The Film (4.5/5)
Attractive young women are being kidnapped, drugged, held hostage, and trained under the hypnotic influence to be murderous assassins and ultimate sex slaves to a sadistic, international sex slave trader, Dr. Paul Severin, set in the depths of San Francisco. Vice cop, Steve Blake, is on the brink of breaking the case wide open from first learning of his lover’s sister being one of the abducted victims. He’s so close, he can taste it. Too close, in fact, that his little sister, Karen, becomes the next victim, drugged and trained to kill her own meddling brother. When the assassination attempt fails, Steve dedicates himself to tracking down the deplorable sex slave schemers. Steve’s eagerness to apprehend the culprits blinds him to the point that his sister, once again, becomes the innocent target of the sinister Dr. Paul Severin’s malevolency and his henchmen’s despicable bedroom manners.
Bob Chinn. If you’ve ever met the humble Bob Chinn, you might not ever expect the sonorous, but well, spoken Hawaiian born director to be a cult adult filmmaker whose time spans from the 1970s to early 2000s. Chinn helms the 1976 intense X-rated crime drama “The Love Slaves” under one of his many pseudo names, Robert Husong, for fear of being prosecuted during the era of when shooting hardcore material was under the scrutinizing eyes of Los Angeles’ vice squad. The script comes from Michael Klinger and “The Love Slaves” is virtually a scene-for-scene American remake of the 1966 Japanese pink film “The Love Robots” by the late director K˘ji Wakamatsu, but Chinn re-designs the hypnotic thriller into captivating hardcore that’s saturated with old school filmmaking techniques, including stark soundtracks and editing being more prevalent toward putting definition around the clunky sex scenes.
Lead character, Steve Blake, is embraced by decade-spanning porn stud John Leslie in a starring role that involves only a single romp performance with a toned and short-haired cutie, Veronica Taylor. Leslie and Taylor’s scene illustrates classiness and appropriates enough heat to which their sweaty entanglement can be arguably labeled the best man-on-woman copulation in all of “The Love Slaves.” The spotlight shines more brightly on an unknown actress, Tanya Shea, whose only credit is Chinn’s film. Shea receives various scenes that include a solo act, girl-on-girl, and a violent gang rape scene with fellow co-stars Turk Lyon and Ken Scudder, but Shea’s possible lack of experience, with her clumsy cunnilingus in a 69-position with gorgeous Swedish pro Enjil von Bergdorfe, and on-camera presence, with a plastered smile from ear to ear in each and every scene no matter the circumstances, grinds finely in with oddity flair that spurs out a must-watch novelty.
There’s something to be said about having half-naked women lined up presented on white-furred rugs against a whitewashed concrete wall, sensationalizing being under the influence of a mind warping narcotic. This is the opening montage for “The Love Slaves.” Rather than dazzle with a funky score and sexual jubilation, the cold and domineering freeze frames of something akin to an underground sex trade exhibit embodies the darker side of sex; there are only three scenes that display consenting acts with the remaining seven acts expressing upon the wills of others and the unconscious and conscious rape. Even the title, “The Love Slaves,” is a contradiction in on itself and with also the story that pushes the notion of love being completely absent. Laura Bourbon, Vicky Lyon, and Afro-Asian starlet Desiree West, especially West’s in a foursome with a mannequin sporting a reddish veiny strap-on, round out the cast of victim characters.
Vinegar Syndrome provides "The Love Slaves" uncut and in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio from a scanned and restored in 2k 35mm archival elements. A seriously impressive image upgrade, especially from the previous Alpha Blue release whom obtained a damaged and incomplete print. Vinegar Syndrome's uncut gem is a labor of love that basks in the details. Skin tones naturally flourish from sweat beads and body imperfections to getting the inside look of Veronica Taylor's perfect hotbox. A few lens flare moments maintain a visible presence, but all-in-all a superb release.
The single channel Dolby Digital mono track is levelly balanced. Detecting low points of dialogue or depth action during the 88 minute runtime was difficult to unroot and neither static, hissing, or pops played a major factor either. The overall technical qualities of this package is well above average.
Extras a bit thin with a video introduction prior to the feature and a very informative video interview from director Bob Chinn who goes to great length to discuss every detail, no matter how far off on a tangent, when discussing his work. Vinegar Syndrome also tacks on five trailer reels of their other releases.
A few notable remarks about why “The Love Slaves” can be tremendously enjoyable despite the grim content can be attested to Chinn’s San Francisco setting that tours many of the hot spot locales such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, and various fishing piers. Also, the editing and framing is well done with shadowing the ever ominous atmosphere while also emphasizing sexual enlighten moments, even if some cuts are duplicated and non-uniform toward the present scene. The cherry on top is a young Bob Chinn in a mini-cameo as Steve Blake’s apartment neighboring doctor checking up on Karen, in a non-sexual role, after her initial horrifying ordeal with Dr. Paul Severin. “The Love Slaves” won’t be everybody’s cup of sleaze and that’s the advantage this Bob Chinn film has over the conforming pattern of porn flicks. Recommended.