"Robin's Nest" (3/5)
The lustful, young marriage between lovers Robin and Alan has deteriorated into an ugly and loathsome relationship that spirals into quarreling separation. Robin and Alan start their solo lives for the first time in a year, clinging onto friends whom have unquenchable sexual appetites. Robin stays with her sultry best bisexual friend Glenna while Alan attaches himself to long time buddy and sex-scheming scammer Larry and unbeknownst to Alan and Robin, Glenna and Larry share a mutual connection that makes things awfully interesting when an orgy ensues in Larry's "fuck room."
"Robin's Nest" is the final adult film of a four film career from writer-director Victor Bertini under the moniker Vic Burton and stars a heterogeneous group of actors from the Golden Age of Porn such as an afro-sporting white boy and long time porn industry vet Eric Edwards and his former, now deceased, ex-wife Arcadia Lake (yes, named after the Oklahoma resort) as our main bumping uglies characters Alan and Robin. The 1980 feature also stars two more genre vets, Paul Thomas and Samantha Fox, portraying an eccentric husband and wife mingling within three actresses whom all had brief stints in porn - Robin Byrd, Marcia Mager, and Crystal Day.
The story has a more tongue-and-cheek face value on top of a serious underlining issue where a once loving couple disbands hastily in anger only to stray full circle into a sort of destined path to come back together, but Bertini's witty writing negates all opportunities for rekindling between Alan and Robin and the negating works well, to keep things lively, with this adult feature. Letís also mention that Paul Thomas' comedic timing, especially during the conversing with the flatness of Eric Edwards, is priceless and on point. The dynamics between Paul Thomas and Eric Edwards wrongfully overshadow the actresses as none of the actresses excite and sizzle on screen with the exception of Crystal Day in one of two of her adult credits. Day brings a welcoming and a champagne bottle poppin' sleaze in her role of Honey that's comparable to Paul Thomas' character and his displaying of a penis in a hot dog bun gag toward a random woman scene while snooping at a married Mrs. G (Marcia Mager) whose slobbering all over on not Mr. G's dong.
Bertini, as a director, has some visually strong settings; an example would be an outdoor long shot with a snow covered park surrounded by the hustle of city life. Yet, Bertini skimps, rehashing and reusing minor scenes, to set up the next scenario and that cheapens his already cheap production. Also, the director's editing is best described as sporadic during the sex scenes. The scenes' non-linear nature extends beyond the already fantasy premise, developing more of a spotty and surreal bit that would be more in tune in the context of the dream.
Tom is the typical bachelor neighbor. His home is always inviting, especially to Susan, a stay at home mother of a teenage daughter and whose husband is constantly traveling for work, but when Susan's daughter, Bella, stumbles upon one of Tom and Susan's encounters, she becomes fascinated with Tom's sexual aura. The pull toward Tom is so strong, she starts to have an affair of her own with Susan's boy toy, but the sexual play becomes an unhealthy obsession when her mother becomes a threat to the affair. Only do things become more darkly interesting in the love triangle when a distraught and calculating Bella holds Tom hostage at gunpoint.
Compared to Victor Bertini's more whimsical "Robin's Nest," Alexander Kubelka's sole credit "Bella" conjures up a strict erotic drama that, frankly, I haven't seen much in porn. Another Eric Edwards and Arcadia Lake feature produced a year earlier in 1979, the film also stars a sexy and mature Diana Sloan, a fresh faced Tracy Adams (not to be confused with the bustier Tracey Adams) in the title role, and a very old and hairy Jake Teague, an uncredited actor in Tobe Hooper's "Eaten Alive" and Umberto Lenzi's "Cannibal Ferox" during the same time period.
By far, "Bella" stands alone as the winner who takes all in Vinegar Syndrome's double feature. "Bella" is by far a more superior porno, not only from the dramatic appeal, but the scenes are just that damn more enticing. Scenes like the one involving Arcadia Lake and Tracy Adams as best friends gushing in a sixty-nine position, scenes like a threesome incest betwixt Susan and Bella, and scenes that parallel the saucy bedroom antics between couples fuel "Bella's" indistinguishable favorability. Kubelka's decision to use the Rome Symphony Orchestra for classical pieces to soundtrack the sex scenes and remove most of the foley or actor dialogue tracks is, for me, genius as the orchestra adds to the epic bedroom showdown and the scenes aren't watered down from the overused verbal pleasure expressions.
Not much can be found on Alexander Kubelka, but "Bella" speaks upon talent that doesn't stem from pornography all too often. Kubelka's one and done feature only speaks to the fray of story telling in porn. "Bella" is well shot, well paced, and well orchestrated, focusing on the linear editing to tell the story right with hot, steamy sex becoming greatly accompaniment. Even though Eric Edward is still flat acting and Jake Teague is, well, rather old for porn, the dynamics naturally play out and the characters are portrayed more realistically and even though Tracy Adams doesn't forcibly hold the gun on Eric Edwards and Arcadia Lake during their sex scenes, I still felt like she had all the control of that scene and then some.
Vinegar Syndrome's Peekrama "Robin's Nest" and "Bella" double feature, a continuous presentation of adult shows, have both been scanned and restored in 2k from the 35mm original camera negatives. Displayed in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, these two features are undeniably the best versions of themselves to date. "Robin's Nest" has natural, well-balanced colors and skin tones. Outside scenes look appropriate with the snow scene example produced stunningly white and detailed and the indoor scenes contrast decently with a more toned down, saturated colors that lead into a blurry, surreal fantasy orgy. There is noise that annoyingly plague the darker scenes, but the noise is worse in "Bella" that also accompanies times of noticeable dust, scratches, and cigarette burns. "Bella" doesn't try to do anything fancy, but does maintain the colors and skin tones much at the same high standard as "Robin's Nest" and many other Vinegar Syndrome's pornographic catalogue.
The audio is a standard Dolby Digital mono mix that's well adjusted and balanced for the most part. Slight hissing in the dialogue tracks in "Robin's Nest," but nothing to really frighten a viewer away from the experience - plus, you don't watch porn for the dialogue, right? If you enjoy dialogue, and you might be the only person aside myself who does, "Bella" has room for improvement. Major hissing during dialogue tracks, sizable popping, and unbalanced volume don't stray throughout the entire feature, but come and go in various scenes and are easy to pickup. The Rome Symphony Orchestra's soundtrack of classical music pieces suffer the most in "Bella."
Extras only include a theatrical trailer for "Bella" and a video interview with filmmaker, and "Bella" cinematographer, Carter Stevens.
"Robin's Nest" and "Bella" best describes the brief, one-year real life relationship between Arcadia Lake and Eric Edwards, combining 166-minutes between two of their stellar features that showcase not only their steamy scenes, but also the scenes and bodies of their titillating co-performers. For all you horror fans out there, lets note that an uncredited production manager named William Lustig (Maniac, Maniac Cop) worked on Kubelka's "Bella." Each film has their pros and cons; the pros certainly outweigh the cons and Vinegar Syndrome, yet again, wins the at home media release of retro porn. Recommended.