Directors: Don Brown and Nick Phillips
Secret Key Motion Pictures

Just when you thought every single Uschi Digart film had been unearthed to be enjoyed, Secret Key Motion Pictures (a subsidiary of Alternative Cinema, home of RetroSeduction Cinema and AfterHours Retro) brings to DVD another one of Uschi’s seemingly endless number of nudie flicks, triple-featured with two more never-before-released sexploitation nuggets. None of the films included are essential, but die-hard devotees of Die Uschi and Nick Phillips should at least give this a rent.

Up first is THE MADAM: After her car breaks down, Sissy (played by our own Ms. Digart) hitches a ride with hippie biker John, who takes her to her mother’s home. It turns out to be a very lavish whorehouse, where mom is the Madame and Sissy oversees the girls. John samples the wares of Sally, a buck-toothed cutie with a huge bouffant wig, and since he can’t pay for a room for the night, he acts as bartender and auditions a prospective prostitute in a very noisy and apparently drug-induced scene (!). Finally, Sissy takes John for a spin in the bedroom and when Mom discovers the two, the pair ride off into the sunset on his motorcycle. Ah, romance.

What a surprise! THE MADAM is actually a lost film made around the same time as the still lost THE MIDNIGHT GRADUATE, a 1970 film co-produced by Don Brown and future character actor Ray Nadeau. Sadly, it’s nothing special, but to see yet another obscure Uschi film is still cause for some celebration. While the rest of the film is pretty dire stuff, shot in an apartment over a weekend with zero production values, it is Uschi’s trademark passionate and top-heavy sex scene at the film’s climax that will be sheer heaven for her followers. Every lost Uschi sex scene that is discovered over the years inspires new excitement among her fanbase, and this one is no exception! The film is also noteworthy for including two regular Harry Novak cast members: buck-toothed Terry Johnson, seen in the aforementioned bouffant wig and also briefly with her long flowing blonde hair, and robust character actor Jack King, who you should remember as ‘Uncle’ in Ronald Victor Garcia’s masterpiece THE TOY BOX! Other than these brief appearances and Uschi’s sex scene, MADAM is a pretty poor film, though it does act as a very vivid bridge between hardcore and softcore (Terri Johnson’s oral in the first sex scene seems pretty real).

Continuing with the company’s long-standing alliance with overrated San Francisco filmmaker Nick Phillips, L’AMOUR DE FEMME is basically what you think it is: about the love of women, or rather, love between women. Blonde Suzanne (played by buxom starlet Malta) and brunette Lenore are enjoying their “honeymoon” breakfast; after Suzanne does some sketching and Lenore some writing, the two change into black lingerie and indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. The couple go to visit go to visit Suzanne’s first lover, Julia, now married to a gay man named Peter in a marriage of convenience (Peter is seen with a limp wrist and going out with a hairdresser, Jerry). Sparks fly between Julia and Lenore, naturally, resulting in an uncomfortable love triangle. Meanwhile, Kiki is a sexually frustrated, closeted lesbian who masturbates with a candle to photos of naked women before being propositioned by Janis and going home with her to be introduced to the ways of Sappho. All this in roughly 60 minutes. Nick Phillips’ films are surely an acquired taste, as they primarily focus on lesbians and leather/boot fetish, obviously not everyone’s cup of tea. His films are also all narrated, with no live sound, and shot on the cheap in darkly lit apartments and around San Francisco and Los Angeles, at least providing for some nice time capsule footage of the swinging 1960s capital of sexual freedom. Here, Phillips throws in some fine window-peeking footage of L.A. clothing boutiques (you can see the cameraman and his camera in the reflection). All things considered, L’AMOUR DE FEMME is actually slightly better than Phillips’ usual fare, with some surprisingly good performances (!), a half-way decent attempt at actually telling a story, and a depressing finale. It’s definitely the most enjoyable film of the bunch on the disc!

The third and final film, TAKE THEM AS THEY ARE, opens with the snap of a clapboard, a nice little behind-the-scenes tidbit before this 49-minute weekend wonder commences. As with most of these monstrosities, there is no plot, just a series of events linking the sex acts together. Here, a couple of drug peddlers hide out at their friends’ house, where they take the drugs and invite more friends over to have sex. A mild subplot involving a straight woman and her lesbian dalliance with the drug peddler’s girlfriend is the sole instance of an actual storyline. Hailed as a “bonus feature” on the disc menu, this is real bottom of the barrel stuff, with lots of split-beaver shots, close-to-the-bone sex, men and women picked out of the gutter, and zero production values. You should recognize Colleen Murphy, the title character in ALICE IN ACIDLAND, among the cast members, and it’s always fun to see this obscure starlet, a sultry brunette with a no-nonsense demeanor, in anything…but even she can’t save this tripe.

The three transfers, taken from rare surviving prints, are all as good as they’re gonna get. The best of the trio is L’AMOUR DE FEMME, as Nick Phillips generally took good care of his materials. The worst is definitely TAKE THEM AS THEY ARE, with non-stop lines, print damage, and several print jumps; the final minute of the film, including the “THE END” title card, repeats itself for some reason. THE MADAM looks fine, too, with a washed-out color palette but a clear image throughout. The notorious “AHC” logo appears in the bottom right corner a few times to deter bootleggers.

The supplements include a 5-minute interview with 42nd Street Pete entitled “History of the Peeps” (strange, as this is a disc about sexploitation films, not peep booths and the loops shown in them). It provides a brief rundown of the progression from loops to 16mm quickies to 35mm glossy productions in the golden age of adult entertainment, but for anyone who would even buy this disc in the first place, it’s rather disposable. At least Pete sticks up for the fine folks who made, distributed, and showed these films in the first place, risking arrests and jailtime to make a quick buck, fulfill a social need, and further the Sexual Revolution! Pete returns with another booklet of liner notes, which are again simple descriptions of the films and their sex acts, while a “Dr. Eroticus” provides a more historical approach to the films (though he is inaccurate in saying that Malta didn’t do films after 1970, and he doesn’t mention her wealth of loop and magazine stills work). A healthy collection of trailers are for contemporary releases from Secret Key, and while some feature fine production values, none really make much of an impression. (Casey Scott)