• Teenage Cruisers (Legend Pictures) DVD Review

    Released by: Legend Pictures
    Released on: March 4th, 2008.
    Director: Johnny Legend
    Cast: Serena, Tony Conn, Christine De Shaffer, William Margold, Johnny Legend, John Galt, Lynn Margulies
    Year: 1977
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    Teenage Cruisers – Movie Review:

    Though not the first sex film that Johnny Legend was involved in, Young, Hot N' Nasty Teenage Cruisers (referred to from here on as simply Teenage Cruisers), his 1977 feature directorial debut, certainly stands out thanks to its entertaining mix of campy humor, rock n' roll, and hairy seventies hardcore sex.
    The film takes place in Orange Grove, California where Babsy Beaudine (Christine De Shaffer of Pizza Girls and Dracula Exotica), the notorious nuthouse nympho, has just escaped from the local lunatic asylum and kidnapped Professor Flinch (porn legend William Margold). While she's running around town hiding from the law and trying to get her rocks off, two teenage girls, Serena (played by Serena of 800 Fantasy Lane and countless Swedish Erotica 8mm loops) - who yearns for her boyfriend Johnny - and her friend Barbara (Lynnie Legend/Lynn Margulies), have gotten out of school and are ready to take the car out for a night of cruising.

    While all of this is going on, local DJ Mambo Remus (Johnny Legend) of radio station KRUZ is getting all the hepcats in the area ready to rock n roll on down the avenue by spinning the hottest hits. The night rolls in and Van Nuys Boulevard is the place to be as all the kids in the coolest cars show off their rides and look to score. Two local guys, Lumpy and Whitey, can't score to save their lives and wind up getting ripped off at a 'donkey show' before the various subplots all collide at a great big rockabilly concert!

    Sort of a raunchier version of American Graffiti, teenage cruisers is a lot of fun. The films moves along at a really quick pace, bouncing from sex scene to sight gag and back again over and over again and while this might not make for the most plot intensive film, it's cohesive enough that it's easy to follow. Highlights include a nude bake off where game show host Monty Ball (Larry Conn) encourages nude female contestants to make cream pies, an underwater/poolside sex scene featuring John Holmes and his disturbing loofah sponge schlong, Serena's self-pleasure scene performed outside the door of the room where a couple has sex, a crass but funny bit with a girl and her dog, and of course, the infamous donkey show gag. Silly and base humor, but no less effective!

    On top of the interesting cast and wonky sexy set pieces, Teenage Cruisers also has a killer soundtrack working in its favor. Legend's connections in the burgeoning rockabilly scene of late seventies California obviously came in very handy while putting the music together for this film, which contains contributions from not only Legend himself but also Billy Zoom (of X fame), the late Charlie Feathers (who recorded for the legendary Sun Studios), Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee Ray Campi, Tony Conn (who also appears at the beginning of the film as Willy) and Jackie Lee Cochran (also known as Jack Waukeen Cochran and Jack The Cat).

    The film also contains nods to plenty of popular horror and science fiction pictures. Look for a Baron Blood poster in Mambo's DJ booth alongside promotional materials for The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Man From Planet X, It Came From Outer Space, and a few others. A marquee in the background of one scene advertises Taxi Driver while a playful pool scene spoofs Spielberg's Jaws.

    A few oddities about the film worth noting: Serena was actually slightly pregnant during principal photography. If you're familiar with some of her better known adult work you'll note that her figure is definitely curvier here than it usually is. She looks great, but knowing that fact makes her performance a little unusual! Adding to the movie's weird vibe is the fact that it's all dubbed, there doesn't appear to have been any live sound recorded. As such, if you're familiar with Bill Margold's speaking voice you may be a little bit surprised when he opens his mouth and grumbles his dialogue.

    The sex isn't particularly erotic (a fair bit of it looks to be pilfered from some old loops) but the film holds up well as a genuine cinematic oddity and as a time capsule of sorts. With recent efforts from Vivid Alt wunderkid Octavio Winky Tiki (ReBelle Rousers and Bad Luck Betties) proving that rockabilly porn isn't completely dead, maybe Legend's film had more of an impact than it's given credit for. After all, if rock n' roll is a euphemism for fucking, doesn't it make sense that they America's two true favorite past times should meet? Keep that in mind as you watch Teenage Cruisers. It's not a good movie in the technical sense, but it sure is a lot of good, stupid fun.

    Teenage Cruisers – DVD Review:

    While the back of Legend House's DVD states that the film is presented in a "pristine new transfer" the fact of the matter is that this is a non-anamorphic interlaced affair that really should have been 16x9 enhanced and properly flagged for progressive scan playback. That said, hyperbole aside, for an older XXX title Teenage Cruisers doesn't look bad when compared to other similar DVD releases of adult material from the same era. Colors are a little faded but there isn't too much print damage or grain to complain about. The image is soft at times but it's always very watchable even if you might notice some mild compression artifacts in the dark scenes. Edge enhancement is never a big deal and the 1.85.1 aspect ratio looks pretty accurate as none of the compositions look too tight. No doubt, Legend House could have done a better job with this material but what's here looks okay. Not great, but okay.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono track on the DVD has a little bit of background hiss now and again but is otherwise fine. The rockabilly soundtrack is pretty vibrant and the levels are all properly balanced. Dialogue is easy to understand and follow and while the film shows its age through this low-fi mix, that's not necessarily a bad thing and it certainly suits the material.

    Johnny Legend likes to talk, especially about Johnny Legend, so who better to provide the commentary for this release than he? Legend talks about the significance of the Raunchy Tonk label, how the film was put together, and why specific people were cast in specific parts. Legend talks about the various musicians who were involved in the film through Legends involvement in the rockabilly scene of the time, and he talks about the various locations used for the film. He tells us about the joys of using artificial semen in a XXX movie and he talks about how he had to re-shoot parts of the film with Serena six months after principal photography had wrapped so that she could go off and have a baby. Legend admits that none of the movie was shot with live sound and that he dubbed Margold's lines, and he points out how a lot of the film was shot at his family's home in Orange Grove. Legend, never at a loss for words, does a good job here and covers most of the bases, telling us pretty much everything we could want to know about the film and its history.

    Up next is Cruisin' the 70s Scene (31:57), a featurette where Legend walks down the Hollywood strip and fills us in on how he got into making skin flicks in the seventies. Legend begins by explaining how a folk rock band he was involved with wound up scoring a sex film, which in turn lead to his direct involvement in the industry working on films like The God-Daughter and the trippy Sexual Sensory Perception, both of which are featured in a few fun clips here. Legend also talks about films like Fantasm, which featured Bill Margold, who just happens (what a coincidence!) to be wandering down the street as Legend is on camera talking to us about his career. This segues nicely into the next supplement...

    From there check out the Interview With William Margold (7:10). Margold, looking rather crazed with his curly mop of hair and his Unibomber beard, is his usual jovial and humorous self as he talks about his work in the film, how he had his girlfriend come in at the last minute to play Babsy Beaudine when the original actress bailed, and how he helped to promote the film during its theatrical run. Margold has got a million and one stories about his work and he tells a few good ones here.

    An interview with William Stout (14:22) is up next. The legendary underground comic book artist spends a few minutes on his porch with Johnny Legend talking about how he got his start in the underground comics scene of the late sixties in California. He also talks about creating the poster art for the feature and shares an interesting story about how he got in with the Zap! Comix crew back in the sixties.

    Not to be outdone, the one and only Billy Zoom (10:25) shows up on camera for an interview with Legend. Zoom, doing his best to be as uncooperative on camera as possible, more or less just goes along with whatever Legend is saying at any given time so through no fault of his own, Legend winds up telling more stories about Zoom's work on the film than Zoom does himself.

    The last interview on the DVD puts Rockin' Ronnie Weiser (12:25) in front of the camera with Legend. The two friends talk about the first time they saw Jerry Lee, Dick Clark, and bonded over cheap steak and eggs. From there, they were roommates and wound up recording and playing together. They swap some stories, again with Legend doing most of the talking, and eventually they get around to covering their work on Teenage Cruisers, a film for which Weiser produced the soundtrack. Weiser makes a point of stating that he made sure he wasn't actually in the movie!

    The last substantial extra is Back To Cruise Country (16:27), a return to the California locations where the feature was shot. Johnny drives around the area while partner in crime Lynnie Legend holds the camcorder and assists in the commentary. Shooting the locations through the window of the car doesn't provide the best video quality but it's still interesting to see how some of the locations have changed over the years and equally as interesting to see the ones that have not. The pair also share some amusing stories about their father and his escapades with the local police and point out some Ed Wood movie landmarks.

    Rounding out the extra features is the film's original theatrical trailer, a trailer for the upcoming DVD release of Raunchy Tonk's Nympho Libra (which looks...odd), some static menus and chapter selection.

    The Teenage Cruisers – The Final Word:

    A nicer, anamorphic transfer would have been a real plus but that issue notwithstanding, Legend House has done a nice job with their special edition release of Young, Hot N' Nasty Teenage Cruisers. It's a crazed mix of rockabilly style, goofy slapstick comedy and XXX action but somehow it all works and the extras do a pretty good job of putting it all in context and documenting its oddball history.