Director: Walt Davis
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome's latest is a trio of aggressively bizarre sexploitation works of Walt Davis on DVD (two of them for the first time).

"Man-hating, hymn-humming hellcat" Sister Sarah Jane Butler (Cleo O'Hara, THE DICKTATOR) is out to "rid the world of pleasurable sex and EVIL men" in EVIL COME EVIL GO. She seduces and butchers a string of men on the way to Hollywood – including director Walt Davis himself as "Arizona Pig Farmer" – where she meets impressionable lesbian Penny (Sandra Henderson, CITY OF SIN). Penny invites Sister Sarah to be her guest in the house her wealthy East Coast family has purchased for her – to distances themselves from her because of her "vice" – and Sarah in turn initiates Penny into "Sister Sarah's Order of the Sisters of Complete Subjugation". Penny lures a man into her bed and is horrified when Sarah murders him, but soon she is a devout follower (even promising to fund a TV pilot so Sarah can spread the word). Things become complicated, however, when Penny's lover Junie (Jane Tsentas, TEENAGE BRIDE) comes looking for her.

A blend of black comedy, softcore – although bordering hardcore in one scene – sex, and sub-H.G. Lewis splatter, EVIL COME EVIL GO is a wild watch primarily due to Cleo O'Hara's tongue-in-cheek yet scarily dedicated performance and – out of the three films on this disc – what seems to have been an actual screenplay (in the disc's interview featurette with producer Bob Chinn – director of the John Holmes "Johnny Wadd" hardcore films – recalls being inspired to make the film at a hamburger stand when he was served a burger that was not so much rare as raw). O'Hara's performance is so entertaining – one wonders if she improvised lines like "'Vengeance is mine, sayeth the lord', and I'll help!" – that it hardly matters if the film features a handful of one-take-only-no-matter-what-happens scenes and the climax that goes out with a whimper rather than bang (well, there is another one in the last scene but it's rather indifferently filmed). Hardcore/softcore actor Rick Cassidy (FANTASM COMES AGAIN) plays one of Penny's randy tenants and John Holmes himself not only has a cameo but also served as assistant director and was responsible for the film's special make-up effects. The musique concrète scoring of Dan Goodman (PANORAMA RED) also includes a theme song by Jim Wingert ("Sarah Jane, Sarah Jane, Sister Sarah, you're insane") who is presumably the hippie guitarist who appears at the beginning and end of the film.

The titular WIDOW BLUE! is young Eve Blue (Susan Wescott, BLUE MONEY) who plots with her lover Nick (Alex Elliot, TROPIC OF PASSION) – whose own "ratty" wife Elise (Sandy Dempsey, POOR CECILY) is carrying on with a lover (Rick Cassidy again) of her own – to murder her bisexual husband Jerry (director Walt Davis again). Eve has her brother Marshall (Charles Lish, THE NAKED NYMPHO) seduce Jerry and Nick plants a clever in his throat in surprisingly graphic (for a hardcore film aimed at your average XXX theater crowd) in flagrante delicto and stuff him in a coffin. While this would seem needlessly complicated (not only killing the husband during sex but also stashing a body they plan to get rid of in a coffin), that the trio then have sex on top of the coffin suggests that the motive for the crime extended beyond money. Remembering that they have to get rid of the body, Jerry and Nick drag the coffin into the living room only for Jerry's friends (John Holmes and his APHRODISIAC scene partner Andy Bellamy) show up and propose an orgy for the "grass widow" (Eve explains that Jerry has been called away on business), but one extra ill-advised quickie leads to a splattery (in a bad way) climax.

Directing as "Michael Stefans" – Davis goes all out to shock with WIDOW BLUE!'s combination of gore, necrophilia, incest, gay sex, castration, and hardcore sex; and, while not at all well-made, the film does demonstrate why Bob Chinn may have thought him a good choice to helm EVIL COME EVIL GO. The hardcore sex scenes are filmed in a rather sloppy manner, making them seem as much a gimmick as the gore rather than the raison d'etre (the obligatory orgy is only feels more like padding than additional titillation). While not particularly arousing, WINDOW BLUE! should definitely not be missed by fans of the small seventies sub-genre of horror porn along the likes of HARDGORE, Zebedy Colt's THE DEVIL INSIDE HER, and Doris Wishman's COME WITH ME MY LOVE (aka THE HAUNTED PUSSY).

Cleo O'Hara returns in OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL "DOLL" as gnarly, Hollywood has-been Gaye Ramon – a cross between Baby Jane and Norma Desmond with rats nest hair, herpes scars and yellow teeth (according to Chinn in the aforementioned interview, O'Hara knew she was past her prime, and she seems to have run with it here) – who uses her advertised acting classes as a way to find new bedmates. Her latest "student" is Buck Wilson (Billy Lane, SUPERCHARGER) – once she sends his girlfriend Virginia (Jill Sweete, THE JEKYLL AND HYDE PORTFOLIO) – who she auditions with an improvised scene from "Camille" ("Wasn't she that old whore who—") involving mutual oral sex. She has no time for would-be actresses (including DEEP JAWS' Sandy Carey and WIDOW BLUE!'s Andy Bellamy) who she turns over to director Rodney Lecoq (Keith Erickson, SUCKULA) for nude screen tests after she and they have been violated by masked robber/film buff (Alex Elliot again). While Gaye goes out – on bicycle – to get her vagina tightened in hope of getting work (apparently based on something O'Hara confided in Chinn during the making of EVIL COME EVIL GO) – Virginia makes a last ditch effort to win Buck back; and poor Gaye – apparently once considered "once the best cocksucker in the world" – learns that "Hollywood just ain't the same".

Seemingly thrown together – shooting in the same house as WIDOW BLUE!, seemingly that of one of the filmmakers since an editing bench takes up space in Rodney's bedroom – OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL "DOLL" goes out of its way to be ugly from the first close-up of Gaye lounging in bed dipping cherries in her pubic hair – and stays that way. Although the most recent of the three films, it really feels like it should have been the earliest in terms of explicit content, acting, and its thin scenario. Davis – credited here as "Walt Daviz" gives us no shock gimmick here, and it's not even as good a showcase for O'Hara as EVIL COME EVIL GO (not having seen any of his subsequent work, it's hard to tell if he toned down DOLL in the wake of the DEEP THROAT obscenity trials or if the initial enthusiasm of directing wore off after his earlier features). Although teaming with nudity and some explicit close-ups, it's not really a hardcore film and would also compare poorly to just about any other softcore pic from the same year.

Vinegar Syndrome's two-disc set features 2K-mastered transfers of all three films from their negatives. EVIL COME EVIL GO – previously released on tape by Something Weird Video and on DVD as part of their line through Image Entertainment in a triple feature with Conde's THE HAND OF POWER and TERROR AT ORGY CASTLE – is the best-looking of the three titles (if only because its production values and technical attributes are a hair above those of the other two films. WIDOW BLUE! – also known as SEX PSYCHO and previously released by Something Weird Video on VHS and DVD-R as THE DEMON IN MISS JONES – WIDOW BLUE! seems to run a bit longer than the SEX PSYCHO version if I remember correctly (I'm pretty sure the wraparound footage and credits were missing from that version). Presumably the pulsing solarization during the threesome sex scene is intentional – the splices visible during the murder scene appear to be the result of bad negative cutting since the splices also pop up when shots from the sequence are intercut into later sex scenes – but the fullscreen, progressive, anamorphic transfer probably looks as good as it can. Previously released on VHS by Something Weird Video and on DVD by After Hours Cinema – in the GRINDHOUSE TRASH COLLECTION VOLUME 3 two-disc quadruple feature under the title STAR – OH! YOU BEAUTIFUL "DOLL" looks a bit poorer, but that may be down to the original photography and overall cheapness – even by the standards of the other two films – of the production.

Vinegar Syndrome's two-disc set features EVIL COME EVIL GO and WIDOW BLUE! on the first dual-layer disc and OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL "DOLL" on a second DVD9 with a smattering of interesting extras. The most substantial is an interview with producer Bob Chinn (22:42) focusing on his memories of Davis and Manuel Conde, a Cuban refugee who got into film in Florida before making his way to Hollywood. Conde had a small filmmaking service that did sound transfers – the only one at the time to deal with crystal-sync sound for low budget films –and rented equipment (Conde's camera was a 16mm single-system Auricon but they shot with double system sound). After Chinn had finished editing the Johnny Wadd film TROPIC OF PASSION, he was going to throw away the outtakes footage, but Conde purchased it from him to make the softcore Johnny Wadd feature THE DANISH CONNECTION (which also featured O'Hara, Henderson, and Cassidy was well as onscreen appearances by Chinn and Davis). Although Chinn came up with the idea for EVIL COME EVIL GO, he was already directing another film but would produce it if Davis wore and directed (footage from a college film Chinn shot was incorporated into the opening of the film). He recalls O'Hara's personality and also describes Holmes offer to do the special make-up effects (which he concedes were crude but effective). While EVIL COME EVIL GO and OH! YOU BEAUTIFUL "DOLL" are represented here with trailers (2:25 and 3:21, respectively) – the trailer for the latter is more entertaining the entire feature and includes a couple more explicit shots than seen in the feature – disc two also includes a short selection of outtakes from WIDOW BLUE (4:30) that includes a couple hardcore glimpses, but mainly suggests that the only sequence for which the production strove to get adequate coverage was the main gore set-piece. (Eric Contenas)