Color, 1974, 81 mins. 50 secs.
Directed by Lee Frost
Starring I. William Quinn, Starlyn Simone, Betty Childs, Cindy Taylor Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
One of the more fascinating figures from the golden era of the drive-in, director Lee Frost helped pioneer the roughie exploitation film wit his 1965 wonder, The Defilers. The can't-miss mixture of sex and violence would turn up again in such films as the notorious Love Camp 7 and the deeply unsettling Zero In and Scream, which proved profitable enough to earn him a gig directing The Thing with Two Heads for AIP. Around the same time he made the wonderfully nasty The Black Gestapo, Frost held on to one of its actors, I. William Quinn (who had earlier portrayed an ill-fated hustler in Love Me Deadly), to dabble in the porno chic market with some of that same roughie sensibility in A Climax of Blue Power.
While out cruising the streets of L.A. one night in his cop car, Eddie (Quinn, credited as "Jason Carns") pulls over a prostitute and starts to drive her back to the station. However, on the way he makes her an offer: sex in exchange for her release with no charges. "Thirty minutes and I'll save ya thirty days!" he barks, which leads to a dark, nasty encounter in the back seat. As it turns out afterwards, Eddie is no cop; instead he's a security guard with more than a few mental health issues he tries to exorcise by releasing his darkest fantasies on the women around him. While Eddie's off paying for massage services with a little something extra, local law enforcement is getting wind of his activities and trying to find out who this fake cop/sexual assailant really is. Things take a turn when Eddie happens to be lurking outside a housewife's home only to see her in the middle of an argument that leaves her husband dead on the floor. The guilty party, Linda (A Dirty Western's Simone, billed as "Linda Harris"), seems like she'll get away with it, so Eddie starts to hatch his own plan while watching a stag movie... and when he puts it into action, things get very twisted indeed.
Complete with a car chase, a random cameo by Uschi Digard as a massage girl, and a mean streak a mile wide, this is far from your average '70s hardcore film despite the heavy amount of dark, disturbing sex on display. The atmosphere is closer to a gritty crime thriller mixed with that male psychosis shockers that would flourish a few years later with the likes of Don't Go in the House and Maniac, and if you ever needed proof that adult films weren't necessarily all about arousal, well, here you go. The last half hour in particular is a real shocker as it takes a bizarre gender bender turn that has to be seen to be believed, and the fact that this even climaxes with an action scene rather than the usual cast orgy is also a nice change of pace. For some reason, both Quinn and Simone perform their scenes for real but have very obvious body doubles doing some of their faceless shots, presumably because the production needed more coverage than it got at the time. Such is the nature of the biz.
Most home video hounds first stumbled across this one from Something Weird in the '90s under the title Deviate in Blue, taken from a very ragged, desaturated print. Little better was a subsequent edition from Alpha Blue Archives, taken from an ancient master and looking almost as sickly. Thankfully the 2019 Vinegar Syndrome dual-format Blu-ray and DVD release comes to the rescue with a fresh transfer of a nice quality theatrical print (the negative is long gone), and despite some damage here and there, it looks great and makes for a vast improvement. In earlier editions it was almost impossible to tell when one extended sequence shifted into sepia tone and other tinted footage, but here the approach is quite obvious and makes a lot more sense. The LPCM English mono audio is also fine given the modest demands of the source. Extras include a stills gallery (scans of the pressbook) and a wild theatrical trailer that opens with some unrelated footage of a woman pleasuring herself while a narrator talks about recent legal developments in pornography and the breakthrough of his film, a major Hollywood production not filmed in someone's garage. As with many adult films, it also features several alternate and additional shots not in the actual feature itself.