Two Hours on a SundayA documentary so wild you can barely believe what you're seeing, Memphis Heat chronicles "the true story of Memphis wrasslin'," a subculture borne out of the Tennesse '50s carnival circuit thanks to the pioneering efforts of local legend Sputnik Monroe. Sort of a deep-fried parallel to the Mexican wrestling craze of the past century, it's a head-spinning pastiche of interviews with the still-living participants, archival footage (most in glorious VHS-o-vision), promotional art, and bloody vintage photos, all smashed together into a crazy mix of real-life insanity. Some of the participants here are still larger than life including Monroe himself and such names as Billy Wicks, Jackie Fargo, Jerry Lawler, Rocky Johnson, Handsome Jimmy, and many more, all of whom get extra bonus interview footage in the extras as well. Each decade feels a bit different of course depending on the material at hand, with the '70s and early '80s getting the most video focus thanks to material fans managed to tape off of cable TV. It's completely different from the slick, often neutered histories presented by national organizations like the WWE; what you get here is completely unvarnished and often hilarious thanks to the colorful personalities who lived to tell it all. You also get a new angle on the area's racial integration in the '60s, the notorious "feud" with Andy Kaufman and Lawler, and the often questionable means used to turn the sport into a southern craze for almost four decades. The DVD itself is no less impressive, packed with over four hours of extra goodies including the aforementioned bonus chats. You also get Studio Wrestling TV highlights (including more Kaufman, "The Most Popular Wrestler in Mexico Award," and a report on Jackie Fargo getting a faceful of acid), Coliseum highlights (basically full matches between the likes of Plowboy, Handsome Jimmy, The Fabulous Ones, and The Moondogs), a deleted segment on "The Galento Incident," and a trailer. Amazing stuff all around and a major Southern pop culture treasure; somebody should try to make a Hollywood movie about these guys someday.

Wound Fans of '80s late night cable TV may be more than familiar with an odd little British number called Justine, also released on home video as Cruel Passion. The main claim to fame for this one is its starring role for Koo Stark, a beautiful dark-haired actress whose relationship with Prince Andrew fell apart when this film and another earlier softcore outing, Emily, came to royal attention. Of course, the news made this film a mainstay among celebrity skin watchers for years, though anyone lured in by its ties to the source novel by the Marquis De Sade will probably wonder what all the fuss was about. The story will be familiar stuff for Eurocult fans as the sprawling novel was adapted earlier as Jess Franco's film of the same name, not to mention Justine and Juliette and the loose Justine De Sade. Here Stark plays Justine, of course, an innocent who outgrows her stay at a French orphanage and has to fend for herself in a predatory world filled with pimps, murderers, depraved men of the cloth, and a seemingly worthy peasant boyfriend (played by Martin Potter from Fellini Satyricon and Goodbye Gemini, here sporting a weird dark hair color). Meanwhile her sister, Juliette (The Tomorrow People's Lydia Lisle) has a much easier time adapting to the moral corruption around her. Be sure to keep an eye out for a small appearance by gorgeous Ann Michelle, star of House of Whipcord and Virgin Witch. Redemption has been reconfiguring this one on DVD for years under both titles, but those are all rendered obsolete by their impressive Blu-Ray release featuring a beautifully textured 1.66:1 HD transfer. The film elements have been kept in mostly fine shape, and the Cruel Passion title is the one actually included here (with an alternate credit sequence included as an extra). Other supplements include a brief five-minute interview with director Chris Boger and a longer 18-minute one with screenwriter Ian Cullen, better known as a frequent UK TV actor, plus a trailer and stills gallery. The packaging prominently cites this as an early effort for cinematographer Roger Deakins, who of course went on to shoot many of the Coen Brothers' best films along with The Shawshank Redemption and the 007 film Skyfall.

The FieldsThe subgenre of rural horror isn't one that's been explored with any enthusiasm in recent years; if fact, apart from the occasional anomaly like the Jeepers Creepers films, you might say it's something of a lost art in mainstream films. Though not entirely successful, the gothic art film The Fields mines territory similar to '70s outings like The Town that Dreaded Sundown and The Evictors (and, in sports, The Reflecting Skin) as it paints a portrait of Stevie (Joshua Ormond), a preteen left to live with his grandparents (Cloris Leachman and Bev Appleton) after his parents get into a very violent domestic dispute. (Thankfully his mom, played by Tara Reid, amounts to little more than a cameo.) Spending his time watching horror movies and listening to news reports about the Manson family, Stevie gets an extra jolt when he discovers a young woman's dead body in the fields near his grandparents' house and notes some suspicious long-haired newcomers in town. Is something evil lurking in the fields, or is there another force at work entirely? Though the narrative's a bit lopsided and the Mallick-style slow pacing may put off casual horror fans, The Fields gets enough right to make it worth more than a passing glance. The DVD from Breaking Glass looks fine with a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, 5.1 audio mix (with some nice ambient touches), and a slew of extras including an 18-minute featurette showing the making of the film, three brief pieces on the true story that inspired the film, additional cast and crew interviews, additional featurettes about the scoring and sound design, three "Making Movies" shorts about mounting a retro-styled film project, bloopers, a gallery and trailer, and more. A bare bones version is also available from Arrow in the UK with a very similar transfer.

Sex Before MarriageOne of the hazards of wading through vintage adult movies in the pre-Deep Throat era is the fact that most of the actors had no business disrobing on camera, and that's certainly the case with the astounding and hilarious (but definitely anti-erotic) Sex Before Marriage, a 1970 quickie about the shenanigans that can happen when you're engaged to be married but saddled with a VW Bug that keeps breaking down. The action starts with our two newlyweds-to-be having not-very-flattering sex on the kitchen table before the heavily sideburned guy heads off to town, only to have his car go belly up. He meets up with a chunky woman with an afro and spends the afternoon getting busy with her in the middle of a field, then offers to sell his car to another guy who gets distracted by his frisky wife before he can cough up some cash. Then guy #2 can't cough up the cash and has to run down the street, so guy #1 goes upstairs to wait with the wife who does exactly what you'd expect. By then the anxious bride is at the church and waiting impatiently, so he takes off only for the film to cut to a a bunch of random people frolicking in the woods in what looks like another loop that wandered in by accident. Then back to the unfortunate young groom who hitches a ride in a pickup truck and shares a beer with the driver, who's more interested in sitting in back kicking back suds while his girlfriend works him over. Finally it's back home where the bride's sister is lounging in bed, bringing the 78-minute sexual carousel to a close. Sharing the DVD is Freudian, a retitling of the virtually plotless '69 film The Freudian Thing. Essentially a series of vignettes apparently set in one neighborhood, it's a super cheap sex comedy as a couple gets welcomed to the neighborhood by the folks next door, a young woman gets jumped by her hairy realtor when she's scoping out a new house, two lonely young wives get curious by the fireplace, and so on. This is one of those weird hybrids made in the transition from softcore to hard, so it wavers somewhere in the middle with varying degrees of explicitness. As far as I know this was only previously seen on video as a trailer on one of Something Weird's Twisted Sex compilations, so it's nice to finally see exactly what the heck this thing is. Both are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with the usual scratches and dings here and there, but considering their rarity, there isn't much room to complain. It's also worth noting that these were made before the practice of furtively dropping copyrighted tunes all over the soundtrack, so the audio here appears to be completely unmolested, so to speak.

Two Hours on a SundayOn the other hand, by 1973 the competition in the smut movie field had forced filmmakers to turn out more professional product with better actors. You'll find three examples in After Hours' 1970s Triple Climax Grindhouse Triple Feature (hmm, think there are three movies in there?), which kicks off with the rarity Two Hours on Sunday. A pretty typical example of the period, it features Keith Erickson as a drive-in movie distributor pitching his latest flick on the phone and raving about something called The Wife Stealers. Unfortunately he gets a nasty surprise when he comes home early to find his old lady in the sack with his best friend, so he gives them an ultimatum -- only to be sent packing while the adulterous twosome continue their tryst for what seems like half an hour. Meanwhile poor Keith goes off to a neighbor's house for a card game only to find a four-person swingers orgy in progress, including Suzanne Fields and Rick Cassidy grinding away on a black leather couch. So it's off to a beachside bar for Keith, who finally gets lucky when he gets to go backstage and get intimate with a tattooed exotic dancer. Then Erickson pops up again at the beginning of Love Thy Neighbor, ravishing his wife before calling up his buddy to check on plans for a birthday party. Apparently the entertainment for said party is a stag film called "Naked Adultery," which of course gets everyone so wound up they doff their party hats and everything else to spend the rest of the film having an orgy until the 45-minute feature is up. Finally, The Rose and the Bee cobbles together most of the supporting cast from Oh! You Beautiful Doll (including, yep, Erickson again) for the "story" of a young man (Billy Lane) who, while indulging in some group sex in someone's living room, becomes convinced that the masked girl seen doing a solo act in the stag film they're watching is really someone he knows. The giveaway is the distinctive tattoos on her butt, so he goes to find out and, of course, spends the rest of the film living out his fantasy. The end. All three films are presented full frame as originally shot and look fine, given that they're new film transfers from pretty cheap original productions.

Daddy's RichStretching the concept of a themed triple feature to the breaking point is is the Daddy's Girl Grindhouse Triple Feature, in which only one film actually involves a father/daughter relationship. Of course that comes first with 1972's Daddy's Rich, an interior design nightmare posing as a porn film about a middle-aged schmuck named Ben who has the hots for his daughter. Of course this just sets off a string of random sex scenes involving our confused pop and his shrink, said daughter, and a pool full of women climbing all over a skeevy old guy at a bathhouse. There's little of historical note here beyond the presence of cheerful '70s performer Carol Connors, but the relentless onslaught of tacky '70s decor make this an accidental great party title if you're in the right mood. Up next is the most familiar title in the set, The Magical Ring, a supernatural smut oddity which was one of the first releases in Something Weird's Dragon Art Theatre double feature line (back in the VHS days alongside the grimy Psychedelic Sex Freak) followed by a later standalone release from VCX. Apparently this was one of Gerard Damiano's early films before he made it big (and he even has a brief cameo), with Tina Russell starring as a hapless woman whose kind act for a homeless man gets her saddled with the titular ruby ring in return. Of course the trinket manages to turn her into an insatiable minx who resorts to increasingly extreme outlets for satisfaction, leading to a downbeat twist ending. It's a pretty typical film for 1971, with a really sleazy veneer and a strange, dangerous atmosphere that makes it linger in the memory a bit longer than some of its more polished successors. Last up in 1974's Special Order, another Something Weird veteran previously titled They're All Sluts on a double bill with Hot Honeys. This one's the threadbare story of Karla (Juliet Jay), a Big Apple waitress who accepts big tips to go "deliver" services to guys around town, starting off with industry vet Marc Stevens (in a weird dual role) and moving on to other familiars faces like future Predator star Sonny Landham, Eric Edwards, and Linda L'Amour. This one popped up earlier in After Hours' Sleazy Grindhouse Picture Show, so just consider it a bonus here. All are presented in matted 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with the film elements ranging from pale but acceptable to scratchy and downright filthy (which is probably appropriate).

Ground ZeroAnd finally, the apparently bottomless well of obscure John Holmes films continues to pour forth in yet another After Hours collection dedicated to the physically gifted but charisma-challenged smut movie legend. John Holmes Biggest & Best starts off with the amusing Strangers When We Mate, one of the few films directed by the idiosyncratic Walt Davis (best known for Evil Come, Evil Go and the outrageous Sex Psycho). Basically it's a send up of the group encounter trend from the early '70s, with Holmes (as a cowboy named Boyd) joined by seven others including Becky Sharpe (Curse of the Headless Horseman) and the busy Ric Lutze, sporting that stupid gold choker he wore in most of his '73 films as well as a garish red and blue costume that must be seen to be believed. Thanks to the coaching of group leader Dr. Freud (yep, really), they all wind up taking turns on each other, first in pairs and then all together in the living room. Dr. Freud also stops the proceedings near the end to do an incongruous fire-eating routine, too. Something Weird's earlier version paired up with Cheri was missing almost half the film, but this is the full version (also available from VCX). The second film, My Tongue Is Quick, features Holmes as a private eye who narrates his exploits as he moonlights as a stud for hire on a yacht. Lots of women use him and his employees for satisfaction, including a bawdy movie star. And that's about it. The old VHS versions of this one (and a gray market version from Alpha Blue Archives) contained a pretty ridiculous copyright-infringing soundtrack, most of which has been wiped clean for this release for understandable reasons. Bed Companions (also referred to as Lady's Bed Companions on the back sleeve) barely attempts any kind of narrative structure as big John goes door to door hawking sex toys, which of course sends lonely housewives and soon the whole neighborhood into a frenzy. Last up is one of the more puzzling titles in the star's filmography, Johnny's Sex Stories, which started life as a Walt Davis film called How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Lays. It's still pretty certain Davis at least helmed the first act of the film, which co-stars Alex Elliot, the apparently fearless star of Davis' outrageous Sex Psycho. The rest is basically cobbled together from other movies and loops showcasing Mr. Holmes, with another probable Davis bit being the most most memorable as it features Gerard Broulard (Ole!) as a hypnotist pulling the strings at a suburban swingers' party. Otherwise it's a pretty confused patchwork of random scenes, including a recycled bit from My Tongue Is Quick for good measure. All of the films are presented full frame in what appear to be newer film transfers than what we've seen before; quality is fine overall for what they are as long as you don't mind the usual ravages of time on the films themselves.



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