The Film (1.5/5)
Jamie, a low on the totem poll drug dealer, seeks to permanently phase out of the drug business, but when his girlfriend announces a surprise pregnancy on his last day, Jamie has no choice but to do one more big payout job. The Man, a cloak and dagger operative for a powerful drug corporation, seduces Jamie with a job in Tijuana, Mexico, offering a large lump sum for his troubles. The Man wants Jamie to abide by only a few conditions if he accepts the job – to find his contact named Oddball, to stay away from Tijuana whores, and to keep a clean operation. Stuck between a rock and an unexpected forthcoming rug rat, Jamie agrees to The Man’s proposal and brings his pal Rick for extra security. Once the two drug runners reach beyond the borders into Tijuana, there’s nothing Jamie can do to not be a part of the Tijuana sex scene as Rick’s hound dog antics and a slew of Tijuana nymphomaniacs create a combustible combination that could put his high dollar drug gig and his pregnant girlfriend at maximum risk.
Only a couple years before achieving unscrupulous success with the sexual space adventures of “Flesh Gordon,” a more adult parody of the space opera classic “Flash Gordon,” directed Howard Ziehm helmed an adult drama entitled “Tijuana Blue” under the pseudonym of Harry Hopper. Howard Alexander, also under a pseudonym of Lee Beck, travels to the south of the border as the hapless, yet determined, drug smuggler named Jamie. His wing man, played obnoxiously by the single use, under performer Martin Victor, accompanies Jamie on his runaround misadventure through Tijuana. The two stumble from one sleazy establishment to the next sleazy establishment to pinpoint a rendezvous with The Man’s contact named Oddball.
“Tijuana Blue,” simply put, is cheap trash. While being cheap has nearly nothing to do with the quality of the narrative, as you can have script gold written on a low budget, there’s still the trash production portion that’s hard to remove and overcome. Ziehm’s film is comprised of many one-time performers with little-to-no experience in provocative acting or even in the adult industry, straying far, far away from sexually stimulating the material. If I hear Martin Victor, Alexander’s average and untalented co-star, spout out “wow” one more time while gawking and hovering over another naked actress, I’ll slit my wrists and throw a live wire toaster in the tub with me. From Victor’s immature disposition to the foxy black girl banging Andy Bellamy with a relatively small strap-on, yelling an unaccented “watch it, Gringo” every couple of minutes during the lesbian exhibition, my guess is that most of the non-Hispanic cast was picked up right off the streets of U.S. of A.
“Psyched by the 4D Witch (A Tale of Demonology)” actor Keith Erickson, a man credited with many monikers such as in “Tijuana Blue” going by Ernest Frazier, goes incognito as a deep throat (not literally) character, dishing out the jobs to Jamie under a dark brimmed hat and trench coat. The veteran kinky actor only adds positivity to the film’s minuscule raw and gritty charm, attaching some intrigue and some passion into a film that’s full of lifelessness. The sex scenes sparked very little magic and temptation as the performers went through the sexual motions with monotonous rigidity. The untrained actresses look sexy and unique enough to be just above physique par without considering their harlot performances; one of the bar entertainers has massive breasts with a small waist making her a savory eyeful.
The Film (3.5/5)
Living a full life of sexual perversity, the uninhibited Mary prostitutes herself to a number ravenous men, committing carnalities in the most unacceptable places. Mary’s best friend, Melody, eagerly wants to tag along, begging Mary to expose her to a world of abundant licentiousness. Melody hesitates at Mary’s encounter with an off-the-street stranger that leads to a building’s confined elevating and, eventually, the rooftop, but as she loosens up and the mood washes over her, Melody melds into what has now become an unscrupulously daylight, rooftop threesome. When Mary purposefully ditches Melody to seduce an aroused counselor and a bi-curious, dominatrix principal, an impatient Melody ventures off on her own to indulge in a dangerously course of fateful kinky-fetishism and rough sex.
Fran Spector plays the titular "Harlot" character Mary, an anti-establishment, no-holds barred sex-machine looking to turn tricks for the right money-toting customer. If the job doesn't profit, Mary can turn away from her shameless acts without a lick of shame. Her close friend Melody, portrayed by Patty Alexon, eagerly wants to be Mary's understudy against Mary's hesitation. With the continuous pleading, Mary gives in and begins her harlot training on Melody whose timid and innocence at first, but slopes sharply once Melody breaks her prostitution cherry on the rooftop with Mary and her client.
Director Howard Ziehm, this time not credited under a pseudonym, embarks on a guerilla shot film unique in it's own right. The film crew had tricked a janitor of the First National Building into providing the facility's keys that granted them access to the roof where Fran Spector, Patty Alexon, and Bill Pruner engaged in a threesome activity. To further Ziehm's filming techniques, Butch Griswald and Patty Alexon streaked nude from van-to-van in front of a busy storefront, giving the patrons an eye full. Who needs location licenses when you can freely frolic on the beach or in a car riding down the a non-closed off street set? "Harlot" is a curious, yet attractive sex-tragic-comedy with seriously attentive detail in the camera work, the script, and in the episodic adventures of Mary and Melody explore.
Adding to the approachable charm are the two adults, the responsible protectors of children, in Judy Angel's and Leroy Jones's characters. "Harlot" has the uncanny ability to shield the fact that Mary and Melody are high school students, as much of their "activities" are not in the classroom. When Mr. James (Jones) informs Mary that she's flunking, Mary drags the long sideburn, pot-bellied counselor to the ladies room to suck him off as he stands precariously on the toilet seat. By that time, Miss Gladstone strolls into the ladies room to use the facilities and catches them in the act. Miss Gladstone's punishment is revealing herself as a full-blown lesbian dominatrix whose been eyeing up Mary's red-carpet for quite some time. In order for all parties to come to a reasonable agreement, a desktop threesome is just as good as a handshake.
Fran Spector and Patty Alexon compliment each other very nicely. Spector garnishes wide hips that seamlessly continue to her very round rear that accentuates her average breasts whereas Alexon's slender surfer body makes her breasts only seem a bit larger and her lengthy stature gives her no butt to portray, yet she's still very gorgeous. Judy Angel's uptight and strict caterpillar appearance metamorphoses into the very definition of a peace and love inner butterfly, but Angel has a bit of saggier body and though that does lead to rightfully mature role, watching the disproportionate bodies of Leroy Jones and Judy Angel authoritatively bang a fresh faced Fran Spector undeniably feels more trailer trash than guilty pleasure.
Vinegar Syndrome Peekarama Big 2 Unit Show of "Harlot" and "Tijuana Blue" are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33.1 full screen. Both films have been customarily scanned and restored in 2k from their 16mm negatives with "Harlot" looking the better of the two films. The colors are cleaner with the expected negative damage and the blacks are noticeably well-balanced. "Tijuana Blue" is, frankly, harder to watch. Aside from the scratches and breaks in the original print, the coloring and the blacks didn't co-exist. The 77 Bar scene grayscale was off, developing too much black and not enough popping color to thwart any original print damage.
The double feature contains a Dolby Digital mono mix. Again, "Harlot" fairs better with the snazzy jazz soundtrack and the rumble of ambient tracks. Upfront dialogue makes for a smooth and enjoyable viewing pleasure. "Tijuana Blue" had dialogue audio levels that were muffled and barely coherent. The KIngsmens' "Louie Louie" and Question Mark and The Mysterians' "96 Tears" are two golden oldies that make an audio appearance on the soundtrack and are favorably suited and consistent through the 77 Bar scene.
The only extra included is a Howard Ziehm commentary track under the "Harlot" feature.
Undeniably, "Harlot" reigns supreme over "Tijuana Blue" in this Howard Ziehm directed double dose of hardcore perversity from our erotically decadent friends at Vinegar Syndrome. With the sleeker audio-video qualities and a more enticing storyline with rich-in-sleaze characters, "Harlot" tops it's cheaper, less experienced co-headlining brethren that's more cut-and-dry and not as bold. The recommendation here is to pickup this particular Peekarama Big 2 Unit Show to bask in Ziehm's zaniness and depravities because both features are a just preview of what comes later from this particular filmmaker. Recommended.