Director: William Olsen

Sexploitation goes regional in the North Carolina-lensed coming of age sex comedy GETTING IT ON!, out on special edition DVD from VCI Home Video.

Peering into his neighbors’ windows with binoculars just isn’t doing it anymore for fourteen-year-old Alex Carson (Martin Yost), particularly since pretty Sally Clark (Heather Kennedy, MANKILLERS) moved in next door. Alex appeals to his yuppie father (Terry Loughlin, TRICK OR TREAT) to invest four thousand dollars in his neighborhood “surveillance” project (i.e. pointing a video camera at Sally’s bedroom window). Alex’s buddy Nick (Jeff Edmund) sees a money-making opportunity in the venture, as well as the opportunity to spy on his brother Richard’s (Mark Alan Ferri, CHAIN GANG) girlfriend Marilyn (Kathy Brickmeier) who just happens to be the daughter of principal White (C.K. Bibby, ROCKIN’ ROAD TRIP) who is looking for an excuse to expel Nick. Alex courts Sally at school – who is expecting school jock Chuck (Dan Thompson, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS) to ask her to the prom – while spying on her at night, but the face-to-face interactions always prove awkward. When Nick gets caught stealing a porno magazine from the local supermarket, White plans to send him to an all boys school; so Alex, Nick, Sally, and Richard cook up a blackmail scheme involving a prostitute (Kim Saunders, ANOTHER SON OF SAM) and a hidden camera at the town’s social event of the season.

Originally titled AMERICAN VOYEUR, GETTING IT ON! was the directorial debut of North Carolina-based director William Olsen who had previously worked on the camera crew for a handful of Earl Owensby productions as well as some other North and South Carolina-based productions. The comedy is broad – although production manager/actor Tim Bost turns in an amusing conservative sermon as a TV preacher at the end about the dangers of “porno-ography” – and there’s only a fair amount of nudity (and the most lingering bits are provided by Ferri), but the leads are generally quite good and there’s an earnestness to the performances that is quite lacking in modern examples of the sex comedy. Olsen also seems to have gone all out to make his directorial debut with New York-cast leads, plenty of locations – however modest – flatbed-towed car scenes, local musical talent (Colonel Bruce Hampton, who would later pop up in SLING BLADE), as well as a couple not-bad song selections including a very 1980s AM-radio theme song. The film was shot by Austin McKinney who got his start working under Ray Dennis Steckler (THE THRILL KILLERS), David L. Hewitt (THE WIZARD OF MARS), and Jack Hill (shooting the stateside footage for Boris Karloff’s Mexican co-produced final quartet of pictures), and the film’s production advisor was Worth Keeter (WOLFMAN) on whose directorial efforts Olsen had served as assistant director and other capacities.

Previously released by VCI in 2005 as a standalone special edition, their new “Spring Break Film Festival” line release appears to be a direct port of that edition. The cover lists an anamorphically-enhanced 1.66:1 aspect ratio, but it’s actually framed at 1.75:1. The interlaced image – transferred from a twenty-year old 35mm print – is softish and typical of VCI’s earlier product with ghosting and compression artifacts. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track fares better with clear dialogue and no distortion during some of the bassier musical passages. Director William Olsen is on hand for a solo commentary track. It isn’t long before the comments become more and more sporadic – Olsen himself is surprised by the pacing of the film – but he does impart some interesting information. Because he relied mostly on shooting master shots and blocking the movement of the actors rather than the camera (there are only three zoom shots in the film), shooting went fairly quickly for many of the scenes; however, this did make things difficult when he needed to trim the film down to a playable length (as it is, the finished film runs 96 minutes). There were only three built sets, with the rest of the film being shot on location (they got thrown out of the house location for the costume party by the owners after shooting the cocaine-snorting scene and had to match interiors of another house with what had already been shot). All of the videotaped footage was actually shot in 16mm and then projected on-set onto the TV monitors covered with tracing paper rather than matted in afterwards. Olsen is critical of some of his choices (a scene that needed a close-up to punctuate a dramatic action, as well as the failure to better distinguish a violent scene as another one of the protagonist’s heroic fantasies), and he does mention that some scenes that were too dark on the theater screen were brightened during the telecine of this transfer.

Olsen also provides more concise commentary on a still gallery (10:30) that also includes input with producer Phil Smoot (who later directed the VCI holdings ALIEN OUTLAW and THE DARK POWER) via the telephone. A nice bonus is the inclusion of the “New York Auditions” (7:30) of the four young leads in expectedly horrid VHS-sourced condition. The trailer (2:38) is actually a rather loose and not-particularly-compelling assemblage of scenes and the title card and credits seem to come directly from the film. I’m uncertain as to whether this is indeed the film’s actual release trailer or something the current rights owner threw together to drum up interest in the title. A William Olsen text biography rounds out the package. (Eric Cotenas)