Sex, Sin & Salvation

Sex, Sin & Salvation

As a young lad one of my pleasures was curling up on a Saturday with a pint of tea and kicking back with the weekly double dose of noir stylee black & white movies on BBC2 TV. Mostly it was the gangster stuff or the occasional Universal classic but on the odd rare occasion you would find some borderline exploitation fun. A year or so ago, my interest was rekindled when channel 4 (I think) screened the movie/documentary 'Sex and Buttered Popcorn' where veteran Ned Beatty passionately reminisced about those old exploitation gems. I was soon to be more pleased when VCI announced to release a whole line of these vintage gems, and most excitedly in my beloved double bill format - time to get the kettle on then...

'Sex, Sin & Salvation' is the second volume of this collection from VCI and a bundle of fun it is too. Two old exploitation rarities, cleaned up and remastered - packaged with trailer reels, poster gallery and a couple of vintage 'nudie cutie' shorts to round things off nicely.

First up in the support slot is 'Mad Youth', a somewhat bewildering and slightly misleading tale of crazy youth hell-bent on sneaking out late at night and doing the jitterbug, yes dancing! And what crazy cat dancing it is too, though to be honest the kids here are so clean cut that Archie and Richie Rich wouldn't come to harm in their company (though some ferocious car necking is on display!) The real seediness in this tale actually comes from one of the (ahem) teen girls mother who is using escort agencies to find men to take to her bridge parties! Mother and daughter soon come to conflict when mom's date 'the count' takes a shine to her dance crazy daughter whilst mom is keen to pay him for some extra hours activities! Her daughter has her own problems though as her jitterbugging chum gets onto bother which leads to perilous prostitution rings and more... 'Mad Youth' is a reasonable warm up movie that has many unintentional laughs and is a solid if somewhat weak exploitation find. The print here although restored and remastered takes a while to settle and is a tad wobbly early in the proceedings. That said though, the film is so old and obscure that VCI and Kit Parker films would have been hard pushed to do much better.

But it is the second film here that truly is the main event, 'She Should'a Said No' (aka 'Wild Weed') is an exploitation gem that rates up there with dizzying classics like 'Reefer Madness' et al. Here we meet a young clean living girl who is working as a dancer to help pay her kid brothers way through college. But the local drug dealer (who trawls the back stage for business) has his eye on her and soon snares her into his seedy way of life. Using the premise of a party (well, there's five folk there?!) were everyone's laughing themselves senseless under the influence of smoking dope (or 'tea' and 'tomatoes' as it's called here!), our poor heroine is pressured in to taking a drag, then another and another until she swiftly gets hooked into the cannabis way of life - helping her new dealer boyfriend organise similar dope parties and so on. Stoned degeneracy ensues until her morally heavy little brother shows up on the scene, affronted and horrified by what he finds he looks to try save his sister but things go horribly wrong....

There are many things about 'Should'a Said No' that make it a highly enjoyable viewing experience. The film leads off in a very film noir style with impressive production values and solid delivery throughout. The drug squad coppers are very much in the 'untouchables' mould ala the old gangster classics (although I was pleading for the chief to spark up one of the joints he was fondly rolling in his fingers at the beginning!) The whole set piece of our heroine being pressured into trying a joint for the first time is classic stuff also, as she takes each drag you really believe she's getting completely stoned out of her tree! (Well in real life she did indeed get arrested at a dope party with Robert Mitchum!) In fact the whole delivery of the dope dealing is highly entertaining, especially the cut shots of the various deals going down. Indeed the film as a whole is top notch entertainment that will no doubt appeal to many quarters of the genre movie fan camp, In particular film noir and exploitation fans will find it very satisfying and those of you that like to partake in the occasional joint will be chuckling heartily throughout the films proceeding.

The print on show here is astounding, for a film made back in 1949 I doubt it has ever looked so good - even on it's original release! The remastering work has delivered a perfect presentation with a strong sharp image and good clear audible audio throughout. VCI and Kit Parker Films should be heartily congratulated for the fine work they have done with this exemplary presentation.

Elsewhere on the disc we have two fun 'nudie cutie' shorts - the first being 'Your Pin Up Girl' where some bored looking dancing girls tap their way round this reels particular spotlight babe. Then we get 'We Still Don't Believe It', where a grinning sword swallower does some amusing jiggles with some blades and a snake! Both these shorts are ideal half time viewing in-between the two main features and will bring a wry smile to the most po-faced of viewers. Both films are exactly the sort of flicks that you would imagine Ernie Bilko would have been screening to his jeering wide eyed platoon for a nickel a pop! Rounding things off there's a decent enough trailer reel which in fact covers VCI's catalogue rather than the films screened here and there's a cool gallery of old rare exploitation promo sheets.

'Sex, Sin & Salvation' is a cracking package and a damn fine presentation from VCI that should be of interest to those of you that have any interest in this particular genre. I loved it and look forward to checking out further entries in this series. A great value package that is worth purchasing for 'She Should'a Said No' alone, but with all the other features you're getting a great value package! Check it out!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by VCI
Not Rated - Region 0 NTSC
Running time - approx 154 mins
Ratio - original fullscreen (black & white)
Extras :
'Nudie Cutie' shorts, Trailer reel and Still gallery