Director(s): Vic Bertini/Alexander Kubelka
Vinegar Syndrome

Real-life lovers Eric Edwards and Arcadia Lake are given a Peekarama showcase with Vinegar Syndrome's double bill of the hardcore rarities ROBIN'S NEST and BELLA.

In ROBIN'S NEST, newlyweds Robin (Arcadia Lake, DEBBIE DOES DALLAS) and Alan (Eric Edwards, VIRGIN AND THE LOVER) are at each other's throats just six months into their marriage and decide on a temporary separation. Robin moves in with ex-lover Glenna (Robin Byrd, HER NAME WAS LISA) who takes advantage of her vulnerability while neglecting regular lover Lorraine (Samantha Fox, DIXIE RAY HOLLYWOOD STAR) who plans to get in on the action. Meanwhile, sad sack Alan is picked up by old friend Larry (Paul Thomas, FANTASYWORLD) who offers up his wife's friend Honey (Crystal Day, SECRETS OF A WILLING WIFE) – who uses "pussy power" to pop champagne corks – while he extorts sex out of cheating socialite Mrs. G. (Marcia Minor, HOT CHILD IN THE CITY). Since Larry is Lorraine's husband, it is just a matter of time before the estranged couple crosses paths and catches each other in the act. Although director Vic Bertini (PLAYPEN GIRLS) only helmed a couple hardcore films, ROBIN'S NEST is a stylish experience more modest in production value than the works of his contemporaries but still well-cast, photographed, and designed (although most of the film takes place in a series of beds). The dramatic center of the film may be weak, but the hardcore action is nicely balanced by its sense of humor with the final line of dialogue a lame punchline that nevertheless amuses.

BELLA is a schoolgirl (Tracy Adams, A SCENT OF HEATHER) who spies her mother Susan (Diane Sloan, DRACULA EXOTICA) with her legs wrapped around handsome next door neighbor Tom (Eric Edwards) while her father (Jake Teague, NEON NIGHTS) is away on business. Tom gives in her to Bella's insistent overtures once and takes her virginity but soon regrets it; although he offers her no more discouragement than insisting that she is "just a little girl." Bella becomes possessive of Tom and insists that he stop seeing Susan, who is forced on more than one occasion to take matters into her own hands. When Susan comes down on her daughter for skipping school, Bella threatens to reveal to her father her mother's infidelity, and then "punishes" Tom for continuing to see Susan and schoolmate Patty (Arcadia Lake) for tattling on her with a threesome at gunpoint. When Susan discovers Bella's duplicity, she and her daughter square-off over the ownership of their mutual lover. BELLA is a slick and sexy drama of popular porn taboo subjects of underage sex and incest, falling just short of being truly twisted while still satisfying its audience. If the resolution is dramatically unsatisfying, it is because Sloan (normally sharing the screen with identical twin sister Denise) is so incredibly wooden in a film that does not require that much range of its cast (Adams in contrast approaches her role with an unnerving abandon); but she is just as capable as the rest of the cast when it comes to the bumping and grinding. The scoring of Nicholas Flagello (WINTERHAWK) consists of lush rearrangements of classical cues like Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" and Chopin's "Prelude in E-Minor" as performed by "The Rome Symphony Orchestra" (presumably another Rome since the end credits list a small chamber orchestra of decidedly non-Italian names), and lends an air of class to the dreamy cinematography of Carter Stevens (HONEYMOON HAVEN).

Scanned and restored in 2K from their original camera negatives, the anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfers of both ROBIN'S NEST and BELLA both look stunning on DVD. The pale snowiness of ROBIN'S NEST's wintery New York exteriors and the dreamy softness of BELLA's daytime exteriors both give way to crisply detailed closes-ups of the nether regions of the films' stars with every hair standing out in sharp relief. Some flicker is evident in a couple individual shots of ROBIN'S NEST but that is presumably a camera issue since it does not occur in all shots of the scene. The Dolby Digital 1.0 tracks are also in great condition. Only BELLA has a theatrical trailer (3:30) here, but Stevens – who hired himself out as a cinematographer while in pre- or post-production on his own projects – appears in a somewhat repetitive interview (8:15) in which he reveals that Blue Underground's Bill Lustig (MANIAC) hired him and handled much of the film's production, and that he never spoke with director Kubelka who allowed him free reign on the film's look. He also was responsible for bringing "horny little girl" Adams onto the production after she appeared in a CANDID CAMERA-type hardcore video he shot for a magazine. (Eric Cotenas)