DVD Reviews: Vinegar Syndrome’s Summer Releases



Vinegar Syndrome continues to be the plucky indie that knows how to buff up films that would normally be sent out with subpar transfers. Their five latest titles probably didn’t even look this good when they were first released. Sugar Cookies is an erotic thriller. Runaway Nightmare is an obscured weirdness worthy of a revival. There’s also three Peekarama double features that will turn any living room into a state of the art Times Square theater from 1980.

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Sugar Cookies (1971 – 91 minutes) launched the career of two film icons. This was the first serious credit for Oscar winner Oliver Stone (Platoon) and Troma mastermind Lloyd Kaufman. The two were childhood friends. Sugar Cookies is a movie not made for children to ingest. The film is a kinky variation of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Film producer Max (George Shannon) is having an intense session with his starlet Alta (The Score‘s Lynn Lowry). Their kinky time ends with gunplay that ends with Alta dead. Max isn’t going to take the blame so he gets his Camilla (Eat Raoul‘s Mary Woronov) to make him look innocent. The story is that Alta killed herself and nobody was around. However Camilla’s not entirely happy cleaning up his mess. She heads a casting call to find a new actress to replace Alta. She finds Julie who is Alta’s twin. It helps that Julie is also played by Lowry. The two women get extremely involved as she’s turned into a future movie star. Ultimately it seems Camilla wants Julie to suffer Alta’s fate at the hands of Max. Can this really be the case? The film is captivating thanks to the female leads. Woronov was on the verge of her greatness with Death Race 2000 and Rock N Roll High School. She stuns with her cold and calculating attitude. She is a marvel to behold in the restored 1080p frame. Lynn Lowry is a perfect subject for Woronov’s attentions. She plays naïve yet curious so well. The boxset contains both a Blu-ray and DVD of the movie.

Lynn Lowry Featurette
(13:38) has the actress talk about her early career. She enjoys talking about her time as a model making “art pictures.”

Interview with Lloyd Kaufman (35:56) takes us to Tromaville. He admits to his crush on Lynn Lowry. He has fond memories of the sleazy theater that had the New York City premiere. He learned from this film to control his own distribution.

Interview with Mary Woronov (4:58) is from a previous Troma video release. Lloyd gets her to open up about her ex-husband who directed the film. She didn’t like the fact that the guy cast himself in the adult feature that plays in the movie. What director does that for their cameo? Mary is wonderful while remember the guy she dumped.

Theatrical Trailer (1:44) gives the movie a hip spin. There’s also an alternate trailer from when Troma re-issued the film.

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Runaway Nightmare (1982 – 94 minutes) is a classically messed up independent film. This is easily a film that would have never gotten a green light from a Hollywood studio. How many films start out at a worm farm in the desert? This one does. Ralph (Mike Cartel) and Jason (Al Valletta) are out tending their underground livestock when they notice strangers burying a box. When the coast is clear, the duo dig up the chest and find a live woman inside. Instead of being thanked by the woman’s friends, they’re taken hostage. Instead of merely asking for money or just torturing the guys for being good Samaritans, the duo are put through feats of strengths. Why? Because they’re a cult who are having issues with mobsters. The obscure film is completely off the rails. The movie has the feel of an episode of Dragnet that went off the rails and forgot to give directions to Jack Webb. The fem The Blu-ray/DVD combo is a limited release of only 1,000 units so hunt one down.

Audio Commentary features Mike Cartel and his wife Mari Cartel talking to Vinegar Syndrome’s Joe Rubin. They do a fine job explaining how the film was conceived, produced and finally released.

Alternate Video Scenes (3:35) were included on a VHS release. They feature actresses not in the movie. It’s basically topless shots cut into the action.

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Peekarama: Baby Rosemary & Hot Lunch is a double feature that must have misled a few people reading the marquee. There had to be a few people that stumbled into the cinema thinking they were seeing Rosemary’s Baby or getting fed a healthy meal. Such was not the case although neither film should leave viewers feeling cheated. Baby Rosemary is not a spoof of the Roman Polanski film. Although Roman might have enjoyed this erotic tale of another Rosemary in the big city. Rosemary (Sharon Thorpe) drops by her dad’s hotel to say goodbye before taking a job as a teacher. Except the old man isn’t around. Instead she’d ravaged by Ken Scudder and Samantha King. She flees the town afterward. She returns home years later after her father has died. She finds herself looking for Ken Scudder. At the same time, her father has somewhat risen from the grave. There’s serious cult weirdness for the finale. The movie was shot around San Francisco. Hot Lunch does feature people working in a diner so the title isn’t a total tease. Jon Martin gets fired from a crappy restaurant and dumped by his wife for his inability to do the Hustle. He finds a lawyer. She finds him temp jobs in order to cover her billings. This turns into romantic encounters. When she finds him with Desiree Cousteau, the lawyer goes into the business of pimping her client. She’s getting a variation of a pound of flesh from him. Both films were directed by John Hayes around San Francisco.

Alternate Soft Shots
(2:57) are included for those wondering how Hot Lunch was toned down to reach a hungry audience. There’s also a hot trailer and a cool trailer.

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Peekarama: All Night Long & Tapestry of Passion brings a double shot of John Holmes. He was a superstar in the adult market during the ’70s and early ’80s. Even though he was kind of scary looking and sported the Mr. Brady Dad-fro, his talent was overwhelming on the screen. All Night Long challenges John’s reputation in the industry. He’s up for an award against Rick Lutze. But instead of merely voting, the duo are sent off to prove who can be the cinematic stud. Winner gets the trophy. Loser gets memories. The crowd at the ceremony have to wait to see who wins this carnal marathon. There’s hilarity when Rick gets busy with a lady on her set of Peanuts blankets. The finale is like Cannonball Run without Dom DeLuise. Tapestry of Passion has Holmes in his iconic role of private investigator Johnny Wadd. He’s hard on a case involving a murdered John Leslie. His sister wants to know what really happened. Turns out he was the victim of a black widow killer. Can he get evidence before he also becomes a victim? The Wadd films are what gets referenced in Boogie Nights. Although Holmes comes off as a better actor than Dirk Diggler.

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Peekarama: Erotic Adventures of Candy & Candy Goes Hollywood is a double feature that might have been directed by Gail Palmer. At least Gail appears in the trailer saying she made the films although rumor has it that it was just Bob Chinn (director of Vinegar Syndrome’s Sadie & The Seductress). Both films feature Carol Connors as Candy. She’s an innocent blonde who just wants to please others. Erotic Adventures of Candy opens with her being overwhelmed by her libido. When she acts upon her desire, things go bad at home. She doesn’t get dissuaded from her erotic adventures since she so likes to help others. She helps herself to a handful of John Holmes. He’s also playing a bit innocent in the film. His track suit is not an erotic adventure. Candy Goes to Hollywood has our heroine arriving fresh off the bus near the Chinese Theater. Granted it is a local bus since she didn’t have that far to go. But she has big time dreams and desires in Tinseltown. She immediately meets an agent eager to get her famous after he gets what he wants out of her. He hypnotizes her to get her to relax. He gets her to do more than cluck like a chicken. She becomes a hit on faux The Gong Show thanks to her singing and what she allows the host to do from behind the curtain. Her competition is Wendy O. Williams from the Plasmatics. She does the ping pong ball trick. Both films have amazing soundtracks with songs that rival Frozen. Both films have their original trailers.

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