First there was "Skin in the Sixties", a collection of titillating titles that included L’AMOUR DE FEMME, TAKE THEM AS THEY ARE and THE MADAM, staring the buxom Uschi Digart. Then there was "Skin in the Fifties" which featured THE FLESH MERCHANT along with a collection of early nudie loops. Jumping ahead two decades, Secret Key has delved into the nineteen seventies for the latest in their "Skin in the" series, presenting four drive-in delights that promise to both tease and please.
Directed by Chuck Vincent (HOLLYWOOD HOT TUBS), BLUE SUMMER follows
the exploits of Tracy (Davey Jones, as Darcey Hollingsworth) and Gene (Bo White)
as they travel the back roads of America, looking to have a little fun before
starting their freshman year at college. Along their journey the duo pick up
a pair of klepto, hippie hitchhikers, get tricked into buying beer for a local
floozy and her male companions and engage in a impromptu, open air love fest;
all the while being followed by their fairy guardian Hells Angel.
BLUE SUMMER moves quickly, setting up one happenstance scene of a sexual nature after the other in a fairly swift manner, resulting in a breezy and entertaining yarn of fraternization and fornication. Sexual setups are of the softcore variety but don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s not plenty to see. Intercut between scenes of male bonding, drinking and driving, shit talking, hit and miss attempts at hilarity and the occasional poignant character reflection are several sexual set pieces that surely fogged up more than a few windows in their day. I’ve never been one for camping but after watching Tracy and Gene’s first two out door “encounters”, I may have to reconsider my stance on such a notion.
Harry Reems and his mustache headline Disc One’s second feature,
SOMETIME SWEET SUSAN. Harry plays Mark, a doctor at a mental institution who
has been overseeing the treatment and progress of Susan (Shawn Harris), a patient
in the midst of a severe identity crisis. Attempting to break through to Susan,
Mark convinces the facility to allow him to hold his sessions outside of Susan’s
claustrophobic cell. The revised treatment appears to work at first, as Susan
slowly begins to open up after eleven days of silence, but once locked back
behind the cold, white walls of the institution, Susan’s alter ego Saundra
begins to become more dominate. Where Susan is timed and weak, Saundra is aggressive,
forceful and bisexual. Inch by inch, Mark delves deeper into Susan’s psyche
but as the break between her two personalities strengthen, it becomes clear
that the only way for Susan to heal is to force her into confronting her tragic
Shawn Harris looks amazing! Full figured and full of gusto, it’s a crime that she didn’t star in more pictures. Anyone with a fetish for tan lines is almost guaranteed to be driven wild. She acts pretty well too. Opening with a fantasy sequence in which Susan dreams of an outdoor tryst with Dr. Mark, the picture differs from the other three titles included in this set, in that it takes itself much more seriously, presenting itself as drama that just happens to have its fair share of nudity and sex. Originally a hardcore feature (released on VHS by Caballero Home Video), it is the edited, soft cut which has been presented for this release. The first film to register its talent through SAG, the picture is filled with familiar names and faces (besides that of the instantly recognizable Reems) such as Neil Flanagan (FLESHPOT ON 42nd STREET), Alex Mann (MALIBU HIGH) and Jamie Gillis, who plays Rapist #1. A solid melodrama, SUSAN’s subject matter and execution distinguishes itself from its X rated brethren by delivering the goods on all fronts, presenting it's titular lead as both a compelling case study and a bountifully source of eye candy. If however you find yourself not nearly as captivated by Shawn Harris as myself, might I suggest playing a rousing game “spot the boom mic”, as said equipment has a bad habit of dancing into frame.
Disc Two of Secret Key’s Skin in the 70s kicks off with SUMMER
SCHOOL TEACHERS. Produced by Roger Corman’s wife Julie and written and
directed by Barbara Peters (HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP), the picture follows a
trio of Midwest gals as they travel to sunny California to work as high school
teachers for one turbulent summer semester. Candice Rialson (PETS, CANDY STRIPE
NURSES) plays Conklin T, the girl’s gym teacher who decides to choose
football as the summer semester's game of choice. As such she finds herself
bumping heads with the boy’s coach, played by Dick Miller (A BUCKET OF
BLOOD), who believes that football should be left to the men and proves less
than cooperative when it comes to sharing the school's equipment. Sally (Pat
Anderson, T.N.T. JACKSON) teaches photography but is more interested in landing
a leading man than giving grades. While she encourages her studies to express
themselves artistically, her mind is clearly preoccupied with finding a man
with which to spend her time while on the west coast. Lastly there is a Denise
(Rhonda Leigh Hopkins, COVER GIRL MODELS), a reserved chemistry teacher who
finds herself at odds with the campus bad boy, only to shortly fall victim to
his charm and find sympathy in his situation.
Released theatrically by New World Pictures, the film's original one sheet has been used for the cover of this set, appearing similar to that of the film's VHS release through Charter Entertainment. Brimming with mischief, nudity and teenage rebellion, the picture epitomizes a night at the drive-in. There’s the underdog, all girls team, determined to prove that they can play football as good as their boyfriends; the misunderstood loner who is being framed for a crime he didn’t commit; the instant comradely of the girls as they go undercover to seduce and trick the overbearing, chauvinist boy’s coach; and the scene where Sally is eavesdropped on by a pair of dirty old ladies after hooking up with a bonafide movie star, played by Michael Greer (MESSIAH OF EVIL), is absolutely priceless. SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS has a bit of everything. It may not be fantastic but it's one fun flick.
TEENAGE DIVORCE, also known as JOSIE'S CASTLE, is the weakest picture in this two-disc set. Unsatisfied with her married life, Josie, played by writer Holly Mascott, leaves her husband and shacks up with two other recent divorcees played by George Takei of “Star Trek” infamy and Tom Holland (as Tom Fielding) who, a decade later, would jump from in front of the screen to behind it to direct a number of memorable horror outings, including CHILD'S PLAY and FRIGHT NIGHT. As a writer Tom also helped to mold such genre outings as THE BEAST WITHIN and CLASS OF 1984. After the three settle into their new abode, the picture lays itself out in a series of montages of growing disinterest. They bond while bike riding, they get arrested, they eat fondue, they attend an orgy, still nothing of any discerning interest ever actually pans out. It is interesting to see the openly gay Takei in an early role, particularly given the “is he or isn’t he” angle his character is saddled with.
All four films are presented full frame with varying degrees of quality. BLUE SUMMER fairs well initially, though as the film progresses the print does becomes less clean and by the final act features several instances of color washouts. Of all the films SOMETIME SWEET SUSAN fairs the best with adequate coloring and reasonable detail. Coloring and detail are on the other hand extremely soft on SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS. Debris is however fairly under control, a statement which could not be used for TEENAGE DIVORCE, as the film suffers from a constant onslaught of dancing emulsion lines. Mono audio for all four films is equally as sketchy but you can hear what’s being said, most of the time. All four features appear to be taken from a tape source. Extras include a “Grind It!” feature which allows you to play films back to back, book ended by trailers from past Secret Key sets. An informative six page booklet of liner notes is also included. (Jason McElreath)
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