These Secret Key megapack DVDs are growing on me. Unlike our friends at Severin Films (Joe D’Amato movies) or CultEpics (Tinto Brass) who craft every DVD release like a Faberge egg with a beautiful transfer of a highly acclaimed softcore epic (with interviews and deleted scenes), Secret Key is in the business these days of frying up a greasy six-egg omelet and selling it to you for cheap. In this case we have four independent American skin flicks from the early 1970s that benefit from Secret Key’s “Grind It” feature, which recreates the experience of going to a double feature, minus the grimy theater. These movies demand to be seen at a drive-in from the front seat of a 1969 fastback Mustang II that you inherited from your older brother when he went to college. Okay, maybe they’re not super-classics, but I highly doubt you’ve seen them before, and that’s gotta be worth something, right? Grind away!
Starring: Bo White, Davey Jones
Directed by: Chuck Vincent
The lead movie in this collection is much better than it has any right to be. It’s something of a revelation, in fact. Blue Summer follows a couple of young guys (Bo White and Davey Jones, not from the Monkees) driving a van full of beer to points unknown, seeking out groovy adventures along the way. They meet up with a couple of hot hitchhikers, go skinny dipping, make it with the town slut, and meet a love guru who’s willing to share his female worshippers in exchange for the beer. Nice trade. This is one of Chuck Vincent’s earliest films, and the quality of the movie in relation to the weakness of the plot reveals a director who was one year away from his nearly forgotten porn masterpiece, Mrs. Barrington. The sex scenes, although clearly softcore, are surprisingly hot and realistic. The loosey-goosey nature of the production as well as the presence of a couple of actual porn stars in the cast (Eric Edwards, Chris Jordan) suggest that this was cut down from a soft hardcore version.
It’s a really cute and sweet road movie with an enjoyable post-Beatlesque soundtrack. Confound your pretentious film friends by playing this one in a double bill with Bertrand Blier’s celebrated Going Places, a very similar movie from the same year (Gerard Depardieu’s breakout role). I’ll bet you they’ll enjoy this one more. At least nobody shoots themselves in the vagina in this one.
Starring: Holly Mascott, George Takei, Tom Bo White, Davey Jones
Directed by: Laurence Mascott
In the race between campy former stars of the 1960s to run their foundering careers aground on the shoals of the softcore genre, George Takei beats Adam West (Young Lady Chatterley 2) to the punch by a decade. Pow, Batman! Takei stars as one of three hippies who move into a groovy Victorian mansion in San Diego in 1966. The other two are a recently divorced young wife (Holly Mascott, who also provided the script) and a giant piece of wood with a mustache (Tom Holland, later to direct Child’s Play). This almost incoherent film is quite a mess, with endless numbers of wordless montages of our threesome riding bikes on piers and what-not. Come on, Three’s Company got that crap out of the way in the opening credits. The Secret Key liner notes put forth a theory that this movie, also known as Josie’s Castle, is actually a collection of outtakes from another, separate version of the film. My theory is that they just didn’t know what they were doing and shot a bunch of scenes without a script, as evidenced by the fact that what there is of the dialogue in the rest of the movie is remarkably poorly overdubbed, including a slather of narration.
Not only that, Takei claims that he didn’t know he was starring in a skin flick — they brought in body doubles and extras and added in the sex scenes afterward. I’m not so sure of that, as the extras appear on the same set as the main actors, who all give it up except for Takei himself. Frankly, as the least explicit entry in this quartet, this film could’ve used the spicing up.
Sometime Sweet Susan
Starring: Harry Reems, Shawn Harris
Directed by: Fred Donaldson
This is the most explicit movie in the collection, a hardcore film inexpertly cut down to something resembling softcore (a few erections and implied penetration make it in). The Human Jackhammer Harry Reems stars as a psychiatrist trying to figure out what’s wrong with an amnesiac girl (Shawn Harris) who’s been committed to his hospital. The root cause is revealed in flashback: she was raped by Jamie Gillis. Yep, that’ll pretty much do it. This is one of those 1970s pornos that attempts to transcend its genre, and it mostly does so. However, it deserves to be seen in its hardcore cut. The hamhanded direction and editing makes the softcore cut look like second-rate Sarno.
Summer School Teachers
Starring: Candice Rialson, Pat Anderson
Directed by: Barbara Peters
This is a brainless comedy from the Roger Corman people. Candice Rialson, a hot blonde fresh off of Candy Stripe Nurses (a movie that was shown WAY too much on Cinemax back in the day), stars as a Midwestern teacher who comes to Los Angeles to teach a group of delinquent girls how to play football. Anyone remember H.O.T.S.? That movie was better than this one. Do watch this movie, however, for a painful looking spill that Rialson takes at 38:40. She’s a trouper, she gets right up from it, but still. Ouch!