Directed by Chuck Vincent
Starring Kelly Nichols and Jerry Butler

(Special thanks to P.J. for his assistance and encouragement!)

Plot Summary: On a balmy night in Florida, Jill Travis - a free-spirited young woman - meets an ambitious married man named Andy Whitman (Jerry Butler) and embarks on a brief but explosive affair with him. When Andy must return home, he realizes he is in love and offers to leave his wife for Jill. Insecure but pragmatic, Jill refuses and the two part ways. Over the next twenty years, as their lives continue apart, they go from lofty highs to tragic lows, yet never can forget each other or the love they shared. As an aging, broken man, Andy sets off to find his long-lost lover until a chance meeting changes their lives forever.

(Trailer appears after review.)

Review: In today's world of gonzo bonkfests, silicone-enhanced bombshells and steroid-infused superstuds, modern audiences probably wouldn't know what to make of the films of the late, great Chuck Vincent. Ever the auteur, and quite a character, Vincent was a filmmaker first and pornographer second. He used the genre to tell stories of ordinary people - often in extraordinary situations - and had an eye for spotting genuine talent in the porno pool. Veronica Hart and Ginger Lynn are just two of the many hardcore performers who appeared in Vincent's more mainstream softcore titles. However, even in his adult films, he had a knack for finding the most talented performers to inhabit his characters. His tales were not simply flesh parades. They were well-crafted and demanding emotional pieces which cried out for strong, talented leads. One of those shining lights appears as the lead in In Love.

Kelly Nichols
Kelly Nichols has the distinction of being one of the few hardcore performers of the period to be a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and she carries the weight of In Love on her shoulders. In the many years over which the film spans, Nichols manages to be convincing throughout. From the wild woman-child who impetuously rams into Jerry Butler's car, to hippie without a cause, to hardened ex-con and finally to mature woman in charge of her fate, Nichols never fails to connect with the material or the audience. Hers is really one of the defining acting performances of the genre.

Much praise has been lavished on Jerry Butler's acting abilities - mostly by Butler himself - but suffice to say he does his best acting work here. Perhaps Chuck Vincent's passion for the material rubbed off on him, shaving away the ham and revealing a heretofore suppressed ability to give the camera a sensitive and emotional portrayal to capture? But more on our leads in due course.

While the storyline itself (by Henri Pachard, and scripted by Rick Marx and Chuck Vincent) isn't really breaking any new ground, the supporting cast certainly raised the bar and draws us in.

Samantha Fox (left) taunts Veronica Hart.
Samantha Fox is delicious as a scheming seductress, but it is Veronica Hart who gives the most haunting performance of the film. Barely speaking a word, she plays Andy's pregnant and
neglected wife - a wife all too aware of her husband's remoteness and infidelities. At a lavish party, Andy
disappears from the room, causing his wife's years of neglect, pain and humiliation to turn finally into angry despair. Hart conveys all these emotions to the viewer without uttering a sound. It's all there on her face, in her eyes, as she scans the room in vain looking for her emotionally-neglectful husband. She knows full well that as she does this he is doubtless in the arms of another woman. It is a shattering performance that no other actress in the world of adult film could ever have pulled off.

Gay porn icon Jack Wrangler appears briefly as one of Jill's many lovers. Wrangler had only recently migrated to straight hardcore films, and he plays his heterosexual character with a stereotypically gay flamboyance. This stark contrast to the mucho-macho types he played in gay cinema was an interesting and amusing acting choice.

Beth Broderick
In Love marks the screen debut of Beth Broderick, who has had a long career in film and television, and may be best known as Aunt Zelda in Sabrina the Teenage Which. In this film she portrays a unsophisticated but sincere woman who has fallen in love with Jill. Her anguish over these unrequited feelings (which brings up her own insecurities of not being "good enough" for the more worldly Jill) culminates in a bombastic and destructive outburst that is just shattering to watch. Broderick's performance stays with the viewer long after, despite only appearing on screen a scant few minutes.

The film itself looks gorgeous. Cleverly photographed by the talented and prolific Larry Revene, if you didn't know it was a hardcore film made on a small budget you would never suspect as much. Nearly every shot is a picture postcard. Even the hardcore sex scenes are filmed with restraint and taste, and you'll never wonder if you've accidentally switched over to a gynecology training video.

Moment of truth.
The theme song is an infectious (in an over-the-top, AM-radio style) ballad that will stick with you after the last reel unravels. It might even inspire a tear or two, it certainly did in me (and I'm man enough to admit it!)

In various interviews, both Kelly Nichols and Jerry Butler have said that they had absolutely no chemistry and there was certainly no love lost between them. You would never know that to watch them together onscreen. They don't spend a lot of the film's running time together, but when they do they are electric. I feel very confident in attributing this almost solely to Kelly Nichols. I've seen Butler in other films with actresses he didn't care for and it was always painfully obvious (particularly in sex
scenes.) Not so here. Perhaps it is because his leading lady is possessed of much talent and effortless believability? Her character loves Andy, and Nichols' performance is so convincing that it elevates Butler's lesser abilities.

Sue Nero and Jerry Butler.
In all fairness, Butler really gives us the goods as he crumbles under the taunts of a merciless prostitute (Sue Nero.) This is fortunate as the scene marks Andy's emotional turning-point. Butler's performance in the rest of the film is competent, but dims a bit surrounded by Nichols, Fox, Hart and Broderick.

For all the skill behind In Love, being a hardcore film means quite a bit of character and plot development is eschewed in favor of copious sex scenes. This is tragic in a way. While the sex scenes are nicely shot and fairly erotic, none other than the initial encounter between Jill and Andy give us any insight in to the characters or their motivations. A softcore version was released to theatres under the title Strangers in Love, but that cut simply removed the hardcore without adding any further dimension to the film. But, rather than mourning what could have been, I encourage you to see In Love as a well-crafted, beautifully photographed and brilliantly-acted piece of cinema. It can certainly stand proudly beside better-known classics like Behind the Green Door and The Devil in Miss Jones.

In Love can be a difficult film to track down, even in the Internet age, but the effort is well-worth making. In a film canon as long as his arm, this stands alongside Roommates as one of Chuck Vincent's masterworks.

-Johnny Stanwyck

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Due to a death in the family, the planned Sylvia Kristel month will instead begin December 1st. This special month will kick off with a review of Mata Hari, followed by reviews of Emmanuelle, Emmanuelle l'Anti-Vierge, Goodbye Emmanuelle, Emmanuelle IV, and Lady Chatterley's Lover. Several Sylvia Kristel videos will also be added to the YouTube channel. Stay tuned!

EDIT: Since writing this post, I've been given an uncut copy of Mata Hari, so I'm going to re-watch it and review the film accordingly. We'll start out with Emmanuelle IV sometime in the next couple of days.
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Sylvia Kristel (1952-2012)
I've just been informed that the legendary Sylvia Kristel, original star of the Emmanuelle films, has passed away. She succumbed to cancer in her sleep at the age of 60.

The Entertainment Weekly website has posted a fitting article, and you will be seeing more about Sylvia's interesting life and career here on The Grindhouse Schoolhouse in November.

A sad day. A kind, intelligent and beautiful human being has left us. May she be at peace.

You can read the aforementioned Entertainment Weekly article here.

Our YouTube channel features the following videos starring Sylvia Kristel:

-Johnny Stanwyck

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(Edit: As of October 2014, the channel has now topped over TEN MILLION VIEWS!)

After taking an extended break from blogging and YouTubing to refresh and regroup, I discovered today that The Grindhouse Schoolhouse channel has now exceeded 3 MILLION VIEWS! As I pick my jaw up out of my lap, I would like to thank you all for your tremendous support over the years, and I promise you that updates to the channel and blog will resume in November. In addition to reviews (here) and trailers/clips (the channel) I'll be experimenting with a few other ideas to help take The Grindhouse Schoolhouse in exciting new directions. Thank you all again, and I'll be back with you soon!
-Johnny Stanwyck

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Directed by Pavlos Filippou
Starring Ajita Wilson, Harris Stevens
Plot Summary: A group of arms dealers, led by the statuesque Tamara, begin to suspect there is a traitor in their midst when a routine arms deal goes bust. Things grow increasingly more desperate as the culprit begins picking them off one-by-one, in a shocking display of violence, rape and bloodshed.

Review: In the late 1970s, Greek cinema was in love with Eurospy films and bodacious sex goddess Ajita why not combine the two? Black Aphrodite is a mind-blowing swirl of sex, sleaze, knifings, train tossings, nudity, axe murders and hairy Greek buttocks. If it sounds like fun - it is in it's own way, if you don't think about it too much. Despite having all the ingredients for a rip-roaring exploitation sleaze fest, Black Aphrodite has one fatal flaw: it doesn't make any bloody sense!

Director Pavlos Filippou (using the bizarre pseudonym 'Saul Filipstein') seems to have brought to the set a written "to do" list on how to make a Eurocrime sex film...and the results are rather confusing. Characters appear simply to be dispatched minutes later, people who tried to kill each other a few scenes back are suddenly on the same team, our cast of heroes are rarely seen in close up and look so much alike we never really know who is get the idea. Throw in several very long and clumsy sexual interludes, and you have something that might - under most circumstances - be rather interminable. However, that's not the case here. Black Aphrodite has a certain charm and a secret ingredient that makes it hard to look away.

That secret ingredient is Ajita Wilson.

Ajita Wilson
Ajita Wilson's career is certainly baffling. She appeared in reasonably legit films, sex comedies, high-brow erotica, grimy women-in-prison dirges and bottom-of-the-barrel hardcore. Whether she just had a lousy agent, or was simply more concerned with working than in the quality of the project, we'll never know. She did, however, have an uncanny knack of raising the bar in any scene she appeared in. When she is absent from the screen in Black Aphrodite, things seem to grind to a halt. The moment she re-appears, the film livens up again. Ajita, however, can't take all the credit.

Harry Stevens (Haris Tryfonis)
Harry Stevens (aka Haris Tryfonas) is another bit of brilliant casting. Stevens is probably best known as assassin-for-hire and rapist Mario in the film Emanuelle, Queen of Sados. He really gives the role of Steve a lot of gusto. He's tough, but obviously one of the good guys. He's painted as a sort of Greek Steve McQueen type, roughing up guys by day, bedding the women by night. This is slightly undermined by his uncanny resemblance to John Stamos...but that's hardly his fault. He's an actor who is obviously not afraid of getting dirty, or giving his hairy balls a bit of a cinematic airing.

The rest of the cast, sadly, really don't add much to the proceedings. French beauty Annik Borel has turned up for her paycheck but is given absolutely nothing interesting to do (which is a pity, as she is a pretty decent actress.) The other members of Tamara's team are all fairly interchangeable (mostly because we don't really get a good look at them), and double agent Ada Bartholomew (also of Emanuelle, Queen of Sados, and billed here as 'Anta Bartolomy') is on hand simply so the male cast has someone to alternately abuse/have sex with.

Ada Bartholomew having a bad day.
The sex scenes are frequent, and have a sort of fumbling charm to them, but none look particularly real or generate much heat. Softcore sex on film isn't real, but it should at least try to look that way.

The violence comes in a fairly steady stream, and some of the deaths are really quite graphic - a few actually made me feel a bit queasy. Unfortunately, their intended shock value is diminished by the fact that the director has failed to make us care about the characters very much. Or, perhaps I'm just getting desensitized in my old age.

The supporting cast phones it in.
Despite these flaws, the film is quite entertaining in a goofy sort of way. If Mike and the Bots could have gotten away with it, this film would be perfect fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000. The dubbing is laughably bad, and everyone takes themselves oh so very seriously - it's really hard not to enjoy their (vain) efforts at competency! The film does have its merits, the cinematography by Mikhaili Stavrinakis is rather clever, and Ajita Wilson is photographed quite beautifully. Her unique attributes require special care for their exquisite nature to be captured effectively, and Stavrinakis does this expertly.

The main problem with Black Aphrodite is there is simply too much going on. The film really could have been so much more fun if the crime aspects were made secondary to the sexual shenanigans (or vise versa.) Filippou has tried to unite two separate audiences and really should have aimed for one over the other.

"Cleopatra Jones, kiss my ass!"
Black Aphrodite is messy fun, and for fans of Ajita Wilson, not a bad way to spend to spend 90 minutes or so.

DVD Details: Black Aphrodite is readily available from major online retailers on its own, and in a two-disc set with another Ajita Wilson film, Catherine Cherie.

-Johnny Stanwyck
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Twenty-five years ago next month, one of the most enigmatic sirens of 20th Century cinema was tragically lost to us. Since her untimely death, Ajita Wilson has been a figure of mystery, of whispers and gossip...but no one could deny her talent or unmatched screen presence. To that end, May 2012 will be Ajita Wilson Month here at The Grindhouse Schoolhouse. Expect lots of reviews, lots of images and many video clips of the mysterious star! Stay tuned! In the meantime, please enjoy this video tribute I made some time ago. Keep your eye on the blog and the YouTube channel for lots of Ajita goodness! Viva Ajita!

-Johnny Stanwyck

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Today marks the second anniversary of The Grindhouse Schoolhouse/Johnny Stanwyck channel on YouTube. To say I am blown away by how well it has done would be an understatement! Two years, seventy-one videos (and counting) and a combined total of over 1.5 MILLION views! I would like to sincerely thank each and everyone of you who has viewed, subscribed, friended, favorited, commented or just taken a quick peek. It means the world to me! (continued below...)

I thought since my first YouTube upload was a musical montage of the Annette Haven classic "8 to 4," what better way to celebrate this anniversary with another montage? I settled on a tribute to the woman whose films started my obsession with exploitation films in the first place...Black Emanuelle herself, Laura Gemser. And, of course, I wanted to give all of you an onscreen thank you. My sentiments at the end of the video are from the heart!

I thank you all again for your tremendous support on the YouTube project, and this blog. It means more to me than you know!

-Johnny Stanwyck
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Directed by Jim Clark
With Bambi Woods and R. Bolla
Plot Summary: Young Debbie Benson has a dream - to join the "Texas Cowgirl" cheerleaders! When her parents disapprove, she and her girlfriends hatch a plan to help Debbie raise money to go to the Texas auditions.

Review: Just the title Debbie Does Dallas makes people sit up and take notice. It's one of those adult films that everyone - from the porn novice to the connoisseur - has heard of, but it seems few of them have actually seen. When people find out I write about classic adult films, Debbie is usually the first thing they ask me about. "What's it about?" "Is it really dirty?" "Is it any good?" Well, the answer to the latter is certainly subjective, but I usually answer with: "Well, that depends on what you're expecting."

It's hard to discern just where Debbie Does Dallas gets its reputation as a classic. The story, while not particularly original, is certainly as engaging as any of the better R-rated T&A comedies of the day. The direction and performances are adequate (even though our heroine, played by Bambi Woods, seems to be suffering from early-onset perma-fry.) And while the sex scenes are completely by-the-numbers, they have enough enthusiasm and naïve charm to hold the viewer's attention. These ingredients, presented here in prose, make Debbie Does Dallas seem rather ordinary, and in some ways it is. However, the film really is so much more.

"IR serioz actrezz. Plz u sex me now?"
Debbie appeared at an odd time for adult film, that nebulous era between Porno Chic in the early 1970's and the videocassette boom of the early 1980's. During this period, adult films were moving away from the silliness of Deep Throat and into the darker realms of directors like Henri Pachard and the lush melodramas of Chuck Vincent. Debbie Does Dallas was one of the last gasps of the hardcore sex comedy and, under the circumstances, acquits itself quite nicely.

The film certainly boasts an impressive cast. Familiar faces like R. Bolla and Eric Edwards are on hand to usher in a bevy of young actresses at the dawn of their carnal careers. These new faces include Merle Michaels, Rikki O'Neal, Georgette Sanders and the always-delightful Arcadia Lake. Part of people's attraction to this film may well be the fact that the cast all look like real, live human beings - rather than the tattooed, pierced and implanted sexbombs of today's porn films. The women and men of Debbie could well be your kid's teacher, your bank teller or your neighbors. This lends a reality that just about makes up for some of the film's technical and acting shortcomings.

And then...there's Bambi Woods. Yes, the mysterious vanishing superstar who created a huge splash in adult films before disappearing into an abyss of rumor and speculation.

The first time I saw the film (at a time when I was much too young to be watching such things), I assumed Debbie was meant to be mentally challenged. Now, older and having seen the film at least a dozen times, I'm more inclined to believe that Bambi Woods'...erm...eccentric, toked-out performance likely stems from the fact that she was still finding her acting feet in her debut...and a large dose of herbs and/or pharmaceuticals. These days, I find Woods' wide-eyed, spacey delivery rather charming, and her deflowering that I once found somewhat distasteful, now seems sweetly quaint.

Good and bad adult films are very like good and bad musicals. In a good musical, the songs serve to flesh out character and advance the plot. Conversely, in a bad musical, the songs bring the story to a screeching halt. Fortunately, Debbie's sex scenes fall into the former part of that analogy. The sex, while certainly not the hottest ever committed to celluloid, is natural and organic, and often quite humorous.

On a personal note, one of the sex scenes always gives me a sudden case of raised eyebrow - the threeway between Rikki O'Neal, David Peirce and Jenny Cole. Not only does Cole bear a striking resemblance to an childhood babysitter of mine - they even share the same name! To see her doing an anal scene (which still wasn't all that common by 1978) sends my head spinning!

While many of the coital couplings are of the older man/younger woman variety, for the most part these scenes don't feel as exploitative as they might have. The story is seen through the eyes its female protagonistas (I just made that word up) which makes scenes that could otherwise seem seedy much more palatable. To the women, these men are the means to an end, and any manipulation is by the women of the piece. Andrea Dworkin would be proud. Or not.

The plot may be threadbare, but the enthusiasm of the young and inexperienced cast makes the characters quite likable - and you may just find yourself rooting for them! Bambi Woods is the star of the show here, and her name couldn't be more apropos. She does often remind one of a deer caught in the headlights. However, she gives us the occasional knowing glance and slight smile, leading me to wonder if the high-as-a-kite, babydoll bimbo routine is all a ruse.

I could go on at length about the many flaws to be found in Debbie Does Dallas - such as the fact that most of the cast looks about five years too old for their roles - but that would be missing the point. As a diverting bit of fluff, it certainly succeeds, and there's nothing wrong with a bit of silliness. Debbie Does Dallas may not transcend the high bar set by The Devil in Miss Jones or Café Flesh, Debbie is certainly an enjoyable evening's entertainment. Definitely a film to watch with friends over pizza and beer.

DVD Details: Debbie Does Dallas was one of the first adult films to make its way to videocassette, and since then, it has been re-released countless times. These releases tended to be muddy, scratchy transfers that made the film look even cheaper than it is. This was remedied circa 2005 when Media Blasters' Raincoat Theater imprint, in conjunction with VCX, released the Definitive Collectors Edition.

This presentation is breathtaking, with a gorgeous new transfer, and multiple audio options (including a vintage Spanish track!) The 2-disc set is filled to the brim with extra features, which include trailers, bios, on-camera interviews and even the softcore "cable version!" This release was further supplemented a couple years later with a special 30th Anniversary Edition. Regardless of how you feel about the film - this is certainly a very handsome package, well worth checking out!

-Johnny Stanwyck

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(American Exxxtasy logo, c. 1985/86)
Special thanks to the various YouTube users who posted the videos contained in this article for giving us a rare glimpse into days gone by.)

Satellite television in the 1980s was a bit like the Wild West: an untamed new frontier of endless possibility. While cable television offered channels not available to those with a standard TV aerial, programming was sparse and expensive - so as many settled for less, more adventurous viewers erected enormous dishes in backyards from sea-to-shining-sea, which scanned across the Heavens for something new and different.

In those halcyon days, these fledgling satellite channels had yet to scramble their signals, so all one needed to enjoy their programming was a dish and an open sky. Satellite viewers enjoyed unrestricted access to a vast array of new networks, from CNN to HBO - though, these fairly family-friendly channels shared the skies with a few naughty neighbours. It didn't take long for adult entertainment to make its way into the living rooms of satellite owners. Networks such as Fun Unrestricted Network (F.U.N.) and Tuxxedo soon appeared - but none were quite as naughty and well-remembered as American Exxxtasy.

Launching in the early 1980's, American Extasy (note the singular 'x') soon set itself apart from its adult competitors. While other adult channels relied upon European softcore fare and American T&A comedies, American Extasy offered edited versions of the biggest adult films of the day. While explicit penetration scenes were trimmed, plenty of smut remained for viewers either unable or unwilling to venture into an adult cinema. Hot on the heels of the video boom, adult films were now available in the privacy and comfort of home.

American Extasy was extremely popular and completely unscrambled in the early days. Based upon reports from viewers of the time, daylight hours were filled with trailers, computer-generated text screens and sexy clips, but the real fun began as the sun dipped below the horizon. It was then that viewers were treated to an evening's worth of edited adult features. A quick Internet search will reveal dozens of former viewers attributing their first glimpses of such stars and Veronica Hart, Seka, R. Bolla and Kay Parker to American Extasy.

In 1985, the folks at the channel decided to crank up the heat and up the ante, with the introduction of American Exxxtasy. After a brief testing period, the channel began offering uncut, uncensored hardcore films throughout the overnight hours. For the princely sum of $399, subscribers received a descrambler box, and a year of access to "the hottest television in America." It was at this point when American Exxxtasy attained legendary status...and began to attract unwanted attention.

American Exxxtasy's reign as the greatest adult channel on satellite would continue unchallenged until one fateful day, March 9, 1990, when the channel that started out with such a bang, would sadly limp off of the airwaves with a wimper. Without warning, channel viewers were suddenly confronted with a series of three computer-generated messages of doom - the fire had been put out of American Exxxtasy by GTE, on the grounds that they were broadcasting obscenity.

The on-screen messages cycled for a few days, until the channel went dark forever. Of course, the reasons for the channel's demise weren't nearly as simple as an accusation of obscenity. As it happens, high school students in the American South (go figure) had been videotaping American Exxxtasy's programming, and selling the tapes to their fellow students! Several parents, reportedly, filed suit, which remained in a legal tangle for years. Herein, however, lies the rub.

If these teens had access to adult material from satellite providers such as American Exxxtasy, it means either their parents were subscribers (which makes them hypocrites) or they were using illegal descramblers (which makes them crooks.) Either way, the fate of American Exxxtasy was sealed. Similar lawsuits would also topple other channels showing adult material. However, the pioneering legacy of American Exxxtasy has paved the way for today's premium adult channels, meaning consenting adults will continue to be able to access and enjoy adult entertainment at home for many years to come.

My hat is off to American Exxxtasy for paving the way!

-Johnny Stanwyck

Note: Here's an interesting article from 1990 about the fate of both American Exxxtasy and TuxxedoHouston Chronicle
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Lina Romay (1954-2012)
A new article will appear tomorrow on the legendary adult satellite channel American Exxxtasy, with a review of Babylon Pink to follow on Monday. However, I couldn't let this sad news pass without mention.

I'm very sorry to say that legendary cult actress and Jess Franco muse, Lina Romay, has passed away after a battle with cancer.

She appeared in more Franco films than you could shake a stick at, and was his companion of many years. One of her more recent public appearances was in an interview for the Macumba Sexual DVD release from Severin Films, talking about her works with Franco, as well as with co-stars Robert Foster and Ajita Wilson.

This grande dame of sexploitation will certainly be missed.

-Johnny Stanwyck
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Directed by Joe D'Amato
With George Eastman, Mark Shannon
Plot Summary: A group of scientists (and a assortment of reasonably-attractive, horny women) set sail for a deserted island to explore the effects of radiation. When they arrive, they are horrified to find the island inhabited by a grotesquely-mutated monster with a murderous streak, an enormous penis and an insatiable appetite for female flesh.

Review: In Joe D'Amato's dizzingly-prolific film career, he was never afraid to take a chance at trying new things. When the bump-grind-and-gut-munching Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals took off, Uncle Joe obviously thought "why not take things a step further?" That brings us to his sublimely strange hardcore porn/zombie horror exercise, Porno Holocaust.

Hmmm, mixing explicit sex with zombie mayhem sounds like a wonderful idea, and it probably would have been if either aspect was properly executed. D'Amato was new to hardcore at the time, and obviously hadn't learned the rules. In the half-dozen (or so) sex scenes in this film, no one seems to be all that interested in what they are doing (with the exception, strangely, of the softcore lesbian scenes.) Also, there is absolutely no variety. Only two of the female cast partake in the bonking, and most of the time with frequent D'Amato star, the Italian Harry Reems himself, Mark Shannon.

"There's no place like home, there's no
place like home..."
One particularly painful coupling (well, tripling) features the completely uninteresting Annj Goren paying for sex with two black men at a bordello. Not only does Goren seem to want to be somewhere else, the men show little interest in her as well. One has trouble getting an erection, while the other fondles her everywhere other than her naughty bits. The scene goes on far too long, and is just embarrassing to watch. When Goren finally gets her turn with our superstud Mark Shannon, the results are no better. Shannon obviously doesn't want his penis anywhere near her, constantly looking off into the distance as if he's watching the clock.

Shannon has stated in interviews that he wanted nothing to do with Annj Goren, due to her propensity for having unprotected sex with any random person Joe D'Amato would drag off the street for her, as well as being a junkie. One can hardly blame him. She's as cold as ice, with a haughty air not befitting her job as a walking, talking mattress.

The mutant solves Lucia's flat-chest problem.
Cult siren Dirce Funari is on hand as window dressing, never heading over into hardcore, so the slack has to be picked up by an uncredited Lucia Ramirez. Ramirez appeared in a smattering of Joe D'Amato genital fests (including the demented Orgasmo Nero, opposite Richard Harrison!) and to call her performance "one-note" would be far too generous. She's just kind of there. Even when she is kidnapped by the hideous mutant man, her expression is unalterably blank. This could be forgiven, I suppose, if she didn't do the same in her sex scenes.

The only reasonably legit performer in the piece is the freakishly tall George Eastman (Antropophagus, Emanuelle Around the World.) His role, despite being the lead, seems superfluous. Eastman spends most of the running time standing around looking on disapprovingly while his co-stars bonk each other silly. Then, he's killed off. That's it, really.

Mark Shannon is, of course, our hero, and he really gives his role a lot of oomph. He's obviously an enthusiastic actor...unless he's bedding Annj Goren, of course.

"Promotional consideration provided by Ragu."
So, we've established that the sex doesn't work all that well. How about the horror? Things are a little better in that regard. While there are no real chills here, the makeup and costume effects used to create the well-endowed mutant are rather impressive, and the whole idea of a monster that rapes people to death is pretty interesting. Since there's no real fright or tension on display, the film has to rest on its gore effects. These I found to be oddly effective, despite being wholly unrealistic. Go figure.

A few random cast members get bludgeoned in the face by the mutant, their resulting injuries seem to have been realized by pouring vast amounts of chunky Ragu over their heads. Still, it works somehow.

"There's no place like home, there's no
place like home..."
If it seems I'm being overly negative - after all, this ain't Gone with the Wind - I really don't mean to be. For all its shortcomings, Porno Holocaust has a certain charm to it. The acting is dreadful, but D'Amato's camera work is superb, and there are quite a few startlingly-creative shots. Even if the film is rotten to the core, I would still rate this as essential viewing. While not nearly as coherent as it's sister film Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (which, if you've seen it, you know calling it coherent is a stretch) Porno Holocaust is goofy fun. Just don't expect to be titillated or glutted with gore.

Castaways in search of a plot.
DVD: The most-recent R1 release seems to be out-of-print, but can be readily found on the used market (though, don't get suckered in by the high prices some are flogging it for. You can usually find a copy for less than $25 if you search hard enough.) Foreign editions are easy to find as well, for those with multi-region, multi-system equipment.

-Johnny Stanwyck
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Directed by Henry Paris
Starring Barbara Bourbon, Eric
Edwards, and Georgina Spelvin
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
(Note: Very special thanks to Steven M. of Distribpix. Without him, this review would not be possible. Thank you! This article will take a slightly different approach. Since there isn't a lot I can say about the film that hasn't been said already, I shall focus on the brilliant 2011 DVD release.)

Plot Summary: A wealthy businessman enlists the help of a private investigator to keep an eye on his sexually adventurous wife. Taking the job, and with a film camera strapped to his head, he documents Pamela's cartoonish, and increasingly debauched encounters. He witnesses everything from deep-throating in the park, schutupping a family-values touting politician, and even rape and gunpoint. Work takes a personal turn when he finds himself becoming fascinated by the sexual charms of Mrs. Mann.

Film Review: On paper, The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann might sound similar to other hardcore features of the time, but being a Radley Metzger film, there is absolutely nothing ordinary to be found here! Pamela Mann reigns supreme as one of the genre's crowning achievements, and the recent DVD release certainly pays homage to that fact.

A delightful, and highly sensual, comedy of manners and the inconsistency of social morays - Pamela Mann stands head and shoulders above its competitors in it's innovative and involving storytelling, cast of top-notch actors and stunning camera work. While expertly made, the film never takes itself too seriously - toying with the conventions of the genre, and all the while poking fun at the differences between the protagonist's public face and private peccadilloes.

Barbara Bourbon as Pamela
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
As Gerard Damiano's Deep Throat took the world by storm, the public and mainstream press began to take a second look at hardcore pronography. Thus, filmmakers found themselves not only with a lot more opportunity and latitude, but also called upon to justify the social relevance of their work. Radley Metzger (under his hardcore pseudonym Henry Paris) both explores and lampoons this minefield by directing his actors to play their roles with a wink and a nod - and peppers the film with a number of running gags, which hilariously fly in the face of bourgeois morality.

One such gag, and probably the most famous, features an earnest woman with a classic seventies women's lib hairdo approaching Pamela before, after and sometimes during her erotic encounters to ask our heroine a series of increasingly convoluted questions about social issues of the day. When her motivation is finally questioned at the end of the film, she simply replies: "I'm just here to give the film socially-redeeming value" Classic stuff.

Eric Edwards and Barbara Bourbon
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
Metzger has assembled a top-shelf cast of erotic performers, led by the stunningly beautiful Barbara Bourbon. Bourbon made only a trickle of hardcore films, which I've always thought was a shame. Not only is Ms. Bourbon a classic and statuesque beauty, her performances sparkle with awareness and verve. She never becomes a mannequin like so many other women in adult films of the era or hence. Eric Edwards is our intrepid private dick who is quite up to the task of delivering the ironic and comedic dialogue with just a hint of knowing sarcasm. The part would have fallen flat in less capable hands. Edwards is a master.

Georgina Spelvin
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
The stand out performance of this film undoubtedly belongs to Georgina Spelvin, as the amusingly-named Klute, a prostitute of Pamela's acquaintance. Her enthusiasm and sheer comedic talent makes it quite easy to understand why she is considered a legend of erotic cinema. There's an exuberance there that makes Spelvin a joy to watch.

The sexual heat is intense, but still wonderfully playful. Filmed during the freewheeling period between the pill, the Sexual Revolution and the sexually antiseptic 1980s, Metzger's film captures a period sensibility that will probably never be seen again. All is not rosy in the film's sexual milieu, however.

Barbara Bourbon
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
One scene remains powerfully disturbing, even to this viewer's jaded, 21st-century eyes. As we near the halfway mark, we are asked to consider if perhaps Pamela's wanton ways might not be completely without consequence. While cruising her usual sexual pick-up-point in the park, she is accosted by two attackers (one male and one female, played by genre stalwarts Jamie Gillis and Darby Lloyd Raines, respectively.) What follows is a dark, gritty and harrowing rape at gunpoint.

The film wraps up with a hilarious and unexpected twist, worthy of Hitchcock (if Hitchcock made politically sly hardcore sex comedies, that is.) The staggering performances, brilliant direction and camera work, witty repartee and numerous laugh-out-loud moments make The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann an unmissable sexual spectacle.

Levi Richards and Georgina Spelvin
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
DVD Review: Oh my goodness! Where do I begin to describe the orgasmically jaw-dropping paradise that is The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann on DVD? The legendary Distribix, Inc. has performed a miracle, and not only do we finally get to see this terrific film uncut, but in a beautiful HD transfer, delicious audio cleanup, more extras than you can shake a stick at, and even the rarely-seen, hilariously political "soft cut" of the film!

From the moment you open the DVD case, you will be in awe. Before your eyes you will find an beautifully constructed, insightful and fascinating 44-page booklet of essays on the history of the film, its director, its stars and the world of adult cinema in the 1970s. As tempted as I am to share a few of the intriguing tidbits to be found within its glossy covers, I save that pleasure for you, dear readers, to explore on your own. Moving on...

Naomi Jason and David Savage
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc
Perhaps the most surprising, and very welcome, extra on this handsome DVD set is the infamous "soft cut" of Pamela Mann. Unlike so many other adult films that received the softcore treatment, Radley Metzger added even more of his trademark wit and biting satire. Rather than trimming out the hardcore shots, we are instead treated to Barbara Bourbon's lovely face superimposed over the intertwined bodies, giving an ongoing, hilariously adroit and topical political commentary. There really aren't words to describe the brilliance of this technique, one must really experience it! Don't worry, you won't miss the sex, you'll be too busy holding your sides as they ache with laughter at not just the content, but the genius approach the soft cut takes to the material.

But, the extras don't stop there, my friends! We are also treated to two recent and extensive interviews with film stars Eric Edwards and Georgina Spelvin.

Eric Edwards
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
Eric Edwards, despite having recently battled cancer, looks vibrant and still very handsome - with his wit and memory still as sharp as a tack. The interview takes him through and beyond his work with Radley Metzger, and explores his decades-long career in adult cinema in depth. Edwards comes across as an open and friendly man who is genuinely honored to be remembered and loved by so many people all these years later. There's not a trace of melancholy here. A delightful conversation that will pull you in, as if you were present in the room.

Georgina Spelvin
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
The second interview is with the fabulously funny and feisty Georgina Spelvin. At 75 years old, she has lost none of her charm, powers of erudite observation or sense of humor at the unconvential path her life and career has taken her on. At nearly 40 minutes, the interview takes Georgina back to being a fresh-off-the-bus dancer in New York City, to her accidental introduction to "fuck films," and even into her flirtation with "legit" cinema. Georgina Spelvin is as captivating as ever. She is a true film treasure, and Distribpix has done her legacy justice with this interview that will certainly put a smile on the viewer's face.

Oh, but that's not all from the fabulous folks at Distribpix! One of the most exciting features is a full-length commentary track by director Radley Metzger himself! I got the impression while listening that Metzger is quite surprised by the adoration people still show for his work all these years later. The commentary track is resplendent with bon mots and highly-enjoyable anecdotes that I won't spoil for you here.

Jamie Gillis
(c) 2011 Distribpix, Inc.
Featurettes include a look at the locations featured in Pamela Mann, stills and promotional materials, lost scenes and more than I could possibly cover in this space. Distribpix's obvious love of the material, and dedication to bringing their fans and customers the very best in vintage erotica are quite evident here! In short, this is an essential purchase for any fan of classic NYC adult cinema.

This amazing, two-disc special edition of The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann can be purchased at the Distribpix/Video-X-Pix website:
-Johnny Stanwyck

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Directed by Jean-Pierre Floran
Starring Traci Lords, Marilyn Jess
and Alban Ceray
(Note: No need to call the Feds...this was Traci Lords' one and only LEGAL film. So, don't freak out folks!)

Plot Summary: A big-haired blonde bimb...erm...bombshell travels to Paris to take her career to the next level. Bangin' the boss only brings in dancing gigs, until she finds herself in the clutches of an obsessed photographer, who lures her in to his den of sin and shame...or something like that.

Review: It's very difficult to explain to anyone under the age of 35 what a huge star Traci Lords was in the early-to-mid 1980's. I was only about 8 years old and rather sheltered during her heyday, and even I was aware of her notorious nubility. Friends' fathers worshiped her, schoolkids whispered her name, and every time I got up the courage to peer through the curtains of the "forbidden zone" of our local Ma and Pa video store, Miss Lords' pouty face looked back from the covers of countless video boxes. Lords was, without exaggeration, the only porn star since Linda Lovelace to become a household name. The few who hadn't heard of her soon would as 1986 came to a close. You see, it turned out that the world's biggest sex star was actually an underage strumpet for the bulk of her very prolific hardcore career.

Lords made only one adult film after turning 18 - and it became the Holy Grail. That film was Traci, I Love You.

Whatever it was that made Lords a superstar is all but absent from this interminable exercise in smut. The buoyant personality and sexy-woman-in-the-typing-pool looks are replaced by a cold, big-haired 80's worldliness. The European location of this film, which was certainly intended to display "class," just looks gauche and gaudy in its shot-on-video countenance.

In recent years, several television documentaries on the scandal have featured dialogue scenes from Traci Lords' underage performances - and those brief snippets show a charm and natural ease before the cameras. All this is missing from Traci, I Love You. Lords' expression throughout is the very soul of vacancy. Erotic heat is eschewed in favor of cold mechanics.

In the film's first sex scene, Traci and her agent (played with absolute disinterest by aging French porn Lothario Alban Ceray) discuss the starlet's terms. The dialogue is so awkwardly written and painfully delivered, one wonders if Ceray had simply learned it phonetically, and Lords seems to be making it up as she goes along. When they finally decide to bump uglies (standing up, with Traci bent double in spiked heels - and all the discomfort that implies) the chemistry is non-existent. Lords spends the entire scene trying not to fall off her shoes and topple Earthward, while the only reasonably-erect Ceray pumps away absently. Ceray often looks off set, no doubt in search of a fluffer. And folks, it's all downhill from here...

After her office tryst, Traci is kidnapped and tossed into a van by two random extras. What follows is a mind-numbing marathon orgy full of faceless men with penises flying at Lords from all directions...with our heroine faking the occasional moan and looking like she'd rather be having a root canal.

Of course, this bit of the film gives us a classic piece of dialogue, courtesy of one of Traci's lackluster French suitors (complete with the trashiest of Eurotrash accents:)

"My cock had found its dream was warm and moist. I never wanted to leave!"

Charlotte Brontë, eat your heart out.

Then...the credits roll. Does Traci ever escape from her tormentors? Does anyone still care?

By all accounts, Traci, I Love You doesn't hold a candle to Lords' pre-legal films - and we younguns will never know. Never was an adult film a less essential span of videotape. Those who loved Lords in her glory days will no doubt be disappointed. And those like myself, too young to remember, will be no closer to unraveling the mystery of her enduring popularity.

Traci, I Love You is a moldy slice of fromage that need not stink up your adult film collection  -Johnny Stanwyck
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Directed by Joe D'Amato
With Laura Gemser, Karin Schubert,
and Ivan Rassimov

Plot Summary: Emanuelle embarks on yet another globe-hopping adventure to save the women of the world from sexual degradation. What she discovers is more sordid than any white slavery ring she has ever encountered in adventures past, and she finds herself in a debauched and dangerous world where women are kidnapped, bought, sold and disposed of. Will Emanuelle be their next victim?

Review: To call the Black Emanuelle cycle somewhat hit-and-miss would be quite an understatement. They range from mildly diverting melodrama (Black Emanuelle), to shockingly grotesque sleaze-fests (Emanuelle in America) to insomnia-curing sex travelogues (Emanuelle in Bangkok.) However, with Emanuelle Around the World, director Joe D'Amato manages to crank out a highly effective, erotically-charged thriller.

Even in its English dubbed version, the story and scripting remain strong. On paper, the story is very similar to other films in the series: photojournalist Emanuelle goes from place to place, uncovering sordid sex scandals and freeing women from sexual bondage. However, in this film, the strong script and above-par performances keep the story moving at a frenzied pace, never forgetting to give us the occasional sexy interlude to keep our blood pumping.

Laura Gemser is in top form here. Her earlier performances occasionally betrayed her accidental entry into films, but here she is relaxed and confident and shows an acting ability that few directors other than D'Amato knew how to exploit. The supporting cast is no less impressive. Sultry German beauty Karin Schubert stars as Emanuelle's crusading companion and rival journalist Cora Norman, Ivan Rassimov manages to elevate what is basically a cameo into an engaging character, and George Eastman hams it up as a self-styled love guru beset with premature ejaculation.

Befitting the "crusader against exploitation" storyline, there are numerous rape scenes on display. These are shocking in their brutality, rivaling the gross-out scenes in Emanuelle in America. This time around, Joe D'Amato shows a heretofore absent sense of restraint, and the film benefits as a result. He allows his performers to convey the horrors of what the audience is witnessing. What we are imagining is more horrific than anything D'Amato could show us, and the scenes become somehow more realistic. D'Amato also, quite wisely, stays away from any attempt to eroticize these scenes, which is a rather disgusting phenomenon in (particularly Italian) exploitation films.

One such scene is the gang rape of a beauty queen on the New York City waterfront. In reviewing exploitation films, I've seen a lot of rape scenarios, always upsetting, but this was absolutely stomach-turning. By this point in the film we have long identified with Gemser and Schubert's characters, and this viewer shared their feeling of desperation as they are forced to look on, unable to render assistance.

In the realm of consensual sex, the film certainly delivers. Rarely do five minutes pass without ample display of either female or male nudity. These scenes are beautifully shot amongst gloriously rich set dressing, underlining the decadent lives the story's denizens are living. This film plays out much like "Sex Lives of the Rich and Famous," with Emanuelle discovering tableaux after tableaux of erotic debauchery.

Emanuelle participates somewhat less frequently in the sexual shenanigans than in previous pictures, taking on more of the observer role, which helps the audience relate to her all the more. Some prints contain hardcore footage (with some interesting use of special camera work, which inserts various actors into scenes they were very likely not present for.) It should be noted that the one explicit scene featuring Emanuelle uses a (horribly obvious) body double for Gemser. One particularly memorable scene features beautiful girls engaging in rather unusual antics with balding, fat bigwigs - with a banana making a cameo appearance.

Karin Schubert gives the film's defining performance. While her character is no more fleshed out than any of the others, it doesn't need to be. We know her character the moment she steps into frame. No matter how sordid the scene, Schubert maintains her dignity. This is no mean feat considering her character is involved in a brutal attack in what may be the most confronting scene of the entire film. Schubert uses her eyes to convey horror, pain and desperation in a way that is beyond heart-breaking. A truly remarkable actress.

The film uses every penny of it's budget on sumptuous location footage: San Francisco, New York, Tehran and beyond. D'Amato wisely keeps the story moving, using the exotic locales to further the plot, never allowing the film to become a dull travelogue (as in the earlier film Emanuelle in Bangkok.)

While one of the most widely seen Black Emanuelle pictures, it has rarely been exhibited in uncut form. However, even in it's most severely edited versions (such as the cut screened on US cable networks in the early 1990s) the story and eroticism still stands up. If you are looking for a representative film to begin exploring the Black Emanuelle series, I can recommend this outing without reservation. -Johnny Stanwyck

DVD Notes: Until recently, the most complete version available Stateside was Wizard's ancient VHS. They actually released two different prints of the film, both cut to a degree. However, Severin Films more recently saved the day by releasing both the standard 'X' cut, as well as the hardcore "Continental" version in a gorgeous DVD presentation.
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