ABDUCTION OF AN AMERICAN PLAYGIRL
Color, 1975, 71m.
Starring Darby Lloyd Rains, Eric Edwards, Alan Marlow, Levi Richards, Shelly Turner, Roger Caine
Color, 1976, 70m.
Directed by Claude Goddard
Starring Jamie Gillis, Susan Sloan, Alex Mann, Mickey Humm, Bree Anthony, Helen Madigan, Jenny Lane
Vinegar Syndrome (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)
Adult films in the '70s were rife with films involving abduction, nonconsensual sex, and other antisocial behavior, but few had the guts to play those ideas as feminist slapstick. Incredibly, that's just what you'll find in Abduction of an American Playgirl, the first of a pair of snow-packed XXX crime films in this double feature DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.
With Saturday night approaching in a snowy, dull Northeastern town, Fred (Edwards) and his best buddy Will (Marlow) decide to try something different when they spy a blonde in go go boots (Rains) walking out of a store. In broad daylight, they toss her in the car and take off to Fred's sister's empty cabin in the woods. A peek through her wallet while she's unconscious reveals she's Jackie Miller, a wealthy local girl whose father might pony up some cash to get her back. Asking for "a lousy five G's," they don't make much headway with her dad who tells them to go "try welfare" instead. Naturally it doesn't take long for the two guys and Jackie to try various combinations in the bedroom (including a berserk spoof of A Clockwork Orange), and soon we're in a smutty, silly spin on "Ransom of Red Chief" as the guys realize they have more than they can handle -- with more guys like '70s adult vets Roger Caine and Levi Richards stopping by to satisfy Helen's increasingly voracious libido.
Featuring sparse credits (with misidentified characters and actors) and no director cited at all, this is a modest but enjoyable slice of mid-'70s New York sex comedy with some of the best actors of the era obviously relishing the chance to do something a little different. Rains was never one to balk at edgy material, and she really jumps in here head first, often juggling knockabout comedy and wild sex in the same scene. Likewise, Edwards and Marlow have fun chemistry together as a couple of doofuses who can't figure out how to handle their captive on multiple levels.
Transferred from the original negative, the film looks terrific with minimal damage and is presented completely open matte at 1.33:1. It doesn't appear this one's ever been on home video before in any format, so vintage adult fans should get a big kick out of discovering this one, which probably hasn't passed through a projector in decades. The sole extra is the theatrical trailer, which oddly credits it as The Abduction of an American Plow Girl.
Also included is a second feature, with the packaging making this the inaugural entry in the label's multi-title "Peekarama" line. Considerably darker and grimmer (but with much funkier library music), Winter Heat (which has floated around in terrible condition from several VHS and DVD companies over the years including Something Weird and Alpha Blue) is mainly a star vehicle for Jamie Gillis, doing his finest domineering sexual predator routine as Stevie, leader of a trio of hoodlums (Mann and Humm). Along with a token female (Madigan) in the best Last House on the Left tradition, the gang tires of bantering about sleeping with each other's spouses and decides to relieve their snowbound boredom in the woods by breaking into a nearby house and sexually terrorizing the inhabitants. That includes forced stripping in the kitchen, some pretty unappetizing food play, a forced lesbian encounter on the floor, and more than a few personal awakenings along the way.
Despite the sordid subject matter, Winter Heat never quite tips over the line into the truly jolting mixture of violence and hardcore found in more famous offerings like Sex Wish or Forced Entry. Most of the shock value is in Gillis' treatment of the rest of the cast, of course, and rather than turning into the vengeful apocalypse you might expect, it turns surprisingly light at the end (which makes it the ideal co-feature here). Once again the cast is loaded with familiar faces including a very good Susan Sloan (also seen in Passions of Carol and Hot Oven, among others), while legit drive-in actor Mann (who sadly passed away in 2010 and was seen in films like Malibu High, I Drink Your Blood, and lots of Joe Sarno films) has an obvious stunt performer for his more explicit scenes, as usual for his handful of hardcore titles.
Obviously faring less fortunately over the years, Winter Heat looks much better here than the previous ancient video masters taken from prints run through what looks like a trash compactor. You'll actually see some color here, and while splices still abound in spots in this 35mm print, it's at least smoother and more complete than usual. Don't expect anything close to the sterling quality of the first feature in terms of visual presentation, but you'll still get a solid upgrade for a title very rarely seen in anything close to watchable condition. Perfectly perverse viewing for a chilly night in the middle of nowhere.
Reviewed on January 6, 2013.