• Vice Academy 1-3 (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 29th, 2019.
    Director: Rick Sloane
    Cast: Ginger Lynn Allen, Linnea Quigley, Karen Russell, Elizabeth Kaitan, Marina Benvenga, Melissa Moore, Julia Parton, Jay Richardson
    Year: 1989/1990/1991
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Vice Academy 1-3 – Movie Review:

    With every successful film there always comes a knock off and seeing as the Police Academy movies were a commercial success it shouldn't be all that surprising that copycat films appeared shortly after. Director Rick Sloane (he of Hobgoblin’s infamy) made six Vice Academy movies – Vinegar Syndrome presents the first three in this collection - and they didn't have the presence of the all mighty Steve Gutenburg to coast on and instead they went for low brow humor and novelty casting to make up for the lack of true star power. The results were decidedly mixed but those who enjoy cornball exploitation comedies or who have a curious interest in the mainstream (and by mainstream I mean non-porno movie) career of one Ginger Lynn should find something to enjoy in these three movies, no matter how bad the humor is – and brother, it's bad. Really bad. And yet, somehow effective.

    Vice Academy:

    This first film introduces us to a batch of misfits who are all in training to become members of the vice squad in Los Angeles. The star student of the class, Holly (Ginger Lynn), is pretty much a shoe-in as her daddy is the chief of police and he's not above pulling a few strings for her. What Holly doesn't realize is that she'll have to compete with Didi (Linnea Quigley of Return Of The Living Dead) for the top spot in the class. Didi and her classmate Shawnee (Karen Russell) are going to go undercover to bust a porno movie operation and a prostitution racket wide open whether Holly thinks it's fair or not.

    This first film in the series is horrible, but it is watchable in the way that only horrible movies can be. As stupid as it is – and it’s grade A stupid - the film manages to be an entertaining and somewhat sleazy little movie that in present day works best as a time capsule of when it was made more than as an actually funny comedy. The fashions and wardrobe (much of which was provided by the actresses themselves) all scream late 80s as does the bad score and the big hair. Large portions of the movie were shot on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles so the adult bookstores and porno movie theaters that you see in the movie are definitely authentic and they add some interesting charm to the film.

    Ginger Lynn (credited throughout the series as Ginger Lynn Allen in a veiled attempt to distance herself from her adult film career, though shortly after she left she'd return and continue working there into the 2000’s) and Linnea Quigley are enjoyable enough to look at here, both in their prime. The cattiness between them comes across as quite heartfelt and genuinely amusing. Look for Viper, the adult film star who mysteriously disappeared years ago never to be seen again, in a small supporting role as a smut movie director as well as Tamara Clatterbuck of Days Of Our Lives and General Hospital as a lady of the evening.

    Vice Academy II:

    Picking up where the first movie left off, Didi and Holly (Quigley and Lynn reprising their roles) have both passed from the Vice Academy with flying colors and are now working on their first assignment. This unfortunately finds them working the switchboard which is not at all what they envisioned when they signed up for this gig. Eventually, however, they get a chance at the action they crave when one of their fellow vice cops is almost killed and they have to go undercover to figure out what exactly is going on. How does this scenario make use of their special talents? Well, it requires them to pose as strippers for one!

    A few bumbling investigations lead the girls to uncover an illegal aphrodisiac ring lead by a woman named Spanish Fly (Marina Benvenga) that they must stop before the world becomes a horny Hell on Earth. All the while, a new recruit to the team named 'Bimbocop' (Teagan Clive who had a bit part in Jumpin' Jack Flash but who should be better known for Alienator!) is making things even more difficult for our heroines.

    If you dug the first film you'll enjoy this one too as it really is more of the same. The supporting characters aren't as funny this time out but with people like Bimbocop running around it's hard not to at least finish the film just to satiate your own morbid curiosity as to where all of this is going to wind up. Ginger and Linnea once again do a fine job as the air headed catty partners in the lead roles, delivering dialogue with about as much acting ability as a rock – but they’re fun to watch here. Duane Whitaker, who appeared in Feast, has a small part in this film, as does Melissa Moore who some might recognize from Evil Spawn, and Sorority House Massacre II. Once again, the humor is painfully horrible but it does sort of manage to transcend its own limitations to the point where it's so bad that it somehow becomes funny again in spite of itself.

    Vice Academy III:

    Linnea Quigley bailed on the series for this third film, but Ginger Lynn stuck around for another round and this time Holly finds herself teaming up with Didi's sister Candy (the charming Elizabeth Kaitan who would reprise the roll for the rest of the series and who also appears in Friday The 13th Part VII – The New Blood).

    With a little bit of experience now under their belts, the girls find themselves tasked with the rather difficult job of bringing in a gang of escaped female convicts. The leader of this gang, the vicious Malathion (Julia Parton, better known in the adult film world as Nina Alexander – she was still doing smut as recently as 2002 which would have put her close to forty – she's also Dolly's cousin!), is obviously not really down with the idea of heading back to the big house and thanks to some mutant powers that she developed after getting toxic waste dumped on her, she's able to put up much more of a fight than the girls were expecting.

    While Kaitan is a fine replacement for Linnea the chemistry isn't quite as interesting in that you don't get the impression that the girls really dislike each other off screen like you did with the first two films in the series. This takes something away from the film, even if the story is goofy enough and trashy enough to hold your attention. Jay Richardson, who seems to have made a comeback of sorts in a bunch of the Sci-Fi Channel originals like Komodo Vs. Cobra, shows up here as he did in all last movie as the Police Commissioner. He's best known for Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (which also starred Miss Quigley) and about a zillion other B-movies.

    Vice Academy 1-3 – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome presents Vice Academy 1-3 on Blu-ray on two 50GB discs, each transfer presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and taken from new 2k restorations of the film’s original 35mm negatives. These are very garish and colorful films and they look excellent here – the bright colors really pop quite nicely. There aren’t any problems with print damage, dirt or debris, while natural film grain remains visible throughout each film, as it should. Black levels are strong while detail easily leaves the old DVD release from BCI Eclipse from 2006 in the dust. Each of the three movies looks very natural and filmic, showing no problems with noise reduction, edge enhancement of compression artifacts. Skin tones look nice and natural too. No problems here at all, these movies look great on Blu-ray.

    The English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 tracks are solid. There aren’t any problems understanding the dialogue, the tracks are balanced well and they’re nice and clean, free of any audible hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English.

    Extras kick off with a newly recorded commentary for each of the three films provided by director Rick Sloane. He starts off the first by talking about how the film is thirty years old at this point, securing the location for the opening bust scene and having to use sugar from the craft table to double as cocaine, how the movies were really made for a foreign audience, how Ginger brought all of her costumes from home, using a traffic school to double for the vice academy, issues that he had with his cameraman, using a dog obedience training school for certain scenes, his penchant for using neon signs, how he’s proud of the faux movie titles used in the film, shooting on a pitch black Van Nuys Boulevard at night, and more.

    The commentary for the second film starts with Sloane talking about how the success of the film resulted in Hobgoblins 2 being pushed back and this second film rushed into production. He talks about working with Melissa Moore and Tegan, how the sequels are structured more like a sitcom, some of the locations that were used, how Mark Richardson is the one actor who appears in all six films, how a lot of extras will show up for your film if you tell them they get to watch a strip tease, the trickiness involved in trying to create depth on camera when shooting in small rooms and how a jacket from Hobgoblins appears in this movie too.

    In the third film, Sloane talks about how the third film had the biggest budget out of the entire series and how it had the highest ratings when it played on television. He notes that it remains a fan favorite, talks about how Quigley was originally meant to be in the film but she backed out before production started, working with Lynn and Katilin, how the cinematography is noticeably better in this picture, some of the running jokes in the series, a weird story about recycling, why one of the bathing suits is made out of cans and more. This is the best and most engaging of the three tracks.

    Sloane has a tendency to go quite here and there and occasionally seems a bit too engaged in the movies themselves, laughing at a lot of the gags, but when he’s on he’s on and there are some pretty amusing stories told in these three tracks.

    The rest of the extras are on disc one. Linnea Quigley shows up in Head Of The Class for eighteen-minutes where she discusses how she wound up getting the part in the first movie based on her B-movie and horror movie experience, which led to the right connections being made. She then talks about working with Rick Sloane and what she knew about him going in, how she did her own costume work on the picture, her first impressions of Lynn and how they got along better once they got to know one another, how everyone was ‘dedicated to making it fun and goofy.’ She also notes how Sloane gave them the freedom to try things on set, how people got along on set, the cult following that exists for the movies, shooting the second film, how a friend of hers was let on set to do a high school paper on the film, having to work with Bimbocop and how she charged more money for each breast she exposed in the film!

    Going Undercover interviews Ginger Lynn for thirty-five-minutes about her work on the series. She notes that the first movie is her favorite of the bunch, how she’s quite doing adult films and was brought on by Sloane and how she felt that the movie was ‘so bad, it’s brilliant.’ She talks up the exploitation elements in the films, working with Sloane (the only direction he gave her on the first film was ‘think Brady Bunch!’), her thoughts on her character, working with Quigley who she ‘fell in absolute love’ with, how her experience doing porn prepared her for B-movies and exploitation pictures, how the cat fight scene she shot with Linnea led to rumors that they hated one another, why she feels people are drawn to the Vice Academy films. She then talks about shooting the second film and how she was touring as a feature dancer at the time, the outfits that she wore, a problem she ran into with a room full of cat stench, how beneficial her manager was during the production, how she feels about her work in the films and her problem being chronically late. In regards to the third film she talks about missing Linnea, how she got along really well with Elizabeth Kaitlin, the film’s connection to Wings Hauser via Darcy DeMoss (who she did not get along with at all), how Jay Richardson was ‘a dick,’ shooting two films at the same time and how she doesn’t feel as strongly about the third film as she does the first two.

    Menus and chapter selection finish things off. The packaging for this is also pretty slick – not only do we get a great double sided cover sleeve but we also get a poster featuring the same art on both sides, and a slipcover that loads from the bottom, just like an old VHS sleeve would.

    NOTE: This release is part of the new Vinegar Syndrome Archive line, and it comes packaged with a hand numbered slipcase that opens from the bottom, VHS style. A double-sided poster is also included inside the keepcase alongside the two discs and we get some cool reversible cover sleeve art as well. Like all VSA releases, this one is ONLY be available on the Vinegar Syndrome website and at participating brick and mortar retailers. This release is limited to 3,000 copies.

    It’s also worth pointing out that the commentaries from the older BCI Eclipse release as well as the B-Movie Queens Revealed: The Making Of Vice Academy featurette that was included with that set have not been ported over to this Blu-ray release.

    Vice Academy 1-3 – The Final Word:

    The Vice Academy films are not high art but they are fun, goofy, low budget comedies with enough going on in the exploitation department to work. Vinegar Syndrome has done a fine job bringing these back into circulation and in high definition for the first time. The movies look great and the extras are pretty solid. All in all, a very fun release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Vice Academy 1-3 Blu-ray screen caps!