A patronising female narration - think that cunt who tells us to disengage at the start of Dead Kennedys' "Plastic Surgery Disasters" album - opens the film in a small picturesque village, telling us that busy couple Elvira (Claire Wilbur) and Jack (Gerald Grant) have a "successful and stable marriage".

On the other side of the village (actually, it's filmed in what was Yugoslavia), we have naive young couple Betsy (Lynn Lowry) and Eddie (Calvin Culver).

We first meet Elvira and Jack proper in their admirable abode, recovering from a wild party held the night before. It turns out that these two are swingers of some repute - "the perfect marriage", he calls it - but they're looking for people closer to home than the usual tourists to fuck.

Betsy and Eddie are invited to dinner round at Elvira's, not knowing what they're letting themselves into - something that Elvira calls "Operation Music Box". Even an afternoon spent outdoors in skimpy attire for the benefit of Jack's camera fails to raise their suspicions.

It's not long though before Elvira has invited Betsy upstairs to her bedroom, under the pretence of learning more about Jack's profession as a photographer of erotica. This leads to indulging in amyl nitrate, and then ... the seduction of horny delivery boy Mike (Carl Parker).

Betsy watches agog as Elvira and Mike shag, ensuring the viewer wants to stick around to see this innocent become suitably corrupted in due course.

Well, you don't have to wait too long. The evening soon arrives. Elvira tends to Betsy while Jack gets to know Eddie a little better. The foursome get drunk, the foursome get naked ...

The Yugoslavian exteriors are attractive, the seventies fashions and folky music lend the film an odd charm, and director Radley Metzger's soft-focus cinematography renders the film enjoyably dated (it was shot in 1974). It's not THE ICE STORM, but it is an authentic snapshot of its era.

Performances are good for this ilk of film, as is the script (if anything, smut-seekers may find this a little too dialogue heavy). But stick with it, as the cast are good - there are times too when Lowry (I DRINK YOUR BLOOD; SHIVERS) looks astonishingly similar to Audrey Hepburn - and the slow build-up helps afford the film an air of anticipation, and consequently it becomes highly erotic.

Sex-wise, the only thing approaching hardcore content is the footage of Mike and Jack getting it on (wanking; a brief blowjob; darkened penetration). It's jarring even today to see it crop up in the final act of a largely soft-core film, so my mind boggles as to how it was received in the early 1970s. Full credit to Metzger though for trashing such taboos at the time.

The lesbian tryst between Elvira and Betsy is less explicit, but still highly evocative, and any hetero scenes are really quite tame.

The film is presented here on this uncut, uncensored DVD from Cult Epics in its 92 minute version - including several minutes of hardcore footage that was not seen in the R-Rated version. Presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer, it looks very good indeed. Despite some softness here and there, the occasional faded colours and minor print damage, this is a very reliable and accurate-seeming rendition. I'd be interested to see the blu-ray, given the nice picture quality here.

Audio is proffered in the original English 2.0 mono track and is solid throughout.

Extras begin with the excellent 18-minute Making Of Score documentary. It's essentially lots of truly involving behind-the-scenes footage that, despite being somewhat juddery, is massively appreciated. Best of all, Michael Bowen narrates over the top of it with plenty of interesting titbits about the tumultuous production. For instance, did you know that the original stage version starred Sylvester Stallone?!

Bowen is also on hand to moderate the first audio commentary track from Metzger. Bowen's something of a connoisseur of adult cinema (check out his brilliant work with After Hours on some of their DVDs) and he makes for an excellent prompter/interviewer.

Metzger, meanwhile, is an unexpectedly fluent interviewee who, once given the green light, can talk and talk. He has a great memory for minute details and is gracious throughout. I gather from posts on other forums that he's been reluctant to record commentary tracks in the past: I sincerely hope this experience changes his mind about that, as his contributions here are integral to this release - and he needs to be heard, as he is one of THE greatest living directors of vintage-era erotica.

Beyond that, we get "Keeping Score With Lynn Lowry", a rather spiffing 19-minute interview with the actress. She looks good for her age and is at ease while she talks about how she got the gig, and how she got along with Metzger on set - and how he gave her his assurance it would be a soft-core film only. There is a really interesting story raised about the tension on set caused by Lowry inadvertently blurting out the salary she was receiving - thus alienating another cast member. Watching the film with this in mind is fascinating.

It's a very well produced affair: Cult Epics get a bad rap in some quarters, but they continue to impress here.

A trailer for SCORE follows, running at a bloated 3 minutes and 38 seconds. We also get trailers for Metzger's THE LICKERISH QUARTET and CAMILLE 2000.

The disc opens up to a static main menu page, with a confrontational image of two men snogging. This leads into a static scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

Radley Metzger's SCORE deserves to be seen in its uncut form. Purists can argue for years if they like about what constitutes a definitive edition of the film, but it's enough for me to know that this particular release was overseen and approved by the man himself. A superior sexploitation film of the early 1970s, on a marvellous DVD.

Also available on blu-ray.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Cult Epics
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review