Director: Matt Cimber
Vinegar Syndrome

Exploitation trendsetter Matt Cimber mines the Zodiac for its sexploitation possibilities with the early rain-coater SEX & ASTROLOGY, available for the first time on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.

According to the somber narrator, Venus bestowed a sexual pleasure for each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and we see them enacted amidst the festivities of an annual festival in her honor. The goddess, her dwarf son and daughter-in-law Cupid and Psyche, hapless lover Rock Bottom, and select Roman noble citizens are audience to a series of twelve vignettes: fiery Ares throws himself into his sexual encounter and takes his partner's boredom as a challenge, Taurus the bull is broad-minded enough to for an interracial threesome with a butch black woman, flexible and diverse Gemini pairs engage in a bisexual foursome, the Cancer man yearns for a great-hipped mother figure to take charge, Leo the lion only responds to adoration , while a shy Virgo couple try to deny the link between mind and body. Libra finds balance of its hermaphroditic qualities in a pair of drag queens who change in and out of outfits, Scorpio revels in bodily contact (intercut some softcore groping with stock footage of football players and Sumo wrestlers), half-man, half-horse Sagittarius (in a pair of furry pants that he can barely keep up) alternately lazes about in the sand and ravages maidens, old miser Capricorn turns sex into a commerce when he surrenders his silver for a "passable ass", bizarre Aquarius is a male snake dancer who then twirls his bondage slave as a less flexible substitute, and finally fishy Pisces engages in underwater sex (sex in "fishnet" loincloths under blue-green gel lighting).

Almost all Vinegar Syndrome recovers have something to reward viewers, but not this one. Predating DEEP THROAT and THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES among other early hardcore trendsetters, SEX & ASTROLOGY plays like Wakefield Poole's BIBLE! without the artistic sense and is more novel in its erections, half-hearted oral sex, and penetration minus the insert shots (and no money shots either). The eighty-minute running time is interminable and all of the humor falls flat from the narrator's many double entendre to the Jewish vocal impressions. Although made after HE & SHE and THE SENSUALLY LIBERATED FEMALE, this turgid exercise plays like a step back.

Vinegar Syndrome's single-layer, progressive, fullscreen transfer is derived from a 2K scan of archival 16mm materials. The image is heavily grainy as expected given the gauge and the heavily saturated gel lighting. Shadows and deep blacks sometimes solarize, but it is difficult to tell if this has to do with the condition of the materials or the processing, but it seems unlikely that it was an optical. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is clean enough with clear dialogue and a rather limp music track. The sole extra is a trailer (2:39) for the film. (Eric Cotenas)