CINDERELLA 2000 (1977)
Director: Al Adamson
RetroSeduction Cinema/POP Cinema

After softcore was declared dead with the arrival of hardcore, a surprise hit popped up at the box office in Bill Osco’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND. This funny, sexy spoof featured lovely Kristine DeBelle encountering various sexy incarnations, and though it is notorious today for its boring hardcore version (containing shots not approved or shot by Osco) which was released several years later, it was the superior softcore version that raked in the cash in 1976. Naturally, producers saw paydirt in transforming other children’s’ stories and fairy tales into adults-only exploitation features. The same year that Charles Band unleashed the essential CINDERELLA, starring the late great Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith, Al Adamson and Sam Sherman tried to tackle the same fairy tale, setting it in the future and showing inspiration from George Lucas’ blockbuster STAR WARS. Of the two, Band made a film to be proud of. Adamson and Sherman should have been embarrassed at what they released to an unsuspecting public.

In the year 2047 (so what if the film is titled CINDERELLA 2000?), the world has been taken over by an authoritarian government that forbids sexual activity, due to population overgrowth. Surrounded by this oppressive atmosphere is Cindy, a dirt-covered maid living with her heavily-accented German stepmother and two stepsisters (a nasty white girl and a surprisingly nice black girl). While crooning a tune about Cinderella after reading a fairy tale book, she is visited by an intergalactic Fairy Godfather, who introduces her to the art of making love by transforming woodland animals into humans in tights and giant masks who grind crotches and perform a musical number. Ugh… As this repulsive sequence takes place, an obnoxious robot named Roscoe is abducting copulating couples to be government sexual surrogates of sorts to perform approved sex acts. Cindy finds love with Tom Prince, the most sexually virile man on the planet who is losing interest in having government-sanctioned sex, but can their love overcome the Magnificent One’s rules and regulations?

Two years before, Adamson and Sherman teamed to produce the excruciatingly bad BLAZING STEWARDESSES, and if you didn’t like that one, you most certainly will loathe CINDERELLA 2000. Neither man knows how to make a comedy; that is one of the many faults to be found in this misfire. Where do I begin? This one may sound like a fun, tongue-in-cheek drive-in cult classic, but it falls far short of any potential entertainment value. It takes a dreadful director to transform the sultry Catherine Erhardt, so memorable as the doomed lead in Jonas Middleton’s masterpiece THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS and the catalyst for a sick revenge plot in DOUBLE EXPOSURE OF HOLLY, into a hollow heroine sleepwalking through her performance. Sure, she looks gorgeous when attending the ball, but it’s apparent she isn’t having much fun here. She emigrated from New York, where she performed using a sex double in the aforementioned hardcore films (as well as Armand Weston’s excellent mystery EXPOSE ME LOVELY), to California to appear as the star of this production, but she must have been suitably embarrassed by this notable drop down in quality of roles offered to her, as she never made another film. For a musical, the songs are quite terrible and not at all memorable, but thankfully aren’t too frequent. Where the film does rarely exceed is in the production values, namely the quite lavish sets with many bright colors and futuristic costumes and hairdos adorned by the cast. Adamson would redeem himself with the mildly entertaining NURSE SHERRI the following year, another clean rip-off of more popular films, but it’s notable that even Adamson’s biographer David J. Konow swiftly glossed over this mess in his book Schlock-O-Rama!. For the definitive fairy tales for adults, seek out the softcore ALICE IN WONDERLAND and the obscure, but brilliant Charles Band version of CINDERELLA, both of which feature unique tunes, a great sense of humor, and two leading ladies with well-deserved cult followings. Avoid CINDERELLA 2000 unless you’re a completist of Adamson’s particular brand of boring trash.

To add insult to injury, the transfer provided by producer Sam Sherman for this DVD release not only looks like a tape master, with visible video noise, but after opening credits in 2.35:1 proclaiming the film’s photography in Todd-AO widescreen, the rest of the film is in cropped fullscreen! Additionally, the second version of the film, with added soft sex inserts, is fullscreen as well, cropping off the nudity that completists would want preserved in the original widescreen photography. Those who do like this film will be sorely disappointed at the DVD transfers seen here. From a company like RetroSeduction, responsible for consistently good-looking Hi-Def anamorphic transfers of the films of Joe Sarno, it’s disappointing to see that this much-delayed disc doesn’t at least present the films in definitive versions. Perhaps the film would be ripe for reappraisal if viewed in its original aspect ratio…?

In addition to the aforementioned European version of CINDERELLA 2000, with added softcore sex scenes inserted somewhat randomly, Sam Sherman returns for another audio commentary. Thankfully, he bypasses the oft-repeated stories of his history with Al Adamson and launches immediately into the influences on the making of the film, casting Catherine Erhardt, all elements of production, including the musical score, garish costume design, the stupid robot character, and the alternate versions of the film (FUTURE SEX and the European cut). An alternate credits title shows the title card for FUTURE SEX, and an Al Adamson trailer vault includes previews for all of RetroSeduction’s Adamson discs in addition to a trailer for FIVE BLOODY GRAVES. Could this one be next on the plate for POP Cinema? If it is, I would advise the company to do one-up on the previously-released Brentwood disc and restore the film in widescreen! The best supplement of the disc is the liner notes booklet with a conversation between writer Chris Poggiali and Adamson biographer David J. Konow. (Casey Scott)