Four films split across two discs, all for the price of one DVD. These After Hours folk know how to sell a package

This time around the package in question is devoted to four softcore sex films from the cusp of the decade that would later bring hardcore to the mainstream in the guise of DEEP THROAT, BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR and more.

Disc one presents the films SPLENDOR IN THE SACK and A TASTE OF HONEY.

SPENDOR opens with middle-aged Englishman Mr Robbins checking into a Plaza Motel room with a redheaded hooker. He rings his wife to explain he needs to stay in town overnight to "work", then gets it on with the young filly.

A lengthy softcore episode follows, in which the pair fuck and suck each other in carefully considered positions that never give too much away. Set to slow jazzy music, this hirsute display goes on for some time.

Then we jump to a country house, where frustrated Mrs Robbins confides in her housemaid about how neglected she feels. The woman, sporting a bigger barnet that Amy Winehouse's, then proceeds to pleasure herself on her bed. When the maid returns to walk in on this, she naturally joins in.

Eventually Mr Robbins returns. And when he stumbles across his wife getting up to no good with the maid, what else can he do but get a bit of the action himself. But at what cost?

SPLENDOR is an ironic title if anything, as the sex in this film is energetic but unrewarding if the post-coital exchanges are anything to go by. Just witness Mr Robbins' frank dismissal of the hooker at the end of the first coupling, followed by her bored resignation as she lights up a ciggie and waits to be paid.

Cynical, downbeat and unattractively shot, it's a curiously slow and ugly film.

HONEY is much more enjoyable, kicking off with small-time hoods Ned and Malcolm pinching someone's wallet in the street then scarpering to a nearby brothel.

There, the terrible twosome requests the services of a flame-haired, bespectacled virgin. Taking her to a room upstairs, Ned encourages younger friend Malcolm to deflower her first, then gives her a bit of rough-loving himself.

When they return downstairs, Ned is incensed to discover the brothel's Madame is charging $300 for their fun. He pulls out a gun and insists on getting his money's worth. Cue more bonking as the boys go through the remaining skanks.

Poor acting, natural lighting and a script that belongs in one of Harry Novak's less reputable films are the main ingredients of HONEY. It's redeemed somewhat by a punchy pace and a witty pay-off that sorts out the otherwise mean-spirited tone.

Disc two's first offering is SWEETS FOR THE SUITE. This is the lightest of the four films, and therefore the most agreeable.

Opening with yet another bespectacled redhead, this one's a receptionist at a publishing office. She tidies her boss' desk and comes across his discarded porno mag. Flicking the pages open, she lights a cigarette and then begins to fondle herself. Unsurprisingly, a customer enters the office and offers to give her a helping hand. Conveniently, he even has a vibrator with him!

However, when boss Mr Stein returns, he sacks the receptionist on the spot. Which means he has to start interviews for her replacement - and you can guess how each female applicant tries to impress the slowly liberated, middle-aged fellow

Some game comedy performances, an appearance from a young Judy Angel and a spot of lively lesbianism distinguish this one.

Finally we have $100 WIFE, in which two men tell their respective wives that they have to go away to Las Vegas on business together. In actual fact, they've got a date with a pimp who's lined up some tarts for their delectation.

After the initial "farewell fucking" given to each wife, the men set off on their sexcapades - only to be coincidentally reunited with their wives when the inevitable twist-of-fate story conceit comes into play. More softcore rutting brings things to an amicable close.

All four films are extremely amateurish in execution, employing natural lighting and 'sets' that are clearly the homes of people involved. As with previous After Hours releases, listen out for added music on the soundtrack (some of which will be familiar to AH regulars).

The softcore elements of each film are similar in that they still allow for lengthy scenes of lovemaking to unfold, much of which is so impassioned that it's easy to believe that these guys are not simulating their fun.

Both discs open with animated main menu pages that offer individual access to each film, or the opportunity to select the "Grind It!" option. Predictably this lets you view both films per disc as single double-bill entities (complete with intermission trailers - the full "Grindhouse" experience, in other words).

I watched the films by selecting each of them individually. Although there are no scene-selection menus on offer, they each have the following number of chapters: SPLENDOR (5 chapters), HONEY (6 chapters), SWEETS (7 chapters), WIFE (6 chapters).

Each film is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 and looks understandably rough. Specks and hair mingle with occasional grain in these late 60's/early 70's relics. However, images are surprisingly bright and colour saturation is never an issue. They may not be "clean" presentations, but they're perfectly watchable. WIFE is the weakest of the lot, with an abundance of vertical lines throughout.

English mono audio is provided for each film and, although very quiet at times (most notably on disc one), it remains relatively problem-free.

The only extras are 8 trailers on disc two (including such titles as A TOUCH OF GENIE and BEYOND THE BUSTY STAGS), and a good fold-out 6-page booklet with liner notes from The After Hours Collector.

Back when women were hairy and men's tattoos were all stretched and green-looking, these films almost literally smell of sweat and nicotine - even on shiny disc. Despite their lack of hardcore content, the spirited and realistic sex may pleasantly surprise some.

A niche market, for certain - but for those with a penchant for this type of fare, this double-disc package is a bargain of obscure storefront madness.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Secret Key
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review