Vinegar Syndrome brings us a pair of Lisa Barr (aka Joseph Bardo) hardcore skinflicks in their second PEEKARAMA DVD (their new line to distinguish hardcore titles from their "Drive-in Collection" releases) with DEEP ROOTS and STARLET NIGHTS.
In DEEP ROOTS, Billy (Jesse Chacan) sells his inherited land and leaves the reservation for Hollywood where he buys himself a swanky pad to indulge his interest in art… well, one of his interests. The film chronicles his encounters with a series of women including Joan (Anita Sands, DO YOU WANNA BE LOVED?) whose frustration over her fiance's reticence to set a wedding date sends her off in search of men including Billy and her hairdresser (The Amazing Ricardo, decidedly not one of the uncredited extras listed as "Fifty Beautiful People") in between complaining to her older friend Liz (Liz Renay, DESPERATE LIVING) who proposes burlesque stripping for relaxation. Billy also gets to deflower two spoiled underage virgins Suzie (Mary Swan) and Rene (Toni Bell) but they're too young for the climactic orgy thrown by Billy. Joan forgoes her wedding to indulge in the festivities. Somehow, without any depiction of disillusionment on his part, Billy decides people should stay where they were born and returns to his roots.
DEEP ROOTS is rather monotonous but well-made and explicit, and boasts reasonable production value to suggest Billy hobnobbing with the spoiled and privileged, but Renay is the only performer who exhibits anything close to a personality (she does not partake in any of the hardcore action). The film just peters out with the wrap up coming out of nowhere, but a cohesive narrative is probably not what the film's theatrical audiences were looking for. The soundtrack is a non-stop selection of vocals from David Blue, including a cool easy listening main title theme song (an instrumental version of which appears in the disc's co-feature). As with some of Vinegar Syndrome's other hardcore rediscoveries, the film would probably be forgettable on its own but makes for a good half of a double bill.
STARLET NIGHTS is a simultaneously more ambitious yet half-hearted hardcore take on "Snow White" (which might have formed a better double bill with Fred J. Lincoln's take on "Cinderella" SERENA: AN ADULT FAIRYTALE). Actress Joyce White (Lesllie Bovee, LUSTFUL FEELINGS) – the sexy wicked new wife of Dr. Leo White (Ron Anders) – is sexually insatiable and satisfies herself when her busy husband is away with a variety of real and fantasy lovers courtesy of her magic mirror including her Bogart-ish advisor (Tyler Horne, FEMMES DE SADE) and a genie (Jesse Chacan). Despite her busy social life, Joyce resents her husband's attachment to her stepdaughter Snow (Candy Nichols, NEON NIGHTS). Joyce decides to despoil her husband's image of his daughter as innocent and pure by making her an appointment with agent Elmer Happy (Chris Rocks) to doll her up, give her an apple laced with "Love Potion 69", and debut her at Joyce's party where she hopes to seduce producer Aaron Grumpy (Rick Roberts) to cast her in the TV show "Charlie's Devils". The apple – provided by Elmer's assistant and Joyce's occasional lesbian lover Ms. Sneezy (Monique LeBare) – makes Snow the insatiable centerpiece of the party's orgy; however, her father is not there to see it and Joyce learns only too late that Grumpy has decided to cast his new discovery Snow White instead of her in his hit show. When Joyce does find out, she goes on the warpath; but things eventually work out to ensure more sexual pairings before the end credits.
Well-made and humorous, STARLET NIGHTS would still be of only passing interest if not for Bovee who gives her all in a campy performance that does not skimp on the sexual calisthenics. Nichols' Snow White, on the other hand, is almost a non-entity from the waist up. DEEP ROOTS' Chacan has a dual role here both as Joyce's imaginary genie and Dr. Charming who wakes Snow from a dead faint after she eats another apple. David Blue contributes some more vocals, and the production value is a bit more thrifty as the orgy isn't quite the bacchanalia the filmmakers had in mind.
Scanned in 2K from 35mm archival prints, DEEP ROOTS' progressive, anamorphic (1.85:1) encode is the more consistent visual experience with good colors and detail. STARLET NIGHTS's progressive, anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer starts out well enough but the last two reels feature a handful of jump cuts and several soft shots throughout that may be the fault of the cinematographer rather than shots patched in from an inferior source. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks are also variable in quality. Despite this, these are probably the best the films have looked on home video. There are absolutely no extras. (Eric Cotenas)
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