BABYFACE (1977) Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Director: Alex de Renzy
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome gives us more Alex de Renzy with their Blu-ray/DVD combo restoration of the boundary-pushing BABYFACE.

When dock worker Dan (Dan Roberts) is caught with his pants down in the company of fifteen-year-old Priscilla (Lyn Malone) by her worried mother Molly (Molly Seagrim, DEEP TANGO), Priscilla cries rape and a hulking cop (wrestler Otis Sistrunk) gives chase, shooting at Dan and leaving him for dead. Dan washes up near the houseboat of Felicia (Amber Hunt, CRY FOR CINDY) and Annie (Linda Wong, EASY ALICE) who clean him up (among other things) and provide him with a hiding place until the heat dies down at The Training Camp, a male brothel run by The Champ (Kathryn Reed, SINDEROTICA) whose stable of young men caters to an entirely female clientele. Big all over Dan is a hit with the regular customers, causing tension with the other guys – including Jeff (Paul Thomas, FANTASYWORLD) when regular customer Negra (Desiree West, VISTA VALLEY PTA) requests Dan instead – but they nevertheless warn him about a customer they call "The Nutcracker" who takes out her extreme hatred of men on them. Unfortunately, Molly has discovered Dan's whereabouts and is sharpening her knives with plans to crash the wild orgy in which famous model Miranda (Kristine Heller, THE ULTIMATE PLEASURE) intends to break a world screwing record.

BABYFACE is actually a less transgressive de Renzy work compared to the likes of FEMMES DE SADE (a poster of which is seen on the wall of the guys' dorm along with THE PLEASURE MASTERS) or LONG JEANNE SILVER, but it is not without its moments. Besides Dan's encounter with underage Priscilla, one of Champ's clients is a housewife (Carla Harwood, COUNT THE WAYS) who likes much younger men (like her thirteen-year-old son and his friends) and pays Roger (SEXWORLD's Joey Silvera) to play a high school jock, aggressive race car driver Tasha (Sandy Pinney, FOXY LADY) seems to actually whip Dan to get him angry enough to retaliate, and an older client is seen asking Felicia to set up an encounter with a donkey for her (thankfully it does not occur onscreen). The stilted acting and lopsided humor keep things from getting too unpleasant even when some fake blood is spilled, and a tighter story and more sober approach might have made up for de Renzy's inability to find anything for John Leslie (CANDY GOES TO HOLLYWOOD) to do other than stand in the background waiting for his turn during Heller's gang screw.

Before Vinegar Syndrome's combo edition, BABYFACE was released three times on DVD. VCX's watermarked DVD was roughly fourteen minutes short while the TVX DVD was apparently complete but from a dated master, although one apparently superior to Alpha Blue Archives double feature disc with LITTLE SISTERS (itself given the remastered treatment by Vinegar Syndrome in a double feature with POWDER BURNS). After a three year search in which it seemed that all the original elements and several of the prints were destroyed, a seemingly pristine archival element revealed itself, and that is the source of Vinegar Syndrome's 2K-mastered 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen transfer; however, it was discovered that the fifth reel had a passage of several minutes afflicted by water damage on the left side of the screen. The damage is prominent but really not that distracting. The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono track is pretty clean apart from the water-damaged segment where the optical track was similarly damaged.

The major extra is an audio interview by Casey Scott with actress Molly Seagrim (109:31) who discusses her beginnings in the San Francisco adult industry after an aimless cross-country drive from Miami with her sister in 1969 and falling in love with the city and its artistic culture. She discusses her relationship with husband Zachary Strong (VISIONS OF CLAIRE) and joining him in his venture into skin flicks using the studio and equipment of Jerry Abrams (EAT AT THE BLUE FOX) – who had to disappear for a while because the feds were after him for interstate transportation of pornography – doing some loops for the Mitchell Brothers (BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR), and working as extras on the works of some other San Francisco adult film fixtures. In discussing her work with de Renzy, she sheds more light on his personality as well as his family. Of BABYFACE, she reveals that de Renzy hired her when actress Marion Eaton had second thoughts (after having already played a similar character with as much explicitude in Curt McDowell's THUNDERCRACK). Scott is well-informed and prepared, discussing her other credits and filling in the background on some of the other personalities she brings up (like FIREWORKS WOMAN's Helen Madigan). Having received a master's degree in literature before heading to San Francisco, Seagrim – who takes her name from a character in Henry Fielding's TOM JONES – is now a published author of short fiction. Also included is the short film "Parochial Passion Princess" (12:30) in which a Catholic schoolgirl (Justine Taylor, C.B. MAMAS) keeps a weekly appointment with her teacher (David Book, MIDNIGHT HUSTLE). That's pretty much it but the film is attractively lensed and the print source is pretty clean and colorful. The reversible cover sports more explicit artwork on the reverse. (Eric Cotenas)