Color, 1978, 81 mins. 40 secs. / 78 mins. 19 secs.
Directed by Harry Hurwitz
Starring Don Sparks, Sy Richardson, Irwin Corey, Robert Harris, Simmy Bow, Robert Staats, Martha Reeves, Brenda Fogerty, Angelo Rossitto, Nai Bonet, Angela Aames, Linnea Quigley, Anne Gaybis
88 Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK RB/R2 HD/PAL) / WS (2.57:1) (16:9), Full Moon (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)
For some reason a few filmmakers in the '70s decided that the world needed several softcore films based on fairy tales, and so following the lead of the 1969 German import Grimm's Fairy Tales for Adults, theaters were populated by titles like the X-rated Alice in Wonderland, Charles Band's 1977 version of Cinderella with Cheryl Smith, and even Al Adamson's Cinderella 2000. One of the more memorable contributions to this cycle came in 1978 from The Projectionist director Harry Hurwitz, who adopted the name "Harry Tampa" for a trio of nudie films starting with Fairy Tales, the first of two films for producer Charles Band (along with Auditions) and followed by the delirious (and sadly still MIA) vampire disco nudie curio Nocturna. Colorful and loaded with ridiculous borscht belt humor, Fairy Tales was (incredibly) the second feature shot by cinematographer Daniel Pearl after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and about as far from that classic in visual style as you can possibly get. Shot on a shoestring in Los Angeles in very wide scope, it's the kind of oddball film that's guaranteed to get your attention and has understandably earned a bit of a following over the years.
On his 21st birthday, the prince (busy TV and theater actor Sparks) of a magical kingdom is awakened by his three new advisor physicians to a musical call to action to get out there and screw his way to siring an heir to keep him in the line of succession. After being offered a naked blonde as a birthday present, it's clear he has some issues finding the right girl to pique his interest -- so it's off to a romp through the kingdom to find the right mate. The prince would much rather be with the beautiful missing princess (a very young Quigley) whose portrait adorns the castle walls, but in the meantime he has to scope out a whorehouse run by the "old woman who lives in a shoe" (Fogerty) and her sassy pimp (Richardson). From there it's a string of naughty song-and-dance numbers and bawdy jokes involving characters like Snow White (Deep Jaws' Gaybis) before the prince becomes curious about the one forbidden room where he might find his heart's desire.
Despite the heavy amount of sex and nudity, this is an oddly sweet, cheerful, and innocent film with a lot of goofy ideas like an Andrews Sisters-style routine involving S&M outfits. It doesn't hurt that the cast seems to be having a lot of fun, with the lovable and often underused Angela Aames making her screen debut here in a scene-stealing appearance as Little Bo Peep. Even future Nocturna star and accomplished belly dancer Nai Bonet turns up here as Scheherazade, though she's far more demure here than in that later film. The songs themselves are barely passable and about on par with those in Alice, with one big exception; legendary pop/R&B singer Martha Reeves pops up for one scene, emerging from a smoky cauldron to belt out a spectacular disco number called "You'll Feel the Magic in Me" (which has apparently never been released on any audio format). Despite Pearl's involvement, Hurwitz seems to have no idea where to place the camera with many shots looking like an outtake from the wrong angle; the rest of the film is simply shot in wide compositions like a theater performance, basically putting this just a notch or two above H.G. Lewis's The Magic Land of Mother Goose in terms of visual skill. Fortunately the film itself is breezy and entertaining enough that you won't care.
Frequently aired on late night cable in the '80s in a heavily censored version, Fairy Tales took a long time to hit home video in its original cut. In the U.S., Full Moon released the film on DVD in 2005 in a really dull, cut transfer and then on Blu-ray in 2016 featuring two lossy Dolby Digital audio options (2.0 mono and pointless 5.1 remix) for a new transfer that's uncensored (more orgy footage and frontal nudity) but sadly very squeezed so the actors' faces look way too skinny (similar to their botch job on Stuart Gordon's The Pit and the Pendulum). 88 Films brought the film to U.K. DVD in 2017 in that extended director's cut, plus an audio commentary (recorded for the U.S. disc) by writer Frank Ray Perilli and producer Charles Band. They have some really fun stories (especially about getting that giant shoe house into Griffith Park without shooting permits) but also step into their share of awkward moments, the worst being when neither can remember Reeves' name. It also fixes the aspect ratio problem, pushing it back out to a more pleasing 2.57:1. The 2018 Blu-ray from 88 Films (with the title slightly revised to Adult Fairy Tales) is the best of the bunch, sporting a better compression job than the U.S. disc with the most visible detail and deeper black levels. It's also properly framed and uncut, with the audio commentary ported over. Like the DVD it also features optional English SDH subtitles and a trailer, while the reversible sleeve gives you a choice of poster art options. The first pressing sold via the company site features a slipcase as well.
88 FILMS (DVD)
Reviewed on April 30, 2018.