THE PRETTY PEACHES TRILOGY (1978/1987/1989) Blu-ray
Director: Alex de Renzy
Vinegar Syndrome

The film that introduced that "Peaches Girl" Desiree Costeau PRETTY PEACHES gets a non-limited Blu-ray reissue from Vinegar Syndrome that also includes an HD upgrade for the Alex de Renzy's two sequels.

When her daddy Hugh (John Leslie, BABY ROSEMARY) decides to remarry, sickeningly sweet nymph Peaches (Desiree Costeau, HOT & SAUCY PIZZA GIRLS) is jealous about having to share him with Lilly (Flower, THE OTHER SIDE OF JULIE). After the wedding, she leaves the Virginia City casino in a huff and crashes her jeep along a bumpy back road while swerving to miss sleazy ne'er-do-wells Kid (Joey Silvera, THE FIRST TIME) and Jesse who take advantage of her while she is unconscious. When Peaches wakes up, she cannot remember her name and accepts their offer of help and a ride back to San Francisco in "their" jeep. Kid sends Peaches to his "Uncle Percy" for help with her memory but he turns out to be a crazed enema freak (in a scene censored from some editions of the film). The guys let Peaches stay with them so long as she gets a job (to subsidize their own loafing around other comely hitchhikers including CANDY STRIPERS' Nancy Hoffman and HOT LUNCH's Sharon Kane). The only job Peaches seems qualified for is as a dancer, but that audition results in a gang rape by strap-on-wielding lesbians. Meanwhile, Hugh is worried about not hearing from Peaches and Lilly is trying to push his boundaries (including a threesome with PURLEY PHYSICAL's Juliet Anderson as the Scandinavian housemaid). A despondent Peaches runs into a handsome psychiatrist (Paul Thomas, FANTASY WORLD) who agrees to help her. Wanting to first write off any physical cause to her amnesia, he gives her a probing physical exam; however, Peaches actually enjoys this encounter and the offer to accompany him to a "know your own self" seminar (read: orgy). Kid and Jesse have followed Peaches to the doctor's office and are afraid that she will get her memory back. Checking her jeep's registration, Kid and Jesse decide to seek out Peaches' father to turn her over for reward money, only to discover that Lilly has tricked Hugh into attending the same orgy.

Despite the gang rape, forced enema, and incest, PRETTY PEACHES is one of the lighter works of Alex de Renzy's seventies filmography, courting less controversy than FEMMES DE SADE, BABY FACE, or LONG JEANNE SILVER. The film is loosely-scripted but well cast, with the undeniably stunning Costeau's affected bratty performance – for which she won an Adult Film Association of America award – keeping things light (there are plenty of examples in pornography of innocent girls abused by schemers offering help going back to De Sade's "Justine"). The related in name-only sequels PRETTY PEACHES 2 and 3 downplayed the incest angle (while the highly successful TABOO spanned twenty-two sequels) with Herschel Savage revealed as the heroine's stepfather in the second film and no father or other relations at the end of Peaches' search for spiritual enlightenment in the third film. None of the cast or crew are credited, but Anthony Spinelli regular Ken Scudder (EASY) is among the orgy guests. The score is also uncredited, but the soundtrack does feature the Madeline Bell songs "Love is All You Need" and "You've Got What It Takes" that were also heard the same year in John Lamond's THE ABCs OF LOVE AND SEX and the Australian women-in-prison series PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H.

In PRETTY PEACHES 2, Peaches (Siobhan Hunter, THE BRAT) is nearly twenty and knows nothing about sex. Believing her mother Eunice (Tracey Adams, THE BARONESS) to be uptight – and completely unaware that she has been boffing her daughter's blue-balled boyfriend Bobby (Peter North, THE TEASE) – Peaches seeks the advice of her former stepfather Stanley (Herschel Savage, EVERY WHICH WAY SHE CAN) who instructs her to "ask around". Peaches takes to the road to San Francisco to visit her "uncle" Howard (Ron Jeremy, FAST TIMES AT CHERRY HIGH) – her father's navy buddy – hitching a ride with a trucker (Buck Adams, ROCKEY X) and getting a taste of carnal knowledge when he gets creeped out by her idea of a sleeping companion (a stuffed animal) and hires a prostitute (Janette Littledove, SATANIA). Peaches finds Howard's habit of keeping it in the family with wife (Ashley Welles, BALLGAME) and son (Billy Dee, LAS VEGAS LADY), but Howard's "oriental" slave Crystal (Melissa Melendez, DEEP THROAT II) finds her employment with "Granny" (Jamie Gillis, THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN). Meanwhile, estranged Eunice and Stanley take to the road in search of their daughter and rekindle their romance in an unconventional manner involving a black male prostitute (F.M. Bradley, RETURN OF DR. BLACKLOVE).

PRETTY PEACHES 3 has Peaches (Keisha, SORORITY PINK) – now living in a trailer park with her mother (Adams again) and no mention of a father or stepfather – is having sexual dreams that disturb rather than arouse her. Her mother also strangely finds the idea of her daughter (whose age is unspecified here) has dreams of a sexual nature – recommends that she see Dr. Thunderpussy (Rachel Ryan, HONEY BUNS) – apparently the first of Oprah's quack doctors – who advises her that there is more to sex than biology (in between sessions with a blow-up doll). Peaches decides to go on a quest for spiritual enlightenment but finds only lust and corruption: a Jimmy Swaggert-parody preacher (Gillis again) and his secretary (Victoria Paris, GHOSTLUSTERS) attempt to have their way with her before hightailing it to South America before they are indicted, The Retreat of Holy Repose turns out to be a den of lesbian nuns, and a motivational speaker's (Jon Martin, ORIENTAL BABYSITTER) disdain for "mundane flesh" turns out to be anything but. Reaching the city, Peaches gets picked up by Jimmy JJ Walker-esque Jack (Jack Baker, HILL ST. BLACKS) who wants to pimp her out but realizes he'll have to indulge her quest for spiritual fulfillment and introduces her to various holy perverts and fake gurus. Meanwhile, her mother and boyfriend Bobby (Gene Carrera, SEX FLEX) have taken to the road in search of her and are having increasing difficulty dissipating the sexual tension with exercise.

PRETTY PEACHES 2 does not push as many boundaries as the original (Uncle Howard's wife and son might not actually be blood relatives at all, and it is revealed that Stanley is Peaches' stepfather before Crystal divines his interest in his daughter), and the characters feel less genuinely nutty and more forced. The film, however, is crammed full of gaudy but ornate and colorful art direction and the photography is polished; making it look like comparatively lavish (and more theatrical) next to its contemporaries (as well as the third film). PRETTY PEACHES 3 looks lower budget, partially due to the 16mm lensing (and fullscreen framing on the earlier DVD and video editions), the gauzy cinematography, and overall visual blandness. At the same time, it manages to look glossier than other adult films from the same period (about as slick as Joe D'Amato's softcore cable-bound efforts of the time). It also seems more awash in big hair, shoulder pads, and tan lines than the second film. The humor is even more strained, and one can almost "feel" the film running out as it rushes through the sex scenes. Richard Pacheco (NOTHING TO HIDE) has a special appearance at the (arguably happy) ending of the film. Adams' mother is more interesting than Hunter's Peaches (Keisha's in the sequel too for that matter), and Gillis, Savage, Jeremy, and Pacheco are welcome performers (acting-wise) that harken back to porn's golden age (Gillis especially – despite also doing sex scenes – is more of a "special guest star" in these films than just another performer).

Due to the film's themes of incest and some non-consensual sexual content, VCA released PRETTY PEACHES on VHS in a heavily-censored edition and apparently not at all on DVD (although Alpha Blue Archives released an uncut VHS and DVD). When Vinegar Syndrome put out their limited edition Blu-ray/DVD combo last year, they utilized an uncut 35mm print for their 2K scan, and the resulting 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen Blu-ray that presented a sterling rendition of the film with bright and bold colors, crisp detail, and a minimum of damage (including a few white specs and some jitter early on). For their standard Blu-ray edition, they have actually undertaken a brand new restoration. Both restorations come from the same 35mm print and offer very impressive renderings of the film (especially considering that the original negative and intermediate materials were not available, either lost or cut by VCA). It's now evident in the older Blu-ray, but it was not until watching the film on the new disc that I noticed the "Conserve Water" sign in the restroom during the enema scene. The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono track is also in good condition, the better to convey Peaches' whining and crying, as well as the porn-tastic soundtrack.

PRETTY PEACHES 2 and 3 were also restored from 2K scans of their original camera negatives (35mm for part 2, and 16mm for part 3) for the previous Peekarama double feature DVD, but they have also performed new restorations for the Blu-ray release. PRETTY PEACHES 2 is framed at 1.78:1 (the case states 1.85:1) and the 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC transfer is in great condition, drawing more attention to the glimpses of equipment and crew members at the edges of the frame and in the reflection of a mirror, and heightening ones appreciation of eighties hair and spray tans. Without the earlier master on Blu-ray, it is difficult to tell the difference between the new and old restoration of this title (for instance, the startling reds evident here would have been subject to the same distortion in NTSC as they were on the DVD of the older restoration), but this HD version does allow the viewer to revel in the enhanced textures of clothing, hair, and set decoration – admittedly the last thing one should be focusing on in porn – with the fine striations in North's denim jeans and Hunter's plaid skirt as detailed as her silky thigh jutting into the foreground of an early shot.

PRETTY PEACHES 3: THE QUEST's previous HD master was framed at 1.33:1 since the film was bound straight for video, but the new 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC encode is framed at 1.78:1. The new version loses a bit from the top and bottom, as expected, but it is generally not destructive to the compositions. The 16mm negative seems to have been carelessly conformed since distracting splices are evident on the bottom third of the frame at virtually every shot change here (with the 16:9 cropping, the line is lower in the frame and less distracting but still evident). Despite the aforementioned splices, the element seems otherwise undamaged and sports vibrant colors and crisp resolution. Grain and the textures of clothing and hair – as well as some in-camera damage to the elements – are enhanced in high definition, and what style de Renzy was able to achieve (with resources stretching thinner by the late eighties) feels a bit more theatrical than direct-to-video. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks of both films are in fine condition. There are no opening or closing credits – just a close-up of the title from the film's promotional artwork – and thus it runs slightly shorter than the video release (titled PRETTY PEACHES AND THE QUEST) which featured video generated opening and closing credits. None of the extras from the limited edition of PRETTY PEACHES – trailers for PRETTY PEACHES 2, BABY FACE II, and FEMMES DE SADE, as well as vintage interviews with de Renzy and Reverend Dr. Ted McIlvenna of "The National Sex & Drug Forum" – have not been included, but the PRETTY PEACHES 2 theatrical trailer (3:38) included on the PRETTY PEACHES 2/PRETTY PEACHES 3 DVD has been included on the second Blu-ray disc as its sole extra. (Eric Cotenas)