All the Sins of Sodom focuses on the very Swinging Sixties world of the “fashion” photographer.
Despite an all-access pass to a bevy of groovy hippie chicks, the hilariously hirsute Dan Machuen seems to be falling for the very average, if pleasant enough Leslie (jug eared Rita Moreno lookalike Maria Lease, of Love Camp 7, Mnaisdika and Dracula vs. Frankenstein).
Of course, despite banging not only her, but pretty much everyone in sight (including his agent Peggy “Cleo Nova” Steffans), he’s also putting up a stray named Joyce (lesbian sexpliotation regular Sue Akers, also of all three “Peter Woodcock” films – Monique My Love, Babette and Daughters of Lesbos). While she’s clearly a bit of a bitch, she also helps Hairy Dan get his professional mojo back, her femme to femme ministrations providing the extra spice he’s looking for in his series on Sodomic “evil” sexuality.
Will our ape man cum shutterbug settle down with relative “good girl” (by which we mean “morally conflicted” and a bit sweet) Leslie? Or will he go with the oversexed bisexual hot tamale Joyce? It’s not like he’s about to give up banging everyone else who walks his way, so does it even matter?
Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’d think the choice were obvious, at least for a fling. Akers is certainly no Soledad Miranda, but bears a vaguely similar Mediterranean fieriness, her dark eyes smoldering and glinting with mischievous promise, her sensuously pouty lips inviting throughout.
Come on, the girl spends her off time (between bouts with partners on both sides of the gender fence) working one of those hilarious industrial vibrators that look like a cross between a hairdryer and an electric mixer, so you know she’s not only hot to trot, but kind of insatiable…she even suggests a three way to the guy, how rare is that?
Of course, this was from a still quite Puritanical period in America, so there has to be some “gotcha” and “comeuppance” at the end. But this time it feels almost tacked on arbitrarily, rather than part and parcel of Sarno’s usual grim fixations on Catholic guilt.
Sure, in the real world, he may have lost both girls after that ménage a trois, but why would “Joyce” further decide to destroy the art they created? Not like she’d be feeling the “pangs of moral guilt”…and hell, he’s still got all those other ladies to fall back on. I call bullshit on that last 5 minutes, I’m sorry.
Next up comes another one or two room NYC-lensed quickie, filmed back to back with this one (and featuring much of the same cast).
Some Brooklyn dumbo (youse gots ta hear dat accent, she’s like a female Ben Grimm or typical cab driver of the period) spends all day diddling herself with that industrial strength “personal massager” Sue Akers was working in Sins, until “the hairy man” (seriously, that’s how some sources credit our pal Dan Machuen here) boffs her noisily (and very fake-ly, from the hooker-like incessant kewpie doll whines she provides throughout), which sets her prominently neck-scarred JoAnn Worley lookalike neighbor Julie (sexploitation regular Rita Bennett, of Professor Lust, The Love Cult, Teresa Darling among others) to some self flagellation.
But the real story here doesn’t directly involve either of these ladies, but our old pal Maria Lease, here amping up the frigidity as Julie’s sister Georgia, with whom she shared an uncomfortably un-sisterly experience in their youth (and thus apparently explaining her current prudishness and distaste towards her sister’s bi-curious swinging – “what are you, a slut, an easy mark for any man?” “You’re just jealous…you do love me, but not like a sister!“)
Despite a bit of essentially sound (if rather swinging) advice (“why don’t you get yourself a lover…or a ladyfriend. Or one of each!”), it’s Julia who gets the bulk of the ambisexual action here, moving between male friends, horny lesbian neighbors and another Hairy Dan triple play with (ir)regularity and (gender) fluidity throughout. “Whatever they’re doing in there…you can bet they’re not playing Mah Jong!”
Despite having to struggle with a significantly less appealing cast (only Akers offers a silent, almost cameo relief to the rather meh ladies to be found herein), Vibrations works as a sort of gender inversion of Sins – while indirect in many respects, here it’s the men who flit on and offscreen, only present for a quick roll in the hay, while the lesbian relationships are more center focus and even more forefronted than in the earlier film. This one could have been just as easily paired with Akers’ “Peter Woodcock” pictures or She-Mob, so pointed and centralized is the focus on the more “lavender screen” elements thereof.
Filmed with (almost) no actual soundtrack, these films are primo Sarno of the period – not only offering the stark visual contrast of his trademark “chiaroscuro” lensing, but an equally stark interplay between dialogue and silence (and how the hell he pulled that off in Manhattan is anyone’s guess.)
Raso’s Secret Key and Retro Seduction Cinema joined to release Sins previously on DVD back in 2009, a hissy sounding and a bit grainy but otherwise well contrasted picture running 1:26:50. That release’s on-camera chat with Sarno and commentary by Peggy Steffans-Sarno are ported over to this one.
Something Weird released Vibrations on one of their excellent jam-packed Image DVDs, paired with likeminded New York sexploiters of the period Fluctuations and Submission, back in 2005. That release was in much better shape than Sins, with clear sound and a very solid picture, running 1:15:07.
Film Media cleans up the sound considerably on Sins, though oddly the picture appears softer, with similar graininess to the texture but considerably more fuzziness and loss of bold contrast overall. It’s really minor niggling, but placed side by side, the earlier release comes off better (excepting the loud hiss on the soundtrack end on said DVD). Interestingly, the print here also runs a few seconds shorter (1:26:45 when you discount their 7s worth of logos appended thereto).
It’s a pleasure to report that this release contains a 6 page liner note essay by noted veteran Tim Lucas – in the all too rare instances of liner notes these days, they tend to come courtesy of less well-travelled unknowns and prone to a far more blatant sycophancy (much like the “extras” and commentary tracks from shrug of the shoulders nobodies we regularly mocked on Weird Scenes).
To see a more conversant “authority” in the field dropping knowledge with awareness of background (historical, as well as specific and personal) to the subject at hand, and better yet, actually attempting to engage an audience is a (sadly all too rare) treat these days. Kudos.
Speaking of which, for those inclned, Lucas also provides audio commentary on Vibrations (which runs a few seconds longer than its prior release, at 1:15:19 post-appended logos). Picture appears about the same on this one to its earlier release – arguably a touch brighter, but at the possible expense of contrast. It’s extremely minor this time around, unlike what we saw with Sins – so this one’s literally six in one, half a dozen in the other, bar the inclusion of the Lucas commentary (which may well swing things in Film Media’s favor.)
If you have the prior releases, unless you’re looking for the Tim Lucas contributions, there’s really no reason to jump in here – the picture is of similar (and surprisingly in the case of Sins, perhaps lesser) quality, and there’s no further “new” extras to speak of.
But if you missed out on either or both (particularly Sins, as it’s by leaps and bounds the superior film here), Sarno aficionados really won’t want to let this train pass by this time around.