Director: Bob Chinn
Vinegar Syndrome

Hyapatia Lee takes on FLASHDANCE and then goes Olivia Newton-John one better in the back-to-back double bill BODY GIRLS and LET'S GET PHYSICAL on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.

The titular BODY GIRLS are the competitive body builders of gym owner Jackie La Lay (Hyapatia Lee) who is prepping for the second annual female body building competition. Not above a little friendly persuasion, Jackie offers her services to event coordinator Jim (Bud Lee, THE YOUNG LIKE IT HOT) and the charms of her girls to bodybuilding judge Arnold Feregano (Francois Papillon, HOT FLASHES). When rival West Coast Iron Pumpers send their henchmen Ed (Gary Eberhart, TABOO) and Tony (Rick Ryder, SEX WARS) to sabotage their training equipment, they surprise Jackie cooling down in a threesome with Kim (Robin Everett, BODY MAGIC) and Shelly (Erica Boyer, HANNAH DOES HER SISTERS) but they turn the tables on the guys and "deflower" them with a strap-on dildo and send them hobbling back to their boss. Jim courts Jackie in spite of the conflict of interest, more so muddled when Arnold turns up at the gym to give the girls some pointers and all of the stretching devolves into an orgy. On the day of the competition, Jackie and her girls discover Ed and Tony going to drastic measures to make sure that their club's contestants take the top three spots. While Terry (Rene Holland), Kim, and Kelly (Anne Thomas) take the stage, Jackie secures the interests of Arnold and the newscaster (Eric Edwards, CORPORATE ASSETS) under the table (literally).

Riffing on FLASHDANCE in style if not entirely content, with the gym workout montages aping that film's the cubist angles and editing while Hyapatia Lee's theme song sets its chorus to the musical refrain of "What a Feeling" (a later instrumental piece underscoring an oil massage virtually rips off the melody of the song's intro), BODY GIRLS is lightweight oily, sweaty, eighties fun with a skeleton of a problem plot filled out by a handful of sex scenes including a twenty-five minute orgy in the middle. The cast also includes Mike Horner (TASTY), Shanna McCullough (PHYSICAL ATTRACTION), and Desiree Lane (NEW WAVE HOOKERS). The photography of prolific Jack Remy (SWEET YOUNG FOXES) possesses an eighties mainstream soft-focus slickness while the set design is unexceptional but provides director Bob Chinn's usual level of production value. These aforementioned elements may be of little interest to most viewers, but I cite them because the feature LET'S GET PHYSICAL shot back-to-back with much of the same cast and crew is the stronger effort not only in story, performance, and heat but also in stylistic terms.

LET'S GET PHYSICAL is set in the ballet studio of Maria (Hyapatia Lee) who unhappily lusts for dancer Scott (Horner) and stifles her own interest in more modern dancing styles out of her devotion to husband Carl (Paul Thomas, FANTASYWORLD) who she believes blames her for the car accident (cue jittery stock footage) that crippled him. While Maria teaches the students, Carl has given up dancing and choreography and casts shows for other producers and directors. Maria longs for the chance to choreograph a rock musical, but Carl insists that she can still be a prima ballerina. Maria believes that Carl is more interested in Renee (McCullough) who is younger and more talented as a ballerina, and her fears seem to be confirmed when Carl proposes a threesome after getting aroused for the first time since the accident while spying their private lesson and unique "stretching exercises." Carl does pay more attention to Renee in bed, but does that free up Maria to pursue Scott and her artistic dreams?

Although Lee's theme song this time around is hilarious in its would-be punkishness, LET'S GET PHYSICAL is the film of the set into which the filmmakers put all of their effort. The sex scenes are less plentiful than in the previous film but more stylishly shot and lingered upon. Lee and Thomas give sympathetic performances that carry the scant dramatics (including a soft-focus dream sequence in which Thomas sings "ballerina dance for me, a carousel of fantasy for make-believe" while Lee gets it on with Horner). The dance sequences are risible with poor Horner trying to balance on pointe and the others – including Francois Papillon, Erica Boyer, and Martina (ALL THE WAY IN) – trying to keep in sync with Lee, so it is just as well that the film elides the actual performance for the New York Dance Academy (with stock footage crowd scenes from some Technicolor film seemingly several decades older than the surrounding footage). As mentioned above, set design and photography are classier in this effort, and the whole affair minus the sex could almost pass for a mainstream if low-budget contemporary of some of the mainstream eighties dance dramas (Lee's loosely-choreographed solo blowing off steam might even anticipate the barn scene in the following year's FOOTLOOSE more so than FLASHDANCE's "Maniac" dance).

Vinegar Syndrome's dual-layer DVD features 2K restorations of both films from 35mm camera pre-print elements in 16:9 anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen, looking colorful and crisp with some minute instances of speckling outside of the credits opticals, an instance or two of jitter, and at least one shot where it looks like the film might not have been flat against the pressure plate in the camera or perhaps wavered momentarily during the printing. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks cleanly convey the dialogue and the music scores (making one hope that Vinegar Syndrome might go into soundtracks for some of these films if separate materials for the music exist). There are no extras. (Eric Cotenas)