We take a look at ‘Psychos In Love,’ ‘Orgy of the Dead,’ ‘Trip with the Teacher,’ and more!
If, like me, you love the smell of Vinegar Syndrome in the morning, then the label’s most recent batch of releases will leave you inhaling deeply for hours on end. Clearly that metaphor got away from me in record time, but the point is VS’ September 2017 releases offer up yet another unique look into the odd, wonderful, and weird cinema of years gone by.
Psychos in Love (1986)
Love is tough in the modern world, and few people know the struggle as well as Joe (Carmine Capobianco) the strip club proprietor. He brings new women home every night, but none of them seem to last. In their defense, he’s killing them off in violent, gruesome ways, but no one said love would be easy. His routine takes a hit, though, when he meets Kate (Debi Thibeault), a manicurist whose nocturnal hobbies also include slaughtering random one-night stands. Of course they fall in love.
There’s nothing subtle about this mid 80s slasher-themed rom-com as the only thing broader than the laughs are the performances. The amateur nature of it doesn’t get in the way of the charm, though, as the blood and T&A hold the attention as the humor creeps up on you. There are sporadic smiles early on, but the back half is where the big laughs kick in as the already loose reins are released entirely. The fourth wall is broken, the plot takes a turn with a cannibalistic plumber, and Joe goes off on multiple tirades against grapes.
The leads begin referencing earlier scenes — by scene number — knock boom mics out of the way, and even pause to tell the effects crew to stop pumping excessive amounts of fake blood during a scene. Joe and Kate also pop up in b&w interview segments as if this is a documentary or dating site video (well before there were dating site videos), and while the focus is on the slasher antics and laughs the film takes time to riff on romantic comedy conventions along the way. It’s goofy fun.
Vinegar Syndrome’s new release presents the film with a 2K restoration from the original 16mm camera negative, and while limitations are still evident it’s hard to believe it’s ever looked this good before. Extras include an introduction from the director, a trailer, an image gallery, some rough cut outtakes, four short films by the director, and the following:
- Commentary with writer/director Gorman Bechard and writer/actor Carmine Capobianco
- Commentary with writer/director Gorman Bechard
- Directing the Psychos – Interview with Gorman Bechard [11:11]
- Playing a Psycho – Interview with Carmine Capobianco [15:26]
- Discussing Psychos – with Bechard and Capobianco [20:06]
- Q&A from Cinema Wasteland 2016 [49:18]
- Making Psychos [13:01]
- Highlights from the “Psychos in Love” stage play [13:46] – The film was adapted for the stage in 2003 and played the Broom Street Theater in Wisconsin, a theater established by the legendary Stuart Gordon back in the 60s.
Orgy of the Dead (1965)
A horror writer and his girlfriend head out on a nighttime drive in search of a creepy graveyard and hopeful inspiration, but what they find is something far, far stranger. After an unfortunate car crash leaves them dazed and lost the couple comes across a graveyard occupied by topless dancers and Egyptian-themed (?) bouncers.
Okay, let’s just say up front that there’s no real plot here. Instead this Ed Wood-scripted romp is little more than a series of stripteases by dead women, set in a smoke-filled cemetery, hosted by a blond Dracula and an Elvira-type, and occasionally interrupted by banter from a mummy and a werewolf. It’s basically “So You Think You Can Dance… in Hell?” It’s more strip club auditions than movie — not a complaint necessarily as the girl in the leopard print pajamas with openings for her boobs and butt is endlessly watchable — and as such exists more as an oddity than an actual film.
Instead, as roughly two thirds of the film is topless dancing, it’s definitely an entry in the “nudie cutie” genre. The bonus here outside of the fleshy bits is Wood’s script, AC Stephen’s campy direction, and performances that feel even more lifeless than the corpses beneath the ground. It’s the kind of movie you toss on during a party and then watch as guests find themselves mesmerized for several minutes at a time.
Vinegar Syndrome’s new 2K restored Blu-ray is sharp-looking and brings out the darkness as well as the flesh tones. The supplements include a still gallery and the following extras:
- Commentary with Ed Wood biographer Rudolph Grey and Frankenhooker director Frank Henenlotter
- Impressions of Nadejda – Interview with actress Nadejda Dobrev [16:37]
- Orgy of the Ted – Interview with Ted V. Mikels [2:27]
Trip with the Teacher (1974)
A nice guy meets up with two sketchy dudes, and the three bikers enjoy the open road innocently enough until they cross paths with a busload of young women and their teacher. The ladies are taking a camping trip to explore nature and Native American cultures, but when their bus breaks down the bikers’ true colors are revealed. The only voice of prudish reason is Ms. Tenny, but as others begin meeting their end even her resolve may not last the night.
While the two previous films are fun, goofy romps, this mid 70s grindhouse effort is a nasty piece of business. The girls and their teacher are manhandled, a few of them are raped, and a couple murders are also on the menu. The situation is a seemingly hopeless one for much of the running time as the bad guys hold sway over the situation with threats of violence as a motivator. Director Earl Barton shoots an attractive film too — ugliness aside — and delivers a some solid action beats alongside the character work and plot turns.
The cast of mostly unknowns acquit themselves well with a young-ish Zalman King (creator of Red Shoe Diaries) delivering a terrifically menacing turn as the baddest of the bad guys, Al. He’s cruel, and once the first line has been crossed he finds it easy to decide everyone must go. The girls aren’t the easiest of targets though offering up efforts to escape and fight back which help make some of the sleazier aspects more bearable. It’s a rough ride at times, but it’s an entertaining one too that builds to a satisfying and exciting conclusion.
Vinegar Syndrome’s new 2K restoration brings all the grime and grit into glorious HD, and along with a trailer and still gallery the disc includes the following extras:
- Commentary with director Earl Barton and actors Cathy Worthington & Dina Ousley
- Taking the Trip – Interview with actor Brenda Fogarty [14:29]
Dark Dreams (1971)
Newlyweds Jack and Jill are heading off on their honeymoon only to be waylaid by a flat tire, but they soon discover there are far worse ways to get laid. They stop at a house in search of help and instead find a sexy sex cult intent on wooing them to the dark side through sex and whip cream. Will he give in to the devil’s pull (and tug) and trade his wife for physical pleasure, or will he remain true? Let’s just say Harry Reems plays the new husband so…
Sexy horror films aren’t all that uncommon with the likes of Vampyres (1974) and Twins of Evil raising your pulse while chilling your blood, but far more unusual are movies that blend hardcore sex and attempts at horror. Some are bad (Porno Holocaust) and others are unknown (Slaughter Disc), and now one of the latter has found a home on DVD thanks to Vinegar Syndrome.
The horror elements are slim — very, very slim — but they’re present on the periphery of the film’s numerous physical encounters. An old woman pushing her sleepytime tea, men in robes with marks on their foreheads, a dog slurping someplace it shouldn’t in polite company… the framework here is that the cult wants Jill for their own. She’s resistant to their “charms” which forces the cult into wooing Jack into consenting for her. How do they woo? Well, women with sensual oils, dairy products, and a lack of underwear go a long way towards persuading him. You could say they go all the way. I’m saying they have the sex with him. Fans of adult cinema will enjoy without worry that the plot will get in the way.
Vinegar Syndrome’s DVD presentation was scanned and restored in 2K from a 35mm negative. It’s fully uncut and features no extra supplements.
Vinegar Syndrome’s September releases also includes their latest Peekarama triple feature — a “Big 3 Unit Show!” The San Francisco-set titles, all directed by Charles DeSantos, include The Sinful Pleasures of Reverend Star, Kinky Tricks, and China Lust. All three have been restored via 2K scans from 16mm/35mm archival elements. Buy it on DVD here.
Related Topics: Home Video