Anniversary at Shallow CreekDespite proclamations of its death over and over again since the late '80s, the slasher genre refuses to die and still makes for a reliable calling card for up-and-coming filmmakers. Case in point: The Anniversary at Shallow Creek, a 2010 body count film "inspired by true events" about a couple of med students in love, Sam (Eric Fischer) and Paige (Brianna Lee Johnson), who decide to get away from it all for a weekend of R&R with four buddies in the woods. However, the lodge where they decide to stay turns out to have a sinister history; it was the site of a brutal double murder one year ago, and the killer is still at large. In true '80s fashion, the first half of the film is basically a protracted set up with the characters making idiotic choices and failing to run for the hills when they have the chance. However, if you're willing to put your brain on hold and coast along for the thrills in the second half, you're rewarded with some enjoyably splattery kill scenes and some moderately engaging plot twists, including a nifty epilogue. Don't expect an unheralded classic, but if you're looking for a new slasher that tries to toss a couple of new kinks into the formula, you could do a lot worse. Breaking Glass' DVD (which features perplexing cover art that misses its target audience by a mile) features a sharp anamorphic transfer, a quick making-of video featurette, on-set interviews with the cast and crew, and a commentary with the leads (and co-writers, not to mention real-life spouses) along with director Jon D. Wagner.

Frat House MassacreIt's hard to believe no one's made a movie called Frat House Massacre until the 21st century, but indeed, the first film to wear that crown is exactly what you'd expect: a low-budget, gore-drenched cheapie with a lot of soap opera actors, crazed plot twists, and odd sexual undercurrents. The slasher-style formula this time follows a hapless young man, Sean (Chris Prangley), who's about to get hazed as part of the process of gaining entry into the fraternity of Delta Iota Epsilon on one of those generic all-American campuses. Sean's still shaken up by the DUI-fueled accident that left his brother in a coma, but the ultimate nightmare lies ahead thanks to a domineering frat brother who takes initiation a little too seriously -- and a ruthless slashes who's picking off members and hopefuls one by one, with the climactic Rush Week party setting the stage for a bloodbath. Despite the obviously impoverished budget, this is actually a very slick-looking film with an '80s body count vibe and some hilarious reversals on horror skin expectations that would do David DeCoteau proud, though T&A fans will obviously be left a little frustrated. The filmmakers (who also made the similarly retro Camp Slaughter) profess a goal of going for a '70s exploitation feel, but this is really '80s slasher trash all the way and would probably make a good companion piece to any of the Slumber Party Massacre sequels. The anamorphic transfer on Synapse's DVD looks terrific throughout (not surprising given the 2008 production year), and director Alex Pucci and writer Draven Gonzalez chip in with an entertaining commentary track about the film's casting and filming on limited means and its circuitous route through a string of horror fests. A more technical second track features many crew members (some of whose names are completely inaudible) talking about the details of the production itself, including a lot of attention on the various effects including several slashings and gashings. A brief behind-the-scenes featurette has many of the same participants talking EPK-style about the making of the film, while a huge helping of deleted scenes (over 20 minutes!) shows what was cut out of a film that was already epic lengthy by slasher standards (116 minutes!).

Final ExamOn the other hand, if you want to see a bona fide example of an '80s slasher without a postmodern filter, look no further than Final Exam, a distillation of the genre's cliches (already well established here by the 1981 release year) with a perplexing minimum of gore and an absolute maximum of absurdity. A "mass murderer" has just struck against some heavy-petting couples on a campus, and at the nearby Lanier College, the student body is buzzing about the possibility that the psycho could strike there next. Meanwhile the local frat boys are pulling harmless pranks like, uh, staging violent school shootings in the quad (ha ha, ho ho), and when the real killer in a military jacket does start wielding his knife, no one's quite sure what's real anymore. Shot in North Carolina, this is hardly the best of the often derided slasher craze but certainly far from the worst as well; it's a reasonably witty and unpredictable film that compensates for its lack of blood with some peculiar characters (especially the chatty horror fan student named Radish who predates Scream by a couple of decades) and a couple of fairly energetic shock sequences. Incredibly, this has actually been out on DVD in two special editions; the first from BCI (sporting a very lackluster transfer) quickly went out of print when the company ceased production, while the subsequent reissue from Scorpion boasts a much better new transfer with richer colors, deeper blacks, and a far more attractive overall apperance. Both versions feature video interviews with actors Cecil Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice and Sherry Willis-Burch and the theatrical trailer, but while the BCI disc contains a cast commentary, the Scorpion one instead features producer Myron Meisel talking about the film from a more in-depth production standpoint (including some surprising wrangling with the MPAA) moderated by horror hostess Katarina Leigh Waters, who also amiably introduces the film as part of her "Katarina's Nightmare Theater" line of retro horror titles, whose other entries are promoted here with trailers for The Devil Within Her, The Pyx, Nothing but the Night and Humongous.

Lizard BoyIf you're a really dedicated horror fan, patience can often be a virtue as films with an unpromising start can often pay big dividends if you stick around long enough. For example, 2008's Beyond the Dunwich Horror wears its Lovecraft influences on its sleeve-- not to mention some blatant nods to Lucio Fulci along the way, including a pivotal tombstone previously seen in City of the Living Dead. Like its namesake, this one revolves around two siblings in New England with a monstrous connection, in this case Kenneth (Michael Reed) and his brother Andrew (Jason McCormick), whose current stunt in a padded cell is explained via flashbacks which interweave with Kenneth's own investigation into evil shenanigans along the coastline. Shot on digital video, the film features a lot of yakking in its opening act and makes a few stabs at Stuart Gordon-style verbal humor (understandable given the Lovecraft connection), but it eventually hits its stride with a fragmented, dreamlike story turn that leads to a poetic finale that would've done Jean Rollin proud. Extras include a Nun of That "48 Hour Film" trailer, a Grindhouse-style trailer for the fake "1975" horror film Dark Night of the Demon House (which actually looks like it could've been quite a cool movie), and an audio commentary with director Richard Griffin, actors Sarah Necklin and Michael Reed, producer Ted Marr, and cinematographer Ricardo Rebelo. Also included in this double-disc set from Camp Motion Pictures is a very different and far goofier Richard Griffin offering, Pretty Dead Things. Made two years earlier, this is basically a one-joke film, but at least it's a decent joke as a quartet of adult film actors turn out to be vampires who figured out how to ply their eternal youth into a regular career. They're retired at the moment, but when a pizza delivery boy victim turns nasty and starts a crusade against them, the vamps must turn back to their "day" jobs with the aid of a human colleague. Definitely lower in terms of both ambition and execution, this is a modest film with some engaging elements but definitely far too tame given the subject matter; it could almost be PG-13, which is not a good thing when you're talking about bloodsucking sex performers. Again you get a Griffin and Marr commentary track, plus a slew of additional Camp trailers.

Lizard BoyWith a title like Lizard Boy, you'd probably expect a goofy homage to '50s monster movies with a scaly-skinned teenager running rampant after randy teenagers. Actually you get something much stranger with this genre pastiche about a scientist named Gino (Pete Punito) whose girlfriend (Miranda Allgood) dumps him after learning he's infertile. Gino decides to do a little genetic dabbling on himself and impregnates her with a half-reptile offspring that quickly grows to adult size (played by Steven Zeigler), now named Carlo. The mutant is keep sedated with hefty helpings of ganja, but that doesn't work when dad gets kidnapped by government agents -- sending the lizard kid on a neck-chopping rampage. Swerving wildly between goofy humor, gore, and pathos, this oddball character study with a body count suffers from some very inadequate special effects (including the mask of the lizard boy himself, which is a little too Halloween-ish for comfort) and a couple too many tonal shifts for its own good. However, it's just so darn weird you can't help but keep watching, and there are a few nifty little plot turns (and some lizard kung fu!) that reward patient viewers willing to haul through some of its draggier passages. The film was obviously shot on DV and looks it on the DVD from Cinema Epoch, with a modest stereo sound mix doing what it can with the minimal score and sound effects. A trailer and still gallery are also included, though a commentary would have been really helpful to indicate exactly how on earth this thing came to be made in the first place.

Evil BongSpeaking of monsters and potheads, that can only lead us now to Full Moon territory with Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong. A crazed, colorful entry in one of the company's more popular recent efforts, this one ratchets up the psychedelic colors and random goofiness for the tale of four head shop owners in Venice Beach, including the survivors of the first two films. However, a monstrous bong from outer space lands nearby and starts to entrap them in an alternate universe filled with topless space pot babes, leaving them no choice but to enlist the original Evil Bong to help them save the world. Director Charles Band ladles on the fantasy sequences and stoner comedy with a shovel, and this was originally presented in 3D as well along with a revamped version of John Waters' Odorama. (Dare we hope for a 3D Blu-Ray down the road?) The film itself is almost incidental at this point as the whole project is basically one giant goofy gimmick with a toy tie-in, but fan favorite bong Eebee is fun to watch as usual, and for those keeping track of his wacko career, Shortbus alumnus turned Troma and gay TV vampire actor Peter Stickles turns up as a buttoned-down geek lured into the alien bong universe. Not surprisingly, the DVD is outrageously colorful and also comes with a caffeinated trailer that'll give you a contact high.

Alien ThunderSporting a title that understandably confused theater patrons, the strange and arty Canadian western Alien Thunder was understandably retitled Dan Candy's Law for a shortened VHS release (later bootlegged by a lot of PD companies). Today it's mainly notable for featuring one of Donald Sutherland's oddest performances from the '70s, which is saying quite a bit if you've seen more than a couple of titles he made after Don't Look Now. After his fellow sergeant and friend Malcolm (Invasion of the Body Snatchers' Kevin McCarthy, sporting a crazy beard) is killed by an Indian named Almighty Voice (Gordon Tootoosis), determined and imaginative mountie Dan Candy (Sutherland, obviously) sets off on a long, grueling journey to seek justice that calls the entire conflict between white men and Indians into question. Part of a string of '70s Indian-sympathetic westerns like Little Big Man and Soldier Blue, this one is distinguished by its unique and often breathtaking Great White North locales as well as a few unexpected participants like composer Georges Delerue and a significant role for Francine Racette, recipient of the most memorable murder in Four Flies on Grey Velvet. To put it mildly, Scorpion's DVD is a massive improvement over any previous home video version as it's presented uncut and in scope from the original Cinerama vault materials; it's a visually impressive experience throughout even if the film elicits a mood that may not be to every taste. Definitely worth checking out if you're feeling adventurous, however.

Dogpound ShuffleOne of the most ubiquitous faces on American TV in the '70s, David Soul became a household name starring in Starsky & Hutch and earned a place in the hearts of horror fans everywhere in Salem's Lot. He also made a few odd stabs at big screen success, most notably in 1973 with the Dirty Harry film Magnum Force. At the other end of the spectrum you also have an oddity made two years later, Dogpound Shuffle, which teams him up with Oliver!'s Ron Moody for the story of a young drifter named Pitt who helps an older itinerant named Steps find his lost pet dog. Along the way they discover their mutually beneficial musical abilities, tangle with a brutal pound owner, and become the entertainment at a ritzy socialite party. Sort of like a more upbeat Canadian version of Umberto D., it's an amiable diversion and fairly accessible for all ages with enough of a quirky '70s twist to give it some cult appeal. Scorpion's DVD features a full frame (open matte) transfer that looks very good throughout and can be zoomed in to approximate the theatrical apperance on a widescreen TV; the only extra is a thorough audio commentary with director Jeffrey Bloom, who went on to direct Flowers in the Attic, Blood Beach, and the horror anthology Nightmares (as well as an episode of its origin TV series, Darkroom).

Franco NeroTwo long-forgotten crime staples from the VHS days get a revival of sorts with a "Detective Double Bill" kicking off with Blade, a 1973 thriller with John Marley (the guy who wakes up with the horse head in The Godfather) as the titlular detective hunting down a nefarious slasher. He think he's found the guilty party in the form of a prominent victim's black boyfriend but realizes more may be afoot when the murders continue. Marley's actually pretty amazing here, and the slice-of-life footage of the streets of New York right after The French Connection provides a thick atmosphere money just can't buy. Even better, the DVD sports the longer theatrical cut of the film (91 minutes) for the first time on video; past VHS editions were missing up to 13 minutes! If that's not enough incentive, the film was also the first feature credit for co-writer Jeff Lieberman (of future Squirm, Blue Sunshine, and Just Before Dawn cultdom) and features a nifty score by John Cacavas (Horror Express), not to mention unexpected appearances by Rue McClanahan (The Golden Girls), Julius Harris (Live and Let Die), Ted Lange (The Love Boat), voice artist Marshall Efron (Shogun Assassin), Steve Landesberg (Barney Miller) and even a young Morgan Freeman! Next up is another unorthodox cop story, 1969's Ring of Death (originally shown as Detective Belli), with Franco Nero as a commissioner on the take who decides to buckle down and actually solve a high-profile murder that drags him from the city streets to the even more dangerous world of high society. Adolfo Celi (Thunderball) appears in one of many, many Italian crime roles here as a shady lawyer, but the most indelible presence here is easily Florinda Bolkan (A Lizard in a Woman's Skin), looking stunning the same year as her turn in Machine Gun McCain and on the cusp of her international breakthrough in Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion. The grim ending is actually still a bit of a shocker, and on the whole it's an above-average entry in the Euro crime field even if it can't approach the insane ones to follow in the next decade. Incidentally, this is the American print (complete with R-rated MPAA card and the Detective Belli title card) clocking in at 91 minutes (like the much shoddier-looking tape version); the 103-minute Italian cut has yet to be released in America for some reason. The transfers of both films are fresh anamorphic ones from good prints (though Ring looks a bit on the pale and faded side), with some occasional dirt and debris to give it some vintage texture. Both features can be played separately or as part of a "42nd Street" experience that includes bonus trailers as well as the trailer for Ring of Death.

StoneyAnother Euro-action double bill comes with more mixed results, starting with the more satisfactory offering of Stoney, a 1969 Filipino espionage film originally shot as The Surabaya Conspiracy and shown more widely on TV as The Gold Seekers. The always gorgeous Barbara Bouchet has a solid leading role here as Irene Stone, a frequently unclad criminal's moll tasked with uncovered some lost treasure in the South Seas. She has to use her wiles to get through a string of potential foes and allies to get to the hidden site, which is off the coast of the prime minister's estate. Michael Rennie(!) co-stars in this reasonably entertaining, colorful time waster, which also features Richard Jaeckel and The Road Warrior's Mike Preston. This being a Filipino film, you also have the always great Vic Diaz (referred to as a "hearthrob" on the sleeve!) in another of his hammy supporting roles. Also included is The Killer Likes Candy, an international assassination yarn previously released by Media Blasters as part of their second Rareflix collection covered here. This is the same exact Video Gems master with similar compression, so if you already have the previous version, you can skip this one; if not, it's a reasonably fun companion film that will hopefully get an upgraded transfer someday if anyone ever digs up an actual print. On the other hand, Stoney looks great and is presented in full scope with a new anamorphic transfer; as with the companion crime double feature above, it also features a "42nd Street" play option complete with bonus trailers including Nightmare and Stigma, which in these come from Code Red even if their name is nowhere in evidence on the packaging.

Godfather SquadOur last '70s double feature this time comes with the niche-within-a-niche banner of "Mafia Martial Arts Mayhem," which means you get to experience an odd conflation of gunfire and kung fu. Well, in one case anyway. The main feature here is 1974's The Godfather Squad, a fast-paced and utterly senseless chunk of hokum also known to trash film collectors as Little Godfather. Shirley Corrigan (The Devil's Nightmare) is the obligatory guest-starring English name here, and incredibly, this was one of the early releases for Cannon Films before they became the Golan and Globus juggernaut known to '80s film fans everywhere. The very thin plot (which ramps up early on with a violent scene involving a dog that has to be seen to be disbelieved) follows a martial arts maestro (Invincible Kung Fu's Bruce Leung) targeted by international mobsters after he witnesses a murder, and even with machine guns in hand, they're no match for his flailing fists of vengeance. Peplum vet Gordon Mitchell also pops up in this weird genre mish-mash, presented in a new anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer that finally allows you to follow what the heck's actually going on, for what that's worth. However, it's a masterpiece of narrative precision compared to the "lost film" accompanying it, Bruce's Last Battle, a 21st Century Distribution orphan trying to make a movie-length product using scraps of fight scenes with Bruce Le, aka Lu Chien Lung. If you watch this as sort of a rough greatest hits package than an actual film, your entertainment mileage will certainly increase; otherwise, prepare for a serious migraine trying to figure out what on earth you're watching and how you could have possibly stumbled into it. The 1.78:1 anamorphic presentation is about as good as could be expected given the varying nature of the film stocks involved, and as usual, you get a turbo play option with the usual barrage of bonus trailers.

Lloyd KaufmanThough the gang at Troma Entertainment may release films often lacking the basic building blocks of cinematic storytelling like characters, a coherent plot, or even camera framing, they've always been masters at guerilla-style self-promotion. That skill is nowhere more evident than their two-disc DVD release, Produce Your Own Damn Movie!, another spin on the "Damn Movie" multimedia franchise featuring founder Lloyd Kaufman's book of the same title. Truth be told, this is essentially an epic-length collection of behind the scenes segments from a wide variety of Troma films, with an inventory far too massive to list here. Among the familiar faces spotted here among the video mayhem are Roger Corman, Ernest Dickerson, Joe Dante, David Cronenberg, Monte Hellman, Mick Garris, and the usual cast of Troma misfits; the films whose productions are profiled here include Blood Bath in the House of Knives, the Mother's Day remake, a "shock doc" on H.G. Lewis, Slime City Massacre, Super, Sucker, and Nun of That!, along with lots of irreverant (and irrelevant) festival coverage. The aforementioned filmmaker interviews are really the highlights here, though some of the DIY shoots are interesting as you see the different methods some of the crew use to protect and manipulate their gear. There's no way any sane person could get through what amounts to an avalanche of DVD supplements in one sitting, but if you're up for it, there's some solid gold to be found if you're willing to mine around a bit with your remote control.

Debbie RochonIf that's not enough Troma ephemera to keep you busy, one of the label's most enthusiastic participants in front of the camera has also chimed in with her own offering, Debbie Rochon Confidential: My Years in Tromaville Exposed. Presented as a documentary running a whopping two hours and twenty minutes, it compiles a wide variety of footage from her career ranging from her early role opposite the urinating Lloyd Kaufman in The Toxic Avenger to her copious T&A scenes and goofy video intros with Lloyd found on most of the company's DVD releases. Her appearance changes several times over the years, obviously, and you also get extended looks at her two most prominent roles in Tromeo & Juliet and Terror Fimer, which happen to be two of the stronger films made by the company itself. The much-touted highlight here is her rare appearance on Fangoria TV's Trailer Park as a supplement, and while there probably isn't much here that die-hard Troma fans haven't seen already, there may be some value for fans to have it all collected in one place. Curiously there's no new content whatsoever here from Rochon herself; a little modern perspective on the material (none of which is newer than 2006) would've been a nice addition for fans. Once again, even if the whole thing is a shameless cash grab in the end, you've got to admit this is one company that knows how to stretch a buck so far it snaps in half.

Minty the AssassinIf midnight movies were still being made for theaters, it's a safe bet the makers behind Minty the Assassin had them in mind when they came up with this ode to fanboy excess promoted as a mixture of "lesbians, martial arts, high heels and science." Structured more like an online video game than an actual movie, it chronicles the adventures of punk-chic superhero Minty (Elina Madison) who gets her power from mint chocolates and has become the target of a comic-fueled villain, Dr. Brain Bender (Chip Joslin), who is holding her boss hostage. Soon she has to fight her way through a barrage of foes and possible friends including a lesbian vampire, the freakish Captain Capability, a moping rat mutant, and deranged karate-chopping Bruce Zee, to name but a few. The end result feels like what might have happened if the Scott Pilgrim movie had been made for twenty bucks with a lot of bare breasts thrown in, and yeah, it's about as chaotic as that sounds. Mixing a cartoon bunny with silicone-enhanced nudity probably sounded like a good idea on paper, but on a TV screen it's just... funky. At least it looks pretty great, with lots of vibrant comic-friendly colors (all the more amazing considering it was shot on digital video for chump change) and features a terrific soundtrack including groups I've never heard of like 8-Bit. If you watch it with half an attention span, there's some fun to be had here; just make sure you don't think about what you're watching. At all.

Wide OpenAnd now for the smutty part of our program... Impulse Pictures has certainly done its share to revive the relatively brief but memorable career of Swedish softcore goddess Christina Lindberg, and her last starring role (albeit more of a significant supporting character), Wide Open from 1975, comes to DVD in another special edition with input from the enigmatic sex kitten herself. Director Gustav Wiklund (Exposed) delivers a meandering story about homely cab driver Paul (Kent-Arne Dahlgren) and his strange circle of friends and family including his loose girlfriend Marianne (Thriller: A Cruel Picture's Solveig Andersson), her sister Beryl (Gunilla Larsson), and their nude model pal Eva (Lindberg), not to mention Paul's alcoholic rapist dad (The Seventh Seal's Ake Fridell) whose arrival gets the whole chain of events moving. Loads of nudity and peculiar plot twists (including some nonsense about drugs stashed with a mink coat) keep your attention throughout, and Impulse's DVD does an adequate job of presenting the film with its competent if unremarkable English dub track, an anamorphic 1.66:1 transfer (very sickly looking, but that may be due to the overcast look of the original film itself), a great 20-minute video featurette wtih Lindberg and Wiklund talking about the making of the film (seriously, someone should just do a feature-length Lindberg documentary already), the original trailer, and a cheesecake-style photo gallery of Lindberg for good measure.

Erotic EscapeHowever, not all European sexploitation films are created equal. Case in point: 1985's Erotic Escape, a very obscure Italian/Colombian(!) co-production originally released as Fuga Scabrosamente Pericolosa. Director Nello Rossati (The Sensuous Nurse) moves things at a snail's pace as we follow the trevails of Amparo (Eleonora Vallone, the uninhibited daughter of actor Raf Vallone), a magistrate's daughter kidnapped by escaped prisoner Manuel (Collateral Damage's Rodrigo Obregon). Soon they're both on the run out to the dusty desert where he smacks her around and has his way with her in what amounts to a cheapjack copy of Swept Away, leading to the obligatory sex scenes and violent finale in the third act. Bitter and oppressive, this roughie is presented on One7's DVD as some sort of tropical T&A film, which will come as a shock to anyone who actually sits down to watch it. Yes, you get some pretty graphic non-consensual nudity after the halfway mark, but it's a rough haul getting there and the whole thing will leave you sullen rather than excited. The label has managed to unearth some pretty wild discoveries in its short history, but this is hardly their proudest hour. To make matters worse, the miserable video presentation looks like a mangled Super 8 print being projected out of focus on a dirty bedsheet in what appears to be some sort of bid for the crummiest DVD presentation in the format's history. At least you get some optional English subtitles for the Italian dialogue, but they're not particularly easy to decipher and make the film even more of an endurance test than it would be already.

Sex MerchantsThough it's largely become the domain of generic cable shows and genre spoofs, vintage-inspired softcore continues to thrive as well with a few titles each year paying tribute to past masters like Joe Sarno, Russ Meyer, et al. One example of an attempt to do Sarno in the modern era is The Sex Merchants, a quickie salute to All the Sins of Sodom about a nudie photographer named Peter (Tyrone L. Roosevelt), who works in a New York loft for a magazine called Esoteric. When he's not busy doing lines of coke, Peter's either putting his models in fetish gear or having sex with them on his couch (unless they're getting busy with each other). Meanwhile his editor's getting impatient with his lack of creative spark, so the clock on his career may be ticking. Director "John Niflheim" spends most of the time ogling the spread-legged antics of his female performers including Mia Copia (An Erotic Vampire in Paris), Jackie Stevens (Ironbabe), and newcomer Lavender Rayne, but the melodramatic spark and visual panache of Sarno is woefully absent here. Instead you're basically stuck with a story about a jerk out of an Abel Ferrara film trying to get laid over and over again, which means the 68 minutes start to feel much longer by the halfway mark. Still, if you want to get an idea of how seedy sexploitation from the '60s would look on a modern DV camera with some struggling New York actors, look no further. Independent Entertainment's DVD features a decent transfer that does what it can with the cheap-looking source material, and little else outside of a basic menu option.

John HolmesFor obvious reasons, John Holmes remains one of the most recognizable names in adult cinema despite the fact that he's been dead for decades. Despite looking like a homeless man and possessing no screen charisma or discernible energy, he rose to superstardom based solely on his one prodigous talent, which went on to inspire a far more lively fictional counterpart in Boogie Nights. After Hours' ramshackle John Holmes Unzipped Collection features three "rare and unreleased feature films" from the titanic timber man, though the results may not be quite what you'd expect. First up is Smokin' Mary Jane, a "movie" stitched together from four porn loops featuring wildly varying image quality. Holmes plays a drug dealer (at least according to the packaging) who gets down with a willing starlet, intercut with other random couplings including one with Rick Cassidy wearing a tacky necklace. Things get much more interesting with feature two, Masked Mischief, a softcore roughie with Holmes (in a Zorro mask) as a theater host breaking in two new audience members alone in a creepy theater where faked scenarios onstage involve fake sexual assaults and orgies. The women here appear to be mostly anonymous one-timers again, though Paul Scharf plays one of the performer/ringleaders and Keith Erickson is one half of the new arrivals. Last up is the nastiest and most memorable of the trio, the rape-and-revenge sickie Ride a Cock Horse. Basically a bunch of degenerates staying out in a cabin for a weekend of debauchery decide to take out their lusts on a girl who comes by for help; however, payback comes in the form of the victim's boyfriend (Holmes) and his pistol-packing best friend, who all take turns with the victimizers in the bedroom. Both the dialogue and graphic sex scenes are so hateful and over the top you can't help but shake your head in disbelief, and Holmes has to carry most of the weight in the hydraulic department as well since his co-stars don't seem quite as up to the task. Grimy and slimy, this is a set that knows what its target audience wants and delivers the goods, at least in two out of three cases.

Uncle FartIf you've been keeping up with Sick Picks, then no doubt you remember that animated assault on sanity called Uncle Fart and his wisecracking smut palace companion, Scooper. Well, they're back at it again with another filthy two-disc softcore assault on your DVD player called Uncle Fart's Dirty Movie Theater. First up is a horrific feast of hairy bodies grinding on hideous furniture called Involuntary Bird, which revolves around some nonsense about a girl fretting about her boyfriend being in jail while she and her friends take turns banging on an eye-punishing bedspread. You've never seen any of these people in anything else, and there's a reason. Next up is the '70s curio She'll Do Alright..., which looks like a softened-up version of a much more explicit film with a French ingenue (Julia Perrin) hopping through a variety of multi-partner sexual encounters in Los Angeles including appearances from industry vets Herschel Savage, John Leslie, and Sue Nero. The whole thing sounds like it has a new, horrifically dubbed soundtrack that even tries to get in synch with the film, possibly created to get around some nasty music licensing issues. A few fleeting frames of unsimulated activity flicker through here and there, indicating the editing job wasn't done very carefully whenever this was created. (For the record, here's the scoop on the original XXX version, Love Dreams.) The same pattern carries over, albeit without the surreal redub, with 1978's The First Time, a soft recut of an Anthony Spinelli film with Joey Silvera, Mimi Morgan, and Blair Harris, basically charting how a sweet young thing became an adult film star at the urging of her boyfriend. It's actually not bad thanks to the good actors on hand, and even if the graphic stuff is missing, there's still plenty of steamy groping and grinding to be found. The last one barely qualifies as a feature: 1971's Adultery for Fun & Profit, a severely truncated (way, way under an hour) version of an early hardcore film from Richard Robinson, who directed a handful of adult and exploitation films culminating in his last feature, the legendary Poor Pretty Eddie. The film itself is a pretty clever and well-executed outing about a scheme run by Richard (Frank Harris) who hires himself out to divorcing husbands to have sex with their wives, thus setting the stage for proof of adultery and an out from alimony payments. Things get far more complicated from there on the way to the amusingly poetic twist ending, but the real reason for existence here is the stylish execution of the carnal encounters including participants like Donna Jones, Rainbow Robbins, and Lynn Holmes. The complete version is available from Something Weird, so check it out if you want to see a superior example of smut cinema before the breakthrough of Deep Throat.

John HolmesLast up on our titillating tour is an obligatory offering from After Hours Cinema, this time one of their better collection of adult loops, Tina Russell: 1970s Girl Next Door. One of the more popular and reliable performers from the Me Decade, Russell got her start doing loops like this before graduating to features along with her husband, Jason; though she died in 1981, she remains a compelling figure from the era and one of its most charismatic legends. This disc may not be the best place to start, as they're silent with musical accompaniment and often in very poor condition given their history, but fans familiar with her already will find plenty of curious discoveries here. Several pair her up with the prolific Marc Stevens (including the opening short, "Nurse Tina"), while the fiery Vanessa Del Rio goes to town on her in "Girls Nite In." The freaky "Tina in Bondage" delivers what you'd expect, while Harry Reems has a go in "Porno Star." That's just a small sampler of the 90 minutes unearthed here (with Tina also sampling a stewardess costume and a variety of naughtier accessories), and while it's definitely not the prettiest-looking collection in the label's catalog, fans shouldn't find much reason to complain.

Find these titles and more at Diabolik DVD.

July 4, 2011
June 5, 2011
March 19, 2011
December 24, 2010
October 25, 2010
October 1, 2010
August 11, 2010
June 15, 2010
November 16, 2009
August 6, 2009
June 11 , 2009
March 19, 2009
October 27, 2008
August 7, 2008
July 25, 2008
May 31, 2008 (Aussie Special)
February 19, 2008
January 8, 2008
October 23, 2007
October 8, 2007
September 29, 2007