January 12, 2020

Gags the ClownThe recent fad for scary clown movies doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down thanks to the two-parter adaptation of Stephen King's It and the sadistic gore antics of Art the Clown, but there's a new wrinkle to be found in Gags the Clown. A puzzler made up of news broadcasts and amateur video coverage (which makes this sort of a found footage film), it chronicles a very eventful night that serves as the culmination of a week of inexplicable clown sightings around the community of Green Bay. A news team and the police are trying to find the unsettling intruder known as Gags the Clown but find their mission stymied by amateur video nuts, high school kids with a warped sense of humor, and clown impersonators who all make it difficult to parse out the meaning behind the presence that's quickly become part of local folklore -- complete with his trademark black balloons that hint at something more diabolical at work. Genre staple Lauren Ashley Carter (Jug Face) is the most recognizable participant here among a cast that ranges from fine to very awkward, with the tone apparently aiming for something between horror and comedy (or at least a kind of social satire). Anyone looking for traditional clown scares won't get a lot besides some mildly spine-tingling manifestations now and then, but it's an unusual tactic to take with the material and worth a look if you're into the whole clown shtick thing going on right now. The Doppelganger Blu-ray looks as solid as you'd expect for a 2018 shot-on-digital production and comes with fine DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 options, plus an audio commentary with director/co-writer Adam Krause and co-writer/producer/editor John Pata, who chat about how this evolved from a short film and viral marketing stunt to become the feature we now have today. Also included are the original short (with two extra commentaries), premiere footage, and an 18-minute making-of featurette, "Everybody Loves a Clown," combining production footage with EPK-style interviews with the cast and crew. Buy here.

UndertakerThe number of meditative zombie films out there is fairly small, but that list gets an unusual addition with the 2012 Japanese film, Undertaker, on Blu-ray and DVD from Synapse Films. Bolstered by one of the creepiest sound mixes you'll ever hear, it's a snapshot of a near future society in which a plague has left the surviving population distraught over seeing loved ones turn into infected monsters. Following a harrowing van ride, young Ryouichi gets taken under the wing of the titular Undertaker, whose merciful task involves dispatching the survivors' irredeemable relatives and significant others. Spanning multiple years over the course of its brief running time (barely over an hour), it's a bloody but very low-key affair that will probably tick off horror fans expecting a lot more action and zombie mayhem. However, it's a unique attempt at something new and has a sad, lyrical approach that makes for a bit of a change of pace with a little bit of a Phantasm vibe at times for good measure. The Blu-ray looks pretty solid given the rough nature of the original video production, but the 2.0 Japanese DTS-HD track is a beauty with some nice immersive channel separation throughout. Extras include the 56-minute, making-of featurette "Farewell to the Precious: The Making of Undertaker," the short film "On Your Back," deleted scenes, a trailer, and a gallery of production photos. Buy here.

Opposing ForceYou won't find a cast more wildly overqualified than the one in 1986's Opposing Force, an Orion Pictures action programmer about the worst boot camp training program on the planet. Logan (Tom Skerritt) and Casey (Lisa Eichhorn) are among the Air Force officers enlisted in a new mission on an island where they will go through a harsh gauntlet at the hands of commanding officer Becker (Anthony Zerbe) and his right hand man, Stafford (Richard Roundtree). Of course, power corrupts and things go out of control as their assignment to make it to the island's safe zone brings out the worst in their superiors and leads to actual captivity and violence. Skillfully acted and quite intense at times, it's a bit of a split personality type of film with the first half focusing on the growing ordeal of the new arrivals and the second turning into a jailbreak action / human hunting outing before settling on a fairly unorthodox finale considering the safe approach of most mid-'80s mainstream films. There's also a surprising amount of equal opportunity nudity on display here, which probably slid by the MPAA since it isn't sexual in nature. Originally shot as Hellcamp, this one first made the rounds on video from Warner Bros. on VHS before hitting DVD-R from MGM in 2011. The Scorpion Releasing Blu-ray looks terrific throughout with no significant issues, and the DTS-HD MA English 2.0 track (which is labeled as "Fijian" for some reason on the disc data!) is also in great shape. (Optional English SDH subtitles are also included.) Director Eric Karson (who also gave us The Octagon, Black Eagle, and Angel Town) contributes a useful new audio commentary, though in typical recent MGM legal fashion, it's apparently fallen afoul of studio scissors with occasional dips where his comments have been pruned down. Also included are an extended ending (which is way more satisfying than the abrupt current one), plus the theatrical trailer (in great HD quality) and bonus ones for Death Before Dishonor, Night Visitor, Johnny Cool, and The Killing Time. Buy here.

CovergirlSo gloriously '80s it should come packaged with a pair of Jordache jeans, 1984's Covergirl was a staple of mom 'n' pop stores in the latter half of the decade even if nobody seemed to have actually seen it. A Canadian production helmed by local veteran Jean-Claude Lord (Visiting Hours, The Vindicator), this one starts off like a trashy Jacqueline Susann-style tale about the modeling industry when self-made tech millionaire T.C. Sloane (Jeff Conaway) decides to take a very personal interest in rising model Kit Paget (Irina Ferris). The kind of guy so rich he has his own robot butler, he finds it increasingly difficult to keep tabs on his star in the making as she contends with the usual industry challenges like model rivalries, splashy parties, and sexual assault before the big gaudy dance number finale. Loaded with eye-gouging colors and an insidiously infectious theme song called "You Are My One and Only," this is a great '80s party movie if you're with the right crowd as it delivers scads of amazingly sparkly fashions, soapy plot twists galore, Toronto locations trying really hard to look like Manhattan, and enough nudity to justify its release from New World. Conaway (who was hot off of Grease and Taxi at the time) even shows off his dick, which was something of a shocker in '84. The old Thorn EMI tape of this one looked pretty fuzzy and underwhelming, so it's nice to report that the 2019 Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing is a far, far more pleasing viewing experience with terrific detail and wild saturated colors all over the place, so brace yourself; the DTS-HD MA English mono track also sounds excellent and easily bests the hissy tape release. Extras include a very lo-res trailer and bonus ones for other Scorpion titles. Buy here.

Talking WallsSpeaking of vaguely sleazy New World movies that were on VHS everywhere in the late '80s, Scorpion Releasing has also blessed us with a Blu-ray of the sex-obsessed, sorta-avant garde, sorta-comedic Talking Walls. Determined to discover the key to human relationships, college student Paul (The Stepfather's Stephen Shellen) decides to come up with a new kind of thesis by installing elaborate video equipment in his room at a hookup motel where each room has a kitschy theme. By observing various couples' interactions, he hopes to get to the bottom of how the heart and libido interact but ends up learning a lesson about himself in the process. A truly weird batch of supporting actors makes this worth a look, including Sybil Danning, Barry Primus, Marshall Efron, Sally Kirkland, Don Calfa, and even Halloween II's Hunter von Leer, though none of them probably spent more than a day or two on the set. Shot in a flashy music video style and featuring so much tonal whiplash you'll be dizzy by the half-hour mark, it's quite the time capsule as long as you know what you're in for. The Blu-ray is far better than the tape versions we've had, obviously, though the recorded segments of Paul's project (which take up a lot of time) are intentionally shot on low-grade SD video and reflect the nature of the original format. Buy here.

The FareProbably impossible to market but worth a look is the atmospheric, trippy little gem The Fare, which follows in the footsteps of time-manipulating trips like Triangle and Timecrimes. The very simple setup involves a cab driver named Harris (Gino Anthony Peal) who picks up a late night ride, Penny (Brinna Kelly, who also wrote and produced), only to find them stuck in a loop every time he resets the vacancy for his cab. Nicely meditative and eerie with just the right dose of romantic sentiment, it's a wistful little treat worth checking out and features some genuinely inventive twists along the way. The Blu-ray from Dread is a beauty with a pin-sharp transfer and subtle but effective 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD MA English audio options, plus a pair of audio commentaries (Kelly and director D.C. Hamilton) focusing on the technical aspects of mounting a two-person feature (with a few fleeting minor roles featuring family and crew members). You also get eight featurettes ("an "Alternate Realities" unusued footage montage, "Beyond FM," "Flashback Scene Breakdown," a gag reel, "The Look of the Fare," a "Lost in the Fog" extended sequence, an alternate original ending, and "Secrets of the Fare" with Kelly), three trailers, and bonus trailers for Harpoon, Red Letter Day, Automation, and Candy Corn. Buy here.

Blood ParadiseKind of a cross between Swimming Pool and House by the Lake, the Swedish arthouse shocker Blood Paradise is another one of those twisty tales about a writer who gets away from it all for inspiration only to find violence and trauma in the process. In this case the author is Robin Richards (Andréa Winter), who's suffering from critical brickbats over the latest entry in her popular Blood Paradise book series. Prone to fantasies involving latex, bondage, and foot fetishism, she finds peace and quiet at first at her new farm home but soon falls afoul of some local eccentrics with a dark family secret. Winter is main show here with an interesting, multi-layered performance that keeps you a bit off balance, even if the script itself is mostly a rehash of previous thrillers from Europe and the U.S. Shot in a bright, glossy digital style as has become the custom now, this film looks great on Artsploitation's Blu-ray release and comes with DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 English mixes, both of which sound fine if relatively subdued; optional English or English SDH subtitles are also offered. Extras include four deleted scenes (two of which are pretty warped and should have been kept in the final cut), a trailer, and two music videos. Buy here.

PThe 3D Nudie Cutie Collectioneople have been going on about the slow, tragic decline of the 3-D Blu-ray market for years now, but they've obviously been proven wrong with the arrival of the ultimate justification for it, easily blowing away Avatar and all those Disney films: The 3-D Nudie Cuties Collection, a Kino Lorber collection featuring restorations involving Something Weird and byNWR.com. Even if you aren't equipped for 3-D, this is a stunning set with transfers of two key features that have been maddeningly elusive in good presentations until now. 1962's The Bellboy and the Playgirls is notorious among cult movie fans as one of two nudie movies involving a young Francis Ford Coppola (along with Tonight for Sure). Originally a West German sex comedy about a reluctant actress getting over her inhibitions to do a nude scene, the film was augmented with new comic scenes involving a bellboy and scantily clad women to make it palatable for the same audiences that made a hit out of films like The Immoral Mr. Teas. The skin level here is actually quite low (apparently due to Coppola not insisting on it during the shoot), but it's an amusing little trifle with some fun depth perception tricks throughout. Portions of this (sans nudity) were included on Flicker Alley's 3-D Rarities release, but this marks the first release of the entire stereoscopic feature for home consumption. Also from '62 is Adam and Six Eves, which was previously issued in a flat, visually inferior edition on VHS and DVD-R by Something Weird. A vibrant slice of eye candy without a single thought in its head, this is a one-hour time killer about a schlub named Adam whose cynical donkey narrates the story about how their excavation enterprise in the desert led them to string of naked, beautiful women who may or may not be real. Also included are two 3-D bonus shorts, Beauty in 3rd Dimension and Love for Sale, designed to show a bunch of models busting off the screen. Buy here.

Nightmare in Badham CountyAlmost as skin-packed but much, much scuzzier is one of the roughest made-for-TV movies of all time, 1976's Nightmare in Badham County from reliable small screen director John Llewelln Moxey. Two California college students, Cathy (Deborah Raffin) and Diane (Lynne Moody), get waylaid by a flat tire during a drive down South only to get sent off to jail by the corrupt Sheriff Danen (Chuck Connors) when they refuse to sleep with the locals for help. The work prison life turns out to be hell on earth, with an assortment of guest stars inside including Tina Louise, Robert Reed(!), Della Reese, and Lana Wood. Sweaty and foul tempered, this one was shocking enough on TV but got a major expanded cut for theatrical release overseas with new scenes involving whipping and lesbianism added to help it compete with the growing women in prison market. Kino Lorber's Blu-ray features both the 101-minute theatrical cut (which is crammed with so much nudity and violence it could give Roger Corman a run for his money) and the tamer TV version (93 mins.), respectively presented at 1.85:1 and 1:33:1 with the latter looking more fresh and colorful. The TV cut also comes with a fine new audio commentary by Amanda Reyes and Justin Kerswell, who certainly know their made-for-TV movie stuff and have plenty to say about the cast and crew (including Reyes' undying passion for Reed), and a new 11-minute interview with Moxey covers his own experience on the film at the height of his directing frenzy with an unusually colorful cast. Buy here.

Boasting one of the sleaziest titles in pink film history, 1987's Lolita: Vibrator Torture is a typically short and frenetic Lolita Vibrator Tortureslice of nastiness from gutter specialist Hisayasu Satō. Virtually plotless and more of a horror film than a typical sex outing, this one stars Kiyomi Itō as a schoolgirl who's targeted by a psychopath (Sayaka Kimura) posting as a private eye / professional photographer working on a book called A Drifting Girl. As it turns out she's just one in a succession of girls taken back to his shipping container residence where they're chained to a mattress and surrounded by black-and-white photos of torture and murder, with implements involved in their plight including a flexible black rubber dildo, shaving cream, flashlights, and of course, a metal vibrator that would make Ken Russell proud. Grim and claustrophobic, this one is closer in sensibility to an American roughie adult film (think Avon) with a few artsy flourishes to keep you interested including an unusually odd, subdued ending. Impulse Pictures' no-frills DVD comes from a dated master and looks pretty soft throughout, but it's still the most watchable copy of this one we've had so far and definitely worth a look for those who like this series on the nastier side. Buy here.

Zoom Up: Graduation PhotoSlightly more genteel is another Nikkatsu offering from Impulse, Zoom Up: Graduation Photo, a 1983 softcore kinkfest from Yoshihiro Kawasaki (who also helmed Nurse Girl Dorm: Sticky Fingers). Here we enter the world of dirty pictures when model Yoko (Reiko Nakamura) gets lured into posing nude for a few seemingly harmless shots ("A lot of college girls are doing this") that end up getting her ditched by her boyfriend. Her initial sailor suit spread is just a prelude to what happens when her inner sex freak gets unleashed, with lesbianism, group shows, rubber gloves, and lots more playing a role in her degradation at the hands of smut kingpin Sakuma. Surprisingly, this one is pretty cheerful about its storyline and ends up on an ironic but happy note, a rarity for this kind of premise-- and Nakamura makes for a lively protagonist who keeps you on her side. The transfer of the Impulse Pictures DVD here is pretty decent all things considered, from an older master but featuring adequate detail and those drab color schemes familiar from many early '80s Nikkatsu offerings. Buy here.

Zoom Up; Seiko's ThighRelated by title only is Zoom Up: Seiko's Thigh, which came a year earlier and returns to the familiar voyeurism theme of other Zoom Up titles. Packed with disco tunes and quite upbeat for one of these numbers, it's the tender story of Toshihiro (Jun Ueno), a frustrated shutterbug who spends his daylight hours photographing the activities of his neighbor in the apartment across the street, Seiko (Mayumi Terashima), including visits to the public baths. He's so frustrated he manages to talk innocent girls into posing for upskirt panty photos in the woods, which begs the understandable question, "Are you a pervert?" After losing his virginity via said encounter, he and Seiko keep inadvertently crossing romantic paths until a pair of dramatic incidents force their destinies to collide. Even with all the hand jobs, nudity, and peeping tom activity, this is the closest thing to a sweet rom-com from the Impulse/Nikkatsu line so far and not a bad intro if you're looking for a safe gateway movie for yourself or any curious friends (or potential significant others, if they're a little twisted). Image quality on the DVD is comparable to the other early '80s films, perfectly fine if nothing that'll set the world on fire, and the optional English subtitles are among the more quotable you'll see. Buy here.

Woman in a BoxThe more sadistic side of Nikkatsu gets highlighted in 1985's Woman in a Box: Virgin Sacrifice, a grubby, shot-on-video quickie about a young naive girl named Michiyo (Saeko Kizuki) who ends up getting tossed in the back of a van by a sadistic couple. Afterwards they chain her up in the basement, stick a big wooden box over her head, and subject her to a variety of indignities like forced hose spraying, rape, further confinement in a big body-sized box, and a long slog through the sewer. And would you believe it all ends with a perky music video for a song called "Don't Remove My School Uniform?" It's certainly not dull, and like many of the straight-to-VHS roman porno films of the time, it's loaded with intentionally severe optical censorship -- ostensibly to prevent a glimpse of pubic hair but really just implying much rougher, nastier activity than what's actually there. Since this one wasn't shot on film, the full frame DVD is likely as good as it'll ever get and kind of a miracle that it ever hit American shores in the first place. Buy here.

Women in PrisonFor confinement of a different kind, let's turn to the generically titled Women in Prison, a 1978 exploitation yarn from Nobuaki Shirai, the auteur behind films like College Girls: Fake Virgins. In this one, Ryoko (Zoom Up: Rape Site's Erina Miyai) decides to hand over all of her cash to save the company of her fiance right before their wedding -- only to find out he's engaged to another (pregnant!) woman, who walks in on them having sex in their wedding outfits. After some nasty justice with a pair of scissors (leading to an incredibly cool title transition), she's shipped off to jail where the days are filled with hard work in the fields, harder lesbian lovin' at night, guard molestation, bath lactation, and inappropriate use of house pets, not to mention a surprise new arrival who sets off plenty of melodrama. A killer funk soundtrack and a strong female lead performance keep this one percolating nicely over the course of a quick 68 minutes, with plenty of action as well including a fun escape attempt over a wall. Another obscurity bound to scratch your inner sicko itch, this one is definitely taken from an old master with the 2.35:1 framing zooming in to 1.85:1 after the prologue and main titles; at least this one isn't all that reliant on aesthetic framing so the damage is relatively minimal. Buy here.

Nurse Girls Dorm Shamed AngelOf course, no Nikkatsu rundown is complete with a little nurse action -- which can be found aplenty in the perverse Nurse Girls' Dorm: Shamed Angel from 1987. Here we get a new spin on the "single career woman getting more than she bargained for" routine as a hospital welcomes its newest nursing addition, Yukari (Tomomi Segawa), who gets to stay in the first-year dorm on campus where having a man over will get you punished with a heavy hosing. ("You dirty animals, stop resisting!") Her rapport with her fellow nurses is put to the test when she ignores warnings and becomes involved with the head surgeon, Dr. Muraoka, who turns out to have a sinister side including a penchant for non-consensual sex and inappropriate use of cooking ingredients. Complete with brief but queasy real surgery footage and a sex scene every four minutes or so, this one certainly delivers the goods even if the nursing angle gets mostly forgotten after the halfway point. The a/v story here is the same as usual, watchable enough though obviously taken from an archival master that's been sitting around for a while. Buy here.

FNun's Diary: Confessionor the last stop of our Nikkatsu filth train, let's take a gander at Nun's Diary: Confession, another in the studio's line of Italian-inspired naughty nun films and one of the craziest around. Anyone familiar with the Japanese take on this topic should have some idea of what to expect, even if this 1978 curio (better known under the catchier title Wet & Rope) can't hope to hit the insane heights of something like School of the Holy Beast. Here we have the astounding un-p.c. story of Miki (Yuki Nohira), who has the worst honeymoon imaginable when she and her husband are invaded by some thugs who rape her in the bathtub. Now apparently decreed unfit for marriage and sent away forever, she ends up being encouraged by a priest to find a new life at a convent filled with exceptionally horny, sadistic nuns. Enthusiastic group whippings, impromptu bullet surgery, an ill-advised trip to a local disco, shoe fetishism, crucifixion, and other goodies soon await her, but that's nothing compared to the secret nocturnal group sex ritual climax involving one unlucky participant in a sheep costume on an altar. Ken Russell, eat your heart out. Featuring one of the most arrestingly bizarre final shots in the Nikkatsu erotic canon, this is a really wild ride and a real highlight from Impulse's 2019 output. Again, image quality is comparable to the ones listed above and easily bests the pale, ugly German DVD, which wasn't even anamorphic. Buy here.

Hard Soap Hard SoapOne name from adult filmmaking who's gotten a Disco Ladyfairly high profile now thanks to Vinegar Syndrome is Bob Chinn, who's been spotlighted with titles like Tropic of Desire and Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls. One of his best and funniest films (not to mention one of his more elusive ones), 1977's Hard Soap Hard Soap, gets the deluxe treatment as a Blu-ray/DVD combo featuring the most extensive restoration possible given the existing materials. An opening disclaimer notes that the first reel of the negative is long gone and had to be substituted here from a print, so it looks fine but underwhelming at first before switching to pristine quality for the bulk of the film. (The audio was also incomplete and had to be cobbled together from multiple sources, but that's less noticeable.) The film itself is basically a porno spoof of the already satirical Norman Lear soap Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, with a screenplay by part-time milk delivery man John Thomas Chapman. Shot in L.A., it's a showcase for some of the industry's finest at the time including Candida Royalle, John Holmes, Sabrina, Blair Harris, and Lauren Dominique, with subplots involving erectile dysfunction and hysterical blindness mingling in a stew of suburban dysfunction. Complete with a crazed sequence in a psychiatrist's office that must be seen to be believed and a great (real-life) camaraderie between Royalle and Dominique, it's a fast-paced, episodic treat ripe for rediscovery. Sharing space on the same disc is the following year's Disco Lady, which clocks in under an hour and barely qualifies as a feature. Sort of a snapshot of disco culture by way of a crime film, it was mostly known at the time for a one-scene appearance by the popular Farrah Fawcett lookalike Rhonda Jo Petty (in her feature debut following some loops) with Robin Savage, the once ubiquitous Rick Lutze, Tiffany Ladd, Ming Jade, and Mike Ranger rounding out the cast (with a mere five sex scenes in the process). Presented full frame here as originally shot, it's an obvious quickie production with a few little story oddities that make it a little outside the norm including a surprisingly downbeat ending. Theatrical trailers for both films are included, but the real keeper here is a funny, candid interview with Chinn, which comes in just over half an hour and features plenty of stories about the imposition of Petty and a raucous story about an eventful evening with a pair of hookers. Note that a handful of discs in the first pressing appear to be causing playback issues, but the title should hopefully be back in circulation shortly. Buy here.

MascaraAnother hardcore overachiever can be found with 1983's Mascara, a stylish Henri Pachard production co-directed and shot by the legendary Roberta Findlay. Sort of a porno Big Apple riff on Persona, it's the saga of a buttoned-up, plaid-wearing office secretary, Harriet (Lisa De Leeuw), who decides to walk on the wild side and get close to her boss's favorite prostitute, Lucy (Lee Carroll). At first Harriet just wants to get sexual lessons (on a john played by Ashley Moore), but soon they bond more closely with Harriet coming dangerously close to upending her entire life. Beautifully acted by the two leads and featuring a game cast of East Coasters (including Cannibal Holocaust's Robert Kerman as the boss), this is a fine slice of erotica from the later stages of slick 35mm productions and a particularly great showcase for De Leeuw at her most engaged. It's also a well made film, sex or no sex, including a nice freeze-frame ending that leaves a nice lasting impression. Released on VHS back in the day by Caballero, the film has been given a gorgeous makeover by Vinegar Syndrome as a Blu-ray/DVD combo including a limited slipcover edition; a/v quality is top notch throughout and up to their usual standards. Casey Scott conducts a pair of audio interviews used as commentary tracks here, first with Findlay (as cheerful and informative as all of their chats together are, including quite a bit about her prior work with Pachard on Pink Babylon) and then with Carroll, focusing on her history with the industry and memories of her costars. Both are invaluable slices of history and definitely worth checking out. A script gallery and the theatrical trailer round out the disc. Buy here.

JustineFor a purer dose of Roberta Findlay, look no further than 1980's Justine: A Matter of Innocence, a film whose title evokes the Marquis de Sade but whose plot delivers a lot more sex than sadism. Hillary Summers stars as the titular schoolgirl, who returns home from Europe stay with her rich uncle, Steven (Ashley Moore again). A libertine to the core, Steven enjoys the carnal company of those around him, particularly the libidinous Claudia (a scene-stealing Vanessa Del Rio). Everyone orbiting around the house seems to lusting after Justine when they aren't playing with each other, including Steven's son, Greg (one-shot actor Andy Hayes). However, the girl only seems to have eyes for her uncle, which poses more than a few obstacles. Co-written by an uncredited Cecil Howard, this is an enjoyable and engaging little chamber piece with some startling set pieces (the threesome with Hayes, Robin Sane and Rick Iverson in particular) and a colorful, slick aesthetic worthy of any mainstream production of the time. Only given a shoddy VHS release back in the '80s by the dodgy Select-a-Tape, Findlay's film gets a new lease on life courtesy of the Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray/DVD edition with a beautiful scan from the original camera negative; it looks faultless, and the audio is also considerably improved. Findlay and Scott return for another commentary, which seems to start abruptly in mid-conversation but eventually settles down for a thorough discussion of the film's origins and the various players involved including her usual collaborator, Walter Sear. Buy here.

TinseltownLast but not lease we end up in Tinseltown, the 1980 L.A.-shot adult spectacle made by East Coaster Carter Stevens when he wanted to try his luck going out for mainstream projects out west. Mirroring his quest here is Mary Jo (Danielle Raye), a naive country girl who heads out to Hollywood to make it in the movies and, through the machinations of agent Bill Margold, ends up in the world of porno movies. Following the Valley of the Dolls formula, her path ends up crossing repeatedly with two other women, Dominique (Ashley Brooks) and Pat Norman (Taboo's Tawny Pearl), who all walk the fine line between adult performers and call girls. Mostly an excuse to string together a bunch of sex scenes with some fun comedy bits, this is a sunny and easygoing romp with a few novelties like a solo bathtub routine that made for a bit of a hit on home video. Hot off of his entertaining Punk Rock, Stevens seems to be having fun here and even served as his own cinematographer for one of the few times in his career. Originally released on VHS by VCA and bootlegged a few times since then, Stevens' film looks like a million bucks (or at least a couple hundred thousand) on the Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray/DVD edition with a crisp transfer from the 35mm camera negative. In addition to the trailer, Stevens appears for a new audio commentary chatting with Earl Kessler about the creation of this one-shot L.A. project, the very different personalities of the actresses versus their characters, and the trailblazing nature of a few of the acts seen on screen. Buy here.


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