Director: Don Davis
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome resurrects their Drive-in Collection line with a DVD triple feature of the films of Don Davis, two of which showcase talents of Marsha Jordan.

In MARSHA: THE EROTIC HOUSEWIFE, Jordan is a blushing bride whose wedded bliss is cut short by impending motherhood. Her husband Greg (Mark Reynolds AKA Edward Blessington of THE BLUE HOUR and CAGED MEN) is understanding and supportive about the lack of sex as the due date nears but his overall interest in Marsha wanes further after the baby is born. When Greg leaves on a business trip and forgets some important papers, Marsha rushes after him to the airport only to discover him warmly greeting and taking off with his secretary Natalie (Luanne Roberts, THE JOYS OF JEZEBEL), which leads her Marsha to believe that their affair goes all the way back to when they first met Natalie and her now ex-husband George (Roger Gentry, Jordan's co-star in THE RAMRODDER) the year before on their belated honeymoon (when Greg decided to take that after midnight stroll on the beach without her). Marsha is overcome with a desire to get even, so she uses Greg's absence on his "business trips" to have flings of her own from the local bar all the way to the Vegas strip. Eventually, she realizes that she still love Greg and wants him all to herself; so her older and wiser friend Phyllis does a little scheming with the unknowing help of Harry (Marland Procter, SUPERCHICK) – husband of Marsha's friend Sue (SWAMP GIRL's Ann Perry) – who has been lusting after Marsha since grammar school and a bottle of oregano.

Despite its title, MARSHA: THE EROTIC HOUSEWIFE is more talky melodrama than softcore erotica, focusing on Marsha's marital drudgery with occasional cutaways to Greg's dalliances (as well as a sitcom-esque rush to the hospital when Marsha goes into labor) for the first forty-odd minutes and then rushing through Marsha's flings. An iconic figure in West Coast softcore filmmaking, the voluptuous Jordan looks too knowing to play such a naïve character (especially since all of the characters are approaching middle-age and think nothing of secretly recording the couple consummating their marriage as a wedding gift). The camerawork is rather static, with the location shots looking not just as if they were grabbed without a permit but as if they were stock footage from home movies, and the score of Jim and Chet Moore (who also scored the other two Davis films in this set) is just jazzy noise. The sixty-five minute running time is rather suspect, and the sex scenes are choppy with one jump cut taking us from the start to the aftermath of the first sex scene with only a single frame close-up in between, but the film would probably be only a little less dreary with more nudity and softcore groping (like the other Davis films in this set, everyone manages to roll around and have ecstatic dubbed-in orgasms without removing their underwear). Several of the film's cast members would also appear together in THE TALE OF THE DEAN'S WIFE, THE BANG BANG GANG, as well as Davis' THE GOLDEN BOX.

Dissatisfied with their current digs, Scandinavian Gracie (Heide Andersen) and her comparatively frumpy roommate Gloria (Sharon Sanford) scan the newspaper and find a listing for an apartment complex informally known as "The Swingers' Arms" which is affordable and caters solely to single swinger tenants. Apartment manager Ruth is really touchy-feely, and the girls learn from sleazy "welcoming committee" Artie and David that Ruth gets off on peeping and has even been known to let tenants slide on late rent if she enjoys the show. Slutty Connie is jealous of the attention the two new girls. After a session in a vibrating chair with Ruth, Connie is man-starved and turns to her little black book (i.e. the white pages) before eventually dragging a drunken neighbor off the sidewalk. Gloria goes up to Artie's apartment to see his etchings, but Gracie wants more from David (and he'll say anything to get her into bed). Gracie is uneasy about the non-stop partner swapping going on around her – which she believes has turned love from a "tender emotion" into a "dirty, smelly game" – but she is under the delusion that David is different. Gloria lending their apartment to unhappy newlywed/former swinger Ann and her boyfriend (at the same time Artie lends his place to Ann's husband Jim and his girlfriend) and getting herself invited up to Ruth's apartment for drinks, while David and Artie are welcoming newcomer Billie to the neighborhood make the perfect storm for Gracie's disillusionment and devastation.

FOR SINGLE SWINGERS ONLY is longer on nudity and sex scenes than MARSHA: THE EROTIC HOUSEWIFE with more variety of performers (Connie is particularly fetching as she jiggles on the vibrating platform in the complex's gym), but it's still rather tepid stuff. Davis shoots quick and dirty (in terms of style rather than content). Gloria actually refers to another character as Gloria and Gracie's accent is so thick it is hard to make out some of her narration to the camera or voiceovers, and her overall stiff acting makes her emotional breakdown during the climax all the funnier. FOR SINGLE SWINGERS ONLY does boast quite the WTF ending as the other residents physically transform (as seen from Gracie's paranoid point-of-view).

Jordan – billed as "Marsh Jordan" – returns in HER ODD TASTES as Chris, a (somewhat) young woman who has been having an incestuous affair with her sister Lisa (Capri, THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD). No longer able to stand the whispers of the locals and the condemnation of the rest of her family, Chris decides to head to the city and start a new life. She takes a job as a saleswoman for a vibrator company and using her body to demonstrate the inventory, but she admits that it is really just an easy way to satiate her libido. She finds an excellent regular lover in medical researcher Charles who has been traveling the world researching ultimate pleasure. He proves to be an excellent lover until he takes their games to far and pulls a knife on her in the act. In the ensuing struggle, she accidentally stabs him and takes off into the night in only a raincoat. She is picked up by John (Mike Perry, SADDLE TRAMP WOMEN) who lends a sympathetic ear and then offers to go back to Charles' house and clear up traces of her presence before the body is discovered. He comes back with Charles' journal and they discover that he had actually been researching the intersection pain and pleasure, and that he had been using Chris as part of an experiment. Chris casually disagrees with Charles' studies and suggests that the ultimate pleasure is pleasure itself (or something along those lines…) John, who it turns out is a publisher, offers to fund a trip for Chris to retrace Charles' research to prove him wrong and come back with evidence of the ultimate pleasure.

Chris heads to Hong Kong (cue stock footage) in search of a prostitute who aided Charles' research there but is unable to find her. She does, however, find a brothel madam (Sandra Wing) who shows her an ancient Chinese aphrodisiac (which looks like heroin) and gives her an oil massage. Somehow, this turns out to be "too much" for Chris and she heads to South Africa where charming Tom (Steve Vincent, DRIVE-IN MASSACRE) invites her to a masquerade and makes her the drugged centerpiece of a Satanic orgy. After the guests have had their way with her, they drop her off in the middle of nowhere, which turns out to be the camp of hunter Tim O'Sullivan (Byron Clark, DEEP JAWS). O'Sullivan has no use for women until he spies her seducing his son Mark – to help get over his private school trauma of making a move on a girl who turned out be a boy – and then wants his own turn. Chris finally travels to Tunisia (more stock footage) where she has heard of a Sheik who might share her "odd pleasures."

Like the other films, HER ODD TASTES is shot on the cheap but with a little more effort including a bit more color in the threadbare sets, slightly more mobile photography (courtesy of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT's Henning Schellerup, whose career alternated between wholesome Sunn Classics documentaries and sexploitation), and a more diverse score by Jim and Chet Moore. Jordan bares it all constantly for the camera, but there's usually a barrier between her and her sexual partners like boxers or a blanket (although her two coy bookending masturbation scenes and her incestuous encounter manage a bit of heat). Chris' odd tastes are rather pedestrian, with the Satanic gang bang taking the form of a static shot in which our view of the action is occluded by Tom's robed figure in the center foreground (not unlike the CGI obstructions of EYES WIDE SHUT's R-rated version). This one has another downbeat WTF ending in which sex in a recliner is the least ludicrous aspect. These three films are pretty dull next to the more imaginative or innovative stuff Sarno and Metzger were doing around the same time (or even the cruder, dirtier stuff of Mahon, the Findlays, and the Amero brothers). They are, however, deserving of preservation, and Vinegar Syndrome has apparently done the best with what is available.

All three films were previously released on VHS and DVD-R by Something Weird Video, and FOR SINGLE SWINGERS ONLY was released by SWV and Image Entertainment on a DVD double bill with FREE LOVE CONFIDENTIAL. The sources for the three progressive, fullscreen (1.33:1) transfers here are 2K scans of the director's own personal prints which are in variable condition with scratches, a couple dialogue-dropping splices, and soundtracks with rare buzzy passages. The not always accurate IMDb lists a seventy-three minute running time for MARSHA: THE EROTIC HOUSEWIFE, and – as mentioned above – it does appear that material is missing from the sixty-five minute version here. SWV's DVD of FOR SINGLE SWINGERS ONLY was not available for comparison at the time, but Casey Scott's review of that disc says the source "with some print jumps eliminating dialogue near the opening of the film and instances of lines" which is true of the print used here. The oldest of the three films HER ODD TASTES is actually the best-looking of the three in terms of print preservation and consistent quality of the image and audio. There are no extras, but the disc is pretty packed with the three features alone. A nice addition to the February bundle, but not an essential purchase individually (although it is appropriately priced for the curious). (Eric Cotenas)