• Peekarama: The Sinful Pleasures Of Reverend Star/Kinky Tricks/China Lust



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    DVD Release Date: September 26th, 2017.
    Director: Charles DeSantos
    Cast: Linda Wong, Desiree West, Veronica Taylor, Melba Bruce, Paul Thomas, Candida Royalle, Michael Gaunt
    Year: 1977/1977/1976
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    A triple dose of Carlos DeSantos (or, if you prefer, Charles Webb) directed classics from the late seventies courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama line of vintage adult movie collections - let’s all trip back to San Francisco for a bit, bring on the triple feature!

    The Sinful Pleasures Of Reverend Star:

    Our first feature, which bears the title card The Sins Of Reverend Star, opens with a scene wherein a pretty blonde woman is accosted by a pimp out in broad daylight on the streets of San Francisco. At first, she’s not interested but once he pulls out a dangly chain thing and hypnotizes her? Well, they head to her place and have sex in the hallway (while some passed out guy in the corner can barely raise an eye to see what’s happening just a few feet away from him.

    As it turns out, this is not all that uncommon in the area. Enter a detective (Ken Scudder) and his dopey secretary (Melba Bruce). It’s up to him to figure out just what exactly is going on here. So what exactly is going on here? Good question! There’s a Chinese dude (Herbert Wong) named, yep, Rerend Star. He leads some sort of cult that hand out pamphlets to passersby on the streets when they’re not having big ol’ orgies. They need more people for their orgies, so that’s where the hypno-trickery comes into play? I dunno, then a lot of people have sex and a girl gets wrapped up in Saran Wrap and Scudder gets head (while wearing a LOOK INTO KPFA t-shirt). It’s sort of wrapped up by the time it finishes but this thing is only an hour long, it’s mostly sex and the plot definitely comes second.

    This one is mildly amusing. A fair bit of interracial highjinks here and the movie was made with a sense of humor. You pick up on this quickly when you realize that in the opening scene the graffiti scrawled in white (kind of hard to read) on the walls in the background is actually the opening credits. The cinematography is decent enough and occasionally fairly creative. Additionally, there’s some nice location work here that shows off the San Francisco of the mid-seventies (all three of the films on this disc benefit from that). It’s cool to see a Chinese parade play out at the end of the movie, lots of cool costumes here and while it has nothing to do with the story it adds ‘something’ to the production values.

    The acting is wooden, Scudder and Bruce in particular are fairly awful, but that adds to the movie’s low rent charm. Laura Bourbon and Desiree West have small parts here as cult members and Paul Thomas also has a brief appearance in the film. Scudder’s sideburns score a 9/10 and if masked orgiests are your thing, you’ll get a kick out of this.

    Kinky Tricks:

    Our second feature stars the late, great Candida Royalle as a hooker named Candy. Fresh out of the link, she’s back on the streets and looking for fun. First up, she makes a stop at the home of her former boyfriend Elliot (Peter Johns). Desperate for a place to stay, she makes her case and convinces him to let her crash for a while.

    There’s a catch though – Elliot needs help making the mortgage payments on the house. Candy, no fool, figures she and a few friends can turn tricks for cash and help out, using his house as their base of operations. Oh, and there’s a backyard sex scene where a parrot sort of hangs out on someone’s shoulder for part of the humping.

    Bonus points for including some unexpected crossdressing foot/pantyhose fetish stuff, a cowboy fetish scene, a guy who likes to hang upside down and some completely unexpected bigfoot… stuff. There’s not much of a story here either, just a basic setup and then a few sex scenes, each one showcasing the kink of the respective john in the scene. It’s a breezy enough fifty-eight minute watch, it’s over quickly and moderately entertaining while it’s on. Again, the location footage is nice to see, and it’s cool to see Candida Royalle in an early starring role. She looks good here and she performs with enthusiasm.

    China Lust:

    Last but not least, and the best film on the disc, we get China Lust. The plot is still pretty threadbare here, but it’s a bit more interesting than the first two movies. The story revolves around an unusual phallic antiquity that’s sold out of a Chinatown based shop in San Francisco. As the object makes its way from one owner to the next, its erotic powers are unleashed!

    The object in question is basically some sort of jade dildo thing – but whatever. It makes the people who come into contact with it have sex and one of those people is lovely Linda Wong, so that’s a good thing, right? But before we get to that we watch Veronica Taylor buy the thing and then go home and get it on with her boyfriend. After that, it winds up in the hands of Laura Bourbon, who gets all turned on and has lesbian sex with an equally attractive dark haired cutie. After they finish fucking around, two dudes (who will look very familiar if you’ve seen the first feature on this disc) bust in and steal the thing. One thing leads to another and Melba Bruce (again) gets her hands on it before it winds up with some guy (Ken Scudder again) who heads into the shower for some sex with his pretty hippieish girlfriend. But yeah, before it all ends, Linda Wong claims ownership and, well, she’s all by herself so you can kind of figure out how it’ll finish. No surprises here, but it’s fun to watch. Oh and Desiree West fucks a cabbie.

    Again, this was very obviously made with a low budget – the title card is simply a homemade placard that says CHINA LUST placed on a shelf in the shop where the story starts – but once again we get some nice location footage that helps give the movie some historical value. The cinematography is no better or worse than it is on the other two movies but there’s a bit more put into the plot and the lighting is good. All three of the movies here are a bit rough around the edges but this one less so than the other two.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    All three movies are presented in transfers in standard definition transfer taken from new 2k scans of original 16mm and 35mm archival elements. Both films are framed at 1.33.1 fullframe, which would seem to be the proper aspect ratios for these movies. There’s some mild print damage here and there on each film but nothing so serious as to take you out of the movie. Detail is pretty decent and colors are nicely reproduced. Black levels are fairly solid here and the transfers are free of compression artifacts, noise reduction and edge enhancement.

    Each movie gets the English language Dolby Digital Mono treatment. Clarity is just fine in each film with the music used in each feature sounding nice and clear. Balance is fine in each picture and while range is understandably limited by the original elements you can always understand the dialogue well enough.

    The main extra on this release is an audio interview with director Charles DeSantos. This is presented in two parts, the first as a commentary overtop of the first movie moderated by Joe Rubin and Laura Marks (who is a bit tough to understand). They discuss DeSantos’ background and how he got involved in film in the first place in the late 1960s, cultural shifts in the adult film industry, how he learned to shoot and cut film, working with a small group to get these low budget productions done, how his films compared to other West Coast adult picture of the day, the specifics of the way that he shoots the sex in his pictures, trying to do more with his pictures than just filming people having sex, coming up with various pseudonyms to be used and more. The second part plays out over Kinky Tricks. Here DeSantos talks about working for producer Burt Steiger, who had a lab in Los Angeles, and how they came to collaborate together. He then talks about his producing style, working on The Liberation Of Honeydoll Jones, the use of music in his films, putting together a deal to shoot with John Holmes and Gloria Leonard in France resulting in the unreleased Beauty And The Beast which was then turned into The Crystal Ball and what may or may not have happened to that footage (DeSantos claims to have it, which, as Rubin notes, ‘could be an interesting project someday.’). He also talks about the advent of video taking over where once everything was shot on film, the launch of the straight to video market for adult pictures, and quite a bit more. Both of these interviews are genuinely interesting and well worth listening to for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of west coast vintage porn.

    Aside from that we get menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s DVD triple feature release of The Sinful Pleasures Of Reverend Star/Kinky Tricks/China Lust presents three rarely seen vintage adult features in nice shape, each with a decent amount of entertainment value attached to it despite the flimsy storylines and low production values. The real treat here is the two-part interview with the director, which is quite thorough and genuinely interesting.