Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hot Legs (1979)

Starring Jesie St. James, Richard Pacheco
Directed by Bob Chinn

Review, Gallery & Video Clip

Synopsis

A harried nylon stocking executive struggles to launch a successful ad campaign in spite of iffy investors, temperamental models and fussy photographers, all of whom seem to be more interesting in sleeping with each other than meeting their important deadline.

Review

Ah, HOT LEGS! Now this is what the Golden Age of Adult Films is all about! Bob Chinn, by this point a veteran of adult cinema whose name just screams quality, directs a first-rate cast performing a first-rate script, shot by a first-rate crew of professionals. Not only does the film look terrific, full of clever camera work and sizzling sex scenes, it's just plain FUN!

As the 70's drew to a close and Porno Chic began to show signs of being more fad than cultural revolution, adult filmmakers had to try harder to fill the seats. As the culturally-curious lost interest and the raincoat crowd began spending their evenings with that new-fangled VCR instead of treading the sticky floors of the local grindhouse, many pornographers relied on heavy plot and elaborate setups that wobbled a bit under the weight of a meager budget. HOT LEGS tries for something different - no pretensions of telling a deep and meaningful tale of sexual liberation - instead we are treated to a light and genuinely amusing story, scorching lovemaking and a talented, enthusiastic cast.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Le professeur Raspoutine (1981)

Starring Gabriel Pontello, Christina Andersson
Directed by Andrew Whyte
Review, Video Clip & Gallery

Synopsis

The ever-horny Professor Rasputin and his equally-libidinous wife Doctor Christina run a sex clinic to help the idle rich finally hang up their hang ups. All work and no play makes for dull doctors, so the two come up with a hobby - seducing and murdering hitchhikers for kicks.

Review

What can one possibly say about a sex thriller shot by Swedes in Paris, starring several stalwarts of French smut, released in hard and soft versions under a million different titles in dozens of countries with a production year that no one can seem to agree on and a budget of about $27.50?

Well, one can start at the beginning.

Our story opens with French porn king Gabriel Pontello, as the suave Professor Rasputin, tooling around Paris looking for fresh meat for his weekly threesome sex-and-slash with the wife. As Pontello whizzes by some rather magnificent Parisian scenery, his outing is accompanied by the film's theme song, a delirious ripoff of the Boney M "classic" RASPUTIN. Finding his nubile young victim hitchhiking, he takes her home to the wife and the party begins.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Joy of Flying (1977)

Starring Corinne Cartier, Gianni Garko
Directed by F.J. Gottlieb

Synopsis

Bored with her loutish boyfriend and humdrum life as a shop girl, Silvia wants desperately to shake off her inhibitions but just can't seem to let go. Enter George, a dashing (and over-sexed) businessman intent on making Silvia yet another notch on his headboard. Little does he know what is in store him when Silvia finally does learn the joys of free love!

Review

Reviewing film comedies is, if you'll excuse the rather lame pun, a funny business. This is particularly true if that film is made in a language other than your own. Comedy is very much a culture-based art form - what's funny to us might inspire a blank stare elsewhere and vice-versa. This is even more true for sex comedies. Different cultures have individual taboos and norms, which means a sex comedy has its work cut out when making a trans-Atlantic cinematic voyage.

The Joy of Flying is, on the page, a textbook German sex comedy. All the stock characters are there: the womanizing hero, the frigid heroine and her unfailingly-trampy BFF, the spinster secretary, the flaming queen, the convent-educated nymphomaniac, the hooker, the sexually-insatiable older woman just waiting to be dominated...well, I could go on for quite a while. What makes The Joy of Flying stand apart is that it is legitimately funny, well-directed and performed. This bed-hopping farce is directed with precision and pacing and stars a cast of talented performers who remain engaging even when not running about in the buff.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Too Naughty to Say No (1984)

Directed by Victor Nye
Starring Angel, Ginger Lynn, Jamie Gillis

Synopsis 

Virginal schoolgirl Betty (Angel) falls asleep while studying for her final exam and imagines having all the wild sexual adventures she has missed out on. 

Review

Adult Film is an industry of eras. It began in the pre-Deep Throat era of dirty raincoats, back alley theaters, peep shows and anonymous performers desperately needing a bit of waxing. When Deep Throat burst on the scene and launched the era of "Porno Chic," sex films came out of the closet and into something resembling the near-mainstream. As the late 1970's and early 1980's rolled in, big budget films with superb production values and top-notch talent became the rage, as did the "couples film."

As the 1980's met their mid-point, however, the gloss was quickly buffed away for quick-and-dirty wall-to-wall sexathons shot on the newly affordable medium of videotape. Too Naughty to Say No falls rather haphazardly between those last two eras. It has neither the plot or production money of the early 80's epics, nor is it a sleazefest of the video age. Too Naughty... quite charmingly walks the line between hot sex and humorous story, with a top shelf cast of porno regulars...most of whom would soon vanish from the scene.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Easy (1978)

Directed by Anthony Spinelli
Starring Jesie St. James and Richard Pacheco
Synopsis: Schoolteacher and recent divorcée Kate Harrison (Jesie St. James) ditches her teaching job and hits the road to nymphomania, meeting her share of creeps and pining for real love along the way.

(Review contains minor spoilers in order to make a few points. This isn't Hitchcock so I doubt it will ruin anyone's enjoyment of the film. A clip appears after the review.)

Review: Anyone familiar with classic adult cinema will tell you that Anthony Spinelli was one hell of a director. With little exception his films are well-shot, well-written, well-acted and often emotionally involving. In his hands you would think the story of a romantically-challenged nymphomaniac who uses sex to dull her aching for love would be essential viewing. Unfortunately, even with brilliant camerawork and EXCELLENT performances, Easy is one of Spinelli's lesser efforts.

There are positives to be enjoyed, however. The cast is first rate. Jesie St. James (as Kate, in her first starring role) is energetic and extremely watchable. She is a natural actress and delivers both dialogue and emotion with the same expertise as she moans and screams her way through the sex scenes. Richard Pacheco balances both comedy and menace in his role as a teenage rough. Pacheco is a truly gifted actor who always impresses. Desirée Cousteau brings the comic relief and director Spinelli has a memorable cameo as a letch who comes onto Kate in a seedy bar. The cinematography by Jack Remee looks fantastic (even through the haze of VCX's shoddy DVD) and most of the sex scenes are blisteringly hot. So where does Easy go wrong?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977)

Directed by Joe D'Amato
Starring Laura Gemser and Gabriele Tinti
Synopsis: Intrepid reporter Emanuelle goes undercover in a mental asylum and discovers a young cannibal girl rescued from the Amazon. Emanuelle's curiosity gets the best of her and after enlisting the help of an anthropologist she sets off into Amazonia...where one-by-one the expedition finds themselves the blue plate special in a cannibalistic feast.

(A "highlight reel" appears after the review.)

Review: Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals holds a special place in my (ahem) heart as it was my introduction to the wild world of Black Emanuelle. After that initial exposure, via a heavily-edited print on Showtime, those familiar with the film will be able to imagine my absolute shock when I finally saw it uncut a couple of years later. The film is a grim, grimy and grisly experience with nearly equal parts sweaty sex and ghastly splatter.

Last Cannibals was Laura Gemser's fifth and Joe D'Amato's fourth excursion into the swingin' series, which by 1977 was on the wane and in search of a new direction. In many ways this is a transitional work for D'Amato. He began his directorial career with spaghetti westerns and sexy Decameron-style pictures before making a smooth segue into nudie travelogues and full-on sleaze epics. Post-Cannibals D'Amato would spend a few years balls-deep in gorefests such as Anthropophagus and Absurd. Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals was the turning point - though it was more of a complete 180 turn than a seamless transition. In fact, the directorial turning point happens smack-dab in the middle of the film! Midway through Last Cannibals' 90-minute running time it abruptly stops being a sex film and switches to chunky blood-n-guts horror. Muff diving gives way to gut munching and Gabriele Tinti's hairy Italian buttocks are replaced with the entrails of the supporting cast.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wanda Whips Wall Street (1982)

Directed by Larry Revene
Starring Veronica Hart and Jamie Gillis
Synopsis: Using her feminine wiles, Wanda Brandt (Veronica Hart) worms her way into Tyler Securities and attempts to take over the prestigious firm...and almost takes down Wall Street in the process! Enter private investigator Lou Perrini (Jamie Gillis) who is hired to sniff out the rat, and it isn't long before he's onto Wanda, in more ways than one!

(Video clips from Distribpix's channel follow the review.)

Review: Larry Revene's revered Wanda Whips Wall Street fits so cozily into the "Golden Age" of adult cinema that one can't help feeling all warm and fuzzy while watching it. The cast is a who's who of the era: Veronica Hart, Jamie Gillis, Ron Jeremy and the talented but underrated Tish Ambrose. The film was obviously made on quite a large budget (relative to its ilk, that is) and every penny seems to have been spent making Wanda look, feel and play out like a mainstream film.

The delicious Veronica Hart as Wanda.
Not that the erotic aspects are neglected, mind you. Oh no, the cast acquits itself quite well in that respect. The sexual scenes are integral to the plot, but don't suffer at all because of it. The sex is frequent, erotic and even pleasantly nasty at times! These are real people having real sex. The sex scenes are shot with flair and taste, full of heat and passion and with great gusto. These folks aren't today's Beverly Hills Bombshells, shot in such stark HD that you begin to feel like an armchair gynecologist. No worries on that point. Despite (or perhaps because of) being shot on film with actors who look like people rather than sun-bronzed robots, the sexual scenes feel absolutely real and draw you in. They are so organic that you don't really realize they are happening - you're never pulled out of the narrative they way you often can be in today's adult features.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

In Love (1983)

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.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Briefly...

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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sylvia Kristel (1952-2012)

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


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Milestone!

(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


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Black Aphrodite (1977)

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 Wilson...so 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 who...you 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.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

May 2012: Remembering Ajita Wilson


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


Monday, March 26, 2012

Our Second Anniversary on YouTube!

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Debbie Does Dallas (1978)

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.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

American Exxxtasy: Their Rise and Fall

(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.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A brief note: Lina Romay has passed away...

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Porno Holocaust (1981)


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.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann (1974)

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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Traci, I Love You (1987)

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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Emanuelle Around the World (1977)

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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Emmanuelle 5 - US Version (1987)

Directed by Walerian Borowczyk
and Steve Barnett
Plot Summary: Emmanuelle, a dizzy sexploitation bombshell, is mobbed and stripped bare in Cannes - and eventually finds sanctuary on the boat of a nerdy doorknob factory owner. She later schtupps her way out of the clutches of a Sheik's harem, and machine guns dozens of stock-footage soldiers, before returning to the waiting arms of Mr. Doorknob. You can't make this shit up, folks!

Review: To say the Emmanuelle pump was running dry by this point would certainly be truth in advertising. Emmanuelle 5 exists in three equally demented, disjointed cuts. There is the original French hardcore snoozefest, the slightly more coherent "international" cut and the horrendous, arduous experience that was released Stateside. Having seen all three versions, a dubious honor to be sure, I must admit that while the US version is the most inept - it is, at least, the most entertaining...albeit for all the wrong reasons.

Score (1974)

Directed by Radley Metzger
Cast: Clair Wilbur, Calvin Culver
Lynn Lowry, Gerald Grant, Carl Parker

Plot Summary: In a quaint seaside town, in a country vaguely European, married swingers Elvira and Jack live a joyously hedonistic life seducing tourists. Two new acquaintances, the naive young Betsy and Eddie, are proving to be difficult nuts to crack, however. Undeterred, Elvira and Jack make a bet: can husband bed husband before wife can seduce wife? And what will a swarthy telephone repairman bring to the mix?

Review: In the early 1970's, having "sexual hang ups" was severely frowned upon by anyone who was truly "with it." Thus began the (brief) era of "bisexual chic." The vogue was short-lived, so short that few films had the opportunity to capitalize on the fad. This is what makes Score such a unique and enjoyable experience. In the modern era, when bisexual adult films are widely perceived to be uniformly terrible, Score entices us with a glimpse at a genre that could have been but sadly never was.

While still in the early stages of his career, director Radley Metzger had already begun to solidify his reputation as a master of arthouse erotica by 1974. His meticulously cast, wittily-scripted films were head and shoulders above those of his more exploitative contemporaries.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inhibition (1976)

Plot Summary: Embittered and utterly alone, Carol, a wealthy heiress, returns to her palatial estate following the death of her sadistic husband. Her inner fury turns her into not only a ruthless businesswoman, but a cruel and manipulative sexual predator. She keeps her painful past a secret from those around her, until she meets a handsome stranger who sees through her cruelty and into her wounded soul. The stranger shows Carol that true freedom is only found in letting go.

Review: Long a staple of late-night cable and VHS rental outlets, the new millennium has, surprisingly, left Inhibition rather hard to find. This is certainly a shame, as the film is head and shoulders above most exploitation fare, and is a rather well-made character study, and an emotionally touching one at that. Inhibition takes genre conventions and defies them all brilliantly. What could have been standard T&A fare becomes an intriguing and involving film about loss of self, and lashing out at a cold and cruel world.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade (1978)

Directed by Joe D'Amato
Starring Laura Gemser,
Gabriele Tini, Ely Galleani
88 Minutes/Color

Plot Summary: While visiting an old friend, Emanuelle seizes the chance to photograph a notorious underworld figure. One thing leads to another, and she soon has bigger fish to fry when she discovers another mafioso-type involved in a human trafficking ring. To get the story, she goes undercover into the pleasure palace of the diabolical Madame Claude, but is soon discovered and shipped off for a lobotomy! Will her feminine wiles save the day once again?

Review: Watching this film, the last of the Black Emanuelle films helmed by Joe D'Amato (with the exception of the cut-and-paste Unleashed Perversions of Emanuelle,) this viewer finds himself asking "haven't we been here before?"

The whole film plays out with a rather dreary sense of cinematic déja vu. Both director and star (Laura Gemser, of course) acquit themselves with such a palpable sense of ennui, that it's contagious. Plucky Emanuelle flits about, photgraphing people in compromising positions, encounters a white slavery ring and corrupt officials, and becomes a crusader for women's rights. No, it's not Emanuelle in America or Emanuelle Around the World. White Slave Trade lacks those films' deliriously sleazy fun. D'Amato and Gemser seem tired, and so does the film.

Savage Island (1985)

Directed by Nicholas Beardsley
Starring Linda Blair
Plot summary: Having escaped a life of degredation and torture on an uncharted prison island, a young woman named Daly heads for the city with one thing on her mind: revenge. Holding her former captor at gunpoint, she regails the audience with a sordid tale of sex, jewels, death, and finally, revolution.

Review: Much of the sexploitation genre is an exercise in endurance. However "Savage Island" is an exercise in cinematic Schizophrenia. Not content to simply buy, re-cut and re-title one trashy European women-in-prison dirge, the producers of "Savage Island" plunder two films, bookending it with cheesy footage of a gun-totin' Linda Blair to round out the package. If it sounds like a mess, it is.

Ajita Wilson being badass.
The film is pieced together from two films shot back-to-back (with the same cast, sets and basic plot) by Edoardo Mulargia. The two films ("Escape from Hell" and "Orinoco: Prison of Sex") are standard, if quite entertaining sleaze pictures starring famed gender bender Ajita Wilson, obscure starlet Cristina Lai, Italian action star Anthony Steffen, and the perenially sneering baddie Serafino Profumo.

Yellow Emanuelle (1976)

Directed by Bitto Albertini
Starring Chai Lee, Giuseppe Pambieri
and Ilona Staller (Cicciolina)
106 Minutes
Plot summary: After being beaten by thugs in the streets of Hong Kong, British pilot George Taylor awakes in hospital under the care of the beautiful Dr Emy Wong. The two fall in love and become engaged, but when George is temporarily sent back to London a jealous co-worker/ex-girlfriend intercepts his love letters to Emy. Believing she has been abandoned and disgraced Emy descends into a world of prostitution and misery.

Review: (If this review sounds at all familiar, it's because I've published it on several forums under the name "Futura-2.")

From the promotional materials of the time, The Sensuous World of Emy Wong (better known by the unfortunate title Yellow Emanuelle) one would think Bitto Albertini (aka Albert Thomas) was intending to churn out another soft-core romp, similar to the films of Joe D'Amato. However, after the opening montage around the seedier parts of Hong Kong, viewers find themselves in the midst of a very different kind of film.


George and Emy get jiggy wit' it.
This is not unusual with Albertini's work. His legendary Black Emanuelle (1975) was essentially a melodrama, with lots of soft-core fondling thrown in to attract the grindhouse crowd. Albertini concentrates more on dramatic tension and melodrama then his counterparts, with mixed results in most cases, including Yellow Emanuelle.

On one hand, you've got Ilona Staller (who later became one of the more off-the-wall figures of Italian porn and Parliament) and Giuseppe Pambieri engaging in much (simulated) sleazy sex, accompanied by Nico Fidenco's pornoesque score. On the other hand, the romance between Chai Lee's Emy Wong and Pambieri seems to come from another film entirely. It's sensitively told, the actors really seem to believe in what they're doing, and their love scenes are beautifully shot (including one in an unfurnished bedroom that is just this side of art.)

Heatstroke (1982)

Directed by Joe Gage
Starring Richard Locke
86 Minutes/Color
*Some sources state this film was released in 1980, hence the URL of this article. I found more sources later on that state it was released in 1982. Anyone know?

Plot summary: On a ranch in rural Montana, Rory and his fellow ranch hands are constantly bullied and humiliated by their cruel foreman, Shep. After a night on the town opens Rory's eyes to both the agony and ecstacy of mansex, he hatches a plan to turn the tables on Shep and gain the upper hand.

Review: Joe Gage is something of an anomaly in the world of both gay and straight cinema (he directed straight porn as well, and a few softcore features.) Other directors (of any persuasion) often tried to dress up the raunch, creating complicated soap opera-style storylines, convoluted scripting, expensive costumes and location shooting, while the films of Joe Gage are about sex as a tool, as a weapon, as a means of communication between men.

"Heatstroke" hit adult theatres with the tagline "Male Bonding...With a Vengeance" which pretty much sums up Gage's entire canon. In the films of Joe Gage, unlike so many of his contemporaries, sex was about bonding, camaraderie and power. There were no hints of romance, no one pining for something more. Sex was merely a form of communication. He drove this point home in several of his films by including heterosexual sex scenes that nearly always brought up conflict, confusion and complication in the lives of the male participants. The male on male sex scenes were always much more straightforward...and oddly refreshing in a way.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Devil in Miss Jones (1973)

Directed by Gerard Damiano
With Georgina Spelvin
and Harry Reems
Plot summary: Weary of lonliness and despair, Justine Jones takes her own life. Upon reaching the afterlife, she learns that her act of escape has condemned her to an eternity in Hell. A minion takes pity upon her and gives her the chance to return to Earth to earn her way to Hell, by living a life, as she puts it, "consumed by lust."

Review: If Deep Throat made it hip for suburbanites to visit an adult cinema, The Devil in Miss Jones made it okay for serious critics and academics to cast something more than a dismissive glance at the pornographic screen. Running a scant 74 minutes, Miss Jones is a film that will sit with you long after the final reel has unspooled. It is a stark and startling film in many ways, far from the frothy fun found in pornography before and hence. It's not a film about sexual abandon, like much of its ilk, but a film about life, death and consequence.

Heavy subject matter, to be sure, but the film succeeds in drawing us in from the very first few moments. Our first meeting with Justine Jones (played with aplomb by Georgina Spelvin) draws us right into her world. Her apartment is stark, a sea of white walls, a cocoon of isolation in the chaos of New York City. Georgina Spelvin's performance is both subtle and obvious, and while she tackles the wordy dialogue like any pro, she is most effective in scenes where she utters no words at all. From the moment we first lay eyes upon her, we feel her pain, her emptiness. Spelvin hands us all these emotions with the mere glance of her eyes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Adult Cinema 101

In the world of adults-only cinema, the word "classic" gets thrown around about as much as most of today's porn starlets do. Many are curious, they trek to the dustiest corner of the video store's adult section and grab an old, beat-up videocassette, take it home to finally see what the "classics" are all about. Most of the time...they're disappointed. Washed-out picture, muffled sound, sex that seems more stagey than arousing. They start to wonder what all the fuss is about. Well, that's where I come in.

There was a time before porn existed soley for the consumer to get it up and get it off. That was the main intention, to be sure, but there was more to it than that. In the 1970s through the 1980s, the legal status of porn was very much a mystery, varying from state to state, even city to city. In the "golden age," adult films were about rebellion. They were made by people who never fit in, who never got their foot in the filmmaking door, the outcasts, the mavericks.

There are amazing pieces of cinematic smut out there for you to enjoy, especially if your only, erm, "exposure" has been through piss-poor VHS and DVD releases. Not every film made before 1985 is a "classic," despite what the DVD producers would have you believe. It's my intention to introduce you to films that are actually worth your time. And yes, I'll give you enough info so you'll know whether or not you'll "get a rise" out of it as well.

At the Grindhouse Schoolhouse we'll be reviewing films, meeting the stars, and getting emersed in the vast world of Golden Age adult films. Once every week (or more, if I feel like it) I'll review 1-3 films and introduce you to (at least) one star of the golden age. I'll occasionally post the odd video interview for your viewing pleasure as well! I hope you learn something, and find at least one classic adult film that tickles your fancy! So sit back, enjoy, and feel free to ask any questions you may have. I look forward to your feedback and comments!

If there are any films, stars, directors or themes you'd like to see covered, let me know. I'm always "open" to suggestion! This blog is for your education, so what do YOU want to read more about?
Enjoy!