Written by: George Pacheco on November 9th, 2016
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1971-1976
Cast: Vanessa del Rio, Andrea True, Helen Madigan, Joey Silvera, Judy Angel
DVD Release Date: October 25th, 2016
Approximate Running Time: 740 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $34.98
Vinegar Syndrome mines the obscure depths of the Bizarre Art Theater for this second volume in their popular and nicely rendered Storefront Theater Collection.
Fans may remember some of these films from their DVD-R days via the fine folks at Something Weird, but Vinegar Syndrome has, predictably, gone above and beyond collecting an astonishingly rare and disturbing collection of films from the early and experimental days of adult film. If there’s a common theme running through most of the titles in this collection, it’s the inclusion of horror and occult themes, not to mention a hefty dose of perverse behavior.
The Geek might be the most familiar film in this collection, thanks to the inclusion of its softcore edit on Something Weird’s DVD for Godmonster of Indian Flats. The flick has also been referenced by online critics such as The Cinema Snob for its off-the-wall premise of a sexual Bigfoot who attacks a group of campers, raping the female members of their company. The film is slow for the most part, featuring poorly dubbed dialog and ugly sex scenes, while the Bigfoot itself serves as the only eyebrow raising, WTF moment of the film.
Hotter than Hell has also been released before by Alpha Blue Archives as a part of its Satanic Sickies collection, and is a (barely) softcore film which follows the devil and his minions who take human form on earth. This one has more bad dubbing and gross people doing gross things, although the hell sequences and hand drawn cartoon opening credits are fun. House of De Sade provides significantly rougher material, as director Joe Davian essentially crafts a haunted house horror film with a ridiculous amount of S&M and sex from a young Vanessa Del Rio.
Rites of Uranus is another rather infamous film collected here, and another one which has been covered by The Cinema Snob. No director is credited to this one, although opinions vary as to whether or not Zebedy Colt or Alex De Renzy might have been involved. The film definitely falls into the often dark and disturbing wheelhouse of those two filmmakers, as it follows the hardcore exploits of a Satanic cult, all set to a bitchin’ funk soundtrack. There isn’t much of a plot here, but rather a lot of mystical dialogue spouted over sex sequence after sex sequence while the music gradually ramps up its intensity and funkiness.
Waltz of the Bat, on the other hand, is played completely for laughs, as it combines ludicrous costumes and ridiculous dialog with a plot which doesn’t even try to hang on to the cliff of cohesion. It’s “The Bat” vs. “The Bee” in a contest of possession, pimping and preposterousness, with virtually no one in the cast taking any of it seriously. Words fail to do this weird one justice, as it’s truly a product of its time.
It’s the trio of Mania, Come Deadly and Daughters of Darkness, however, which are probably the most ambitious, and thus most interesting of the features contained here on VinSyn’s collection. All three possess the strongest elements of the occult and Satanic horror, and are also some of the most competently created films in the set. In the case of Come Deadly, it’s the fact that noted adult pioneer Sam Weston is the director, as he guides what seems to be a take on the Italian giallo, complete with a mysterious, glove-and-hat-wearing killer.
Mania possesses a similar, murder mystery tone, this time at an all girl’s school with a groundskeeper who may not be on the up and up. Meanwhile, Daughters of Darkness stars Helen Madigan as a boardinghouse proprietor who also happens to run a secret Satanic sex cult. She’s covered in occult tattoos and does her best to convert her latest renter to the dark side, aided by an occasionally bad ass soundtrack of hard rock and funk. There’s more here to discover on Vinegar Syndrome’s trip down the sleazy alley behind the Bizarre Art Theater, but these are some of the high and low-lights for what has to be one of the company’s most successful attempts at archiving truly obscure cinema.
Nearly all of the films contained here in this second Storefront Collection disc are extremely rare and obscure, and as a result have not been kept in the greatest condition. As a result, viewers should be forgiving of the print and audio damage which often mar some of these prints. Still, the restoration process has clearly made these titles look as strong as they’re ever going to appear, so kudos once again to VinSyn for their much-appreciated work. These titles were all shot fullscreen, and are presented as such, with no extras other than a static menu. The discs themselves start right up as an “all night marathon” of sorts, although pressing the menu button will allow individual films to be selected. Overall, this second volume may be darker in tone, but it’s nonetheless some seriously impressive work, making this an excellent overall presentation from Vinegar Syndrome.