Director: Shaun Costello
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome takes a "peekarama" at a back-to-back duo of sexual intrigue from Shaun Costello with SUNNY and MORE THAN SISTERS.

The eponymous SUNNY is Candida Royale (BLUE MAGIC), an agent in sexual espionage pressed into service by her boss Carmichael (Jake Teague, DEBBIE DOES DALLAS) for socialite Mrs. Carter (Marlene Willoughby, FOXTROT) who finds that her incestuous overtures are no longer able to reign in the extravagant expenditures of her son Marc (Jeremy Wyatt, BUDDING OF BRIE) ever since her hated husband has made him sole heir to the family fortune. Sunny has no problem working her way into Marc's bed and gaining his confidence about his relationship with his mother – which began at an early age as she exposed him to her dalliances with the chauffeur (Gilbert Palmitier, INSIDE JENNIFER WELLES) and creeps into his bed for his first blowjob – while submitting to "tests" for the amusement of his peculiar friends like hookah-puffing psychic Nadia (Chula Henry) and a photographer (Wanda Manes) who makes her the model in a photoshoot-turned-gang bang by three construction workers (SWEET CHEEKS' Randy West, CARNAL GAMES' Dave Ruby, and THAT LUCKY STIFF's Ron Hudd). As she gains Marc's trust and affection, Sunny sees marrying him as her path to wealth and freedom, and sly Mrs. Carter is not oblivious. During a masquerade ball, Sunny conspires to permanently rupture the bond between mother and son. Moving back and forth between sunny yacht exteriors and apartment and photo studio interiors like an EMMANUELLE knock-off, SUNNY succeeds on the charisma of Royale despite the dullness of Wyatt and Teague and the dreadfulness of Willoughby.

Alice Randall (Heather Young, BLUE VOODOO) has been suffering from increasingly violent nightmares that have the side effect of making her more sexually aggressive, which bewilderingly concerns her husband Martin (director Shaun Costello, billed as Russ Carlson). When neurologist Alan Bannister (Jamie Gillis, WINTER HEAT) cannot find anything physically wrong with Alice to explain her vivid nightmares about sexually abuse (by the likes of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST's Robert Kerman, WATER POWER's Roger Caine, and SUNNY'S Willoughby) in a mental hospital, he hires private detective John Bollinger (Eric Edwards, CORPORATE ASSETS) on the sly to look into Alice's past as an orphan in Toronto where he discovers an extraordinary link with a hopelessly insane patient in a mental hospital. Although one could almost wonder if Costello might have managed to see Jess Franco's DORIANA GRAY (which had not been dubbed into English until the DVD release), the closer model to MORE THAN SISTERS is Brian De Palma's SISTERS with that the influence of Hitchcock as much evident here through the use of cues from Bernard Herrmann's score for VERTIGO and the stabbing strings of PSYCHO accompanying a different kind of penetration. As conceptually intriguing as MORE THAN SISTERS is, the execution is rather lackadaisical due to a reliance on improvisation and far more talking than showing of the non-sexual "action" with major revels and resolutions done on a cut. The snowy atmosphere of New York in the winter and Toronto does make a nice contrast with SUNNY, although MORE THAN SISTERS lacks both that film's production value and the overall slickness and stylistic verve required of a Hitchcockian homage (or even a De Palma one).

Both films are transferred from 2K scans of archival 35mm elements but while SUNNY's progressive, anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer is relatively clean, bright, colorful, and largely free of damage, the progressive, anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer of MORE THAN SISTERS is darker, grainier, and subject to vertical scratches, making it seem even drearier than it is. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks are relatively clean for the period with a low level of hiss. SUNNY is accompanied by a lengthy trailer (4:37) while MORE THAN SISTERS comes with a commentary by Costello which is far more entertaining than the film itself. One of the recurring points of discussion is how much of a pain made man producer Bob Dolan was on the film, imposing Willoughby and insisting that he shoot more footage with her (Costello particularly dislikes the credits sequence which is composed of stills of the actress rather than the main character). He cops to the PSYCHO and SISTERS references, discusses the performers, and also provides some information on co-feature SUNNY. (Eric Cotenas)