are just as important to the experience. With a cast consisting of the likes of Astyr, Payne, Nichols and Gaunt, it should come as no surprise. Even the small roles from Samantha Fox (Fascination), Tanya Lawson (Fleshdance) and Tiffany Clark are memorable in their own way. It's a great showcase of genuine acting talent.
  The action may not be titillating (except the first scene between Gillis and Clark, there's something about the way she handles herself and Gillis), but it is well executed and performed. There are many perversions on show for all tastes and some of the dialogue is genuinely fantastic. Those who like to see women show dominance will also enjoy Payne's first trio of scenes. You may not be getting off on most of the sex, but the overall style will more than make up for the that. Larry Revene's (Barbara Broadcast) cinematography combined with Watkins' direction make for such a treat. Some could say style over substance, but I think Watkins has scribed a somewhat ambiguous story that instead of confusing the audience, makes them think, question and analyse. From what I can gather, Watkins has taken inspiration from Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold. You are blown away by the style, engrossed by the characters and ultimately longing to revisit to see what you may have missed. Who said porn can't confound and make you think? I'm sounding quite pretentious aren't I? Listen, if you like the weird and bizarre, this is a film for you! Think of David Cronenberg and David Lynch teaming up to make a porno!
  If you haven't guessed, I really enjoyed the look of this film and Vinegar Syndrome have done Roger Watkins and Larry Revene proud. The colours really pop, the image is sharp and there's just enough grain in the gloomier scenes. The sound is of equally high quality. James Flamberg's (now a big name in Hollywood) haunting synth score (which is EXTREMELY reminiscent of John Carpenter's / Ennio Moricone's collaboration on The Thing) really stands out. To go with the great presentation, the extras are top drawer too. There's the original theatrical trailer, reversible artwork, a press-book gallery, an interview with Larry Revene talking about the film and working with Roger Watkins and to top it off, there's also (on the first 2,000 pressings) a restored version of the Watkins classic; Last House on Dead End Street to be found as an easter eggs. Yes indeed. It's not a cleaned up version of the film. It's scratchy and muddy (you could argue this is THE way to watch it), but what a spectacular extra! The search for that reasonably priced Barrel Entertainment DVD on eBay can come to an end! If you aren't lucky enough to get a copy with the easter egg or you are one of these people who needs every film from yesteryear to be restored on Blu-Ray, don't worry because LHODES is getting its own release very soon! As you can see, this is a must own release for fans and newcomers a like. For me, this was one of the best releases of 2015, a great year for Vinegar Syndrome and of course; cult film fans. Will you take a trip down this seedy little rabbit hole?

Corruption is available as a DVD / Blu-Ray combo from Vinegar Syndrome as well as being available to stream on Exploitation.tv