DVDs Review: Vinegar Syndrome’s Fall Releases



Vinegar Syndrome is back with plenty more films saved from the dingy projection rooms of forgotten Times Square theaters. They have revived quite a few titles from filmmakers that have had their work elevated with restored transfers including Bob Chinn, Carlos Tobalina and Alex deRanzy. The subject matter of the films go from out of control parties, vampires and pizza. Who knew that they’d be eternal themes?

Pretty Peaches might be considered pushing the limits of taste with one of the cutest stars of the forbidden cinema. Desiree Cousteau was pure sweetness on the screen with her naturally curvy body and a Dorothy Hamill bobbed haircut. Her sweetness is required since the plot is extremely twisted. This was the true launch of the gonzo movement. Desiree plays the innocent Peaches. She goes to town to enjoy her dad getting married to a new wife. On her way home, she has a car accident and loses her memory. She’s discovered by passing motorists that aren’t good Samaritans. First they take advantage of Peaches in a scene that Bill Cosby would appreciate. Then they put her on a journey where she gets taken advantage by everyone. The film ends with an extremely awkward reunion with her dad and his new wife at a party. The film does it’s best to try to freak out an audience that’s known for wanting to watch freaky experiences. The simple joys of Desiree sell the film. She’s got this innocent joy in her face when she is in the midst of a messed up situation. Her na├»ve performance is why Pretty Peaches can be considered a masterpiece of adult cinema. The bonus features include a vintage interview with director Alex deRanzy that lets him talk about the boundaries he pushed in cinema. He’s like the Orson Welles of Times Square.

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Peekarama: Fantastic Orgy & Champagne Orgy is a double feature from Carlos Tobalina. Both films are great examples of what a producer can do with all the unused footage from earlier features. In these two cases Carlos took all the alternate takes from his previous films. It’s hard to really review the films for story and structure. Fantastic Orgy has a female filmmaker claiming these were the most exciting parts of her career. This reworking of discarded clips gets highlighted with the return of superstar John Holmes. The legend reminds us why Val Kilmer played him in a movie. Champagne Orgy is supposedly the after party when Carlos finished working on his last film. No better way to celebrate wrapping up a movie about a lot of people getting it on than filming even more people getting it on. This is the Hollywood Party that you wish would get covered on E! The films aren’t too plot heavy if that’s a concern.

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Peekarama: Red Heat, Hot Vampire and Peeping Tom is a triple feature from director Ray Dennis Steckler. The filmmaker is probably best known for making The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies which ended up getting roasted on Mystery Science Theater 3000. These films are a strange mixed bag of erotica and wtf moments. Red Heat has a woman arrive in Las Vegas hoping to make her adult masterpiece. Things go bad when her starlet turns out to be a murderess. She cares little for film stardom and ends up roaming the Vegas Strip looking for her next victim. Hot Vampire is the sad tale of what happens when Count Dracula moves to Arizona. Van Helsing also relocates to the cactus state. It’s not the most seductive of flicks. Peeping Tom is not to be confused with Michael Powell’s masterpiece. This film follows a guy who likes to watch others getting pleasure. He gets an eyeful of people doing naughty things. The three films fall on the roughie style of filmmaking. These were grainy pictures before the ’90s indie film movement. Steckler couldn’t completely surrender his filmmaking style to appeal to the audience that would wander into a Times Square cinema.

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Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls delivers up an all star cast with extra cheese and pepperoni. The plot is amazingly simple. John Holmes runs a pizza joint that knows how to deliver the pies. In this case he has an all girl crew that includes Desiree Cousteau (Pretty Peaches), Candida Royalle, Laurien Dominique and Christine De Shaffer. The ladies use skateboards to make sure they get the pizza to the customer while everything is hot and ready. The ladies known that the customers are ordering more than peppers, mushrooms and sausage. This makes the film more fun than your average tales of pizza delivery. Holmes does assure quality of both the pizza and the his staff as he tests them out throughout the film. Quality is job one at John Holmes’ pizza shot. This film is a breezy blast of fun from 1979. The bonus interview with producer Damon Christian gives an insight to making adult features back in the ’70s. The best story he tells is how John Holmes burned down the pizza parlor.

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Peekarama: Carnal Heaven & Her Last Fling is a double feature about the positive effect of following your libido according to director Carlos Tobalina. Carnal Heaven give basic couples therapy advice that the key to fixing your problems is all about getting freaky. There’s an education element when the movie introduces viewers to the Inca Knot. Oddly enough, this is not explored on Ancient Aliens. The cast includes Joey Silvera and John Leslie. Her Last Fling has Sandy Pinney get the harsh news that she only has a few more weeks to live. What is she dying of? Does it matter? All that matters is that she isn’t going to spend her final days moping around the house. First she enjoy the unlimited debauchery that only San Francisco of 1976 could provide. She even hooks up with one of the Pizza Girls. Then she buys a Cadillac and cruises down to Las Vegas. She’s not just going to gamble with money. She’s rolling the dice with anyone who gives her a wink. This is a bit of an uplifting film about a person making lemonade out of lemons. Both films have their trailers as bonus features.

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Dracula Sucks is a prestige production. This could have easily been a cheapie with a pair of plastic fangs, a cape and a ketchup bottle to match the catchy title. Director Phillip Marshak and crew created a film that looked as good as the old Dark Shadow movies. Ki>Dracula Sucks is a variation of the classic tale of the Count. Renfield is taken to a castle in the desert to recover from troubling dreams of Transylvania. The castle is a clinic run by John Leslie and Kay Parker. Turns out that nearby is Count Dracula (Jamie Gillis) waiting to rise from the grave. When he comes back, he visits the castle to see who he can covert guests and staff to the undead. Van Helsing arrives to put a stop to it. Along for the blood sucking fun is John Holmes, Paul Thomas and the lovely Seka. This must have been a sensation when it arrived in 1978. Even now it’s amazing for daring to be more than the usual adult fare. Gillis is impressive with his bearded attempt to be a sexy Bela Lugosi. A bonus feature has William Margold talk about his various jobs on both sides of the camera. “Return to Castle Ranch” takes Margold back to the locations for a tour. Vinegar Syndrome includes an alternate cut that was released as Lust At First Bite. This isn’t an R rated cut so don’t show it to timid friends.

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