There has been somewhat of a glut of movies from 88 Films so called ‘Grindhouse collection’ arriving at SGM towers recently. Their commitment to resurrect Full Moon’s video tape catalogue from two or three decades back is fair enough. But one thing that suddenly struck me is why 88 Films insist in promoting these light hearted flesh laden Sci Fi turkeys as ‘Grindhouse’. The opening ‘Menu screens’ are routinely complimented with the blemished effects and scratchy sounds which are surely more appropriate to celluloid from the 1970’s and 80’s doing the 42nd Street cinema circuit than tapes entering domestic front loading video recorders of the 90’s aren’t they? Anyway, contradictions aside, it’s onto the main feature...

The narrative focuses on Daria (Elizabeth Cayton) and Tisa (Cindy Beal) who start the movie incarcerated in an intergalactic yet primitive prison. Chained to the floor a few feet below ground level, their plight seems hopeless until Daria inexplicably conjures her reserves of superhuman strength and stretches open the thick steel links of the shackles as if they were mere rubber. (Cheap as chips set designs have their advantages I guess!)

After the ‘polarity’ on their detaining cuffs is ‘reversed’ courtesy of using the cells power supply, the girls ascend to freedom! Or so they think...

Their hasty escape using a hotwired space craft is doomed and they soon find themselves crashing down into another foreign jungle ridden planet.

It is here one by one they wonder into the fortress of Zed (Don Scribner). His domain was once owned by Space Pirates and is conspicuously decorated with various stuffed beasts or hunting trophies to be more precise.

They are apparently not the first space-shipwreck victims to accept his seemingly generous hospitality. Shayla (Brinke Stevens) and Rik (Carl Horner) have been house guests for quite a while, but something doesn’t quite add up.

That ‘something’ is the fact that their noble host Zed is in fact a bit of a loon, a few hairs short of a Wookie if you will, and as such plans on using his well-kept guests as game for his, erm, game...

With the odds being stacked against them, and with a choice of wardrobe limited to skimpy or swimwear, Daria and Tisa have to fight for their freedom – again!

I get the impression SGFBI is one of those examples whereby the title is more memorable than the actual movie itself! That said, when I sat down braced for a potentially mind numbing 71 minutes I was actually surprised to find there were some redeeming qualities.

The location for a start was of a far higher calibre then I expected. Yes you can nit-pick at a couple of examples of wafer thin set designs but overall I thought Zed’s lavish lair was pretty impressive. Where you would normally expect camera to home in on the main characters allowing for snippets of set in the background, SGFBI actually employed some long range shots capturing the Mayan shaped fortress in all its extravagance.

Zed’s robotic minions were also fairly competent. Ok the exaggerated shoulder designs were a little ridiculous but the consistent ‘whir’ sounds of their mechanical joints when they moved at least added an element of realism to a largely nonsensical movie.

The effects were obviously achieved with rudimentary laser images overlaid in post-production. But again some novel ideas were employed such as the holographic ‘musical instrument’ Zed played to entertain his enslaved guests in certain scenes. Ok it wasn’t exactly George Lucas’s ILM at work but it was still a positive all the same. There was even time for a bit of tongue in cheek social commentary with the controversial subject of blood sports and the question of who the real animals are arising. But any attempts to raise the level of intelligence of the picture was easily undone with infantile dialogue such as "If you two get yourselves killed – you’ll have me to answer to!" Mmmmmm...

Due to the attention paid to the movies aesthetic, I would suggest SGFBI was indeed a notch above your average erotic Sci Fi flick to debut on Video Home System magnetic tapes. But rather worryingly is the 71 minute runtime. I don’t own an alternative disc to compare, but a rudimentary look about at previous releases revealed Cult Video’s ‘Collectors Edition’ DVD clocking in at 80 minutes. I am not sure if we are looking a censorship issue here as such, but it’s my duty to make folk aware of such things!

That said, even with the relatively diminutive run time, I still couldn’t help myself from having regular peeks at the timer on my player just to check how much longer I had to endure!

The picture and audio had no obvious issues. Both were clear throughout and the aspect ratio of 4:3 was in keeping with its VHS roots.

Despite my earlier references to 88 Films crude cash in on current ‘Grindhouse vogue’, one criticism that cannot be levelled at them is being miserly with their Bonus Material. This disc is another fine example of providing fans of this unique subgenre value for their hard earned buck.

For a start, the ‘EXTRAS’ section kicks off with another full feature by Ken Dixon, courteously titled FAMOUAS T & A. Hosted by Sybil Danning, this 1982, 74minute documentary takes us on a tour of "famous personalities who have displayed their seductive charms for the camera". As much as Danning tries to bring a bit of respectability to proceedings with her opening gambit, with a title like that the words ‘bolted’ and ‘horse’ spring to mind!

Sybil cringingly toils with the cue cards and her oversized golden sword as she introduces clip after seedy clip of previous unseen nudie footage from exploitation flicks and their outtakes. Phyllis Davis (Sweet Sugar) kicks things off before we get the chance to ogle Ornella Muti (Princess Aura from 1980’s Flash Gordon) with her baps out among others. There is even footage of Brigitte Bardot getting slapped about a bit if the aforementioned topless wonders are not enough!

A STILLS GALLERY lasting 71 seconds mainly exhibits antiquated video covers from the original release before the FULL MOON trailer park and the original trailer completes the package.

I dare say anyone who has affection for this kind of thing may already have the movie on a Region 1 disc. Considering bonus movie in the Extras I would usually say this is well worth it. But considering the run time, I have to say proceed with caution...

Review by Marc Lissenburg

Released by 88 Films
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review