Director: Ralph Ell
Vinegar Syndrome

This Vinegar Syndrome Peekarama DVD triple feature highlights three elusive works of Ralph Ell who cut his teeth on the more bizarre works of Victor Milt (SEXWISH) and Zebedy Colt (THE AFFAIRS OF JANICE).

MY MASTER MY LOVE finds the strict and ordered relationship between dominatrix Margaret (Darby Lloyd Rains, NAKED CAME THE STRANGER) and mousy slave Roberta (Barbara Carson, AIRPORT GIRLS) tested by the arrival of Margaret's alienated younger brother Billy (Alan Marlowe, THE PRIVATE AFTERNOONS OF PAMELA MANN) who just cannot wrap his mind around "men with men, women with women" or the like, even as he happily beds a prostitute (Melva Jackson, TOO HOT TO HANDLE). He is ignorant of just what Margaret does with her business clients – among them full body-tattooed Don Allen (CONSENTING ADULTS) and submissive Annie Sprinkle (THE GANJA EXPRESS) and what Roberta does as her "secretary" until he walks in on Margaret and Nancy Dare (REUNION) and takes his sister's place. Falling for Roberta and giving her the pleasure she usually must seek alone while watching Margaret and her clients, Billy believes that he can save her by forcing her to choose between love and sexual slavery. Not exactly THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT, the film is carried ably by Rains while scenes of sadomasochism and Carson's voyeurism generate tension and heat even if the dramatic climax is rushed and not as resonant as it would like to be. C. Davis Smith – who worked with both Doris Wishman (SATAN WAS A LADY) and Zebedy Colt (UNWILING LOVERS) during this period – shot and edited the film which was produced by Leonard Kirtman (HOT FLASHES) under the name Leo De Leon.

The not-exactly-TEENAGE MASSEUSE is sex-starved housewife Stella (Nancy Dare) whose husband Ronald (Bobby Astyr, CORRUPTION) is always too tired to give her proper attention despite the intensity of his sadomasochistic wet dreams. Ronald suggests that she get a job if she needs something to do, but Stella does not known what she would be qualified for until she is raped by peeping tom Don Allen (and sexually frustrated when he leaves). Picked up by pimp Big Tom (Tuck Turpin, COTTON COMES TO HARLEM), she is put through her paces by him and his stable of girls Annie Sprinkle and Melva Jackson before being rechristened "Stella by Starlight". Unfortunately, she proves much too eager and forward for the clients; that is, until her equally frustrated husband comes around looking to live out his fantasies. The film is kept afloat by the zany and performance of Dare whilst Astyr surprisingly reigns in his own over-the-top acting until the "climax" which gets fairly brutal before the film's warped idea of a happy ending. It is, anyhow, the most entertaining film of the set.

In MORE, Detective Dick Copper (Harry Reems, BUTTERFLIES) investigating the murder of undercover officer Jim, or "Big Jim" according to his prostitute girlfriend Connie (Bree Anthony, THE VIXENS OF KUNG-FU) and ford bottomless waitress-turned-maid Louise (Ms. Dunkle, TEENAGE DEVIATE). After Connie is visited from "a tall guy with a big cock and a short guy with a bigger cock" – the latter being Bobby Astyr doing a forties gangster impression – Copper surmises that Jim was murdered by kingpin Sam Slacks (Harry Valentine). Eager to catch her boyfriend's killer, Connie agrees to approach Slacks about protection if she works for him. Caught before she can alert Copper, Connie is sexually tortured by Slacks and his assistant (De Laine Young), and her only hope of rescue is simple-minded sex slave Hannah (Anna Bannana) if she can get a word in between sucking on a banana and Copper's police unit. The most conventional of the three films, MORE is not particularly funny in its broad strokes – with Reems and his partners Lefty, Right, and Flash (the crime photographer) rushing around the sets in a poor Marx Brothers imitation – but otherwise pretty much what one would expect of the minds behind SHERLICK HOLMES (with which it might have made a better companion feature than the latter's Peekarama companion film REUNION).

Mastered from 2K scans of 16mm archival elements, these one-set wonders look as grimy and grainy as some of the titles comprising Vinegar Syndrome's Storefront Theater sets, and it is hard to imagine them looking significantly better even if the original negatives were still around. The Dolby Digital 1.0 tracks sound as good as the original recordings allow, with some occasional distorted high ends thanks to some extremely lackadaisical sound level monitoring on the set. There are no extras, but few of those behind the camera are still around, and the actors who are still with us probably remember little of these titles among the hundreds of others they did at the time. (Eric Cotenas)