The Film (1.5/5)
As the beautiful Venus and her escorts, including Cupid and The Fool, make their way to her, a spectacle of annual festivities are displayed in her honor. The festivities illustrate the bond between the mysticism of astrology and the human sexuality exhibited in the form of staged productions. Each of the year's zodiac symbols are represented and depicted in the attributes that accompany the astrological signs. As Venus and her fellow Greeks and Romans survey each bizarre sex acts of the zodiac, they indulge in feasting, folly, and fooling around like any good festival should be about.
Vinegar Syndrome is well known for releasing outrageous, obscure, and erotic material from quirky horror to retro porn, but for the films that don't necessarily fit into a certain genre, those experimental pieces of work that can't be labeled with ease, are the films that define the sultry, if not also the defiant and the courageous, distributor of sleaze and shrouded material. Vinegar Syndrome releases "Sex & Astrology" by filmmaker Matt Cimber, former husband of the late Jane Mansfield. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cimber went through a string of semi-humorous sexual documentaries that also included "He & She" and "The Sexually Liberated Female."
"Sex & Astrology" stands within that series of offbeat sexual documentaries. Told in an obsolete, monotone, textbook narrative, Cimber's "flesh-tival" is an eccentric and exaggerated telling of Venus's embodiment of love, beauty, and sex. Cimber's film doesn't necessarily fall into the category of hardcore porn. Yet, Sex & Astrology" is peppered with scenes of fellatio and cunnalingus, but simulates, or at least demonstrates in a simulated way, the coupling of the actors and actress of the particular zodiac sign, trying to cater the ease of American audiences into porn. Venus, while being fondled by her eclectic entourage, grants audience to the festival of zodiac symbols engaged in their rightfully sexual activity.
The sex themed astrology from Matt Cimber is nearly plotless and feels more like a stage performance - an arthouse one at that. The elaborate, yet not finely detailed, sets are constructed to hold Venus, her subjects, and the sexual engagers all in a single room. Somehow, Cimber manages to collectively string together an 82 minute feature of 12 miniature sex theme involving the zodiac signs and the audience can be engaged to how their sign relates their behaviors, but all the information given seems obsolete to where after 35 years of science and discovery, new human behaviors have been studied and learned.
The Vinegar Syndrome DVD release is presented in color at it's original full screen 1.33 aspect ratio. Like all of Vinegar Syndrome's releases, "Sex & Astrology" has been restored in 2k from a newly discovered 16mm original. For the most part, the coloring is natural and full. The original print doesn't come without it's baggage of slips, reconnected splices, and a slew of dirt and scratches. However, the print looks marvelous for such an obscure oddity and didn't need reconstructive film surgery to present.
The audio is a Dolby Digital mono track that funnels much of the narrator's voice and bargain bin public domain soundtrack into a lisp or a hiss. For balance, there's not much to touch on since the soundtracks are just comprised of a narrator and a musical soundtrack; there's no actor dialogue present, aside from an overlapped, un-synced dialogue track that doesn't quite match up with anything.
The only extra is the "Sex & Astrology" trailer.
The 1970 Matt Climber sexual zodiac film certainly isn't for all viewership and speaks to a particular, off-kilter niche of people, specifically to those of hippie communes, junkie hangouts, and perversive parties. The descriptive qualities from the former sentence match perfectly into Vinegar Syndrome's exotic and obscure catalogue, but the repeat value of "Sex & Astrology" lies firm at a bottom barrel status.