The Film: 0/5
For their latest Drive-In Collection double feature Vinegar Syndrome has rounded up two long-lost grindhouse sexploitation flicks from obscurity and released them onto DVD for the first time. The first movie is The Suckers, a take-off on The Most Dangerous Game but with lots more softcore rutting. Professional big game hunter Steve Vandemeer (Vincent Stevens) has invited two models, a photographer, and her nerdish husband to his private estate to participate in his greatest hunt ever: hunting humans, of course. But first we will be forced to endure nearly an hour of pointless sex scenes that lack eroticism or even an editor with the good sense to cut back on the extraneous material and try to pick up the pacing some so it doesn't feel like we're watching unearthed stag films starring our parents. Once the actual hunt begins the movie still has a half-hour to go, time spent watching a bunch of characters we care nothing for run around the woods either killing or being killed. Then it all ends. Thank fucking Christ.
The second half of this sordid twin bill is The Love Garden, which isn't any better than The Suckers but at least the print used for its DVD debut is in slightly better shape. Freeland writer Mike (Jason Scott) falls madly in love with Clare (Linda York) after he sees her lounging by the swimming pool at the apartment complex they both reside in. Claire seems to have similar feelings for Mike but she also happens to be in a relationship with Inez (Barbara Mills), whom she deeply loves - usually with her tongue and fingers, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Most men dream day and night (often in the most inappropriate places) of coming between two women, but in this case the unlikely love triangle will have a resolution no one will find satisfying....especially the audience.
Both The Suckers and The Love Garden are atrocious, insipid movies that started off with interesting plots that filmmakers and actors with indisputable talent probably could have done more with. They are both guilty of failing to deliver on what they promised, a crime many exploitation movies have handily committed with no excuses and no apologies. The Suckers has a good idea at its core, albeit one that has been done many times before and way better almost every time, and the desert mountain locations where the bulk of the exterior action takes place is properly isolated and intimidating. But as I mentioned before, too much of the movie is given over to overlong sex scenes that are allowed to play out from the first clothed kiss to the final sweaty thrust with nary a cut. The women look beautiful with or without their garments on, but their male lovemaking partners are lumpy and creepy-looking which makes the sight of these horny losers laying on top of their more attractive co-stars almost unbearable to watch. To think, I once thought The Room had the more unerotic sex scenes ever filmed. The Suckers throws into one of its multiple love beats a random insert shot of a flaccid penis dangling over an impressed public bush in a pathetic attempt to add some authenticity to the scene.
The non-sex scenes are even worse. Every dialogue scene is statically filmed and is as riveting as golf. Once the hunt finally gets going it stops almost immediately for an extremely unnecessary rape scene that is made all the more excruciating to watch because of the very realistic performance from the actress playing the victim. This goes on for five horrendous minutes before ending with a weird, metaphorical shot of the rapist's positioning a knife in front of his groin to look like his erect cock. The Suckers looks like it was edited with a chainsaw and a wad of used bubble gum. At the ten-minute mark a scene abruptly cuts to a flashback sex scene without first establishing the proper context, then it cuts back to another scene without returning to the first that was interrupted. The hilariously bad quality of the print Vinegar Syndrome used for this DVD points to a great deal of missing footage that is possibly lost forever, but seeing as how that is several minutes' less of The Suckers that I have to watch you certainly won't hear any complaining from this writer.
The only parts about The Love Garden I found interesting was that it was produced by porn legend Bob Chinn and photographed by Douglas Knapp. Knapp later went on to lens John Carpenter's first classic movies Dark Star and Assault on Precinct 13 as well as The First Nudie Musical and several episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and Enterprise. Chinn's name in the credits makes me wonder if this movie was shot to be a XXX flick originally but edited to a more softer cut, but that is likely not the case since none of the three principal actors (and I use that term very loosely) had any hardcore credits to their name before or after The Love Garden.
This movie doesn't suffer from weird jump cuts or obvious missing footage like The Suckers, but there are times when I wish it had. Once again we are treated - or should that be mistreated? - to another endless assault of deadly boring dialogue scenes and poorly paced sex scenes. One scene between Clare and Inez runs without edits for 16 minutes - that's almost two reels in old timer projectionist talk. The same scene has some insert shots of a yawning wet vagina, while a later scene between Clare and Mike finally consummate their absurd love for each other (after a goofy romantic montage of tennis playing and long walks) plays out for 10 minutes and features some full frontal male nudity as well as a heavily implied blowjob. The relationships that provide the meat of the movie's narrative are lifeless and the ending is a complete letdown. Think of it as cinematic blue balls.
Vinegar Syndrome's packaging boasts that both films on this dual-layer DVD-9 disc were scanned in 2K resolution from original 35mm elements. I believe the hype. But you really have to read between the lines there. They make mention of the movies being scanned, but not restored. The Suckers is presented in an 16:9 enhanced, anamorphic widescreen transfer in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, while The Love Garden is presented in the Academy standard full frame ratio of 1.37:1 and is 4:3 enhanced. Both prints are in abominable shape with The Suckers faring the worse. The picture looks very bright even in the night scenes but is plagued by excessive amounts of print damage like scratches, noticeable blue lines, and awkward jump cuts indicating missing footage. The most ridiculous edit in the entire movie comes during the end credits sequence, which if you watch carefully will notice is also the opening credits sequence. It's an montage of the characters driving along toward Vandemeer's property and the editors must have decided to play it cheap and simply make a duplicate of that sequence and slap in on at the end. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that. The Love Garden's print is in much better shape but it too suffers from damage caused by years of neglect and the common of having a limited amount of film prints to go around that most grindhouse movies have encountered at one time or another. The image quality is primarily soft and dark but there are also some instances when the print looks bleached as if the negative had been exposed.
Both movies get English 2.0 audio tracks. On The Suckers the sound is loaded with heavy distortion and comes across like the sound engineer was eating a bowl of Rice Krispies too close to the equipment during the mixing process. The Love Garden's audio is passable but the banal dialogue and folksy soundtrack by Guy Guilbert sound tinny and indiscernible most of the time. No subtitles are included.
There are no extras.
A double feature of minor sexploitation flicks that combined are about as arousing as the thought of Hugh Hefner still getting laid at his advanced age, Vinegar Syndrome's latest Drive-In Collection is a total loss on all fronts. Your time will be better spent trying to get off to the plus size section of the Sears catalog.