Carol Connors, Delania Raffino, Desiree Cousteau, Don Fernando, gail palmer, Georgina Spelvin, John Holmes, John Leslie, Paul Thomas, Rhonda Jo Petty, Richard Pacheco, Sharon Kane, third eye cinema podcast, vinegar syndrome, Wendy O Williams
Vinegar Syndrome taps into yet another of the all too rare female directors of adult film with this latest double feature.
Gail Palmer, who actually appears onscreen at the start of the film, proudly trumpets how “this is my Candy…inside her beats a heart just as big as that famous chest! How desperately she wants to feel the feel the needs of man and be of service to his need (sic)…if only she knew what they were.”
While crediting the story to French philosopher and satirist Voltaire, this is far less Candide than Terry Sothern’s cheesy late 50’s adult novel Candy, a sort of low rent, comedic and quintessentially American take on the far more worthy (and semi-autobiographical) Emannuelle Arsan novels.
Featuring the oddly featured but not unattractive Carol Connors in the lead role, this is the sort of film that features a Mexican gardener prone to spouting “ay, chihuahua” and “ay, caramba” at random intervals (a young Don Fernando, in one of his first credited roles).
Attempting to “help her fellow man” by seducing the guy in the greenhouse (because “it must be very hard for you with women…what with your nationality being what it is and all (!)”), she sets into motion a spiraling chain of bizarro events including a Wilhelm Reich type (“Dr. Hy Kollonic”, one Turk Lyon) and his furiously self-frugging patient (Eileen Welles), kinky flapper holdover “Auntie Kraven” (Devil in Miss Jones’ Georgina Spelvin, who puts in a fairly athletic performance late in the running time) and an frustrated effective sex scene with her father (by means of the scrawny and quite bald Eddy Cannon in the dual role of “Uncle Dick”…though there’s a second, even more blatant variant that closes the film!)
Like Emanuelle without the Decadent philosophizing or sensuality, this is a very on the nose, not particularly arousing and very clearly played for laughs portmanteaulike picaresque, with Connors moving from one goofy misadventure to the next. John Holmes, John Leslie, Paul Thomas, Ric Lutze, Joey Silvera and even rough n’ tumble Chris Cassidy all make appearances here, several of whom amount to effective cameos (Holmes’ guilt tripping whiner is admittedly amusing – this is how he gets action?, but the rest are just silly and not arousing in the least).
Palmer offers stilted narration to bridge each unrelated sequence and narrative jump, and it’s all rather silly – the best that can be said here is that Connors, despite her bubble headed Marilyn Monroe look and demeanor, is reasonably attractive (in a strange way, admittedly) and the film is a step above average cinematographically.
Candy’s home, only shown in the first few minutes, is quite nice, all wood paneling and high windows with a rather nice detached greenhouse, and ‘guru’ Paul Thomas (treading similar territory to but barely holding a cancel to George Eastman’s in Emanuelle Around the World) has a spread to die for – pure aesthetic eye candy.
…but yeah, that’s about all there is to say for this one.
Amazingly, the very idea of the film must have proved popular enough to spawn a sequel, Candy Goes to Hollywood, which appeared the next year (but which is presold as complete at the conclusion of the first film!)
This one at least features a bit more cult/gawker value, as it also features among its cast none other than famed Plasmatics singer/performance artist Wendy O Williams (later of Reform School Girls fame).
Like the Erotic Adventures of Candy, this one retains the services of “Special guest star Miss Nude America, Shadow Neva”, John Leslie and Turk Lyon, but ups the ante by adding Richard Pacheco, Sharon Kane, Desiree Costeau, Rhonda Jo Petty and a full on Gong Show parody (complete with easily recognizable pseudonyms like ‘Chuck Bareass’ and ‘J.P. Organ’). There’s even a Tonight Show bit, with a ‘Johnny Farson’, ‘Ed the Mann’ and ‘Doc Revenson’, and appearances from Hollywood favorites ‘Rocky Stallion’ and ‘Sarah Dawcett’. Very of its time, and very silly.
Opening on an “MCM” (More Candy Movies) logo, “stayin’ alive” knockoff theme song and cheeky pauses at the Hollywood walk of fame stars for Marilyn Monroe (whose persona Connors performance in these films is clearly meant to evoke) and Johnny Carson, Palmer rubs matters right in everyone’s face by crediting “the winner of Gail Palmer’s Farrah Fawcett link alike contest, Rhonda Jo Petty as Sarah Dawcett”! There’s even a long pause at the otherwise obscure star for Dinah Shore, which makes sense once you finally piece together just what it is about Connors’ odd features that seemed so familiar…
As more of a satire on Hollywood, this second Candy effort works far better, holding up reasonably well against similar fare such as Gosh! Alice Goodbody and the highly overrated Hollywood Boulevard. It’s one dimensional and quite dated, but fun for fans of period television (moreso than the usual focus on film inherent to this sort of low rent satire). The targets of this caricature are spoofed with surprising accuracy, often coming off as dead on, if sub-SCTV level takes on then-contemporary American fare. It’s a huge improvement.
If you, like myself, were a huge Wendy O. fan, it’s a surreal experience to see the punk rock priestess blowing bubbles while popping ping pong balls across the room out of her privates, Thai bar girl style…Chuck Barris must have been flattered.
Pretty Dellania Raffino of Expectations appears for a lesbo sequence, and her privates are perfectly normal this time around, leaving the viewer free to appreciate just how Lynda Carter meets Joanna Cameron-level lovely the lady (and her sexy, throatier than expected voice) actually are.
As always, Vinegar Syndrome provides a gorgeous hi-def restoration to both features. The bottom line is, if you enjoy the golden era of television as much as I do, the second feature can be quite enjoyable as a sort of behind the scenes smirkfest involving lookalike variants of all your favorite celebs. Both films have any number of adult film “names” on display, though Hollywood tends to give them more of a chance to strut their stuff, being a bit less obviously jokey and goofy than it’s progenitor.
Neither is exactly a prime example of the glory days of hardcore, but they aren’t particularly offensive either (Connors ridiculous dye job bush notwithstanding). That said, there’s really no contest as to which is the better offering here. Raffino is gorgeous, Petty and Cousteau aren’t so bad themselves, and it’s a huge step up from all the blatant Sothern-bothering schtick of the lead feature.
If your interest is piqued, you may well want to check this double feature out. It’s nothing particularly special, but at least it’ll serve till the Bill “Billy Bagg” Lustig double feature (or for that matter, the next round of Radley ‘Henry Paris’ Metzger, Anthony Spinelli, Linda Wong or Johnny Wadd features come(s) around.