• Story Of Prunella, The



    Released by: After Hours Cinema
    Released on: 3/27/09
    Director: Phil Prince
    Cast: Ron Jeremy, Ambrosia Fox, George Payne
    Year: 1982
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    The Movie:

    When the film begins, the immortal George Payne along with David Christopher and Martin Patton are a trio of prisoners who break out of the big house much to the dismay of the prison warden. While these three are running around in the ‘woods’ of New York City, a young cop (played by Ron Jeremy) shows up at his fiancé’s house where she’s laying in bed wearing nothing but a towel. This scrawny looking junkie of a girl, named Prunella (Ambrosia Fox), doesn’t want to screw Ron until they get married but he wants her so bad and whines so much that she just can’t say no and before you know it, he’s eating her out. One thing leads to another and a few minutes later she’s spread in the bed and he’s telling her ‘You’re the one I’ve always wanted! It’s always been you!’ while the camera zooms way too close to his face.

    Once Ron’s blown his slow-mo load and the pair have put their clothes back on, Ron gets a call from the office. It seems that he’s needed to help catch those three nasty crooks who have escaped from the prison that is run by, get this, Prunella’s old man. Shortly after Ron splits, Prunella’s mom (Dixie Dew) shows up and tells her daughter to get ready so that they can head out to the wedding shower that’s being held in her honor. While Prunella gets ready, mom fantasizes about blowing Ron and then getting fucked by him while he tells ‘You’re the one I’ve always wanted! It’s always been you!’ and the camera once again zooms way too close to his face. When her fantasy ends, the two ladies get into the car and head to Staten Island for the shindig.

    Meanwhile, Payne and his cronies have met up with his girlfriend (Cheri Champagne). As he tells the story of how he met her (she called about an ad he places in SCREW Magazine!), we see via flashback how he showed up at her apartment, put clothespins on her nipples and labia, and had rough, degrading sex with her. Obviously it was love at first sight, as she stuck with him and has since managed to find him with his pals in the middle of the woods. He’s none too pleased that she showed up without a car, however, so they decide to carjack the next ride that comes along… and who should be in that car? Why Prunella and her cock craving mother! The thugs make the girls take them to the apartment where Prunella’s wedding shower is to be held (note the love ‘Congratulations’ banner made out of a bed sheet and black spray paint to mark the occasion) where Payne, Christopher and Patton are happy to find Joey Karson and Niko waiting there, proceeding to rape and degrade each one of the ladies while Champagne and Dixie Dew get it on in the background. All hope is not lost, however, as officer Ron and his flatulent partner are on the case and hoping to make it to the apartment before it’s all too late…

    Aside from the rough sex and paper thin plot, there are a few qualities worth noting in this odd, even by seventies porn standards, Avon roughie. Ron’s partner farts in the car – a lot, and quite loudly, for no reason whatsoever other than possibly to provide some comic relief in between the rape? During the end of the movie, you can music from Pac-Man over the film’s score, and then, well, then there’s Payne’s make up. Stealing every scene he’s in, George Payne is a Kinski to Prince’s Herzog, channeling the ‘what do you want to do with your life?’ guy from the Twisted Sister videos, all snarling perverse menace in each one of his scenes. He makes the movie work and turns in a truly memorable and wonderfully filthy performance, uttering some rather unsettling lines with complete and utter conviction.

    The rest of the cast fare far better than usual here as well. Ron Jeremy proves he’s a better actor than most people ever really give him credit for while Ambrosia Fox does a pretty convincing job of playing the victim and looking suitably uncomfortable during the film’s big finale. There are a few odd twists that also make the film stand out from a sexual angle as well. On top of the rough stuff, there’s implied incest and forced lesbianism and some really rather freaky camera angles giving the film’s last hurrah an appropriately claustrophobic feel.

    Payne and Prince (who pops up in an uncredited cameo as a prison guard) definitely made better movies together. The Taming Of Rebecca is probably their finest collaborative moment and a highpoint of seventies porno movie depravity, but The Story Of Prunella is definitely in the upper echelon of the Avon cannon. Prince obviously had some personal demons, possibly the result of his strict Catholic upbringing, and in most of his films he seemed to be making some sort of attempt at exorcising them. His films, as twisted as they can often times be, have a strange personal slant to them, making them ripe for introspection. Some may not get as much out of the film as others, and dismiss it as simply another ‘degrading mix of sex and violence’ but if you scratch just a little deeper than the surface, the film’s morality isn’t that hard to uncover.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    After Hours’ 1.33.1 fullframe transfer is, as usual, interlaced but otherwise is surprisingly good in terms of picture quality. The only ‘bug’ or alteration is a copyright notice appearing briefly during the opening and closing credits, which is completely understandable. Taken from 16mm elements, there’s a lot more detail here than you’ve ever seen before – George Payne’s eye make up is readily apparent, for example. There is some sporadic minor print damage in the form of small specks here and there but generally this is a strong, stable and clean image. Film grain is present, as it should be, but it’s never overpowering or distracting while color reproduction looks surprisingly good here. Skin tones look lifelike and quite natural without any tinting and black levels are strong. There aren’t any problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement at all and, interlacing aside, this is a well authored disc and After Hours is to be commended for a very impressive restoration job.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono track is on par with the audio in terms of quality. Levels are well balanced and there are no noticeable issues with hiss or distortion to report on. The film’s original score is thankfully presented here completely intact while dialogue remains clean and clear.

    Here’s where After Hours really went the extra mile – they’ve managed to track down the film’s original editor, Brian O’Hara (credited onscreen under the odd pseudonym of Maxim H. Household!) for a fantastic audio commentary. Moderated by Michael Bowen, with periodic input from After Hours head honcho Mike Raso, this track starts off by explaining where O’Hara took his alias from, before moving on to talk about his work with Prince and on this film specifically. They discuss how O’Hara came on board as an editor for Avon. He talks about making the movie quickly in conjunction with Kneel Before Me, what it was like working with Ron Jeremy and about the energy he put into his opening sex scene. O’Hara talks about how they would loop the music continually over various parts to save money, and he points out that Ambrosia Fox has the word ‘John’ written on her ass denoting that she was owned by a biker from Maine. He also describes Fox as ‘mentally impaired’ and discusses how she would continually flub lines and how she wasn’t particularly bright. He shares his thoughts on the rest of the cast as well, including Payne, before talking about his memories of the porno scene of the era. The incredibly foul mouthed O’Hara pulls no punches and his stories, all of which are told with a great sense of humor, are pretty fascinating and equally entertaining, particularly when he starts talking about George Payne – I’ll say no more, other than it must have been a real kick to see Payne and Annie Sprinkle all decked out in BDSM gear doing live sex shows in a crummy Times Square theater.

    If that weren’t enough, AHC has also supplied O’Hara’s excellent short film, The Prince Of Porn (18:38). A rare glimpse into Prince’s operation, we get some rather brief sound bites from him as he explains his thoughts on the morality of his films and the way he made his living. He explains that the women in his movies come to him for work, and as such, he’s not taking advantage of them, and he talks about how his films provide a service to those with an interest in rough sex. Look for some excellent and candid behind the scenes footage from a few different Prince movies as well as some quick interviews with some of the people who worked in the office with him. Prince at times seems uncomfortable with the camera in his face and his answers don’t get too in-depth but as a time capsule this footage is invaluable. If having the documentary here weren’t enough, Bowen, Raso and O’Hara also provide a commentary over top of this material as well. O’Hara talks about how and why he made this odd little film while we get to dig on some great Times Square footage and completely awesome on set footage from different Prince productions.

    But wait, there’s more! O’Hara has also supplied some outtakes (4:08) from The Story Of Prunella. You get to see Payne working on his lines for the big finale while people off screen give Ambrosia Fox direction. Thrill to the presence of the boom mic while an actor gets head and try not to laugh while Prince mutters various bits and pieces in the background. Almost all of this material is from the big orgy that closes the movie but there are also some interesting bits that were taken out of other parts of the movie including some shots from Ron’s sex scene with Ambrosia Fox. The fact that this material exists at all is amazing in and of itself and it gives us a very cool fly on the wall look at the making of this movie.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are trailers for My Mistress Electra, Dr. Bizarro, The Taming Of Rebecca, Wicked Schoolgirls, and Tales Of The Bizarre, most of which are in pretty rough shape but which are certainly welcome additions to this release, as well as some keen menus. Inside the keepcase is a full color booklet of liner notes from Michael Bowen that discuss the history of the Avon films and theaters as well as provide some welcome biographical information on Phil Prince.

    The Final Word:

    After Hours are really going all out and doing a great job of preserving these obscure roughies and their release of Story Of Prunella is their most impressive effort yet. Truly one of the last unexplored frontiers of cult cinema, vintage porno movies may not be for all tastes but anyone with even an inkling of an interest in exploitation movies in general owes it to themselves to give this disc a spin as it’s as much a history lesson as it is anything else and this disc really should be considered essential viewing.