SEPTEMBER 25, 2014

Dry BonesWhen a movie starts off with a kid reading Fangoria while his little sister listens to fairy tales, you know you're in good hands. And that's exactly what you get with Dry Bones, which takes the whole "monster under my bed" idea to a whole new extreme as a kid named Andy keeps hearing a terrifying succubus underneath his bed talking every night. His father threatens to bring out the belt when Andy complains, which results in a bloody mess under the bed. Flash forward a few decades and our kid is now grown up, middle aged, and going by the nickname Drew (Snow Shark's Michael O'Hear, who also co-directed). He returns home and reunites with his sister, Becky (Kathy Murphy), so they can sell off the old family home to help Becky's struggling finances. Soon weird things start happening: the name "Dry Bones" turns up written in blood on the wall, an odd guy shows up looking for a missing woman, and the cops think Andy might be hallucinating because of his psychiatric meds. Then Andy decides to bring home a local bar floozy for the night, only to find her turned into a skeletal nightmare in his bed. Then she turns up alive again at the bar... and more people start getting dragged under the bed, only to never be seen again. Drew strikes up a new relationship with a woman named Michele (top-billed Debbie Rochon, who engaged in one of the most disturbing sex scenes you'll ever see), which leads to a climactic showdown with his worst childhood nightmare. Boasting a macabre sense of humor and a refreshingly diverse cast of characters slanting older than usual, this is an unusually smart take of middle-aged melancholia with enough gruesome highlights to keep it palatable for horror fans. Give this one a spin. Extras on the Camp DVD (which looks fine for a DSLR production) include an audio commentary with co-director Greg Lamberson (Slime City) and effects artists Arick Szymecki and Rod Durick. Among other things they point out the appearance by Basket Case's Kevin Van Hentenryck as the abusive dad, credited as Duane Smith on the actual film and Kevin Van Hat Trick in the print materials. (For health reasons, O'Hear couldn't participate.) There's also a 22-minute reel of behind-the-scenes footage including tons of bloopers and on-the-fly interviews, the funniest coming from cinematographer Sam Qualiana, plus the original trailer and extra ones including Bacterium, Bite Me, and Zombie Exs.

Dry Bones For most horror fans, the main familiar name from the credits of Animosity is executive producer and film professor Roy Frumkes (Street Trash), but that shouldn't remain the case for long. As it turns out, the film was a thesis project for a group at the School of Visual Arts and turned out to be a genuinely unnerving and creepy little indie, virtually impossible to synopsize without ruining the experience but highly recommended for anyone who likes their genre fare with a few clever twists. Things start off on a grim note with a young woman running through an autumn forest pleading for her life, only to be struck down by her buzzsaw-wielding mother (McCartan). The murderous mom then goes home, showers, packs up her stuff into boxes, and welcomes a couple of prospective buyers into her home, newlyweds Carrie (Tracy Willet) and Mike (Marcin Paluch). Carrie's a horror film composer currently working on a movie with "naked zombie chicks," while Mike carpools away during the day for his medical job. Things start getting freaky right away when Carrie has an unpleasant encounter in the woods with her gun-toting neighbor, Tom (Stephen Goldbach), and later find a frightened teenaged boy in her hallway and later outside. Then there's Mike's colleagues and carpool buddies Carl (Tom Martin) and Nicole (Ayssa Kempinski), who come to play a larger role in the escalating madness in this isolated area without cell phone coverage or any other connection to the outside world.

It's impossible to go further than that without going into serious spoiler territory, but let's just say the film packs in some really nifty surprises and features really harrowing, effective performances, anchored by a terrific central turn by Willet (who commands about 95% of the proceedings). Normally low-budget films shot in a single location tend to overplay their hand and show a strain on their resources, but that's definitely not the case here as the film keeps a firm grip on both the story and the technical aspects, which are handled better than virtually any other Hollywood thriller in recent years. If you've been enjoying the wave of inventive DIY shockers like Absentia and The Pact, this one deserves a slot right up there with them. It's a shame Bloody Earth hasn't tried dipping its toes into Blu-ray, as this would've made a fine choice; the SD rendering looks fine, but some necessary written information in diaries and on letters is difficult to make out and would have benefited from much higher resolution. The on-demand HD version fares better but has no extras, and even so a nice full-res version would be good to have someday. The stereo soundtrack works very nicely and accentuates the excellent score by Geoff Gersh. Extras include a pair of commentaries with writer/director Brendan Steere, the first with editor/sound designer Steve Burgess and cinematographer Jesse Gouldsbury and the second with Willet. Obviously the tones are very different as we get both a very technical and somewhat lighthearted take at first and then a deeper, more contemplative look at the evolution of the story as it swerves into some truly dark places. There's also the original trailer, a very brief (just under four minutes) reel of very silly behind-the-scenes footage, and the one-minute "Demon's Bite" short, which serves as the goofy horror movie within a movie.

WormVery difficult to classify but worth checking out is the oddball sci-fi quirky comedy Worm, which could easily mistake for a dark horror comedy based on the marketing. What we have instead starts off like a Charlie Kaufman take on The Stuff (complete with cheeky commercials) and soon morphs into an engaging character study about Charlie (John Ferguson), who's eager to make his dull life more exciting by trying out a hot new product called Fantasites. No one can dream in this near future, and apparently these worms dropped in people's ears can jolt their subconscious back to life. Unfortunately Charlie's short on cash, which gets him kicked out when he tries to score some; on top of that, Fantasites come in different brands with the premium ones costing even more -- as enjoyed by his much more confident neighbor, Reed (Shane O'Brien). Charlie gets his hands on an economy stash and decides to swap it out with Reed's, which allows him to dive into a dream that feels a lot like a Jamiroquoi video. Things get more complicated when Charlie strikes up a puppy-centric rapport with Reid's girlfriend, June (Jes Mercer), also a Fantasite user. When the product winds up getting pulled off the market, things take a dramatic turn for the trio as they go to drastic means to remain worm users. Juggling mumblecore quirkiness, newscasts, and unpredictable dream sequences (including a brief detour into sitcom territory), Worm doesn't work all the time but boasts enough invention to set itself apart from the pack. The gambit to expand a sharp, clever short film into a feature is a solid one, though the choice to improvise all of it without a finished script (using only a detailed outline instead) is a more questionable one that results in scenes that are either realistically off-kilter or oddly disjointed. The widescreen lensing and evocative electronic score are major pluses, and when the film really starts cooking in its final half hour, it's really a ride worth taking. The Synapse DVD looks fine given the very low budget, unexceptional digital production values, and the beefiest of the extras is a commentary with director Doug Mallette, producers Jennifer Bonior and Jeremy Pearce, and effects artist Julian Herrera, which goes into detail about the unusual style and shifting genre approaches. Also included are 11 minutes of superfluous deleted footage, two trailers, and the great original short, which explores a couple of ideas (and hairstyles) abandoned in the feature version, including swapped fates for two of the characters.

WormConsiderably more lightweight is the brief (72 minutes!) Aussie offering MurderDrome, which relies on a concept you can't believe no one's tried before: a female roller derby team versus a demon from hell. Said goth-clad demon turns up to throw a wrench in a love triangle involving headstrong derby queen Cherry Skye (Amber Sajben), Brad (Jake Brown), and his vindictive ex, Hell Grazer (Rachael Blackwood). In between monster attacks, the girls sit around swapping one liners and justifying their adopted names like Princess Bitchface and Psych. Shot very, very cheaply, this one tries way too hard to obtain cult credibility (including an abrasive quasi-Tarantino soundtrack); still, it's an amusing time waster if you want to see cute Australian actresses beat the crap out of monsters and get sprayed with lots of stage blood. Extras on the Camp DVD include a very chaotic cast and crew audio commentary (most of whom never identify themselves), a gag reel, a visual effects breakdown, and five music videos for songs in the film ("Alice in Zombieland," "Zombie Brains," "Stand Off," "Can't Stop," and "The Joke's Over").

Arkham SanitariumAnd what hath Pride and Prejudice and Zombies wrought? Well, take a look at My Fair Zombie to find out. This Canadian horror musical takes the familiar, Pygmalion-inspired story of low-class flower girl Eliza Dolittle (Sacha Gabriel) and her transformation into an Edwardian sophisticate thanks to a wager between Professor Henry Higgins (Lawrence Evenchick) and Colonel Pickering (Barry Caiger). However, in this case the flower girl we see singing at the beginning gets eaten by a zombie, which turns out to be Eliza, and the wager instead revolves around turning this flesh-eating menace into an acceptable member of society. That means overcoming her insatiable desire for human brains, which turns out to be quite the obstacle indeed. This is definitely a case of a clever concept managing to propel a low-budget film over its obvious shortcomings; for obvious reasons the familiar Lerner and Loewe songs couldn't be used, so instead we have some amusing ditties that cover the same ideas with a little zombie flavor thrown in. (Too bad the numbers sound more like synth demos than finished recordings, but the idea's still cute.) The comedy works pretty well and comes with healthy dollops of blood, guts, and slime, and the cast gives it a sort of campy dinner theater vibe that seems appropriate. The production was shot digitally and plays out in simulated 2.35:1 widescreen for the first few minutes, then switches to 1.78:1 for the remainder after the first big zombie attack. There's also an audio commentary with Evenchick, director/co-writer Brett Kelly, and sound editor Howard Sonnenburg , who have awesome Canadian accents and have plenty of fun stories about how the film evolved from a comedy sketch. You also get six minutes of bloopers, a slideshow of making-of photos, a trailer, and a ten-minute "gents interview" with Evenchick and Caiger.

WormFollowing the overachieving genre entries Bleeding Through and Babysitter Massacre, director Henrique Couto returns with the innocuous-sounding Haunted House on Sorority Row. The title pretty much sums it up in terms of plot at least as the T&A quotient remains high but the gore and brutality get dialed way, way down for a spook story about a haunted piece of real estate (and former brothel) chosen by sorority founder Alex (Joni Durian) to set up shop. She's helped in her quest by Melissa (Hayley Madison), Sherrie (Erin R. Ryan), and wallflower Kathryn (Brandi Baird), with two guys (Mike Hilinski and Eric Widing) helping out for good measure. Soon spectral appearances, inexplicably rotten food, phantom puke, and other inexplicable events paving the way for a housewarming filled with nasty revelations and supernatural twists. The actual nature of the haunting feels a bit like Flatliners at times, but the execution is assured as it veers the characters into some surprisingly harsh terrain at times. Technical credits are solid for a film reportedly shot in less than a week, apart from some overly harsh and rushed-looking lighting in a few spots, and the cast does well with Durian, Couto regular Ryan, and likable stand-up comic Hilinski earning top honors. In what seems to be a trend based on this column, the film was shot digitally and formatted for 2.35:1 framing which results in a few atmospheric scenes and a little more production bang for its buck. The main extra is an audio commentary with Couto and four of the leads, all of whom seem to get along really well as they discuss the accelerated production. There's also an 18-minute featurette packed with cast and crew interviews, plus an appropriately spooky Couto short film, "Bed Demon," also starring Ryan.

Banana MotherfuckerNow we arrive at one of the most eye-catching titles you're likely to run into: Banana Motherf*ck*r, a jaw-dropping Portuguese short film from 2011. Essentially in the same spirit as the instant classic Treevenge, it starts off with a group of camera-toting explorers heading into the jungle and awakening an ancient evil that gives murderous life to every single banana in the area. Soon the cast is decimated in a banana holocaust of eye-gouging, dismemberment, and mutilation, quickly spreading to the mainland where the rampage transforms into a rapid-fire parody of movies including Jaws, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Evil Dead, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, among many others. It's a pretty spectacular achievement from director Fernando Alle and the gang at Clones, whose output is also represented on the same disc with two bonus shorts. The amazing Papá Wrestling from 2009 might be the best anti-bullying short ever made as a poor bespectacled kid gets his Robot Attack lunchbox stolen at school by some nasty classmates, who shove his face in the toilet for good measure. However, it turns out the victim's dad who fixed his lunch is an angry wrestler... and things get very, very ugly. There's also a storyboard gallery and a Frightfest "phone promo" for this one. Then there's Blarghaaahrgarg, in which a down on his luck exterminator is called into a lab where his roach hunting turns into a bit of a mishap. Back home at his apartment, he finds he's unleashed a ravenous monster that devours everything in sight and sprays his walls with blood. Can his exterminating skills save the day? Also included for this one are a trailer and a making-of featurette showing the creation of the refreshingly old-school creature. Some other odds and ends include a "game of trust" (a goofy one-minute camcorder short with a wild punchline at the end), a funny (and splashy) outdoor special effects demonstration, a bonus head-squashing gag, some bonuses for the main short film (a minute-long deleted scene, random human and banana interviews, and a trailer), and the usual batch of Troma promotional miscellany.

Arkham SanitariumDescribed on the packaging as "Lovecraft on steroids," Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater is another variation on the now-familiar found footage game as we have rival investigators infiltrating the title location. A couple of foul-mouthed, married investigators named Jerry and Linda Novak are intent on exploring the site of the famous Miskatonic Massacre, which was committed in the 1990s by the Cthulu-worshipping Lovecraft cult, while arrogant and equally profane colleague Mark Chambers (who supposedly forced himself on Linda during one drunken night) is already inside shooting his own special. Right away weird anomalies plague the video recordings, shadowy figures lurk in the background, and everyone wanders up and down dark hallways a lot. You won't find a single remotely sympathetic person here, but you're into the whole found footage spook show thing, there are a few modest thrills to be found in the last half hour as the characters actually do get confronted with a Lovecraftian beastie amidst the usual menagerie of female ghosts, bald torturers, and general screaming for 72 minutes. There's also a squishy twist ending, too. Digitally shot, the film was been formatted for scope and looks fine on Sector 5's DVD release.

A A Dark Place Insidepretty cool retro '80s synth score and a general sense of grimy unease are the hallmarks of A Dark Place Inside, a serial killer yarn about a sad sack named Andy (Chris Dalbey) who's first seen heading out to the woods to dispose of some human remains into a lake. By day he works at a warehouse where they have to ship lots of units of something or other to Albuquerque, and then he goes home to dance with human body parts and lounge around with them in bed. His extracurricular activities become trickier to maintain when one of his coworkers starts to insinuate himself into his life, which also introduces a woman who could have a profound impact on his murderous impulses. Obviously drawing inspiration from films like Maniac, Nightmare, Nekromantik, and Henry, this is pretty grueling stuff but acted and shot well enough to keep it from descending into total sicko territory. (Well, maybe apart from a twisted bathtub scene that could've stepped out of Don't Go in the House.) Dalbey and writer/director Mike O'Mahony contribute a commentary track recorded just after the film's premiere, with Dalbey actually watching it live for the first time. The track is actually pretty fascinating as they discuss shooting the film mostly in sequence without permits and the thespian requirements of shooting extended scenes in character with prosthetic dead bodies. For some reason the 1.85:1 transfer is not anamorphic (which is just baffled now), but image quality is till okay if you zoom it in. Other extras include the original trailer and bonus (very loud) ones for The Last Vampyre on Earth, Monkey Boy, and (inexplicably) a JFK conspiracy doc.

Zombie Isle Running nearly two hours, the epic-length (and super-cheap) Zombie Isle is an ambitious attempt to haul the glory days of Fulci and company into the DIY digital age. Unfortunately it's also smothered in that fake "grindhouse" veneer with lots of phony scratches, water stains, and other debris to make it look "vintage," which just comes off as forced and distracting. Anyway, there's this nerdy professor in a turtleneck who rounds up some nubile female students (and some token guys) for a boat trip to a remote island, captained by grizzled, disco-listening guy with a hook hand and an eye patch. Upon arrival they're advised to "use all of your senses" as they split up to document... something or other. One of the girls, Amy, points out that the island hasn't shown up on any maps since 1938, which doesn't seem to surprise the guide at all. Any movie whose first zombie attack has brains getting torn out through an afro can't be all bad, and there's a certain amount of Burial Ground-style fun to be had here as the cast gets wiped out by the shuffling undead. There's also a semi-twist ending culled from a certain '70s favorite known to Blue Underground viewers, and the DVD looks about as good as you can expect given the intentionally distressed nature of the source material.

A Dark Place InsideBearing no resemblance to the nutty Tobe Hooper movie of the same title, Night Terrors bills itself as "The Return of VHS Horror" (which should give you a pretty good idea of the wildly uneven horror franchise that inspired it). In tried and true omnibus fashion, we have three tales of terror bound together by a framing device of a young girl pouting that she has to stay home and babysit her little brother. So why not traumatize him with some blood and gore? Complete with tracking glitches and shot in faux scope, the stories kick off with the charming story of some homeless punk rockers who decide to set up for the night in a house for sale (and tag it with a little spray paint for good measure). Meanwhile there's a psycho dressed up as Santa Claus on the loose, and the body count quickly starts to climb. This one owes an awful lot to both Tales from the Crypt and Silent Night, Deadly Night, but you get a pretty clever kill on top of a snowy roof and a particularly gruesome treatment for multiple stab wounds, so it all evens out. Next up, a disgraced professor named Herbert Cain (yuk, yuk) toils in his basement trying to find a cure for his daughter's rapidly-spreading cancer. He'll stop at nothing to find a treatment, and soon anyone who comes into the house or even hangs around the nearby playground might end up with a face full of chloroform -- or worse, as seen in one bit that tries to out-gross Inside. Finally, some college students living off campus find their lives turning into a bloody mess when a flesh-eating STD starts chomping its way through the population. Not surprisingly, all of the stories even on a downer note, with even the framing device closing on a very sinister note. The transfer of Camp's DVD is again limited by the production itself, which looks intentionally drab and aged, while extras include 16 minutes of bloopers, a goofy one-minute "product tie-in," an extra three-minute blooper short called "Suspicious," and three minutes of raunchy slate shots.

Arkham SanitariumThe only film in history to sport cameos by both Tinto Brass and Franco Nero, the 2012 Italian film Crazy Dog (original title: Canepazzo) touts itself as being based on true events but functions better as a love letter to classic poliziotteschi from the 1970s. The title is the name given to a ruthless serial killer prone to slicing men up with a sickle, and two decades later, the crimes are being opened up again by Marco (Gian Marco Tavani). He seeks the aid of a tea-sipping crime expert, Raul (Marco Bonetti), who followed the killer's activities for years, and soon uncovers a seedy, violent secret world that has managed to fester for years. This one doesn't try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Italian thrillers, but there are enough narrative curve balls to keep it interesting including a grim finale and more than a few bloody moments along the way. Though it wasn't shot for Italian TV, that veneer definitely hangs on here as the whole thing has a glossy, professional, but fairly anonymous sheen. The One 7 Movies DVD distributed by CAV sports a solid anamorphic transfer with optional English subtitles and 5.1 and 2.0 Italian audio options. Extras include the original Italian trailer and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos.

The DeviantsAt first it's difficult to know quite what to make of The Deviants, an unreleased 1994 indie production buried for well over a decade until its home video release from Troma. Basically it plays like a Kevin Smith spin on the old high school reunion scenario (think anything from The Big Chill to Indian Summer) with exaggerated characters and raunchy humor characterizing one wild weekend among old pals. The film was obviously completed much later than '94 based on the digital credits and the opening text cards, which makes it kind of an odd experience all around. The only really recognizable name here is the late Jessica Dublin, a Troma vet also seen in films ranging from Island of Death to Land of the Minotaur. She's mainly the middle-aged comic relief though as the film spends most of its time with the aforementioned classmates, who spend their time getting wasted, mooning locals, tangling with lecherous priests, and generally wreaking ridiculous havoc across Pennsylvania. It's actually quite well acted, especially by Matthew Myers who steals all of his scenes as "Grease" and went on to become a busy producer. Expect plenty of odd surprises, too, like a third act alien intervention years before Dude, Where's My Car? pulled a similar narrative trick. Don't try to pigeonhole anything and you'll have a pretty good time with this one. Troma's DVD features a ton of deleted scenes (none essential but some quite funny) and a blooper reel; the soft non-anamorphic transfer looks very dated, which somehow seems appropriate.

Female Gym Coach: Jump and StraddleAnd now for something complete filthy. Impulse Pictures has been doing some kind of deranged movie god's work bringing a slew of Nikkatsu erotic gems from the '70s and '80s to home viewers for the first time with English subtitles, many of them turning popular occupations and sports into nutty sexual fantasies. Case in point: Female Gym Coach: Jump and Straddle, which plays like a gymnastics fetishist's dreams captured on film for 66 minutes. The wisp of a plot takes place at the Kara Cosmetics Company, where the female staff has gotten together for an amateur gymnast competition. They bring in a male coach, Aoki, and spend much of their training time ogling his crotch and talking about how to get him into the sack. However, pretty Kei (Horny Working Girl: From 5 to 9's Junko Asahina) turns out to have a carnal connection with him in her past that might have an impact on their big day. Director Koyu Ohara is best known for his extremely twisted Nikkatsu classics like Fairy in a Cage and the astounding White Rose Campus: And Then Everyone Gets Raped, but this one definitely reflects his lighter side as he essentially turns a sitcom premise into a string of silly softcore escapades. The image quality of this 1981 production is about on par with the other early '80s Nikkatsu titles, which sport a softer, less stylized look than the previous decade's output. The Japanese mono audio sounds fine, with the typically outrageous optional English subtitles that will have you reaching for the pause button to double check your sanity. Extras include the theatrical trailer and the usual informative liner notes by Jaspar Sharp, who points out connections to other Nikkatsu titles including a few that really need a release someday like Molester Train: Underwear Inspection, which we probably won't see in a Criterion edition anytime soon.

Arkham SanitariumMore working women explore their wild side in another Nikkatsu office romp, Office Love: Behind Closed Doors, a surprisingly noir-ish 1985 production. Pretty Reiko (Akasaka Rei) is a high-end assistant for a big international travel agency based in Japan, but her real role is bedding prospective clients or even members of the competition who require some bribing. She's also a single mom, and when her married baby daddy walks back into her life while she's falling for another young executive, things quickly get complicated. Much of the film takes place at night in shadowy, atmospheric locations with an emphasis on emotional tension (and occasional kinky flourishes typical of the period), with the story building to an interesting pro-feminist ending that could make this a pretty safe gateway title for newcomers curious about the heyday of roman porno. As the film was made a bit later in the decade than Female Gym Coach, it was shot in the narrower 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks comparable in terms of image quality despite the much more shadowy cinematography. Sharp again contributes liner notes, this time laying out the history of Nikkatsu in more detail to explain how frequent assistant director Yasuro Uegaki wound up with this assignment in the waning days of the pink film 35mm craze.

Female Gym Coach: Jump and StraddleVinegar Syndrome has been making a lot of vintage adult film fans happy with its prolific line of Peekarama double features, and that trend continues with their release of Mai Lin vs. Serena and Oriental Hawaii. Shot back-to-back in 1981 by director Carlos Tobalina (a name already familiar from previous label releases), neither of these are particularly heavy on plot. What we have here is essentially a dual-film showcase for Mai Lin, the Asian-American star who appeared in dozens of films from the late '70s to the early '90s with titles including Irresistible, Erotic Dimension, Sex Wars, Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, and a lot of other movies with "Oriental" in the title. As you'd expect, the first film is a feature-length competition between Mai Lin and redheaded favorite Serena to see who can perform the best in a string of group sex scenarios to land the lead in an upcoming porn flick. And that's it. We start off in a restaurant and move through various couplings, which eventually lands our leading ladies in the slammer (which doesn't slow them down for a second). Inevitably, it all ends up the only way it possibly could with both of our stars oiled up in a bathtub surrounded by lots of guys in masks. (You can pretty much figure out what happens.) Tobalina even puts in a cameo at the beginning, too, and you can also spot Jade Wong and Mike Horner among the many participants. Previously issued in a dire-looking VHS release from Caballero, the second feature has a different kind of superstar pairing with Mai Lin joining Farrah Fawcett look alike Rhonda Jo Petty and industry vet John Leslie for a Hawaii travelogue unlike any other. Leslie is married to Jesie St. James, and Petty is one of their four kids (!?). The entire family gets more than it bargained for when they decide to take in some boarders, who turn out to be Mai Lin and Jade Wong. You can imagine how it all turns out, though the film comes up with a cute narrative dodge to get around some of the more questionable interfamily hook ups that ensue. The transfers for both features are fresh 2K ones off the original negatives and look fantastic, with the vibrant colors we've come to know and love from past Vinegar Syndrome releases. The two respective theatrical trailers are the sole extras. For some reason the films on the actual disc are in reverse order compared to the packaging, but it doesn't really matter which one you watch first.

The Peep Show CollectionWhile the digital era has managed to bestow some credibility to the often daring and envelope-pushing golden age of adult 35mm films made well into the 1980s, it's also managed to unearth quite a few titles from that format's more disreputable cousin, the stag loop. Collections of often silent short films, generally plotless and only occasionally featuring recognizable faces, have proliferated on DVD and focused primarily on the color titles generated from the late '60s onward. For example, Impulse Pictures has spun off the Synapse line of 42nd Street Forever trailers into smuttier territory with The Peep Show Collection, which has amassed four volumes so far. Each one contains just under two hours of loops bearing newly-created names (some of them downright filthy and unprintable here) with a soundtrack consisting only of the sound of a whirring projector. (Bust out some '70s funk CDs for accompaniment and you'll probably have a better time.) Cinema Sewer's Robin Bougie also contributes liner notes giving some context to the history of stag films in the most recent edition, including rundowns of the "five pillars" necessary for a successful loops (a simple set up, visual stimuli for the female star[s], a theme you won't find often in reality, etc.). Some industry stars pop up here and there, such as Sharon Mitchell (who appears in one particularly startling title called "One in the Oven" for obvious reasons), Erica Boyer, Annie Sprinkle, Jamie Gillis, and Dorothy LeMay, with titles including "Tammy and the Doctor" and "Wheelchair Mary." Image quality is about what you'd expect for titles mostly shot on 8mm, but the new transfers make them look about as good as possible.

America hardly had the corner on the market either as demonstrated in Cult Epics' Vintage Erotica Anno 1970. This dual-layered release clocks in at a whopping two hours and 50 minutes as it compiles a whopping 14 German '70s loops, most with original audio and featuring a bit more plot than their U.S. neighbors. Aristocratic settings are common as are visitors to hotels and hostels, while some jabs at the clergy are included with men of the cloth getting filthy behind closed doors. Some of the titles include "Love-In," "Der Strich," "Die Strand Fotograf," "Susses Dessert," and "Die Bumsscheibe," with a couple of bonus U.S. shorts tossed in at the end for good measure. Expect lots of sideburns, frilly teddies, and fashion crimes galore before all the clothes come off.



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