Written by: George Pacheco on March 28th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1972
Directors: Chester Fox, Alex Stevens
Writer: Chester Fox
Cast: Chris Jordan, Brother Theodore, Sandra Peabody
DVD Release Date: April 9th, 2013
Approximate Running Times: 74 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $19.98
The Vinegar Syndrome label has earned their growing reputation as one of the most intriguing companies currently playing the reissue game in a market already saturated with genre film releases of all sorts and sizes.
That being said, the 1972 grindhouse joint known as Massage Parlor Murders—or Massage Parlor Hookers, depending upon which drive in or corner cinema it was screened during the sleazy seventies glory days—sits amongst the most obscure of cheap, one shot productions filmed during the Times Square renaissance of 1970s New York City.
However, just because Massage Parlor Murders is obscure, doesn’t mean that the film was actually worth uncovering…as a viewing of this new DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack can attest. Vinegar Syndrome’s release of Massage Parlor Murders is similar to their Lost Films of H.G. Lewis release in that the film itself is fairly underwhelming, a half-boiled murder mystery told under the guise of a sleazy sexploitation story.
Although there are copious shots of classic New York City grime set on display as the film’s flawed, corrupt detectives attempt to uncover who is brutally slaying massage parlor prostitutes on 42nd St., the pacing is direly sparse and the collective performances passionless and wooden. Of course, one doesn’t exactly watch such a film as Massage Parlor Murders for plot or performances, but this film—even at its brief 74 minute running time—doesn’t even come across as sleazy or destitute enough for it to appeal to the neo-raincoat crowd or exploitation mavens, most of whom have plenty of superior efforts from which to choose.
Vinegar Syndrome continues their tradition of stunning restorations of extremely obscure films here with their release of Massage Parlor Murders, presented via 35mm materials to create a stunning anamorphic widescreen print. There is, however, a persistent audio hiss which presents itself during much of the film’s dialog, although this, for the most part doesn’t prove to be extremely distracting. Extras here include an informative booklet—featuring liner notes from former Temple of Schlock editor Chris Poggiali—outtakes, trailers and two separate versions of the film, one with an extended introductory scene which features a humorous, uncredited appearance from co-director Chester Fox. Overall, Massage Parlor Murders receives an outstanding release from Vinegar Syndrome.