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.

Gianni Garko and Olivia Pascal.
A quick aside, don't be concerned...there is plenty of hopping about in the buff in The Joy of Flying. Refreshingly, there is something for everyone as the boobs-a-plenty are complimented by a more-than-average ration of man flesh. Anyhow, moving on...

Our cast is headed by the handsome and talented Gianni Garko, whose reign as King of the Spaghetti Westerns had faded by the late 1970's, after which he easily threw himself into the booming sex comedy genre. Casting a genuine actor in the leading role makes an otherwise despicable womanizer like George oddly likable. While his vocal delivery is obscured by the (rather enjoyably daffy) English dubbing, his talent for face-pulling and physical comedy is pitched perfectly for farce without going too over-the-top.

Corinne Cartier
Our leading lady, Silvia, is brought to life by then-newcomer Corinne Cartier. Cartier's face was made for cinema...her glamorous movie-goddess looks are impossible to turn away from. While the presence of the quiet Silvia is somewhat overshadowed by the endless parade of oddballs surrounding her, Cartier holds her own and manages to stand out by doing the opposite of what her co-stars are doing. Rather than wild gesticulations, Cartier plays her role with a controlled wink, quiet amusement and she is obviously having a ball. In her (many) nude scenes she reveals a body both lithe and sensual, both glamorous and real.

Gorgeous German actress Olivia Pascal (who also starred in the infamous Vanessa) has a small but memorable role as Maria, a convent schoolgirl with an insatiable appetite for sex in dangerous places. Her comedic timing is perfect and she livens up every scene in which which she appears. Pascal would excel during the T&A boom of the 1970's and continues to be in demand in German film and television.

Caught in the act.
The storyline, a repressed young woman goes in search of erotic fulfillment, may be pretty much identical to every comedic sexploiter of the era, The Joy of Flying is head-and-shoulders above so many others. In addition to the charming cast, director Franz Gottlieb clearly cares about the film he is making. This is no quickie boobs and booties cash-in. Spectacular flying sequences, lush interiors and exotic locales give the film a gloss so often missing in these types of films. It's obvious the director wants as much to amuse his audience as titillate them. Gottlieb has a knack for humor and detail and amusing set-pieces crop up alongside the main thrust of the story at regular intervals.

Ajita Wilson
How about the titillation, then? Well, the film doesn't skimp. While most of the sexual escapades are played for laughs and push the story along, they also generate real heat. A romp between George and his belle du jour while his secretary jabbers away unaware is both humorous and sexy. Later, a threeway nude massage between the hero and two women is as erotic as it is absurd. The hottest scene in the movie happens in the final act as George beds a cold businesswoman played by the legendary Ajita Wilson, appearing here in an extended cameo role.

While so many other sex comedies fall flat, seeming to be merely an excuse to hang nude scenes on, The Joy of Flying is a ridiculous amount of fun. Even the score is memorable and comedic with choruses of "C'mon let's do it, do it, do bee do bee do bee do it!" 

Do bee do bee do bee do it!
The Joy of Flying has much to recommend: hearty laughs, copious nudity (both male and female), a catchy score, talented performers and capable direction. Long a stalwart of late-night cable, The Joy of Flying is a bit harder to find these days. It was released on DVD in Germany in a slightly-edited form and appeared on VHS in various territories as The Joy of Flying, Sex at 7000 Feet and Erotic Ways.

Relax and enjoy this one. Recommended.

-Johnny Stanwyck


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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 scraped 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.

The plot is pencil-thin, of course, but there's nothing more hilarious than a film opening on the voracious Lisa De Leeuw in full nun's habit! The film is framed as one long dream sequence in the head of the virginal (ahem) Angel, then new to adult films and not yet the superstar she would become. Angel is quite good as the doe-eyed protagonist, as is Ginger Lynn as her more worldly BFF. The acting is rather ropey and the threadbare script doesn't help much, but producer Suze Randall and director Victor Nye knew the writing was on the wall and concentrated on the sex. That's where the film comes up trumps...with a few caveats.

Jamie Gillis gets a mouthful of
Ginger (Lynn, that is.)

There is a surprising amount on non-consensual sex on display in this film. That sort of thing had fallen out of favor by this point but since the film is a dream sequence it brings to mind the theory that for people who are conditioned to see sex as sinful (as our Catholic schoolgirl protagonist certainly has been) one way to enjoy sex is to fantasize about being taken. Erica Jong-style theorizing aside, I doubt that was the filmmakers intention, but that notion does make the (VERY hot) sex scenes in this film much easier to, ahem, swallow.

Paul Baressi and Rick Cassidy make
an Angel sandwich.
One particularly notable scene is a threesome between Angel and famously bisexual hunks Paul Baressi and Rick (aka Jim) Cassidy. This scene gets a major bump in the heat department because the men aren't afraid to talk to each other. Too often in threesomes involving two men and one woman the men seem to be trying very hard to forget the other man is present. That's not a problem here. Angel seems to be having a whale of a time and the guys really seem to get off watching each other bone her silly.

Despite the film's rather uncomfortable preoccupation with coercion (even fantasy necrophilia, yuck!) it does have its forward-thinking moments as well. In the final sex scene, Angel and Cody Nicole have a sapphic time in a car as the male cast of the film looks on, masturbating and eventually covering the windows with money shots. Quite daring for a genre predominately geared towards straight men. However, Suze Randall and Victor Nye did often like to include a little something for everyone.

Speaking of something for everyone, how about an orgy involving a sleazy director, a senator, a Nazi and a bishop?
A flash of brilliance.

The supporting cast is a who's who of genre players, most of whom were soon to fade away as the video age took hold. Lisa De Leeuw, Eric Edwards, Jamie Gillis, Harry Reems and Michael Morrison were all familiar faces in the late 1970's and decent actors to boot. All bar Gillis would taper off their appearances before fading to black. Some of the female cast (Heather Thomas, Raven, Lois Ayers, etc) would hang on for a few years before disappearing, but even Ginger Lynn was on the cusp of retiring by this stage.
Big finish.

While Too Naughty to Say No isn't quite Neon Nights or The Story of Joanna, it is a very well-made fond farewell to an era and the people who made it so memorable. For story, give it a miss. If you want to enjoy blistering-hot sex with a cast of favorites, well you will do quite nicely with Too Naughty to Say No. Rub one off and enjoy!

-Johnny Stanwyck
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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?

Richard Pacheco and Jesie St. James
Easy is a film with a message, but unfortunately that message is rather muddled. Kate readily admits to being a nymphomaniac with the throwaway explanation that she is looking for sexual freedom after a humiliating divorce. Ok, that's all well and good, but the message is rather undercut by the abundance of non-consensual sex the character finds herself involved in (and enjoying) throughout the movie. Three of the sex scenes are unequivocally rape (one occasion at knife-point, no less.)

Georgina Spelvin
The third rape scene (her attacker this go 'round is the legendary Georgina Spelvin) is somewhat less problematic because it actually leads to the realization that Kate's man is a two-timer and extricating herself from the poisonous pair she decides to turn her life around. Unfortunately the earlier rape scenes just have Kate getting up, dusting herself off and diving into bed with the next guy to give her the once over. It could be argued, I suppose, that her promiscuity is an effort to regain a feeling of control after having that control taken away from her, but that doesn't jive with her obvious enjoyment. Another way to look at it would be that being victimized is the only way she is able to allow herself to enjoy sex. But, this also doesn't jive with her behavior throughout the rest of the film.

Desirée Cousteau
There have been a number of films where non-consensual sex has been an important thematic strand (Sometime Sweet Susan springs to mind) and is used to show the emotional damage such a personal assault can cause. Not so in Easy. In all three of the scenes in question, Kate initially resists but soon begins to enjoy it. That notion is more than just distasteful, it's downright dangerous. Even more worrying is that a similar strand runs through the otherwise enjoyable Vista Valley P.T.A. in which St. James was again directed by Spinelli. I kept waiting for the film to offer some sort of explanation...but I waited in vain. Had these scenes not ended with Kate enjoying the experience I think it would have worked much better. In fact, I think it would make a much better case for Kate's sexually-wanton behavior and emotional withdrawal. Oh well, I wasn't the screenwriter.

Buttering up Ken Scudder.
The other sex scenes in the film are, thankfully, highly erotic and enjoyably offbeat. We get both female-to-male rimming and female-to-male fingering, not something you generally see in an adult film geared towards straight men. In the latter fingering scene, Kate seduces a blind piano tuner (Ken Scudder) in a moment that is lighthearted, sexy and fun. A later scene in which Desirée Cousteau and Laurien Dominique seduce their respective boy toys is also highly erotic, if superfluous, and offers a nice respite from the rougher aspects of the film.

Worth the price of admission is a hilarious catfight between Georgina Spelvin (looking particularly lovely) and Jesie St. James that seems plucked right out of Knots Landing. Good times!

I know just how you feel, kid.
The film closes with Kate feeling she has finally found love and will leave her wanton ways in the past...only to be spurned again. Easy is obviously trying to convey a message, though I'm at a loss to tell you what that message actually is. I will say, however, that the ending did give me an emotional pang. I felt for Kate and was sad to see her story end on a sour note. I think this comes down to Jesie St. James' brilliant performance. In fact, the whole cast is superb. I think there could have been a really great film here with a bit sharper focus.

I would still recommend Easy simply to enjoy the consensual sex scenes which are rich with heat...but this may be the rare classic adult film where one should fast-forward through the plot and just enjoy the naughty bits.

-Johnny Stanwyck
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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.

How much snake can one woman take?
How does Last Cannibals fare in the horror stakes, you ask? For his first full-on excursion into horror, D'Amato's film is surprisingly effective. D'Amato shows a talent for build up using sound and hand-held camera work to layer on the suspense before finally unleashing a bloody cinematic massacre. The gore effects are shocking in their realism and supremely disturbing. I think the film is actually helped by the cheap film stock it was shot on. It takes on a snuff film quality as much of the horror is shown to us from the point of view of the characters, rather than a passive camera plunked into the action.

As the characters are dispatched one-by-one, the tension grows and the gore amps up exponentially. Some of the gore doesn't quite work, but it's so nasty in its execution it still manages to be stomach-turning. Sloppy effects are rare though, as much of what we see looks uncomfortably real. Without giving too much away, the "head on a stick" gave me nightmares the first time I saw it...and I'm not one who scares easily. You won't see it coming either. There are some genuine shocks to be had in this picture.

Call my agent!
As for the supporting cast of walking cannibal bait, the players are really quite good. Gore hounds will quickly recognize Doctor Butcher, M.D. himself, Donald O'Brien. While no one could give the script credit for giving the players anything to stretch with, O'Brien's rugged appearance and fine acting shines through the clunky dialogue and laughable dubbing. He plays a supremely unlikable and unscrupulous (not to mention impotent) jewel thief, but manages to actually be a somewhat sympathetic character.

Even more impressive is Susan Scott, star of many a giallo thriller, playing O'Brien's sensual and sex-starved wife. Scott's career path has always baffled me. She is not only a great beauty (who defies stereotypes about women "of a certain age") she is very fine actress. Oddly, she often took roles that were not only exploitative but bordered on demeaning. Fortunately she plays a strong woman not to be trifled with in Last Cannibals. Her performance is the best one in the film, eschewing the occasional thespian ennui of her cast mates with vibrancy and verisimilitude.

Rounding out of band of adventurers are Monica Zanchi, Annamaria Clementi (or Anne Marie Clementi, depending on the print) and American athlete Percy Hogan. Zanchi is given little to do other than to be blonde, beautiful and preyed upon. Clementi is given a generic role as an edible nun, however she has a few opportunities to display true horror and is very effective. Her final scene in the film is utterly horrific. Hogan has the least to do. He is basically around to play stud to the voracious Susan Scott and he certainly is a statuesque picture of masculinity. It's a shame he is given so little to do because he's got massive screen presence. He appeared in the Civil War sexploiter Black Emanuelle, White Emanuelle (aka Passion Plantation) where he shows an ability to give an affecting performance despite turgid material. He is completely wasted in Last Cannibals, but he looks great sweaty and naked and I guess that's what is required for this sort of picture.

Speaking of looking great naked, Laura Gemser and real-life husband Gabriele Tinti are the stars of the piece and their onscreen chemistry is as good as ever. When they are the only two on screen there is an electricity that is a joy to watch. When the story shifts away from their lovemaking they both seem bored with the project. Who could blame them? Gemser has always admitted freely that she got into films simply to see the world rather than from a desire to perform and Gabriele Tinti was a serious actor who sojourned into exploitation fare mainly to be close to wife Gemser.

We've covered the horror aspect, but how does this fare as a sex film? The sex scenes between Gemser and Tinti have genuine heat and they are shot beautifully. Their scenes are highly erotic and very arousing. The sole sex scene between Susan Scott and Percy Hogan also generates heat, but in a more Earthy, animal way. Gemser and Tinti are making love, Scott and Hogan are fucking, if you see what I mean.

Swept off her feet.
The rest of the film's sex scenes are stilted and bizarre. A scene where Emanuelle and a boy toy have sex standing up under a bridge may well be the clumsiest coupling I've ever seen. It's all fumbling and Gemser pulling faces. But then, having sex standing up is kind of like having sex in the shower - it always sounds like a better idea than it actually is.

If that scene was clumsy, the rest are just plain icky. An early scene where Emanuelle tries to gain the trust of a demented mental patient by, basically, molesting her is more than a little uncomfortable, particularly as I doubt D'Amato would understand why the situation is so repugnant. There is also a gang rape scene towards the end of the film that is supposed to be horrific, but comes off as hilarious because it is so ineptly staged and shot.

Speaking of inept, for added fun watch the English dub of this film! The voice of Emanuelle's boss  changes actors mid-sentence. Strangely, the same scene appears in the trailer and this doesn't happen. A few minutes later Emanuelle stops mid-sentence, twice, to take a bite of her food. Unintentional comic relief, but you're going to need it when the action switches to the Amazon and the horror kicks in.

Don't let the tepid sex scenes and hilarious dubbing scare you off. D'Amato was clearly focusing his attentions on the horror aspect and he does this exceedingly well. I've seen a number of his horror films and this is one of the very few that had any sort of effect on me. This is a grimy little gore flick that shows where D'Amato's storytelling talents really were. The pacing is a little off, but if you remember that this is a first foray into the genre it is really quite impressive. And let's not forget the Marlboro-smoking ape! Highly recommended!

-Johnny Stanwyck

DVD Release: This film is readily available on DVD in several editions from different countries. The R1 release is long out-of-print, but newer international editions are of much better print quality and boast more extras. Worth seeking out. The release from Another World Entertainment looks especially nice.

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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.

Wanda seduces a nebbish-y broker in one
of the film's best comedic scenes.
Sex aside, how does the film hold up? Very well, I'm happy to report! The film is brimming with location footage, from the early shots of Wanda's arrival in New York City, to the hustle and bustle of the Stock Exchange floor! While the scenes of the actors on the floor were shot on a studio set, they are so seamlessly integrated into the location footage that the viewer never gives it a second thought. By the time Wanda hit theaters in 1982, the claustrophobic hotel rooms and dingy apartments of the Deep Throat era were long gone, and adult filmmaking had hit its stride. Productions like Wanda seemed to be harbingers that the adult film would soon take its place as it's own genre in the mainstream milieu. The arrival of video derailed that notion, but it's fun to speculate about what might have been!

Jamie Gillis and Veronica Hart.
All the clever camera work and location footage in the world would be little use without an outstanding cast to carry the film, and fortunately Wanda is not short on talent! Of course, you know you're in for a good time when Veronica Hart takes the lead. Despite Wanda's shady machinations (including duping a dying man out of his shares) you really can't help but like her. Hart gives Wanda a warmth and a charm that just jumps off of the screen. Equally comfortable in both dramatic and comedic roles, Hart's comic timing is perfection here. Wanda is at heart a comedic farce, and Hart pitches her delivery to that level making her scenes vastly enjoyable.

Insider trading.
Hart is ably propped up by her daffy sidekick Janie, played by the wonderful Tish Ambrose. Ambrose appeared in dozens and dozens of films, but rarely was given much to work with to show her talents. Fortunately, Larry Revene knows what he is doing and Ambrose plays to role with a wide-eyed sincerity and kooky charm, getting the film's biggest laughs. Aside from our heroine, she is perhaps the most memorable character here. Ambrose gets the best of the comedic lines and she knows how to deliver them. It's a pity the actress would rarely be given the chance to show her talent in subsequent films. When she is onscreen, the film is electric.

Jamie Gillis and Ron Jeremy.
Jamie Gillis, as the private investigator, plays his role in a rather subdued manner but manages to retain the screen presence that makes him so hard to turn away from. He has such intensity that he knows that he doesn't need to overplay in order to make an impression. His sidekick Ron Jeremy is nicely restrained here. Directors tended to cast Jeremy in over-the-top roles, but he actually shines much more brightly here in his role as second banana. He knows what is required of him and plays the role as such - no mugging or angling for face time. Wanda gives him one of his best roles, in my opinion.

On the prowl.
The supporting cast is full of familiar faces. Samantha Fox has a small role as an embittered stock trader, Ron Hudd and George Payne turn up as sexual conquests, and the glorious Sharon Mitchell appears by literally rising up behind a copulating couple and joining in. She has no dialogue, but her appearance is memorable. The non-sex cast is fun as well. Kurt Mann plays a hilariously swishy board member with an arched-eyebrow and knowing glint in his eye. A veteran of many-a sex film for The Amero Brothers, Mann is always terrific comic relief. He would wrap up his onscreen career a few years later with a bit role in Passage Thru Pamela, and he is in his prime in Wanda. Another non-sex stalwart is on hand, Patricia Dale, as the wonderfully acerbic office shrew. Another noteworthy performance is the actress who plays the burgled executive's wife. She is a delight, an absolutely highlight of the film. Her identity, sadly, seems to have been lost to the mists of time.

Picnic lunch.
The space behind the camera boasts two people of a very impressive pedigree. The script was written by frequent Chuck Vincent collaborator Rick Marx who would go on to pen Vincent's undisputed masterpiece In Love two years later. Keeping all these pieces of the cinema puzzle together is prolific and talented cinematographer-turned-director Larry Revene. Also an alumnus of the Chuck Vincent stable, he lensed dozens of films - both hard and legit - over the years, and proves with Wanda that he has what it takes to helm a feature film on his own. With Larry Revene Wanda reaches heights it might not have with anyone else calling the shots. Revene is a genius who is finally getting his due in recent years.

The mystery actress who gives one of the film's
best performances!
While I dislike the term "couples film" (because what one couple likes and what another enjoys can be worlds apart) Wanda is often labelled as such. I believe it gets that designation because it's distinctly non-gonzo. The script is a delight, the cast and crew are talented and the sex is hot without being sterile or misogynistic. It is this mainstream appeal that no doubt led to the quasi-sequel Stocks and Blondes, which re-uses footage from Wanda to create a new storyline while simultaneously tying up Wanda's loose ends. But that's another story for another time.

Until then, I whole-heartily recommend Wanda Whips Wall Street for your collection. It's got the sexual goods, but it's unbridled hilarity is what sets it apart from so many other adult comedies of the day and hence. Wanda Whips Wall Street is a laugh riot from start to finish.

Samantha Fox and Veronica Hart.
DVD Release: Wanda has long been available on home media, first on videocassette and later on DVD. However, we can now rejoice further as the film gets a fabulous re-release from Distribpix. The new DVD features a newly-struck master (in 2k!) from the original elements. The results are stunning. While the original elements do have some damage, most of this has been successfully scrubbed away and the vast majority of the film is as pristine as any film of its era could hope to look. The colors, the black levels, the flesh tones are uniformly gorgeous. The restoration is simply astounding! Distribpix is the absolute master when it comes to the presentation of classic adult films on home media these days!

Director Larry Revene and star Veronica Hart
reminisce about the making of Wanda.
The DVD is also bustling with wonderful extras to explore. At the top of the list is a hilarious and informative commentary from star Veronica Hart and director Larry Revene. The two obviously have great affection for each other and for the film, and it's nice to know their recollections of the time, the film and the cast are preserved for posterity in this way!

Other extras include a featurette on the restoration of the elements and a fun ephemera slide show. Distribpix has done it again with another fantastic release! An essential purchase! Available directly from Distribpix.

-Johnny Stanwyck

Clips of Wanda Whips Wall Street from Distribpix.
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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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