Written by: Jimmy the Gent on April 14th, 2014
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1977
Director: Peter Savage
Writer: Peter Savage
Cast: Joanna Bell, Marc Stevens, Sonny Landham, Helen Madigan, Pamela Serpe
DVD Release Date: April 8th, 2014
Approximate Running Times: 108 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $17.98
Synopsis: An only child with a history of repression and abuse from her mother grows up to experience multiple personality disorder.
Obviously ‘inspired’ by the TV mini-series Sybil from the year prior, don’t expect the subtle changes in personality exhibited by Sally Field in her tour de force performance. Still, for a low budget XXX adult feature, Joanna Bell as Sylvia does emanate distinct personalities even though facilitated by different wigs, makeup, and wardrobe. More importantly [for a porno] she has a great body and her face is somewhat ‘average’ making her a suitable canvas for multiple characterizations. She may have kissed some ass to get the role (which she does repeatedly throughout the movie) but she was actually an excellent choice and she does some impressive ‘deep throat’, a respected talent at the time. This was her only starring role with just one other film appearance. The story is that she went insane as a result of her participation / performance here and I believe it, absolutely.
Director Peter Savage (aka Armand Peters) appeared as an actor in bit parts in blockbuster Hollywood features (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) and here he plays the psychiatrist. As far as directing himself goes, I hope he never defended himself in a court of law. His endless exposition and his over-the-top camp beat-down victory over the two junkie sex slaves make his performance more of a liability than an asset. His direction, however, includes some some ancillary but eerie ‘effects’, thought provoking flashbacks, and generally effective bits of business that are incredibly rare in adult cinema, even during the ‘porno chic’ era. He also makes short shrift of the actual hardcore penetration footage with emphasis on characterization and storyline. That’s either good or bad depending upon your perspective.
The most memorable segment includes Sonny Landham (48 Hrs) as one of the junkie sex slaves. He oozes charisma and his sexual performance puts Marc Stevens’ to shame. Steven’s career was on the precipice of an immediate and steep decline due to drug addiction that left him unable to perform reliably.
Vinegar Syndrome has produced another remarkable OAR widescreen transfer, this time from an excellent 35mm print. The extra is a butchered ‘R’ rated cut that doesn’t look nearly as fine and suffers greatly from the excisions. Director Savage should have shot some alternate footage to the explicit hardcore scenes and released a legitimate ‘R’ version. That would have been relatively inexpensive and provided product for two distinct markets.
The contemporary definition of ‘porno chic’ is that they just pretended to make ‘real movies including sex’ to avoid prosecution, resulting in vast expanses of useless plot and padding. The evidence here, given that Harry Reems ‘Deep Throat’ obscenity conviction was overturned in April 1977, and this was released in September 1977, seems to indicate an actual auteur attempting to make a credible film that would also credit his bank account.