And after a few months break, Vinegar Syndrome drops yet another of those amusing Times Square storefront loop collections on us.
This time, it’s even more to the tastes of yours truly, because we’re working the weird, occultish, S&M-skirting and generally more bizarro end of the spectrum.
Loved this stuff when Something Weird was handling it…how much moreso with the far more meticulous restorations of Vinegar Syndrome and Process Blue at the helm?
The proceedings kick off with a familiar* oddity: The Geek, where after a few of our “heroes” pair off for some canoodling, some guy in a Bigfoot suit and a shellacked dick bangs a none too resisting hippie hiker.
* several of these have previously been seen, at least in part and in far more ratty condition, somewhere in the archives of Something Weird’s Dragon Art Theatre and suchlike.
Complete with the old Midwesterner doing the opening narration and plenty of establishing shots of folks wandering the “great outdoors” of the barren California hills (and stock footage of more Northwestern forestry and fauna), this is about as close as you’ll get to Sunn Classics going full on hardcore.
Now, for those less acquainted with (and enamored of) the era and faux-documentaries of this ilk, it’s a long, hard slog to get to the juicy bits…but for those who grew up on this sort of thing, it’s amusing as hell to see these bits of cinematic cheese subjected to the adult cinema treatment.
Sure, the girls are ugly and covered in zits and sores (and the guys are scrawny and scrubby, if that’s how you lean)…but this is pretty dead on satire, right down to the schmaltzy score.
Plus you get to hear the immortal line “that was great, baby,” delivered in a bored monotone after a particularly dull encounter…followed by “so was I a great piece of ass?” and a brief conversation so absurd and twisted, I’ll leave it to the curious viewer to discover all on their own…
Matters close out on “Meathead” from All in the Family swearing “someday I’m gonna git that filthy animal!” in a sub-Elvis accent. Damn.
Positively hypnotic in its quietude and length (just about an hour of this nonsense!), The Geek is worth the purchase all on its own…but wait! There’s more! Now how much would you pay?
In place of a free set of ginsu knives, we move on to our next mini-feature, Hotter than Hell. With credits pulled straight out of your grandpa’s Playboy “risqué humor” cartoons of the 50’s, this one features a fat guy in a sheepskin rug and a few scrawny shirtless guys with capes and Afro wigs with horns chanting some half assed ritual in Latin while passing around smoking goblets and whipping a girl rather gently as goofy cartoon music plays.
Then he sends his two “sons” (one of whom looks like a 50’s greaser cum trucker, the other a dead ringer for Bruce “Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd” Glover) to ball two mediocre girls (the blonde of whom is more of a middle aged waitress type than a “girl”) before moving on to a rather average hippie chick in a horrible Wonder Bread bag dress.
At least they up their game slightly with the next one, a redhead stoner with a big ass who likes to dance nude while alone in her not-so-groovy pad. So of course, this is the one they cut the scene short on…
On to a homely JoAnne Worley type who hit the spray on suntan so much, she looks like Donald Fuckwad Trump, before closing out on an abortive orgy scene and a cheap joke.
If it weren’t for the more “adult” business, this would be one of those creepy kiddie films folks like Herschell Gordon Lewis, Barry Mahon and K. Gordon Murray used to make (or import and dub in the latter case). It’s as weird as shit, and equally amusing for it.
Then it’s on to House of De Sade, where Vanessa Del Rio, looking rather fetching in thigh highs and at the end of a slave collar and leash, gets to test out the old Dr. Ruth standby (insert thick Deutscher accent here: “use…a cucumber!“) before heading out to the world’s least atmospheric “haunted house” with some heavily ‘fro’ed proto-hipsters and their girlfriends to work a half-assed seance.
Guess who they’re trying to contact…and wait till you see “him” and his Oscar bait acting. Waxwork this ain’t.
Another more complete and much more cleaned up version of an old Something Weird standby, this one’s mildly kinky and as it’s somewhat later in the decade, far more erotically charged than the shorts so far. And Del Rio in her prime gettin’ her kink on sure don’t hurt.
Next up is The Sorceress, where a surprisingly cute Lynn Stevens delivers the goods on the prurient front (while pretending to be a “Spanish princess”, which is cute but ridiculous) and seriously struggling with her lines (even with her costar doing his damnedest to feed ’em to her and cover…and wait till she tries her hand at playing “French whore”…a truly laugh out loud moment).
She also doubles as a stoned gypsy fortuneteller, which gives an excuse to run “tubular bells” throughout (and dress her up in black eveningwear, which is a definite plus). There’s some chintzy set design attempting to make the palm reading sections all gothic (red candles, heavy curtains, a coffin propped upright behind her), and an apparently uncredited Eric Edwards shows up towards the end.
Sure, everyone else in the cast (including future disco diva Andrea True, who shows up for all of 5m) is butt-fuckin’ ugly, but Stevens is a stunner, and even in a walk-on, Edwards delivers a touch of thespian gravitas. Another goodie.
Then comes The Scorpion, where another Worley wannabe with a scorpion “tattoo” (which starts smearing and rubbing off before your very eyes!) boffs Popeye the sailor man (another Elvis-sideburned trucker type positively covered in dockworker/sailor tats and sporting a half assed Van Dyke).
A homely blonde with bangs and a silver 60’s “outer space” bra drops by for a bang, and then heads out with him to a suburban roulette swinger party, where she gets intimate with a sorta cute redhead in absurd peace sign bedecked underoos and “Meathead” shows Norman Lear fans just why he got on so well with Lionel Jefferson.
A lot of folks sport the temporary scorpion tattoo for no apparent reason, the end.
Dr. Sexual and Mr. Hyde features a cute, glasses-bedecked Tina Russell lookalike, an Ingrid Pitt analogue and a doofy Jerry Butler type in a decidedly loose interpretation of Stevenson’s classic. Not much happens, other than his picking up a homely freckled girl, boffing a skank in fright makeup (who is supposedly in-saaaaaaaane!) and everyone switching partners.
You should appreciate the vague attempt at atmosphere (and surprise ending), and at least the Russell and Pitt lookalikes are worth watching. Not bad, really.
Then it’s on to the Rites of Uranus, where a homely, stoned Candida Royalle wannabe brings even more fuglies to a cheesy cult meeting (loved the brass zodiac mandala with the speaking tube and the Santana/John McLaughlin style fusion soundtrack).
Later, a girl far too stoned to speak properly, much less deliver coherent lines, meets up with another girl and a Chepito Arias wannabe in a wood paneled hotel room with a waterbed. Aaaaand that’s about it.
At least this one really works the aesthetics, from candleabras and drapery to oiling participants down to make them really stand out under the red gel lighting.
If there were anybody worth looking at, this would’ve been a real winner – as it is, it’s a quirky oddity with a touch of class on the visual (lighting, cinematography, even the sparing set design) end (which given all the “lit protruding candles” business, often smacks of a Richard Kern photoshoot).
On to Waltz of the Bat, starring “Eric Fledermaus”. Gee, they wouldn’t use a certain New Years themed Strauss operetta for the score here, would they?
This one stars our pseudonymous tubby as a Coffin Joe lookalike (complete with top hat and cape) and involves a woman in a Romper Room Do Bee costume, one of the droopiest-faced girls ever put on celluloid and a whole lot of talking directly to the camera.
There’s a reasonably pretty Aussie girl and a guy in an outback hat hugging a huge stuffed snake, who actually tells our hangdog heroine “you’re very pretty, you know” (!)
Coffin Joe grabs a girl in a Christmas themed poncho and She-Ra Lookee socks off the streets of San Francisco, then sits down for a drink while Janis Ian (or is that PJ Harvey?) has her way with her. Do Bee drops by, bangs Mojica Marins, roll end title card.
Weird, to be sure, but definitely the least of ’em thus far.
Next up, Come Deadly, which kicks off with a guy in full on Baron Blood/Blood and Black Lace getup and gardening gloves (!) banging a homely redhead with a shag ‘do. Some perfectly awful high school drama class rehearsal follows, with a fat guy Charlie Manson lookalike, Bob Newhart with ridiculous sideburns, a doofy old Greek janitor type (love that mustachio…) and two girls.
The first in a succession of not entirely unattractive girls runs into our…well, he’s not a killer, more of a serial screwer in the attic…oh, wait, he strangled her afterwards. Guess this is an American take on a “hardcore giallo” after all…
Their rehearsal space comes with a cute corner fireplace (which works decor-wise, despite all the whitewashed adobe surrounding), which provides the backdrop for our first non-giallo rendezvous…and our third such immediately thereafter.
Wait…didn’t that girl just get strangled? I guess some of these hippie chicks really do look alike after awhile…they certainly seem a lot thicker than my (extremely) youthful brain recalled them as being – plenty of nice posteriors on display throughout this collection, that’s all I can say.
Boy, that “killer” is sure insatiable…and why is this old Greek janitor getting so much action, anyway? Of all cast members…even the fat guy might’ve been more logical…he’s certainly a lot younger! Yeah, yeah, I know. Let’s keep a few things secret – this is one of those all too rare times where these things are worth letting readers discover for themselves…
Then it’s Mania, where a group of reform school girls are having a lot more sex than they deserve…because they’re fuckin’ ugly!
There’s a stubby-nosed (but otherwise sorta cute) Chinese girl who seems to be banging everyone in the cast (which is a real feat, considering how ugly they all are!) In fact, the only other one who isn’t totally hard on the eyes is the blonde headmistress, who unfortunately walks right into Taboo territory (something that comes up several times in dialogue bits across this collection, but only “flourishes” here…sheesh!).
Her “son” (another “Meathead” lookalike…you’d think they grew on fucking trees, to judge by this set of shorts…) also screws his way through the cast to the accompaniment of at least a half a dozen muzak versions of AM radio hits of the day before someone…yet again…starts killing ’em off, giallo style.
If you took the…well, one kill from this one and tagged in the strangler’s outfit from Come Deadly, you’d have a real giallo homage on your hands…as it is, both definitely seem to have that in mind, just fail pretty badly in the execution.
Then again, it’s hardcore, and (admittedly somewhat extended) loops and shorts at that…
Now on to Daughters of Darkness, where a rather effeminate Peter Bark lookalike takes the train to rent a room somewhere in the suburbs, where a sub-Rene Bond boffs a blonde who just can’t keep her lolling tongue in her damn head.
Despite a plethora of pentagram posters, weird pop bookstore-“occult” books laying around and…oh, yeah, a pleasant chat where she invites him to “meet my lord, the devil, face to face” and a huge fake tattoo of the devil’s face above her nether regions, which serve as his “beard”, the dope sees nothing amiss.
Joey Silvera (or his doppelgänger) meets Bark’s girlfriend at a fog-drenched cemetery, an F.M. Bradley wannabe in a swami’s turban bangs an Irish nun type (complete with the barely growing back in short crop ‘do), somebody bangs the only halfway decent looker in the cast (a long haired redhead in the bathtub) and some homemade “special effects” are scratched onto the emulsion to show Bark getting the whammy put on him.
It all ends with a barely visible through all the smoke orgy scene in front of a big red inverted cross. Ooky spooky!
I’d seen a severely eviscerated and much shortened “clean” version of this as an extra on a Something Weird DVD, but it’s been years, so don’t ask me which. This one, once again, is complete and given a serious spit polish.
Another fun one, with the same depressive feel you get from Romero’s Martin. Maybe that train took him to Pittsburgh?
Finally, we close out matters on The Unholy Child. A merchant marine (who looks a lot like a balding Jamie Gillis) comes home to discover his kinda cute but dumb as wood redhead wife getting busy with a skanky Janis Joplin type. Of course, he doesn’t put 2 and 2 together when she drops a bullshit line about “just being a neighbor”.
There’s a lot of San Francisco location footage and some truly horrifically patterned polyester shirts, plus a black stripper trying her damnedest to dance to some seriously yee-ha style pedal steel driven country music before double teaming Gillis-lite and his Roy Thomas lookalike pal from the deli.
Then Sonny Bono shows up, and it all goes to shit. Our Gillis analogue balls Joplin, and that obvious girl dressed as a guy that’s been following him around finally makes an attempt on his life.
No real surprise to this would-be O. Henry of a tale.
Damn, I haven’t enjoyed a collection of history’s detritus this much since SWV stopped putting out DVDs with Image many years ago…and given just how many amusing and strangely likeable shorts are all in one place, maybe even then.
Honestly, there was barely a stinker in this set – even the worst of ’em had some horror or occult gimmick and aesthetic that kept things interesting.
More like this, please. That’s all I’ve got to say.