Director: Howard Ziehm
Vinegar Syndrome

Move over FLESH GORDON, director Howard Ziehm gestates the STAR VIRGIN, reborn on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.

In the future, messy, inefficient human beings have been discontinued, with only the embryo of a baby girl preserved by the ruling machines as a curiosity. Eighteen years after the apocalypse, the STAR VIRGIN (Hustler Centerfold Kari Klark) emerges from a protoplasmic duplicator (developed by the machine god Xerox at three cents per copy) with hormones on overdrive. She goads her sub-C3P0 robot attendant Mentor (Kevin Thompson) into explaining to her how her kind duplicates naturally. His faulty database produces an illustration of the beginning of sex: at Monroe High School in 1950 when Eve (Tracy Walton, WET RAIN DROPS) puts the moves on greaser Adam (Bud Wise, 800 FANTASY LANE) in the Garden of Eden amusement park where the devil in the form of a midget-headed snake ("Green Eyed Lady" singer J.C. Phillips) convinces the pair to eat more than just forbidden fruits. This vignette has the Star Virgin curious about the devil's supposed place in the course of human desire, which leads to a ROCKY HORROR homage in which honeymooners in Transylvania, Prissy (Chris Anderson, THE BEAUTY PAGEANT) and Percy (Chris Bloom), happen upon the castle of Count Dracula (Johnny Harden, ONE WAY AT A TIME) who means to do some staking of his own with the help of Nixon-masked Igor (Tricky Dicky). When Star Virgin wants to know about orgasms, we are transported to a high school football game where a pair of cheerleaders (CO-ED FEVER's Terri Dolan and THE SATISFIERS OF ALPHA BLUE's Hillary Summers) employ some very physical therapy to their team's star quarterback (Mike Ranger, TABOO) when he is taken down with a concussion. By this point, Star Virgin is so hot and bothered, Mentor programs an orgy to hopefully cool her down, but the sights and sensations of ten guys using sex toys any open orifice of two strippers and a python dancer (CAFÉ FLESH's Tantala Ray) extinguishing matches with her vagina has the Star Virgin so overheated that she may very well start the world over again with her very own "big bang."

Not so much another attempt at a sci-fi epic send-up ala Ziehm's FLESH GORDON, STAR VIRGIN is an example of a "loop carrier" so named because it uses a thin framing story to host a handful of unrelated hardcore vignettes. The first three are directed with humor on a sliding scale, with the Garden of Eden the most amusing and energetic, the Dracula episode creatively dressed and photographed but lingering too long on the mugging of its performers (particularly the Nixon-masked henchman), the quarterback sketch really no more distinguishable from similar scenarios in both hardcore and softcore high school sports exploitation pics, and the stripper orgy just sort of dropped in there (although it is far more energetically shot and edited than any Tobalina equivalent). The futuristic framing has some serviceable low-budget sci-fi animation and wonderfully makeshift spaceship and robotic production design. Klark is striking but one-note while the other performers (recognizable and not) dependable with the physical demands as well as giving a bit more than the usual pulled faces. The film's mostly witty dialogue was scripted by Suze Randall's writer husband Humphry Knipe (who would co-direct a handful of films with Randall under the name Victor Nye, including TOO NAUGHTY TO SAY NO which was released this month from Vinegar Syndrome). The end result is unambitious but diverting. Although the title card and theme song refer to Klark's character as "Star Virgin" the end credits cite her as "Space Virgin."

Previously released by VCX on VHS and DVD, STAR VIRGIN gets a new 2K-scanned transfer from 35mm blow-up archival elements. Shot on 16mm on Ziehm's own equipment, the grainier anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen image (with the exception of the Dracula episode which is framed in pillarboxed 1.33:1) exhibits vertical scratches along the right edge for much of the running time along with a light leak along the bottom right in a couple sunny exterior shots. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is reasonably clean and crisp given the condition of the materials. The sole extra is an audio commentary with Ziehm moderated by Vinegar Syndrome's Joel Rudin with some uncredited input from porn actor/historian William Margold (DRACULA SUCKS). Although Margold had nothing to do with the production – and even wonders why he and Ziehm never worked together – he turns out to be a welcome third wheel since Ziehm has very little recollection of most of the performers (Klark was recommended to him by Suze Randall), but he does point out that Wise is apparently the son of a New York Times columnist, Tricky Dicky is a character actor who wanted to do a porn film but had to wear a mask so as not to be caught by SAG, and Ziehm also discusses Phillips' musical career. Ziehm has more to contribute about his working methods, but Rudin manages to balance out the contributions of both after a rocky start with overlapping comments causing all three to pause occasionally. (Eric Cotenas)