Director: Carlos Tobalina
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome's latest Peekarama release gives us another pairing from the inexhaustible Carlos Tobalina

In CARNAL HAVEN, Drs. Klein (Sharon Thorpe, TAPESTRY OF PASSION) and Wasserman (Ken Scudder, BABY ROSEMARY) instruct dissatisfied couples that a good fucking is the healthiest way to relieve tension. Richard (John Leslie, FEMMES DE SADE) and Leslie (Leslie Bovee, STARLET NIGHTS) – both unconvincingly aged by streaking their hair gray – are considering divorce over his wandering eye and her alcoholism. Despite the popular belief that black couples are happier since they have more kids, Pat (Desiree West, SEXWORLD) has lost that loving feeling for her husband (Dashile Miguele, DEEP STROKE) since she works long hours and is not about to fund his purchase of the Cadillac he needs to be a more effective pimp. Joey (Joey Silvera, PURELY PHYSICAL) – who has been obsessed with anal sex since his five year prison stint – isn't satisfying his girlfriend (Annette Haven, DEEP TANGO) who wants him to get the sort of job that will not put him behind bars again. Bob (Turk Lyon, EROTIC ADVENTURES OF CANDY) is fed up with his wife Olivia (Bonnie Holiday, HOT LUNCH) spending his money carelessly. She is turned off by his smoking and her hairspray is a turn-off for him. Among the lessons the doctors provide – in the form of a group orgy – is the stimulation of the clitoris by the male with the "Inca Knot" technique, while male pleasure can be prolonged by vaginal contraction exercises known as the "Gypsy Grip". The couples depart for a little homework which not only solves their domestic issues but also opens them up to more experiences including homosexual ones (between women, naturally).

The poster for CARNAL HAVEN states "Sharon has the 'Gypsy Grip'… Big John knows the 'Inca Knot'". While John Leslie learns the "Inca Knot" here, it is probably likely that Tobalina had John Holmes in mind for a part, presumably the male doctor (as such, Scudder is given little to nothing to in terms of acting or sex). As with Tobalina's THE ULTIMATE PLEASURE, a good fucking is the healthiest way to release tension while smoking, alcohol, junk food, and environmentally harmful products like hairspray (in this case) are tools of manipulation and distraction by those with a prudish or fanatical religious agenda. The whole semi-instructional format might be tiresome – despite the number of attractive and thoroughly uninhibited familiar cast members – if Tobalina didn't seem to naively sincere in his message. Production value is not extravagant but quite cozy, the photography (as "fotographed" by Tobalina himself) is crisp and colorful, and the library music is varied but better chosen than in some of Tobalina's other films.

In HER LAST FLING, Sandy (Sandy Pinney, LONG JEANNE SILVER) learns from her doctor that she has an unlabeled terminal disease and will die soon. He tells her that medical science has done all it can (even though he won't actually have the test results for another couple weeks). Rather than feel sorry for herself, Sandy decides to cash in her rainy day fund and do everything she would never have done before. After becoming the darling of the San Francisco orgy scene – attended by the likes of Paul Thomas (DRACULA SUCKS), Desiree West (TAPESTRY OF PASSION), Kristine Heller (THE ULTIMATE PLEASURE), and Candida Royalle (HOT & SAUCY PIZZA GIRLS) – Sandy buys a Bicentennial Cadillac and heads to Vegas to gamble, blowing hundreds of dollars at a time in between more orgies (attended by many of the same people). Sex with multiple partners becomes less fulfilling when she finds herself falling for a man who is rich, handsome, kind, and well-hung. She gently fends off his overtures for something more, offering only her car since she will not need it much longer. In fact, she's due back in San Francisco for her test results to see just how little time she has left.

As with Tobalina's other films, his lead actress here is pretty but thoroughly wooden (at her best when staring soulfully into the distance and speaking in voice-over) while equally attractive performers with more acting ability are relegated to the background (although, to be fair, many of them probably care more about the check than their actual screen time or quality of the role). That the dramatic scenario is just a hook for a string of sex scenes is a given, but the series of orgies here are rather lackadaisically covered with emphasis on disembodied genitals (I'm not even sure if Sandy actually has any sex in this film, if she's doubled, or if Tobalina has simply cut away to another orgy couple). John Holmes appears here as an anonymous orgy participant in shots that could have come from another film or a separate shoot shoehorned in here without fanfare. Actress Sharon Thorpe does not appear in the film, but she is credited as production manager.

Both progressive, anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen encodes are derived from 2K scans of the original 35mm camera negatives, and they look far better than some of the transfers of the more prestigious porn golden age titles. They are as sharp and as soft as the original photography, with higher grain in underexposed areas (with Tobalina trying to minimize this with generally flat lighting). The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks are unimpressive, but that is probably down to the original mixes. The only extras are trailers for the two films (3:41 and 3:38, respectively). (Eric Cotenas)