Determined to make us all go blind, but not before they've given us hairy palms, After Hours Cinema are back with another double-disc helping of yesteryear pornography. This time around, the loose linking theme is that of psychedelia. As the notes on the back cover put it, "drop a tab and get ready for an orgy of hippie lust".

Sure enough, you can almost smell the groin sweat from the moment the action starts on disc 1's first film, RAMAGE (MOBILITY CATHEXIS).

This begins with a young brunette turning up at the mysterious Porno King's apartment. He watches her over a surveillance camera and only lets her in upon her presenting a series of revealing photographs to the camera.

Once in his apartment, the girl is put through the motions by the silver-haired filmmaker. Although somewhat natural-seeming and candid, this ultimately feels cold and the "so, ya wanna be in the movies?" spiel from the director becomes discomfiting after a few minutes. I felt like I was watching the slow build-up of AMATEUR PORN STAR KILLER all over again.

This elongated opening scene is the most atmospheric of the film. The darkened, sparse set gives the film a cheap and squalid feel; the handheld camera eerily avoids capturing the filmmaker's face.

From there, the movie moves along in strange dreamlike vignettes which follow the woman in her plight for sexual fulfilment: wanking on an American flag, wanking on a beach, performing fellatio on the set of a porn film, and so on.

RAMAGE is a strange, oddly unsettling docu-drama that works despite itself. It's mercifully to-the-point (whatever that may be) at just 54 minutes in length.

THE LAST BATH is next. This 70-minute offering is billed as a "shocker" on the back cover. Perhaps the best thing about it is its well-edited, original titles at the start. It looks akin to an episode of 'Columbo'. Until ...

The male lead, seen running from a speeding car through city streets at night during the opening titles, suddenly becomes engaged in a stylishly shot threesome with two raven-haired lookers. He winces as they suck him off and ride his cock, while the softly lit compositions flirt with negative imagery every now and then. How very psychedelic!

It seems that all of this so far has been a succession of nightmares that are driving our two-dimensional lead crazy. It may be that he lives in a beach-house and has a beautiful blonde girlfriend who likes to visit on the afternoon for nookie. Or perhaps, that's just another episodic vision in our anti-hero's warped mind . Maybe it's time he gave up his job as an S&M photographer ...

In this rum mixture of PERFORMANCE and Kenneth Anger, the lead eventually ends up falling into the charms of a lesbian pair - one black, the other white - who bring him to sexual Heaven and Hell.

Portentous, patience testing but expertly shot and filled with some really hot sex scenes, THE LAST BATH is a weirdly engrossing oddity that never quite gels.

It's credited as being directed by Charles Straumer. Surely, not the cinematographer of TV series' such as 'The Untouchables' and 'Mission: Impossible'?! Boasting a surprising large crew (including original score and special effects), THE LAST BATH is technically proficient but overlong and just a bit too trippy for its own good.

Over on disc 2, the fun begins with WALTZ OF THE BAT.

Full marks for effort on this one. It opens with Coffin Joe-alike The Bat (Eric Fledermaus) taking to the wet city streets in his Top Hat and cape. He spies an attractive brunette leaving a local supermarket and promptly approaches her with a $50 note. His proposition: sex, in return for money. Funniest bit is when he disrobes to reveal a flabby torso and huge bald patch beneath the hat. Oh, and a tiny penis.

Asides to the screen are jarring, as is the fact that all the females have a wide-eyed look of drugged abandon about them. Rudimentary editing is endearing, and so are the sets that are clearly people's living rooms. But the plot - some mumbo-jumbo about a sex-hungry woman who calls herself Queen Bee ( Honey Lang), and thinks she can stop The Bat from preying on nubile girls - is not even worth considering.

Terrible, truly terrible. But, full marks for effort.

I like the fact that the final film, IT CAME FROM LOVE, also tries hard to please with a sci-fi theme.

It begins brilliantly, with a fish-faced alien called Mr Zeno being told by his off-screen superior to travel to planet Earth and bring back sexually active specimens that may save his own planet's dying population.

Cue jazzy music and cheap, tawdry images of space travel. Then we land on Earth with a literal bang, as we home in on a young couple who ignore the threat of a UFO landing nearby, and shaft each other instead.

Pubes aplenty in this typically sweaty 70s affair. The sex is fun and frantic, and you'd think the zero-budget sci-fi aspirations would add to the madness, but ... they don't, really. Against the odds, this ends up being as humdrum as most of the countless other hour-long pornos of its era.

Each film is presented uncut in new telecine transfers from original elements. Don't expect cleanliness in these 1.33:1 presentations: dirt, damage and grain abound.

English audio does its job efficiently on all four offerings - it's not great, but it's good enough for what you're watching.

Both discs open with animated main menu pages. Although none of the films have scene-selection menus, they do each have 12 chapters.

There are no extras, other than a 6-page foldout colour booklet with liner notes from the ever-reliable Michael J Bowen.

A mixed bag of films. RAMAGE is dark and arty, never seemingly embracing the audience most likely to take it on. THE LAST BATH is very stylish, clearly indebted to Anger, and difficult to negotiate. The films on disc 2 are more conventional, but no less surreal in their own right.

Will any of it turn you on? That's debatable. But this is an interesting package regardless, and After Hours Cinema must yet again be commended for their efforts.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by After Hours Cinema
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review