Color, 2016, 389m.
Vinegar Syndrome (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)
Billed as a"12-unit continuous show," this triple-DVD set from Vinegar Syndrome recreates a theoretical night at the Po-No, one of L.A.'s storefront adult theaters that ran cheaper, grubbier 16mm fare than the glossier porno chic titles pulling in mainstream crowds for titles like Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door. Virtually everything in this first installment in their "Storefront Theatre Collection" was shot in L.A., which seems appropriate, and it functions just much as a time capsule of the City of Angels during its most indulgent years as much as a record of adult entertainment in its cinematic prime.
In "Girl Acrobatics," softcore veteran Gene Rowland (who never seemed comfortable in his scarce harder titles) pops in on a female friend and shows how to have sex while doing a handstand, shot in the same familiar house used in loads of early '70s T&A films like Sexophrenia. This one's only 4 minutes long and strictly simulated.
The 57-minute "Homer... The Late Comer" is a bizarre comedic bacchanal with our title character, a chubby middle-aged guy, having a Roman sex and food feast before we find out he's just been having a dream and is really a porn film editor married to a shrewish wife. More funny than erotic, this features one of the least photogenic male stars imaginable, but the ladies still give it their all despite some hilariously dated wigs and production design.
"Erotic Point of View" is basically a precursor to the POV smut video craze, with a roving camera capturing a guy running into a variety of misadventures including sex toys, girl-on-girl, and interracial action. The amusing "Porno Mondo" looks like an attempt to cobble together a bunch of stag films with a sleazy, chain-smoking host introducing you to a look at sexual mores around the world (or at least around Los Angeles) as Rene Bond as a sex advice writer and a host of anonymous early '70s performers go through the motions on hideous couches and bedspreads. Interviews with Bond about marital and extramarital happiness provide most of the audio with discussions about watching and appearing in adult films filling up much of the time. Ric Lutze pops up as well being interviewed in the aftermath of shooting three "wet scenes" in one day and explaining how a dog ruined one of his big moments. You've never seen so much cigarette smoke and booze crammed into one hour, with the requisite preaching about freedom of art/pornography filled up much of the second half, too. Don't miss the weird flamboyant guy in a bad wig and sunglasses posing as a "speciality" film lab technician, too. Then we have the comical "Sex Before Marriage" in a greatly improved new transfer compared to the one previously seen in After Hours' Sex Before Marriage Grindhouse Double Feature.
On to disc two, the 17-minute "Orgy in the Woods" first bowed on Exploitation.tv's channel and follows a young couple getting it on the woods before stumbling on another pair of visitors with the same idea, so they decide to join forces.
The 54-minute "The Playboys" (labeled as "Swinging Playboy" on the menu) features a young John Holmes turning up in this early '70s oddity, which has been floating around since the Something Weird Dragon Art Theatre VHS days. Aussie softcore actor Pete Dawson sort of tries to go explicit here as a guy who cheats on his girlfriend after chatting with her forever in the bathtub, only for a number of women to stop by at the same time for a carnal comedy of errors. This one's never looked all that great on video and it's still in the roughest shape of the bunch, with faded colors and tons of damage.
Probably the biggest draw in this set for many viewers will be 1973's "Suckula," a 57-minute wonder from Anthony Spinelli with George "Buck" Flower as a newscaster narrator alongside familiar actors like Brigitte Maier, Keith Erickson (hamming it up even more than usual as a car salesman) and Paul Scharf (with a ridiculously overgrown mustache). The very loose excuse for a narrative is the antics of Dracula, who's been unleashed upon the women of Los Angeles. He gets to gnash his teeth a bit but the title should give you an idea of what he mostly gets up to, while the film doles out lots of silly counterculture comedy and a few quirks like a "normal" sex scene in which the female suddenly sports a vampiric pair of choppers. This one popped up in pretty rotten shape from Alpha Blue Archives in a couple of different sets, but it looks much better here and makes for a fun diversion.
No relation to the Something Weird kidnapping favorite of the same title, "The Big Snatch" is a one-hour hardcore roughie about a social miscreant (George Peters) who shoots heroin (shown in lingering real time) and rapes women in alleyways. His shady buddy warns him the cops are out in full force looking for him, so they go on the lam out of town and end up crashing at a gal pal's house. Soon some more ladies in miniskirts show up, which means they all take turns on each other before the bloody twist ending. Not a bad one at all, this obscurity doesn't seem to have been released on video before. The artiest and most surreal offering here is the 57-minute "Erotic Adventures of Hercules," a sort of porno peplum about a debauched king who uses a nymphet as bait to get the muscle man in chains for a sex party. As it turns out, Herc is also in search of a treasure and has his own plan. This one's really just a single erotic adventure, but it's just strange and colorful enough to hold your interest.
Disc three begins with the most familiar and widely-issued title here, "Shot on Location," another Rene Bond and Ric Lutze special about the drama behind the scenes during the production of a western skin flick. Sporting Barbarella cover music cribbed from an album by The Young Lovers, this one has more plot and characterization than usual and makes for an enjoyable watch, looking better here in a fresh transfer than in its previous moldier-looking versions from Something Weird and Alpha Blue. Don't miss the great opening credits featuring Sandy Dempsey, too. A drastically chopped-down soft version of this also appeared on the DVD release of The Teaser and Frankie and Johnnie... Were Lovers.
Then "The Touch" explores the drug trade from a plane landing from South America through a string of users and dealers from Las Vegas to L.A., with John Holmes as a coke kingpin getting a couple of sex scenes as he blackmails sweet young things into becoming his mules. Good luck identifying most of the other actors here; this was also released in cruddier editions by Something Weird and Alpha Blue but looks better and more complete here with a few extra explicit shots missing from past versions.
"Carnal-Go-Round" is basically a one-day cheapie take on La Ronde with a hooker (at Griffith Park!), a sex party organizer, and other assorted folks (including, yes, Ric Lutze again) swapping beds around L.A. The sex is pretty standard here but the '70s location shots are great, including coverage of familiar spots like Crossroads of the World.
Finally it's druggie time again with the grim "All American Hustler," which looks like more legit drama spiced up with hardcore inserts (some blatantly featuring body doubles with different skin tones). A hooker named Carol (Mickie Lynn) is stuck in a cycle of nasty johns and smack-using friends, leading to a very nasty fate. This one was seen earlier via Something Weird with big chunks missing from the running time (including the punchline), but it popped up complete on Exploitation.tv and is presented here from the same remastered HD source. Not bad at all if you want to see a unique drive-in blending of drugsploitation and spliced-in hardcore. The three discs are housed in a slipcase and fold-out packaging, arguably the most attractive and eye-catching Vinegar Syndrome release that'll be sitting on your shelf. Bring on volume two!