Written by: Cliff Wood on March 9th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1981
Director: Cecil Howard
Writers: Cecil Howard, Anne Wolff
Cast: Lysa Thatcher, Veronica Hart, Kandi Barbour, Arcadia Lake, Jamie Gillis, Eric Edwards
DVD Released:December 27th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Media Blasters/Command Video
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Sandy often fantasizes about her mothers’ boyfriend Robert. She pleasures herself while she watches them make love. One evening Robert sees Sandy watching as they make love and the next day while she is in the bathroom he invites himself in. Things start to get hot and heavy when Sandy’s mother catches the two of them about to have sex. Ashamed Sandy runs away from home. She hitches a ride to New York where her sister Denise lives.
Neon Nights was made at the tell end of what is often referred as the Golden Age of Porn. It was a time when porno was shot on 35MM and not video likes modern porn is. The difference between classic and modern porn is most evident in how the films are structured. Classic porn film’s were about ¾ plot and ¼ hardcore sex and the sex was always part of the plot unlike today’s films which are almost non stop sex with little or no plot. There was a time in the late 1970’s when porn was almost accepted by the mainstream and many films even had red carpet premiers.
Neon Nights actually has a plot that is coherent and allows its characters to evolve. The plot especially near the very end tends to lean towards the surreal and multiple viewings are recommended since there is almost too much information of the screen to digest in one sitting.
The films editing is first rate especially in an early scene in which Sandy listens to her mother and Robert her mothers’ boyfriend making love. Sandy in the other room plays with herself while her mother and Robert go at it in the other room. The inter-cutting between these two rooms is pitch-perfect in execution. The films editor C. Davis Smith also worked as the Cinematographer and his lighting in most scenes is some of the best you will ever see in any porno film. Cecil Howard’s direction is excellent as he lays references from Fellini and Psycho though out the film. The Psycho homage is done in more of a tongue and check fashion then serious.
All the ladies in Neon Nights are drop dead gorgeous as they all have natural looking bodies and no boob jobs. Veronica Hart has some of the best dialog in the film as she spots off lines like “I’m going to make you sweat you are my private fucking machine right.” Lysa Thatcher does an amazing job playing the films lead Sandy. She is extremely convincing as her character moves through a dream like landscape. One of the films most memorable moments happens when Bonnie played by Kandi Barbour comes out of a pool with a wet t-shirt on. Kandi Barbour is also the cover girl on the DVD for Neon Nights. Veteran male performers Eric Edwards and Jamie Gillis both have solid performances that are in line with most the roles they play. My only complaint is that Jamie Gillis is barely in the film and his role is barely anything more then a cameo.
Overall Neon Nights is the closet any film has come to merging adult cinema with mainstream cinema.
Neon Nights is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The colors look vivid and nicely saturated. Black levels remain solid through out as there is an exceptional amount of detail in every frame. Grain is noticeable through out and outside of some minor print damage the print used for this transfer is nearly flawless. Overall this is the best looking transfer I have seen to date for a porn film from this classic era.
This release comes with two audio options Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital mono mixes that are both in English. Both audio mixes are free of any hiss or distortion. The dialog is crisp and the music sounds evenly balanced with the rest of the mix. The difference between the Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital mono audio mixes is so minimal that they sound almost identical.
Extras for this release are spread across two DVD’s.
Extras for the first disc include two trailers one for the XXX version of Neon Nights and one for the Cable T.V. Version of the film. Other extras include nearly thirty six minutes of outtakes form the film. They include various angles and set ups not used in the final film as well as a few moments not in the final cut. Cecil Howard provides audio commentary about the actors and what is going on in each scene. Rounding out the extras for disc one is an audio commentary with Cecil Howard who is joined by Casey Scott who helps moderate the discussion. This audio commentary is full of insight as Cecil Howard remembers in vivid detail behind the scenes and in front of the camera stories about Neon Nights.
Extras on disc two include an extensive photo gallery that includes numerous candid shots and this extra plays like a featurette and it runs about six minutes in length. There is also another photo gallery of box art for the various films that Cecil Howard has worked on and music from the film plays in the background like a featurette. Other extras include a trailer for Babylon Pink as well as trailers for Porno Holocaust, Lady Emanuelle, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead and Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals. The main extras include on this second disc are four interviews that run in between thirty and twenty minutes each in length. The first three interviews with Jamie Gillis, Veronica Hart and Eric Edwards all follow the same pattern as they give a extensive overview of each performers careers as the remember vividly the sordid details from their past. The four and final interview is with the films cinema photographer C. Davis Smith. This interview is the most technical of the four. The best interview of the four included is the one with Jamie Gillis whose off screen persona closely resembles the onscreen mayhem he often created with his unique performances. The interviews with the various cast and crew are some of the best extras I have ever seen on any DVD. Rounding out the extras for the second disc is the cable T.V. version of Neon Nights which runs about twenty nine minutes shorter then the XXX version. The T.V. version is a nice addition but since it removes all the hardcore action it is almost unwatchable. The quality of transfer for the T.V. version of Neon Nights is a little ruff around the edge and it looks nowhere near as good as the XXX version does.
Media Blasters/Command Video’s Neon Nights DVD is hands the most impressive adult cinema release ever produced with its wealth of informative extras and solid audio/video presentation, highly recommended.