Director: Roger Guermantes
Vinegar Syndrome

Blue-balled Jack and frigid Jill go up to the house on the hill for some DARK DREAMS courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome.

"Just married," and on the road to their honeymoon destination, Jack (Harry Reems, BUTTERFLIES) is frustrated that his virginal wife Jill (Tina Russell, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MISS SEPTEMBER) still will not put out. When their car has a flat in the middle of nowhere, they are forced to seek help at a creepy old mansion inhabited by a kindly old lady (Patrice De Veur). What they do not know is that she is a sorceress of black magic who drugs their tea in order to involve them in "lewd and fantastic rites" to call upon devils and demons to do her bidding. Whereas Jack dives headlong into sexual exploration with the sorceress magically-transformed younger self (Suzy Mann, THE ALTAR OF LUST), a whip-cream sucking nymph (Laura Cannon, FORCED ENTRY), and a black oil masseuse (June Dulu, SEX USA), Jill resists both heterosexual and homosexual overtures (the latter from NAKED CAME THE STRANGER's Darby Lloyd Rains). The sorceress promises Jack his choice of a thousand sexual pleasures if he will give over his cold fish of a wife. Jack has to think it over with a few more bedroom romps but the sorceress and her cultist cohorts are already preparing bride Jill to consummate her marriage to someone or something else.

Produced fairly early in the golden age of adult cinema, DARK DREAMS seems half underground art film and half softcore sex film that seems to almost flinch away from its shots of penetration, running as hot and cold as Russell's bride. Running just under seventy-five minutes, it might have worked better had it tried to make more of the supernatural menace. The "it's all a dream or is it?" finale would be right at home in just about any more straightforward ROSEMARY'S BABY-inspired horror film, and one-and-done presumably pseudonymous director Roger Guermantes does achieve the occasional frisson with Russell suitably frightened as she wanders the house and runs into hooded cultists, and the film ultimately has its place in the porn-horror subgenre. Far more interesting is the film's experimental accompaniment which turns whispers, slurping, snorting, tearing cloth, and other noises into score, making the onscreen sex seem more unwholesome than it actually is. There is also a nice folksy song accompanying the opening and closing credits called "Travel Bye" by one Bill Dean that makes one wish that the film had done more with its premise and its exploitative aspects.

Restored in 2K from the original 35mm camera negative, DARK DREAMS' non-anamorphic 1.33:1 fullscreen image looks spotless, crisp, and colorful for long stretches with only some opticals and reel changes showing a bit more wear (along with possibly some scratches and marks that occurred in-camera). The Dolby Digital 2.0 is also relatively clean with dialogue always audible while the oddball score might make you more likely to turn down the volume than any of the moaning and groaning. The sole extra is the film's theatrical trailer (2:36). (Eric Cotenas)