I swear to Satan below, I'm going to go blind watching all these After Hours discs ...
That's not a complaint though, certainly not when their latest offering is four very early films from the Carter Stevens roster. Split across two discs, this foursome from the steamy 70s serves as a great reminder as to why Stevens has earned his place as one of the greatest "golden age" porno directors ever.
Disc one begins with THE COLLEGIATES (a.k.a. FLAMING VIRGIN; WHAT WILL YOUR MAMA SAY?). Opening with twee music, we watch pretty and demure student Georgia (the superbly named Tanya Tickler) return to her student residence after the summer holidays.
Upon her arrival, she walks in on housemates Kathy (Kim Pope) and Leslie (Bertha Jones) enjoying cunnilingus from a very willing Lexington (Harry Reems). Georgia disapproves and refuses Lexington's invitation to join in, instead retiring to masturbate in bed while the other three continue to fuck.
Georgia, her housemates inform Lexington, is a very uptight virgin. Not for long, if this three have anything to do with it!
That's it story-wise, but the film doesn't need much more to fill its tight 58-minute running time. The sex scenes are well lit and surprisingly tender, taking their time to unfold before reaching their reasonably well-captured money shots. In-between, we get an unexpected amount of decent acting, witty dialogue and even some artful camerawork. Made for theatrical screening, it's clear to see that Stevens had aspirations as a "serious" filmmaker and talent to go with it.
In many ways, this could be a Joe Sarno film.
Threesomes, a foray into lesbianism, some nice winking at the screen from Reems and a climactic blowjob that culminates with a huge cumshot help THE COLLEGIATES hit the spot where it matters.
The film looks soft and grainy, but reasonably bright and colourful at the same time. The picture quality improves as the film moves along. Mastered from original negative materials and sanctioned by Stevens himself, it's a fair rendering of a 37-year-old 16mm film, presented in its original 4:3 (full-frame) ratio.
English mono audio is surprisingly clean.
Next up on disc one is THE HOT OVEN (a.k.a. THE OVEN).
This stars Eric Edwards as Brad, a talented musician who spends the opening credits playing an up-tempo jaunt on the piano while getting sucked off by a female friend.
Brad shoots his load over his brunette pal's face to the sound of imaginary applause, and then receives a telephone call from his ex-girlfriend Gwen (Ginger Snaps) who asks to meet up with him. Cumming on his friend's face again, he inadvertently agrees to meeting Gwen.
Brad meets Gwen at a local pizza restaurant while chef Herbie (Jamie Gillis) scuttles a waitress in the kitchen. The upshot of all of this, if you'll pardon the pun, is that broke-for-luck musician Brad gets himself a job as a delivery man at the pizza place - which, naturally, opens doors to a whole world of sexual opportunities...
Cheery, cheap and more overtly played for laughs than THE COLLEGIATES, THE HOT OVEN is a fun but not entirely fulfilling film. The spirited performances are warm and welcoming, but Stevens' direction is more static and less inspired here.
In terms of sex, you can look forward to some interesting positions being tried out by Edwards and Snaps, while the most arresting sight is a pizza shop full of customers fucking and sucking each other.
Still, some good funky sounds on the soundtrack and the presence of the ever-reliable Edwards and Gillis ensure that this is still worth your time.
Also presented in full-frame, the picture quality on THE HOT OVEN is more faded. Although colours are generally washed out and detail is compromised by an overall softness not unlike VHS quality, it's all still perfectly watchable.
The mono audio track fares okay throughout.
Both films were available previously as part of Alpha Blue Archives' 2005 set "Cult 70s Porno Director: Carter Stevens - XXX Triple Feature". I haven't seen that disc to compare but I'd wager that the bright and relatively healthy presentations here are the better of the two.
A colourful animated main menu page opens the disc. While there are no scene-selection menus, each film can be accessed via 12 chapters (COLLEGIATES) and 9 chapters (OVEN).
The same main menu opens disc two, which is home to MOUNT OF VENUS and IN SARAH'S EYES.
MOUNT OF VENUS (a.k.a. GODS OF VENUS; THE LOVES OF VENUS) opens with rousing fanfare music, introducing us to the mount of Venus in the present day. Here, the Olympian Gods sleep and rut on clouds.
Bored, the Gods decide to look down on the Earth below and visit those in need of a better sex life. This gives Gillis a chance to flex his comedy muscles. Literally ...
Blessed with amateur dramatics, cheap and cheesy sets, and some wonderfully naff dialogue, this is the most out-and-out comedic of the films offered in this set. It also sports the most interesting cast, including Gillis, Edwards and Miss Jones herself, Georgina Spelvin - who gets top billing.
Minor FX and stagey posturing further heighten the fun to be had in this enjoyably naff piss-take. And the sex is good too.
The anamorphic 1.78:1 picture is very grainy and suffers from a fair amount of vertical lines on the screen. But, again, the wear-and-tear of age does nothing to hamper the film - on the contrary, grindhouse flicks such as this should only be seen looking as rough as this.
Rounding out this quartet of quim is 1975's IN SARAH'S EYES, a darker film that starts out looking very similar to THE COLLEGIATES - before taking a very different route, taking in elements of the supernatural and some flirtations with fetishism.
Soon-to-be-wed Sarah (Lauraine Alraune) visits her psychiatrist because she is suffering from "filthy" and "disgusting" fantasies. While they talk, she confesses that she's fantasising about sucking the doctor's cock. Suddenly the pair of them are naked and the blowjob is happening for real, complete with spooky music as Sarah's voiceover continues.
Did I mention that the psychiatrist is the infamous Marc "10 � Inch" Stevens?!
"I know it's a fantasy because it's so big!" exclaims Sarah as she blows him to a climax on her face.
Afterwards, the bespectacled Stevens asks Sarah about her housemate Jenny (Anna Livia Plurabella, who has a look of Juliette Lewis). And the seeds of unrequited lesbian lust are sown ...
From there, it's onwards with hot sex scenes and weird musical sounds as the film moves along in agreeable vignette style, throwing in the likes of Eric Edwards (again), Starr Bright and Crystal Fontaine for our viewing pleasure.
Well-shot, well-lit, well-edited and photographed, and gamely performed, IN SARAH'S EYES is a surprisingly competent film that works on a non-adult level - but also benefits tremendously from plenty of sensuous, erotic bonking.
Like VENUS, EYES is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 and looks quite worn. But it's a colourful and satisfying presentation regardless.
English mono audio on both films is problem-free.
The films on disc two can be remote-accessed via 14 chapters (VENUS) and 11 chapters (EYES).
There are some amazing extras split across the two discs.
First off, there are fun commentary tracks from Stevens on THE COLLEGIATES and MOUNT OF VENUS, moderated by Michael J Bowen. Stevens has one heck of a memory and gets quite intricate about the productions. He's fond of his casts, respectful of his crews and even spares time to share an anecdote about a noisy Jake La Motta residing in the room next to where they were filming - and no-one being brave enough to tell him to shut up! Mike Raso also chips in occasionally, ensuring along with Bowen's intelligent prompts and Steven's quick wit that this is an excellent chat track. Interestingly, another early Stevens gem - LICKITY SPLIT - is alluded to as being contained in this collection. Alas, it's not here.
New interviews have been recorded with Stevens to self-appraise each film. These were recorded in 2008 and last a total of 28 minutes, also taking time to comment upon LICKITY SPLIT and JAIL BAIT. Again, Stevens' enthusiasm and memory are of equal greatness.
A selection of original trailers for several Stevens titles follow: THE COLLEGIATES, LICKITY SPLIT, THE HOT OVEN, HIGHWAY HOOKERS, TEENAGE TWINS, PUNK ROCK, HONEYMOON HAVEN, DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE, PLEASURE PALACE and the film that many consider to be his best, ROLLERBABIES.
Finally there's an excellent 12-page booklet with colour photographs and worthy liner notes from Bowen.
Highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in 70s porn. Stevens' films are intelligent, funny and energetic. He's a gifted filmmaker with an eye for arresting visuals and a knack for eliciting warm performances from his actors. They really don't make them like this anymore - as the voiceover on the trailer for TEENAGE TWINS states, these films were "filmed for the screen with loving care by Carter Stevens".
After Hours Cinema have access to more of Stevens' films and I only hope that this sells well enough to warrant another volume in what could be one of the most essential cult DVD series' of the year.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by After Hours Cinema|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|