By Christopher Mills
March 21, 2006
Welcome to another DVD Late Show. Due to an overabundance of overlapping
deadlines at the moment, this column's not only very late, but a bit shorter
than usual. I'm hoping, however, that the extra servings of sadism and
sleaze helps make up for its relative brevity. After all, this is my special
Sex & Violence edition, with heaping helpings of sordid softcore sexploitation
and a long-overdue round up of woman-in-prison (or, from here on, "WIP")
Let's get right to the dirty stuff, shall we?
ei Independent Cinema recently released the 70's sexploitation double-bill
of 2069: A SEX ODYSSEY/RUN VIRGIN RUN (1974/1970) on their Retro-Seduction
Cinema label. These West German softcore sex comedies got a lot of play
in the drive-ins of the Seventies (and late night cable in the early Eighties),
and while nobody's going to call them classics of any genre, there's enough
voluptuous, naked frauleins on display to make for a couple enjoyable
hours' worth of naughty amusement.
2069 (5 MADCHEN BLASEN ZUM ANGRIFF) tells the story of a group
of beautiful Venusians who land near a small, picaresque mountain village
in West Germany in search of virile young men to use as sperm donors
their planet is inexplicably devoid of males, you see, and procreation
has become a problem. But while their plan is to hook the men up to what
can only be described as a "milking machine," the nubile E.T.s
soon discover the joys of carnal contact with the local peasants.
RUN, VIRGIN RUN (DIE JUNGFRAUEN VON BUMSHAUSEN) is another Teutonic
sex farce set in a small rural village where the town's menfolk attribute
their wives' high birth rate with a legendary mountain wind that makes
them extra fertile. The truth is that when they leave for the fields every
day, town stud Michael goes to work, servicing the oversexed women of
The stories are mindless fluff, the women are quite attractive and silicone-free,
and the dubbing is terrible. Sounds good to me.
Considering the age and origin of the films in question, ei's presentation
is acceptable. Both films are presented full-frame and show considerable
damage in the form of specks and dirt. There's a lot of grain and some
occasional artifacts that lead me to suspect the films were culled from
a videotape source rather than 35mm prints. But the colors are bright
and the contrast is good, and they're quite watchable. Both films are
dubbed into English, with no subtitle options. The only extra on the disc
is the usual Retro Seduction Cinema trailer vault.
The same company has also recently rediscovered a lost sexploitation
classic, director Joe Sarno's previously unreleased ABIGAIL LESLIE
IS BACK IN TOWN (1975).
This well-acted softcore soap opera tells the tale of an insecure housewife
named Priscilla (subtly sexy Rebecca Brooke) who fears that the titular
tramp (husky voiced honey Sarah Nicholson, a/k/a Jennifer Jordan) has
returned to their small fishing village to rekindle an earlier affair
with her husband (hardcore vet Jamie Gillis). But Abigail is interested
in more than just a rematch with Priscilla's philandering hubby; she's
a carnal carnivore with a vast appetite for sin that won't be sated until
she's seduced every consenting adult in town, regardless of gender.
Filled with veteran hardcore performers of the era who all turn in very
creditable acting jobs, ABIGAIL is a PEYTON PLACE-styled potboiler fueled
by scalding softcore steam. Directed by legendary sexploitation auteur
Joe Sarno (BUTTERFLIES, SIN IN THE SUBURBS), ABIGAIL LESLIE is a surprisingly
thoughtful and adult Adult Film.
Never properly distributed back in the Seventies, ei Cinema brings this
surprising gem to the digital format under their Retro-Seduction Cinema
imprint with an excellent 1.78:1, anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer
supervised by Sarno himself. The disc also includes a commentary track
by the director, his biographer Michael Bowen, and ei President Mike Raso.
There's also an excellent on-screen interview with Sarno and his wife,
Peggy, an eight-page booklet with liner notes by Bowen, and trailers for
other Sarno-helmed Retro-Seduction Cinema releases.
Considering its budget and genre, ABIGAIL LESLIE is a great film. It's
tough to recommend, though, because if you want wall-to-wall sex, this
isn't the movie for you. There's plenty of hot action, but it's mostly
in the second half of the movie. However, if you're interested in this
era of adult filmmaking as filmmaking, you'll definitely want to
check it out.
Back in 1971, B-movie mogul Roger Corman sent veteran exploitation director
Jack Hill (FOXY BROWN, SWITCHBLADE SISTERS) to the Philippines with fifty
bucks, a script and a cast of attractive young women. What Hill returned
with was BIG DOLL HOUSE, a genuine classic of the WIP genre and
a huge hit for Corman's burgeoning New World Pictures.
Best remembered as blaxploitation queen Pam Grier's (COFFY, FOXY BROWN)
breakout film, BIG DOLL HOUSE is a suitably nasty little exploitation
effort, full of great B-movie personalities like WIP mainstay Roberta
Collins (CAGED HEAT) and Sid Haig (SPIDER BABY, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS),
plenty of shower scenes, brutal catfights and a bloody escape attempt
from the Philippine jungle prison.
Grier is tough and sexy as hell, and the movie possesses a sweltering
grittiness you can almost smell the actresses sweat. As a bonus,
Pam Grier even performs the movie's theme song, "Hard Time Woman."
Buena Vista (Disney) has just re-issued BIG DOLL HOUSE is a new version
that is essentially a straight re-packaging of the previous New Horizons
release. The film is presented full-frame (1.33:1), and looks fairly good,
although there is some minor print damage here and there. The sound is
Dolby Mono. The meager extras include the original theatrical trailer,
select cast biographies, and the recycled "Leonard Maltin Interview
with Roger Corman" that appeared on the previous release.
I'm disappointed that Buena Vista didn't put more effort into the disc
(more on that below), but I recommend the movie highly to fans of Pam
Grier or the WIP genre.
CAGED HEAT (1974) is the archetypal Roger Corman WIP film.
Best known today as the directorial debut of Jonathan Demme, HEAT embraces
every cliché and convention of the genre from the sexually
deviant (in this case, frigid) female warden (Barbara Steele, BLACK SUNDAY),
to the perverted prison doctor, steamy shower room catfights, sapphic
sex, and gun-blazing climax.
The cast, which includes Roberta Collins (BIG DOLL HOUSE), Juanita Brown
and the late Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith (THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS),
is better than average for a movie like this, sexy and savage in turns.
And while there's nothing particularly stylish in the direction, the pace
is good and it never gets boring.
Buena Vista's new DVD is identical to the previous disc offered by Corman's
New Horizons label, right down to the full-frame (1.33:1) transfer and
mono soundtrack. The picture is solid and in surprisingly good shape,
with only minimal age-related wear and damage. It even includes the puffy
"Leonard Maltin interviews Roger Corman" featurette that graced
the original release. The only other features are text bios for some of
the cast & crew and the original theatrical trailer.
I'm very disappointed that Buena Vista/Disney isn't taking the opportunity
to properly matte these films and give them anamorphic enhancement. With
the home video market racing towards hi-def and widescreen TVs, it seems
very shortsighted and lazy on their part. They have an opportunity
here to remaster these perennial crowd pleasers for today's more sophisticated
film buffs and collectors, but they're taking the easy route and screwing
the fans with substandard product. Typical Disney, unfortunately. Too
bad Corman couldn't have licensed these films to a company like Blue Underground
or Anchor Bay
Well, despite its technical shortcomings, CAGED HEAT is a classic of
the WIP genre and is belongs in every exploitation film fan's library.
A particularly nasty entry in the WIP genre, Bruno Mattei's WOMENS
PRISON MASSACRE (1983) features lovely Laura Gemser (EMANUELLE IN
AMERICA) as an investigative reporter wrongly convicted and locked up
through the machinations of a corrupt politician. Oddly, although Gemser's
character is called "Emanuelle" in the English dub, she never
disrobes nor participates in any of the film's sex scenes.
This Italian entry in the genre features all the usual trappings of lesbian
titillation and voyeuristic humiliation, but puts a slight twist on the
formula when four vicious male criminals are diverted to the women's prison,
escape from their guards and hold the warden and various female inmates
Needless to say, that's when things get really interesting.
ei Cinema/Retro Shock-O-Rama's unrated DVD of WOMENS PRISON MASSACRE
looks surprisingly good. ei's done a new telecine transfer from a decent
35mm print, presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and anamorphically enhanced.
There's a fair amount of print damage and wear, but the colors and contrast
are solid. The mono sound is clear with only minimal background noise.
The disc also includes a handful of Retro Shock-O-Rama trailers, and more
informative liner notes by 42nd Street Pete.
WOMENS PRISON MASSACRE is mean-spirited stuff, but well-worth checking
out for diehard WIP and exploitation fans.
Part WIP, part female biker movie, part sub-Bondian action flick, and
all insanely entertaining there's never been another film quite
like Ackyl Anwari's astounding VIRGINS FROM HELL (1987).
Get this: Two attractive young Indonesian women are forced to watch as
Mr. Tiger, the mustachioed leader of a drug syndicate, murders their parents
and steals their shag-carpeted family castle (and adjoining caverns).
In order to exact their revenge, they recruit a gang of biker babes in
multi-colored leather hot pants and go-go boots to take on Mr. Tiger and
his machine gun-toting army. Unfortunately, their attack is a failure
and they are captured. Locked up in a convenient dungeon, they are abused,
tortured, forced to pick coconuts and used as guinea pigs in experiments
aimed at producing an aphrodisiac drug that will turn the world's women
into helpless sex slaves!
What can I add? If you didn't pick it up from the synopsis above, VIRGINS
FROM HELL is a psychotronic joy ride of the highest order, with one utterly
absurd situation after another, adding up to 94 minutes of the most bizarre
exploitation action you've ever seen.
Mondo Macabro brings this Jakarta jaw-dropper to DVD in a glorious, colorful
2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with Dolby Digital Stereo sound.
The picture looks surprisingly pristine for an Indonesian movie almost
20 years old, and the hysterical English dub is clear and strong.
The first disc of this two-platter special edition includes the uncut
feature film, the original theatrical trailer and a text background article
on the WIP genre. Disc 2, Destination: Jakarta, contains another
great Mondo Macabro documentary on Indonesian exploitation films and 70
count 'em, 70! minutes of mind-blowing Indonesian movie
Buy this and show it to everyone you know. You'll thank me.
That's it for this time. I'm working hard to have another column ready
for next week. See you then!
COMING ATTRACTIONS: HORROR OF PARTY BEACH, THE CURSE OF THE LIVING
CORPSE, PRINCE OF SPACE, INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE MEN, Chuck Norris in
CUTTER, THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN, GENE RODDENBERRY'S ANDROMEDA and
THE RAT PATROL
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