Written by: Carroll Jenkins on August 24th, 2015
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1970 (Sweet Trash), USA, 1969 (The Hangup)
Director: John Hayes (Both Films)
Writer: John Hayes (Both Films)
Cast: William Conners, Mary McGee, Patrick Shea, Tony Vorno (Sweet Trash), Tony Vorno, Sharon Matt, Genene Cooper, Peter Balakoff (The Hangup)
DVD Release Date: July 21st, 2015
Approximate Running Time: 79 minutes (Sweet Trash), 75 minutes (The Hangup)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Both Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (Both Films)
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
John Hayes was a writer / director who produced a number of interesting low budget genre films ranging from 60’s B&W softcore to 70’s sleazeploitation and then to XXX porno. Several of his films have received some critical / cult acclaim such as Grave of the Vampire and Baby Rosemary. Many, if not most, of the others were obviously cranked out in a hurry, but Hayes always managed to inject his projects with some weird and strange goings-on. Here we have a typical Hayes product and, for posterity, his masterwork.
The Hangup may be the ‘bottom of the bill’ of this release, but here Hayes was writer / director / editor / AND producer. Here he was the true auteur in complete and total control of his vision and it is a true masterpiece of it’s kind. The basic setup of the middle aged straight and the teenage hippie was also seen in Breezy with William Holden and Kay Lenz, but that was three years later. Lead prude and fuddy duddy vice cop Sgt. Walsh is played by Tony Vorno in a rare leading role. His appearance and performance is reminiscent of Glenn Ford, another white socks and black leather wingtip shoes kind of guy.
From the opening scene at the gay bar with the clientele featuring males, females, and wannabes we have an amazing performance art piece from mens magazine model Bambi Allen [complications caused by those rock hard implants are what caused her death]. Enter the two undercover detectives and make no mistake that Sgt. Walsh is one ugly mama. Back in the apartment building the Sarge is seduced by his landlady, but there is little gratuitous sex here, it’s all about character development and / or advancing the plot.
Sweet Trash, on the other hand, is nothing really special and is almost ruined by the obnoxious performance by William Connors (not surprisingly his only screen credit). There is not a single likable character here and the mob based story is highly confusing, but there is lots of gratuitous female nudity (men keep their pants on). There are a few eyebrow raising scenes but none like the finale which features a violent and bloody epic shootout that is worth waiting around for (or waking up to as the case may be).
Vinegar Syndrome presents both films in the OAR of 1:85 sourced from 35mm negatives. There is a bit of color damage around reel changes on Sweet Trash, but The Hangup did not appear to suffer from this minor imperfection. It is amazing to see such obscure low-budget features looking this superb. Subtitles would be nice.
Both films are morality plays where the trick is to spot anyone who has any. John Hayes’s product can easily be compared to both Lee Frost and Michael Findlay, and The Hangup rates right up there with the best of their efforts.