8 REELS OF SEWAGE
B&W, 2012, 80m.
Directed by Jared Masters
Starring Jacqueline Guzman, Art Roberts, Keira King, Jenny Savage, Mystic Marlow, Geo Sargent
Frolic Pictures (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
HOLLYWOOD A GOGO
Color, 2012, 60m.
Directed by Jared Masters
Starring Samantha Demer, Courtney Alvarez, Stephanie Hernandez, Nicole Marie White
Frolic Pictures (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)
The cinematic equivalent of about a dozen Something Weird DVDs ground up into mulch and injected into a cinephile's veins, 8 Reels of Sewage is an affectionate homage to the crossroads between nudies and roughies in the late '60s. Lensed on digital video in black and white, it's the tawdry story of Belinda (Guzman), a dissatisfied filmmaker toiling away editing peep loops in the office of a cigarette-nibbling sleazebag (Marlow) who smacks her across the face when she calls him a smut peddler.
It's time for Belinda to take a hike, but her unsupervised work on the latest project for the "King of the Peeps" gets her in hot water. Her boss decides to put a hit out on her by hiring low rent assassin Tippytoe Thomas (for "three hundred - and a producer's credit!"), but Belinda's chasing her dreams by mounting a respectable erotic project of her very own. She takes out an ad in the L.A. Times for aspiring starlets "18 to 24" who can appear in her ambitious skin opus, and while some of the auditioning babes can barely even speak English, she soon finds it all coming together. Along the way she drifts through seedy Hollywood parties (including a game of solitaire on a naked woman's torso), drugs, backstabbing, casting couches, lesbian pillow fights, go go bars, and tardy actresses. Finally she gets seven reels of her film in the can, but in order to sell it to rival exploitation kingpin Mr. Whitehead (Roberts), she has to make it to eight reels. Can she do it with her soul intact?
Officially inspired by the Something Weird staple A Sweet Sickness, this is basically an unabashed wallow in the world of softcore cinematic yesteryear as seen in such films as Scum of the Earth, Starlet, and The Abnormal Female, to name a few. The nods come fast and furious courtesy of both Belinda's lifestyle and the scenes within her film, including an amusing vignette at a psychiatric hospital. Guzman (whose vocal inflections sound oddly like Lindsay Lohan in some scenes) certainly looks the part, and her performance seems to be in keeping with the tradition of haughty but stilted women seen in more than a few grindhouse titles.
The rest of the cast plays it relatively straight without any winking at the camera, which is as it should be, while director Jared Masters (who earlier helmed the gaudier Climb It, Tarzan) shows an affectionate eye for the decadent side of Hollywood wannabes (which today remains about the same in spirit if not appearance). Several of Masters' regular players pop up here (many of them also in his horror film Slink), and you can also spy the film's production designer, Adam Trash, in a weirdly looped cameo near the beginning as a peep projectionist. The independent release from Frolic Pictures (available as a made-on-demand DVD-R from Amazon) looks fine with an anamorphic 1.78:1 presentation about on par with most recent digital productions. The monochrome appearance is handled with more care than usual for low budget films saluting the era, and fans of the era should be happy with its intentionally grubby aesthetic (which also includes some sparing but appropriate injections of stock footage, naturally).
Also available from Frolic Pictures in the same format is Hollywood A GoGo, sort of an hour-long art installation for burlesque fans with a throbbing electronic soundtrack accompanying a series of dance routines by scantily-clad gogo dancers. "Let's get inside their little gogo minds!" intones the offscreen host as we explore this "craze that's sweeping Hollywood," in which smiling girls shake their stuff in colorful, glittering outfits complete with big heels, fishnets, and big earrings. The girls (some of whom look about a hundred times prettier than ones you'd see if your average bar) also provide voiceovers explaining why they like gogo dancing, where they get to keep on some clothing at all times and express themselves on a "dancing adventure." This would actually be fun stuff projected as background entertainment at a party, since the dancers change every couple of minutes and the visual styles (all in front of the same red curtain) range from rapid zooms and strobe lights to traditional Teaserama-style medium shots. Oddly enough the soundtrack sounds a lot more like something you'd hear at a West Hollywood club than a regular gogo bar, but it's very lively and keeps things percolating along just fine. (Plus that gives our narrator a reason to yell "Discotheque!" and "The art of the gogo!" at regular intervals.)
Unlike the previous feature, this one was shot full frame (but also on video) and again looks fine for what was most likely a quick production, thanks to its single set. The colors look bright and vivid throughout with some stylized superimpositions at times featuring neon signs and so on to give it a little extra texture, and the two-channel soundtrack sounds good throughout (though the voiceover tends to get overpowered by the music a couple of times). Pop it on at your next retro shindig and enjoy.