Director: Wakefield Poole
Vinegar Syndrome

WAKEFIELD POOLE'S BIBLE!, the director's straight, softcore tribute to silent films hits DVD in a beautiful restored edition teaming with extras.

In the beginning, Adam (Bo White, star of the gay drama A VERY NATURAL THING and Chuck Vincent's R-rated sexploitation road trip pic BLUE SUMMER) is born from the womb of the earth and climbs and crawls his way up into the Garden of Eden (actually, the Virgin Islands) in time to meet Eve (model Caprice Couselle) rising out of the surf. They experience physical intimacy and lovemaking for the first time in creation… unfortunately, it's all downhill for humanity from there. In the second vignette, Bathsheba (Georgina Spelvin, THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES) is frustrated by her inability to excite her husband Uriah (Robert Benes), military commander of King David (John Horn). Although Uriah prefers to sleep outside with his troops, it's actually his handmaiden (Nancy Wachter) that tickles his fancy; but Bathsheba soon finds herself the object of King David's lust and decides to do something about it. In the third vignette, temptress Delilah (Gloria Grant) seduces powerful Samson (Brahm van Zetten), luring him into a trap to rob him of his source of power.

Slight in narrative, but rich in imagination, WAKEFIELD POOLE'S BIBLE! is regarded affectionately by the director as both "the greatest porn disaster of all time" and his "jerk-off movie". Poole started out as an actor, dancer, choreographer, and theater director before getting into filmmaking with the gay porn films BOYS IN THE SAND and BIJOU. In an excerpt from an archival 1977 interview included on the disc (6:26) from one of three appearances on the cable access show "Emerald City", Poole suggested the film failed because audiences were expecting a porn film (Poole had intended originally to do a hardcore film, but decided against it because of the legal issues surrounding DEEP THROAT at the time). He also mentions that the bible does not portray its female characters in a very positive light, and his film attempts to interpret reasons for what the characters did in their stories: Eve is hungry after sex, Bathsheba wants some attention after being ignored by her husband for a younger woman, and Delilah here takes revenge on bully Samson for murdering one of her servants (one of a pair played from the troop of Hermine's Midgets) rather than being paid by the Philistines to find the source of Samson's power.

"Adam and Eve" is the least impressive, although it has lovely visuals with rock formations likened to the human body as Adam climbs out of a crevasse and Eve passes through a natural rock arch that looks like parted thighs. "David and Bathsheba" is a wonderful comic vignette with a Carol Burnett-like physical performance from Spelvin, as well as plenty of sight gags and an undercranked chase scene. The masterpiece, however, is "Samson and Delilah" which fashions a bazaar out of two-by-fours and linen (as well as some perspective miniatures), and costumes out of not much more, in a minimalist manner that both recalls FELLINI SATYRICON and Pasolini as well as anticipating the low budget works of Derek Jarman (particularly SEBASTIANE) and Ken Russell. Poole utilized a slightly faster twenty-eight-frames-per-second which smoothed out movement, resulting in some dream-like passages that also anticipate music videos (particularly with shots of the statuesque Grace Jones-esque Grant gliding towards or away from the camera in a red satin cloak). The visuals of this sequence are titillating even before any flesh is bared. BIBLE! is no more a porn film than a sexploitation film. It's an art film through and through (rather than an attempt to be arty with erotica), and very admirable as such.

Lensed in 16mm (by Poole himself) and blown-up to 35mm (from which 16mm reductions were then produced), WAKEFIELD POOLE'S BIBLE! comes to Vinegar Syndrome's progressive, fullscreen (original aspect ratio) DVD in a restoration from the original 16mm negatives. Skin tones are glowing, the stark whites of Bathsheba's house and courtyard are stable, and Delilah's red cloak exhibits no distortion. The materials are in beautiful shape, and the transfer and authoring are top notch. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track consists mainly of music with a few rare sound effects and a single line of dialogue, and it leaves a layer of hiss that could not have been fully wiped away without degrading the high end of the track and introducing artefacts. This also qualifies as a restored version because Poole was able to restore a single shot that had gone missing at the time of editing and was recently rediscovered in with costume and set test footage.

The presentation can be viewed with an optional introduction (1:53) in which Poole reiterates his comments from the aforementioned interview about the "Adam and Eve" segment being better appreciated if watched in the mindset that it is the first time two human beings have touched one another, as well as repeating the bit from the commentary about the intention to make it a hardcore film. The film can also be viewed with an audio commentary track with Poole. There is unfortunately a lot of play-by-play on the track, but he also discusses constructing the sets for the second and third vignettes in a large former auto garage, crediting all of his collaborators. He reveals that Grant was a waitress when he hired her, van Zetten was a model who was quite appropriately recommended to him by a hairdresser, and that Horn was an artist neighbor who also designed Samson's belt for the vignette. He also humorously recalls how the first day of shooting the "Samson and Delilah" story had gone smoothly, and that he and the actors were impressed with the rushes; however, the second day of shooting found the performers entirely off their game (Poole then realized that Grant and van Zetten did not understand that he was shooting at a faster framerate, and that they were trying to emulate the way they saw themselves moving on film). His rendition of the immaculate conception with Mary (ballet dancer Bonnie Mathis) being ravished in the desert by an angel (dancer/choreographer Dennis Wayne, SUMMER WISHES, WINTER DREAMS) was shot in Yuma, Arizona.

The disc also features two new video interviews with Spelvin and Grant. Spelvin (10:55) recalls how she began in film as part of a commune focused on creating anti-war films and commercials, and that she paid the rent with crew jobs on films (locations and catering) when a cameraman approached her with the script and offered her a part. She did not realize until she was on set that it was a hardcore film, but went with it. Her co-star on that film Marc Stevens (THE PRIVATE EVENINGS OF PAMELA MANN) introduced her to Gerard Damiano (THE STORY OF JOANNA) who cast her in THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES. She recollects that she got the part in BIBLE! because she and Poole had an accountant in common (although Poole on the commentary says that they had danced together on Broadway). Grant (6:33) recalls that she was working as a waitress at a restaurant frequented by Poole and his partner, and that her boyfriend consented to her acting in the film as long as she performed the same scenes with him at home. She did not pursue acting after the film but went to cosmetology school and got into TV make-up. She won an Emmy for her work on AS THE WORLD TURNS in 1993 before the entire department was fired in 1995, and has since worked on other TV and film projects.

If the commentary and interviews were not enough, the disc also includes actor screen tests (12:00) – silent and consisting of the actors faces (and their naked bodies) photographed from different angles, as well as various poses – costume tests (13:30) in which the camera examines the actors in costume under the lighting and in motion, and "effects and set tests" (5:00) featuring some experiments for the opening big bang scene as well as some unused location shots of the Virgin Islands. A still gallery (3:23) features several attractive portraits of the actors in character that could easily be mistaken for a magazine photo layout. A theatrical trailer (3:08) for the film rounds out the package. (Eric Cotenas)