• Hard Soap, Hard Soap / Disco Lady (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: December 24th, 2019.
    Director: Bob Chinn
    Cast: Candida Royalle, John Holmes, Laurien Dominique, Joan Devlon, Joey Silvera, Paul Thomas, Rhonda Jo Petty, Ric Lutze, Mike Ranger, Robin Savage
    Year: 1977/1978
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Hard Soap, Hard Soap / Disco Lady – Movie Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome offers up a double dose of vintage seventies smut directed by the one and only Bob Chinn with their release of Hard Soap, Hard Soap and Disco Lady.

    Hard Soap, Hard Soap:

    Penny Holmes (Laurien Dominique) has a problem. Her husband, psychiatrist Dr. John Holmes (played by, ummm… John Holmes), just doesn’t seem into her lately. He tells her it’s just his job but Penny has these yearnings that she has trouble controlling and if she can’t get release from her own husband, what can she do? She seeks the advice of her neighbor, Linda Lou (Candida Royalle as Candice Chambers), whose own husband never seems to be around. They decide Linda will go to John’s office and pose as a potential patient – she does that, and appears there in a mask to conceal her identity but winds up blowing an actual patient who she thinks is the good doctor! Meanwhile, Penny takes pity on the kindly milkman by proving to him that his problems in the bedroom are not related to his equipment while shortly after Linda takes care of the bashful, voyeuristic paperboy named Willard (John Martin).

    When John has to leave town for a few days to take care of business, Penny decides to take care of things at the office. She rearranges a few appointments and figures in her husband’s absence she can take care of their problems, all of which are, of course, of a sexual nature. Linda, meanwhile, tries to help Penny get the release she needs by sharing one of her boy-toys (Ken Scudder) with her. After Penny gets raped by the ‘maintenance engineer’ (Paul Thomas), she confesses to a priest but that doesn’t do her any good either. As the movie moves into its second half, Penny puts together a group therapy session just before her sister Patty (Joan Devlon), pretending to be blind after seeing a flasher at a supermarket, arrives in town with her ‘lady friend’ to see if Dr. Holmes’ dong is really as massive as she’s heard! Will Penny ever be able to save her marriage?

    This one is a lot of fun. It’s an effectively comedic sendup of old school soap operas, complete with hokey organ music and overwrought melodrama, all played for laughs. Laurien Dominique and Candida Royalle are both great here. It’s clear that they got along really well, they have excellent chemistry and on top of that they both look really good. They handle the comedy in the film just as well as they do the sex scenes. The supporting cast is strong too, with Joan Devlon, Paul Thomas and Ken Scudder all delivering good work. Holmes isn’t in the movie much until the final scenes but the finale with he and Dominique is nicely done. It’s also surprising to see a transsexual show up in the penultimate group grope that takes place at the Holmes house. Also be on the lookout for Joey Silvera, quite funny as a wheelchair-bound patient.

    Production values are decent. The sets are nicely designed and the movie is well-shot. The score is effective and appropriate – Chinn paces the picture nicely, he keeps the action moving at a good clip.

    This film was previously released on DVD-R via Something Weird Video (as part of a double feature with Beyond Fulfillment) but it was trimmed down. This release from Vinegar Syndrome is completely uncut.

    Disco Lady:

    “Oooooh disco lady, I could watch you dance for a million years, even though you’d only see my smile, not my tears!”

    So begins the theme song to this quick and dirty cheapie Chinn made in 1978, which just so happens to be the feature debut of one Ronda Jo Petty. The story? Well, there is one. Sort of. Pretty Carla (Petty) is picked up by a guy in a pimp hat (Alan Colburg) driving a black Lincoln Continental. She needs a ride to Disco Lady, the hottest nightclub in town, and even though it looks to be two in the afternoon, he’s on his way there himself. She introduces herself and he tells her his friends call him Candyman. He offers her some coke and she says they’re going to get along just fine!

    Elsewhere, Sherry Winston (Ming Jade) and her pal Angie (Angel Ducharme credited as Angel Van Leuven) call up a guy she’s sweet on only to find out he’s heading to the PTA meeting with his wife. Nearby, Rick (Ric Lutz) and his wife (Robin Savage) are set to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. He gives her a gift, a new watch, and then another gift – his dong! They have sex with lots of dirty talk.

    Sherry and Angie show up at Disco Lady and Johnny (Bob Rose), Tony (Mike Ranger) and Jack make cat calls at them only to be ignored by the babes. Inside, a DJ named Scorpio Sal tells all of the dancers that they’re beautiful and gorgeous and that they’re here to ring in the new year with some ‘punk disco’ from a band called ‘Boregasm’ – and then he plays their new cut, ‘My Mother’s In The Madhouse And That’s Why I’m In Love With You.’ Everybody gets down and boogies. Johnny and his boys come into the bar, the guard warns them about causing trouble. Jack doesn’t have his ID and gets bounced. Outside the club, Carla and Candyman arrive and Carla calls Jack Peter Frampton. Inside, Johnny kicks some people out of his table and then hooks up with Angie and Sherry. Candyman tries to pimp Carla out to a patron, and they head off to the bathroom to screw while the dancefloor keeps on bumpin’! Ric and his wife show up and order some drinks but the waitress (Tiffany Ladd) spills a drink on him. She takes him to the backroom where there’s a blow-dryer to clean him off – except the blow-dryer isn’t there and a mattress is so she gets his pants off and towel dries him, which of course, leads to screwing. Meanwhile, Tony takes Rick’s wife to the ladies’ room and if you listen to KISS at all, you know what happens there. Even if you don’t listen to KISS you can probably figure out what happens there.

    What no one at the club realizes is that an angry guy named Richard (Damon Christian credited as Paul Stifflerin) is having an argument with his lady, Margo. She decides to head out on her own but he says if she meets anyone, he’ll kill her. She splits, and he grabs his gun… can you guess where she goes and who follows her there? You’ll find out, after you see Sherry hook up with Johnny in the back room, when Richard’s wife notices dreamy young Jack hanging around outside the club…

    The story here is pretty light, this is more a series of vignettes all centered around the Disco Lady dance club that kinda-sorta tie in together at the finale of the film. Still, it’s an entertaining picture. The sex isn’t particularly creative, but it’s performed with enthusiasm by an attractive and energetic cast. At just short of an hour it’s hard to complain about the pace of the film, and as a time capsule of late seventies era California disco culture the movie is kind of neat. Ronda Jo Petty only really gets down (in the Biblical sense) in one scene but she makes an impression even here, early in her career just before she’d go on to notoriety in Little Orphan Dusty. Production values are decent if not amazing. The disco is featured in most of the scenes but the sex all takes place either in bedrooms before the patrons make the scene or in a dingy back store room or bathroom. The soundtrack is pretty killer though, and you’ve got to dig the music, credited to Jonathan Lang, especially that opening ‘Disco Lady’ theme song!

    A few more random observations? Someone who looks an awful lot like Rene Bond can be spotted as an extra wearing a red dress cutting a rug on the dancefloor of the discotheque. Everyone in this bar drinks Coors Banquet cans. Lincoln Continental’s are the ultimate pimp car. Ronda Jo Petty has an aversion to braziers and the world is a better place for it. Mike Ranger really does have great seventies hair. Scorpio Sal is the best goddamn DJ to have ever set the great state of California a’ dancing.

    Hard Soap, Hard Soap / Disco Lady – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Hard Soap, Hard Soap and Disco Lady to Blu-ray sharing a 50GB disc. Hard Soap, Hard Soap is framed at 1.85.1. The film opens with a disclaimer noting that they couldn't find complete elements. The negative was missing the first reel and they had to take the first 20 minutes of the movie from a CRI. There were also issues with the audio, forcing them to take the last 5 minutes of reel 2 from a video source. The seventy-seven-minute feature takes up just over 23GBs of space on the disc. There is some noticeable damage and fading in the first chunk of the film but it’s watchable enough, and the last two-thirds look considerably better, showing nice detail and good color reproduction.

    Disco Lady takes up 17GBs of space on the disc, which is fine for the fifty-nine-minute film. It’s framed at 1.33.1 fullframe. It’s a grainy presentation, which is understandably given the source, but it’s pretty clean in that it shows only minor damage here and there. Colors are reproduced rather well, skin tones look good and there are no problems with any compression issues, edge enhancement or noise reduction problems.

    Both films get 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono options. Subtitles are provided for both features in English only. Range is limited by the source materials to be sure but dialogue is pretty clear in both pictures. The tracks are balanced and occasional hiss doesn’t prove to be particularly distracting. For the most part, these are pretty clean and sound fine.

    The main extra on the disc is an interview with Bob Chinn entitled Two For The Price Of One. Here, over thirty-three-minutes, he talks about meeting Dick Aldrich and how they wound up making eleven films together over the years and got to be good friends. He then shares stories about other connections that he made in the West Coast adult film industry, getting financing for a few pictures and wound up working for Freeway Films. He then talks about where he got the inspiration for Hard Soap from, how a real life milkman factored into the equation, casting the film and shooting in San Francisco as shoots were getting busted in Los Angeles at the time, getting scammed by some hookers, what it was like making a comedy for the first time, throwing in some surrealism and what it was like working with the cast, a few of them he’d worked with before and some he had not. He also talks about shooting on 35mm, building sets for the film on a soundstage, working with Frank Johnson as the DP on the picture, and how the film was received well when released. He then shares some background information on making Disco Lady, also with Aldrich, after getting the opportunity to rent an old bowling alley that was hosting dance parties. It was empty on week days and they figured they could build some sets and make a movie – which they then went ahead and did, making use of the giant disco ball just as the disco phase was starting to die off. They shot the movie for five grand in two days. Chinn then talks about the screenplay, shooting in Los Angeles very discretely with a more or less unknown cast, getting Ronda Jo Petty in the film after he was introduced to her by a friend and how she was quite good to work with, using ‘has-been actor’ Ric Lutze, how he wound up directing Little Orphan Dusty, using extreme slow motion at the end of Disco Lady to get it to an hour in length and more. Chinn’s got a lot of great stories and this interview proves quite interesting.

    Aside from that we get trailers for each picture, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD containing the two films and the same extras. The first 2,000 units purchased directly from Vinegar Syndrome will include a limited edition slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr..

    Hard Soap, Hard Soap / Disco Lady – The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release of Hard Soap, Hard Soap / Disco Lady offers up two of Bob Chinn’s pictures properly restored and uncut with a genuinely interesting director’s interview as its primary extra feature. The movies themselves are a lot of fun, especially Hard Soap, Hard Soap, which is as clever and amusing as it is genuinely odd.

    Click on the images below for full sized Hard Soap, Hard Soap / Disco Lady Blu-ray screen caps!