Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
Released on: February 28tht, 2017.
Director: Bob Chinn
Cast: John Leslie, Sharon Thorpe, Desiree West, Turk Lyon, Laura Bourbon, Veronica Taylor, Tanya Shae
Purchase From Amazon
In this film, directed by Bob Chinn (read out interview with him here!) in 1976, John Leslie plays a special agent named Steve Blake who is out trying to solve the case of some missing women snatched off of the streets of San Francisco. It seems there's been a rash of disappearances lately, and he aims to put a stop to this. He cruises around San Francisco's seedier side, taking in the garish neon of its strip clubs and porno theaters, but he comes up pretty much empty handed. When he's not pounding the beat trying to make the world a better place, he's boning his squeeze Veronica (Veronica Taylor) or just plain chilling at home with his sister, Karen (Tanya Shae). When Blake's not around, Karen enjoys reading Playgirl magazine and diddling herself.
What Blake doesn't know, at least not at first, is that the abducted women aren't dead as many have come to assume. No, they're alive, if not entirely well. These girls are actually being held hostage in a remote warehouse (which looks like someone's unfinished basement) where a doctor named Paul Severin (Alain Patrick under the alias Pierre Delon) is hypnotizing them. Why? It's all part of his plan to have them become not only sex slaves, but mindless killers as well! It comes in handy when he needs someone to head out to the airport and kill a man, bringing back to him the victim's suitcase full of a suspicious looking white powder.
When Karen winds up abducted, Steve finds himself in a race against time to save his sister and what remains of the other abductees as well.
Like a lot of Chinn's work, Love Slaves has a decent story to it and casting Leslie in the lead proved a solid choice as the guy can actually act. He's good here and surprisingly enough he only performs in the one opening sex scene (which to some of his fans will mean he's basically underused in this picture). The rest of the time he plays it straight and he makes for a convincing enough cop. That leaves the bumping and grinding up to the rest of the cast, made up not only of Ms. Shae but also Desiree West (who absolutely scorches during her scene with Lyon and Ken Scudder), Laura Bourbon, Sharon Thorpe and Turk Lyon to name only a few. There are some good names here and they perform well.
The movie spends most of its time in the grubby warehouse/basement setting. Here the girls are bound and doped up as part of their conditioning. Alain Patrick is constantly wearing mirrored aviators and often times we see the reflections of the abused women in the lenses - which is an interesting touch. These scenes, which are populated not just by human actors but by some creepy mannequins as well, have a Jess Franco-esque quality to them at times, particularly when Chinn (who has a brief cameo in the film as a doctor) and cinematographer David Stern employ some unorthodox camera angles. It's obvious that Chinn didn't have a massive budget to shoot this with, but he gets the most out of what he has. You've got to appreciate the ambition shown in the film's big finish, where the action moves out of the basement to a fancy yacht, as out hero closes in on the bad guys and tries to set things right. Chinn worked with producer Bob Cresses on this - obviously Cresse was better known for producing some genuine exploitation classics such as Mondo Bizarro and Love Camp 7.
The Love Slaves debuts uncut and in its original aspect ratio for the first time on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome in a new 2k scan from the original 35mm negative framed at 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a grubby, low budget production that takes place primarily in a dimly lit basement, but by those standards at least colors look good here and detail is quite strong. Skin tones look nice and lifelike and black levels are strong. The image is typically quite clean, there are only a few minor specks throughout, and the image shows some moderate grain throughout indicating that no heavy noise reduction has been applied here. All in all, a solid transfer to be sure. This film was previously released on DVD by Alpha Blue Archives, first as part of their Brutal Underground Volume One collection (where it was taken from a source that was in such bad shape that large chunks of the film were missing) and then on their Invitation To Ruin release where it was included as a second feature (reviewed here). Not surprisingly, this new transfer from Vinegar Syndrome mops the floor with both of the older ABA releases.
The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix, the only one available on the disc, sounds fine. You might notice the occasional pop in the mix if you're listening for it but aside from that the levels are properly balanced, dialogue is easy to understand and the score and sound effects are mixed in effectively enough. There are no subtitles provided on this DVD.
Outside of a menu and chapter selection, the disc also includes an eleven minute interview with Chinn. Here he talks about how and why he wound up making this picture, what influenced the storyline, the cast involved in the shoot and quite a bit more. Chinn also provides a very quick introduction to the picture. He looks back on this reasonably fondly, it's an early entry in his catalogue, predating many of the glossier films he's go on to make with a bigger budget in the coming years.
The Final Word:
The Love Slaves isn't the best film that either Bob Chinn or John Leslie would be involved with during their respective careers but it is a pretty intriguing little hardcore roughie with a great cast, a decent story and a few memorable performances. Vinegar Syndrome's DVD puts past editions to shame in terms of presentation quality and includes an interesting director interview as its chief supplement.