Director: Carlos Tobalina
Vinegar Syndrome

Carlos Tobalina's directorial debut INFRASEXUM is a treatise on impotency with hippies, gore, and gratuitous stock footage.

Unable to perform sexually with his wife (Marsha Jordan, LADY GODIVA RIDES AGAIN), middle-aged businessman Peter Allison (Errof Lynn) takes his therapist's advice and disassociates himself from his business – leaving it in the care of his secretary and his late father's trusted partner – as well as his wife and children. Buying a used car, he heads to Las Vegas with the goal of blowing fifty thousand dollars before taking his life but hits a winning streak. Returning to Los Angeles with two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, Peter decides not to return to his wife and live in anonymity instead. He makes the acquaintance of "character" Carlos (director Carlos Tobalina) who rents him a rundown pad and introduces him to hippies, grass, and free love; unfortunately, he can only watch. When he tells Carlos his secret, the other man – motivated as much by Peter's bankroll as his own sympathy – tries to help him recover his sex drive with hippie chicks, volunteers from the "Charitable Sex Society", and even volunteers himself to see if Peter is gay. When all of his encounters end the same way – with Carlos more than willing to take over – Peter contemplates either committing suicide or learning to live a sexless existence.

Shot in 1969, INFRASEXUM may indeed have some real sex but it is not photographed from the later de rigueur camera angles, and yet it is actually a bit more interesting because of its need to fill out the running time without roaming in the nether regions of its performers. Tobalina seems like the only enthusiastic participant, and one can imagine that his auditioning of the Charitable Sex Society girls may have been exactly how he auditioned newcomers in later years. In place of the usual lengthy hardcore interludes is some softcore groping interspersed with a lot of filler (not exactly stock footage since Tobalina and Lynn are seen onscreen) of hippie happenings, nightclubs (with undercranked shots of frenzied dancers), Lynn wandering some of the lesser-filmed but atmospheric rundown Los Angeles haunts, and a surprisingly violent episode in which two psychopaths kidnap a woman and use her to lure Peter to their hangout in order to rip him off. Although the violence is ineptly staged and the gore unconvincing, Peter's "excitement" while defending himself suggests a direction the film might have turned during the roughie days that does not pan out here as the protagonist instead takes up painting and develops an appreciation for nature. The shaky psychological theorizing that would mark many of Tobalina's "message" porn films makes is bow here as he suggests that child molestation, rapes, and murders are committed by men who are sex-starved in a state where prostitution is illegal when explaining the altruistic nature of the Charitable Sex Society. Jordan has little to do but thrust her breasts towards Tobalina's wide angle lens, but Tobalina gives a better than usual performance here (amping up the cliché Speedy Gonzales-esque Mexican accent more than in his other onscreen performances). Lynn – who kind of looks like Erroll Flynn in his later years – appeared in Tobalina's later MARILYN AND THE SENATOR but was also credited as still photographer in the A.C. Stephens/Marsha Jordan films THE CLASS REUNION and THE SNOW BUNNIES.

Mastered in 2K from the original 35mm camera negative, INFRASEXUM looks as good as the original cinematography. The Vegas strip scenes boast stunning neon colors, and the interiors look better than usual since Tobalina was not quite as zoom happy as he was later on. Some of the exteriors exhibit the same kind of lens flare on the right side of the frame seen in Tobalina's other films (presumably a defect of camera equipment he purchased and poorly maintained himself), but the Sierra Nevada and Los Angeles scenes still look stunning. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio is clean and reveals that some unintelligible dialogue is equally the fault of the poor recording and poor acting. The sole extra is a theatrical trailer (1:46). (Eric Cotenas)