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December 1, 2016

Movie Review: The Passions of Carol (1975)

Review by Jeff

It’s just a few weeks until Christmas gets here and I still can’t help but wonder why there haven't been more Christmas themed porn films produced over the years. I know, It’s a sacred holiday to folks of the Christian faith, and the thought of Santa in an orgy with Mrs. Claus and the elves is beyond morbid, but still. Over the summer I learned from a pal that an adult film from legendary "Golden Age" director, Shaun Costello, called The Passions of Carol (based on A Christmas Carol), was discovered by a persistent archivist. As a fan of both porn and Christmas, I was overjoyed. The Passions of Carol had been released previously (by Video-X-Pix)to DVD from an inferior quality master, so the actual movie has been around, but film elements were unfortunatley thought to be lost – until now. Video-X-Pix recently added Shaun Costello’s, The Passions of Carol to their critically acclaimed line of Platinum Elite DVDs (Blonde Ambition, Maraschino Cherry and Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle all have recieved the Platinum treatment). Now, with the participation of Costello (Forced Entry, Waterpower, More than Sisters), Video-X-Pix delivers a brand-new remastered release of this tinsel covered porn oddity.

The Passions of Carol surrounds the life of the bitchy owner of Biva magazine, Carol Scrooge (Mary Stuart). She’s no different from Ebenezer, as she shows zero respect to her employees. Bob Cratchet (Costello regular, the late Jamie Gillis) takes the brunt of Scrooge’s cold, slave-driving treatment, by being forced to work extra hours at Christmas time to fix the flaccid cocks in the photos for her publication . Well as they say ,"karmas a bitch”. Soon Carol's visited by the the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. The story is amazingly comparable to the Dicken’s classic, just with a few subtle changes, like hardcore sex... lots of it!

That hardcore sex is fairly enjoyable, if not absolutely bizarre in some scenes (including one where a toy doll arm disappears in a vagina). "Mr. 10 ½ inch", Marc Stevens, in my opinion steals the film. As the ghost of Christmas past, he’s hilarious and brings some comedic energy to the role of the chained-up ghost. Stevens' sex scene with Mary Stuart isn't too bad either. Stuart, while not a great looking woman, makes up for it nicely by showing some true blow-job skill by handling the over-sized members attached to Marc Stevens and Sonny Landham with the ease. One of the biggest surprises in the film was seeing Sonny Landham screwing on film. I’m so used to watching this guy pop up in the numerous Walter Hill action flicks of the 80s that he had bit parts in and as Arnold's Indian pal who cuts up his chest in Predator - seeing Landham flopping his wang at the camera like tiger taffy, just added even more absurdity to the already wildly surreal experience.

Costello and cinematographer Bill Markle did a fine job shooting The Passions of Carol. With the budget they had for the 1974 production, it really looked quite lovely in spots and embodied the “spirit” of Christmas quite well visually . The usage of colors, dissolves, and fog machines we’re very helpful to the setting of the Christmans mood that they successfully achieved. And the music! Well, it’s loaded with all the public domain Christmas music that's played consistently during the holidays. The Exorcist theme is also part of the track during Stuart’s furious office three-way in the beginning of the film. If you’ve seen Costello’s other pictures ( More Than Sisters used Psycho’s theme), it was a common practice for the director.

The film quality is without a doubt the best it’s ever looked. There is some noticeable grain and minor damage in spots, but it’s obviously been remastered with much tender love and care. The colors are excellent ( the Christmas green and reds are vibrant) and the skin tones are also spot-on. The audio track has been repaired as well after some heavy restoration, which is noted in the commenatary. Apparently the audio was in some really bad shape in spots when it was initially ran . Overall it's a very nice looking presentation.

Now here is my favorite part of the disc, the extra features. This is where Video-X-Pix takes their release to the "elite" level. As mentioned earlier, Costello is involved with the extra features. Costello contributes extensive liner notes about his career, but more specifically his relationship with Capri Theater owners, Teddy Kariofilis and Tom Gioulos. It’s twenty-pages and a fun read. Video-X-Pix has also included a nifty historical featurette called, “The Deuce” . “The Deuce” of course covers some of the great porn theater hot spots on 42nd Street. Those fascinated with 42nd Street (like myself) will enjoy the nostalgic photos of the film Mecca. The photos are also accompanied by some historical notes on each of the theaters.

Costello also contributes to a lively and at times very humorous commentary moderated by one of the gentleman responsible in bringing this lost treasure to DVD, Joe Rubin. The anecdotes that Costello provides are very entertaining. One involving himself, sex and public transportation, amused me quite a bit. His observations of the film were funny as well. It's playful, technical and rich with information on the stars and crew from the movie. Rubin also does a fine job with questions and by consistently bringing up appropriate observations on the film. Specifics on the restoration process are also added, thankfully. It just moves along perfectly, with no uncomfortable dead-air. I’ll more than likely listen to it again soon.

Video-X-Pix/ DistribPix hits another home-run with their Platinum Elite release of The Passions of Carol. The Passions Of Carol is not only a pleasurable experience as an adult feature but at the same time it also works perfectly as a cult film, for the simple fact that it's completely different from the norm. Highly Recommended.
If you're interested in purchasing the Platinum Elite DVD of Passions of Carol go ahead and click on this link to the Video-X-Pix website

1 comment:

  1. They're also uploading some exclusive information and pictures, as well as the liner notes, on their info site,