Written by: George Pacheco on September 26th, 2016
BluRay released: August 30th, 2016
Approximate running times: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
The golden age of adult film was in no shortage of films featuring controversial content, but very few of them manage to possess the power to shock even today. Director Kirdy Stevens’ Taboo crosses those boundaries by broaching the subject of incest, yet nevertheless continues to be considered a classic of the genre by many film experts and historians.
This is largely due to the obvious care and construction afforded to the production, which features strong cinematography, solid acting and a varied, textured score which perfectly captures the sexually explicit cinema of the late seventies and early eighties. Kay Parker stars as a newly single mother who is struggling with the reaffirmation of her sexuality after a divorce, while simultaneously dealing with confusing feelings about her son, played by Mike Ranger.
It’s no surprise that Taboo confronts these feelings and ideas with the up-front sexuality indicative of adult film from this period, but never does Stevens or screenwriter Helene Terrie falter in presenting Taboo as a legitimate slice of cinema, complete with all the trappings of any other erotic drama of the day. The film is meant to titillate, and does so with an attractive cast who seem to be enjoying their work, while simultaneously delivering the goods with regards to their character performances.
The aforementioned score from future Who’s the Boss? and Married…With Children composer Don Great moves nicely between soft, tender ballads and the groovy funk most tend to associate with the this medium. It drives forward both the hardcore and plot driven scenes nicely, while the camera of Guy Nicholas doesn’t shy away from capturing the actors and natural West Coast settings with equal beauty. Elsewhere, Terrie’s script should again receive mention, as the dialogue for her characters was clearly composed with great care and detail.
Parker and Ranger may co-star here, but the supporting cast of Dorothy LeMay and Juliet Anderson also do a great job and Ranger’s girlfriend and Parker’s friend Gina, respectively. Sure, LeMay doesn’t have a whole lot to do, and Anderson is a little one note as Parker’s sexually ravenous confidant, but Taboo on a whole feels like an ensemble piece whose sum is the greater of its parts. It’s no wonder that Taboo played the grindhouse cinemas of New York’s 42nd Street for so long, as the soundtrack, the camera work, and of course that infamous subject matter all come together to create one of adult cinema’s most notorious cult hits.
Vinegar Syndrome’s print of Taboo is scanned in 2k and taken from print source of the original 35mm elements. There is a modicum of print damage which pops up now and then, but nothing which ever deters from the viewing experience or is maddeningly distracting. It’s especially forgiving when taking into account that prior DVD editions of Taboo were presented in full frame, as opposed to VinSyn’s detailed widescreen print.
The audio itself is strong and balanced, presented in English without subtitles. The real audio treasures are found within the commentary tracks, with a total of four (!!!!) presented here, two archival and two newly recorded. VinSyn’s resident historian moderates the two new tracks with his usual eye for detail and pacing, allowing both Kay Parker and screenwriter Terrie Helene to open up about their experiences on the picture. There’s also two older commentaries included, one with Parker again and another with director Kirdy Stevens and Helene. These latter two require a bit more patience when mining for informational gold, but are worth a listen, either before or after checking out Rubin’s work.
There’s also an older interview on camera with Parker, as well as an array of promotional material associated with the film, making this an absolutely stacked release, overflowing with fascinating trivia about one of adult cinema’s most talked about films.