Confession time: I’ve actually sat through Sadie twice, and still have no clue what to make of this one.
What you get: a Vietnam era drama with mid to low budget sets and costumerie, inappropriately anachronistic music having little or nothing to do with the era it’s set in, and more than a few rather dull hardcore bits sprinkled in for good measure. And trust me, that description sounds a whole lot better than it actually is.
The entire film, more or less, is set in an island of Borneo hotel and bar run by ‘Doc’, a beefy Chuck McCann lookalike (though he’s a long, long way from McCann’s signature kiddie show the Far Out Space Nuts here).
Beyond the military types circulating around Southeast Asia at the time, the latest boat brings a mother daughter team into port. The former looks like Vice academy’s Jayne Hamil, so make up your own mind there – thankfully, she, like the two older men of the cast, remains clothed throughout. The latter (‘Honoree’, Diahna Holt) isn’t horrible, but is possessed of a pretty goofy personality and rather lanky build. Nothing wrong with her, really, just kind of like a tomboyish next door neighbor type and hardly what you’d expect to find in a porn flick.
Of course, the boat also brings in the hard bitten bottle blonde Sadie (Cris Cassidy – picture Cheri Caffaro on a really bad day and you’ll get the idea). A crass, low class flophouse floozy, Sadie wears her cheapness on her sleeve, leaving the average porn starlet looking haute classe by comparison.
Within a minute of her arrival, she’s in the back room earning sailor dollars – no hesitation or buildup about it. Glenn Miller style swing blares as Jock (Jerome Deeds), a Jon Dough meets Fee Waybill type, gets it on missionary style with our ‘heroine’ (though considering, maybe we should drop the E). She looks to be falling asleep throughout.
“What am I, some kind of freak? I can feel. Just like a real, live, fucking virgin. I’m human. It doesn’t matter how many I’ve had.”
Uh, well…it kind of does say something very important about you, but that’s beside the point…
Unfortunately, there’s also a religious minded US Senator on hand, whose focus is shutting down vice rackets across military bases. He figures out what’s going on in short order, which means some major trouble for our brassy déclassé lead and her drug running handler…
Sadly, about the best things get is when a short and stocky native girl gets a bit of action with a young Billy Dee. It’s not very aesthetic or erotic, but at least it doesn’t involve Scary Sadie…and you know it’s saying something when our lanky and awkwardly tomboyish friend Holt getting it on with some bald guy missionary style is one of the better sequences.
Last and decidedly least of this month’s round if adult fare from Grindhouse restoration archivists Vinegar Syndrome, Sadie is ultimately a sort of a cross between Red Dust and Fiends of Dope Island without the respective appeal of either. Chinn is clearly trying too hard to make a ‘proper’ film, in the process forgetting to bring the sex appeal to the hardcore end of things.
Cassidy is surprisingly trashy and rough, and fails to even carry the likeability and low rent sexiness of the likes of a Linnea Quigley or Lita Ford (who bear a sort of rough around the edges, slutty appeal Chinn appears to have been deluded into thinking Ms. Cassidy might carry). Moreover, her arm scratching jitteriness fails to elicit viewer sympathy or keep her believably on this side of the crack whore fence Doc and company are so afraid ‘The Rajah’ will drag her over. Sorry, guys, looks like she’s already there…
So what can be said about Sadie in its defense?
Umm…it’s well lit and reasonably well framed?
The simple fact is that while an argument could be made for Chinn’s attempt to stretch the boundaries separating adult from mainstream film, his experiment here just doesn’t work in any real respect. While it’s amusing to hear 40’s style swing alternating with 60’s style surf guitar right out of Dark Shadows’ Blue Whale in what’s supposed to be a post-Hendrix, post-Doors era film, a more boring adult film of its period can’t really be envisioned.
Billy Dee returns in Chinn’s The Seductress, which at least has the courtesy to star big name starlet Lisa De Leeuw. While still no great shakes, at least this one feels a bit more like an adult film…
De Leeuw is a supposedly well off married woman working out a blackmail plan to get a divorce from her husband. Now, don’t get the wrong idea here: I’m not saying she hires a private eye to catch him in the act…I mean she actually hires a photographer and a hooker (the rather homely and hard bitten ‘Renee’, Lee Carroll) to set him up, all to get a no contest divorce!
The dynamic here isn’t exactly believable. Her husband (the fey Richard Reynolds) is more than a little effeminate – geez, Bob, are you sure she shouldn’t have caught him with another guy? And on the other side of the equation, De Leeuw comes more than a bit rough around the edges, seeming to suffer from a perpetual case of PMS. At least she’s a cute redhead with a nice if somewhat zaftig body…
Anyway, De Leeuw gets caught in her own trap, courtesy of our (this time, literal onscreen) junkie whore Renee, and winds up blackmailed into taking her place in a four way. Billy Dee gets with a close cropped type whose face could stop a clock while De Leeuw does the dirty with some tall goofy guy named “Big Red” in the credits (seriously!) She then spills the beans about the setup to Dee, who goes home and chews out his pudgy faced Molly Ringwaldesque Aussie wife Rose (Kathy Harcourt), only to discover the lady knew nothing about it.
Dee and Harcourt turn the tables on the guy they assume to be the blackmailer, filming him with a weird looker somewhat reminiscent of a cross between Sandy Duncan and Vicki Lawrence (!) (one Yvette Cole). Renee the junkie hooker gets taken out by her employers. And it turns into a round robin, with everyone else in the cast accusing each other of being the guilty party.
So who is the blackmailer?
We never get an answer! In the end, Chinn utilizes found news footage to build this into some big, vague conspiracy theory, before showing the end title card – nothing is answered. Oh well, move along, nothing to see here…
Certain scenes at De Leeuw’s house and of the nighttime streets have the atmosphere of the then-contemporary slasher film, and for a film with such weird looking stars, many of the scenes display some measure of aesthetic sense.
But when it comes down to it, all the film has going for it is De Leeuw, who if we’re going to be honest, would be better served shown in a more silent capacity…sheesh, what a bitch!
Chinn, who gave us the Johnny Wadd series and films like The Jade Pussycat (part of that series, with the lovely Linda Wong) and voodoo-inflected The Devil’s Garden, has directed far better films than the two decidedly minor efforts on display here.
While Sadie at times approaches at least a Something Weird level mainstream drive in film in feel and aesthetic, it fails utterly as a hardcore effort, lacking all but the vaguest prurient interest. The Seductress has De Leeuw’s ample physical charms to recommend it, but little else beyond the first glimmers of Billy Dee’s incipient comic approach to the adult screen (wholly absent in the prior year’s Sadie). Separately or together, they amount to little more than a historical curio, of interest solely to comprehensive collectors of ‘porno chic’ era adult film or completists of Chinn’s directorial oeuvre.