• Skin Flicks (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: April 23rd, 2019.
    Directors: Gerard Damiano
    Cast: Colleen Anderson, Sharon Mitchell, Beth Anna, Jamie Gillis, Herschel Savage, Joey Silvera, Gerard Damiano
    Year: 1978
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    Skin Flicks – Movie Review:

    Gerard Damiano’s 1978 film Skin Flicks was clearly a more personal effort than you’d expect from an adult movie. The film revolves around a filmmaker named Harry (Tony Hudson) who makes his living as a director of adult films. Harry is, in a word, done. He tries to make more interesting films than many of his competitors but runs into issues with those funding his projects who simply want the movie finished. They have no artistic ambition and see his efforts only as product, a commercial endeavor and nothing more. Given that much of his funding comes from the underworld, this shouldn’t be surprising.

    New to Harry’s world is Anna (Colleen Anderson), an aspiring actress doing this because she needs the money. At one point, early in the film, Harry reminds her that film is forever – if she does the deed in front of his camera there’s always the chance that a friend or family member will see it. She does it anyway. Harry takes comfort in the arms of an actress named Susan (Sharon Mitchell). She too wants something more out of all of this. They grow closer, but Harry soon learns that her behavior is self-destructive and that, of course, leads to complications. As Harry deals with all of this, he’s still got to figure out how to finish his movie to get his producers off of his back.

    Like most of Damiano’s films, Skin Flicks is very well-cast. Not only are Hudson, Anderson and Mitchell in here but we also get supporting roles from Joey Silvera, Herschel Savage, Robert Kerman, Beth Anna and Jamie Gillis. Gillis in particular makes a strong impression here. We don’t go into too much detail about his character here as that would spoil things for those who haven’t seen the film (and it’s been pretty tough to come across prior to this release) but those impressed for the actor’s ability to take things to dark places will no doubt appreciate what he does and how he does it, even if it is uncomfortable to watch.

    It’s also interesting to note that Damiano himself appears in a decent supporting role here, just as he did in his masterpiece, The Devil In Miss Jones. He plays one of Harry’s backers and hangs out in a seedy strip club where naked women gyrate in the background. You can’t help but feel that Harry is based on Damiano himself, given that he more than many of his contemporaries did try to make adult films with crossover appeal. He’s good in the part. Another nod to Harry’s connections to Damiano himself is that in Harry’s office you can clearly see one-sheets for The Devil In Miss Jones (as well as Shaun Costello’s Waterpower, which Damiano didn’t direct… though his name is all over the poster for it!). There are also posters for Messiah Of Evil and The Yin And Yang Of Mr. Go prominently displayed in the film.

    Production values are impressive here. The movie is very nicely shot and it features a great score. The locations work well and the strange set dressing – what’s with the creepy dolls used early in the film? – is unique. The movie is colorful and reasonably glossy in terms of how it looks, even if thematically it’s a bit more ‘down.’ Still, it’s very interesting stuff, quite well made and even thought provoking at times.

    Skin Flicks – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome presents Skin Flicks on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 and taken from a ‘new 2K restoration from the original vault elements.’ The print used for the transfer was in pretty decent shape but there’s still some print damage here that obviously couldn’t be completely removed. Still, the picture is stable and nicely detailed. Color reproduction looks good, skin tones too, and black levels are solid. The image is organic and film-like, never demonstrating any problems with overzealous sharpening or noise reduction. There are no compression artifacts to note and there’s solid depth and texture here as well.

    The DTS-HD Mono track is pretty solid. Optional subtitles are included (though they don’t always translate the dirty talk in certain scenes and there are a few noticeable typos). Dialogue is easy to understand and to follow and the track is properly balanced. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary with featuring film historians Samm Deighan and Heather Drain. They start off by talking about how this one has been tough to see over the years, how there’s so much more to his filmography than Deep Throat and the importance of that film for the industry, the director’s preference to work with inexperienced actresses, how a lot of his films from this period use female characters and actresses with more intelligence and intuition than a lot of his contemporaries, and, yes, some of the posters that appear on the wall in the office scenes (including Messiah Of Evil and Waterpower). They talk about Damiano’s tendency to explore different genres within his filmography, share some thoughts on the quality of the performances, noting how scary Gillis is in this picture and how interesting he is in this film, Damiano’s character in the picture, how some of the film’s more tender, dramatic non-sex scenes have a big impact on the quality of the picture, how the film compares to The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, the use of music in the film, the issue of control in some of the sex scenes in the film, and the stigma that unjustly exists to this day around adult films.

    Also included on the disc is a feature-length audio interview with actress Sharon Mitchell, conducted by Casey Scott, who Mitchell is clearly quite fond of. It’s a great interview once it gets started, with Mitchell noting that she didn’t read his questions ahead of time so that she didn’t come off as contrived. At any rate, she speaks quite openly and honestly about working on the film, about how Damiano was able to get performances out of her that she’s quite proud of, how long it’s been since she’s seen some of her films and the quality of the story and the production values in Damiano’s films. She tells some stories about working with Jamie Gillis and having to rehearse some stunts with him on an earlier film that involved a shootout scene. She talks about working with Damiano on Odyssey and Joint Venture early in her career, having to do rehearsals with him for a few weeks before shooting would start, his ability to take what was in his mind and get it on the screen in his films, how she was a bit intimidated when she first started working with him, and how she was able to identify with the character that she plays in this particular film. Along the way she talks about how it can be a lonely life working in the adult film industry, some of the co-stars that she did and didn’t get along with so well over the years both male and female, and lots more. Definitely take the time to give this a listen if you have an interest in Mitchell’s career.

    Menus and chapter selection are also included. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie and Vinegar Syndrome packages this with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    Slip cover collectors will be interested in buying directly from Vinegar Syndrome where they can get a limited-edition slip featuring exclusive (and super cool) artwork from Derek Gabryszak that is limited to 1,500 pieces.

    Skin Flicks – The Final Word:

    Skin Flicks may be atypical when compared to your average adult film, but that’s what makes it so interesting. It isn’t the most cheery of fuck films but it’s smart, introspective, interesting and very well-directed. It also features some excellent performances and strong production values. Vinegar Syndrome has given this unsung classic a more than respectable high definition debut featuring a fine presentation and some nice extras as well. Fans of offbeat adult pictures from the industry’s golden age should consider this essential.

    Click on the images below for full sized Skin Flicks screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      This sounds interesting. Is there less humping footage than the average porn?
    1. John Lyons's Avatar
      John Lyons -
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt H. View Post
      This sounds interesting. Is there less humping footage than the average porn?
      No, it's the standard 60:40 ratio of plot:sex.
      Roughly 50 min of it is dialogue/plot development and the other 35 min or so is sex. But Damiano does a very solid job of integrating the sex scenes and using some of them to build upon the characters.