Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

October 14, 2014

Movie Review: Tropic of Desire (1979) and Fantasy World (1979)

Directed by Bob Chinn

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Vinegar Syndrome cleans up and presents a pair of vintage pornographic features by the legendary director Bob Chinn. Both Tropic of Desire and Fantasy World look especially great: bright and eye-poppingly colorful. But are the films really any good? We shall see …

Tropic of Desire is set in a Hawaiian brothel in the final days of World War II. Porno veteran Georgina Spelvin, who looks great – she usually played matronly figures beginning with The Devil in Miss Jones (1974), plays Frances the Madame. As expected, there's little to no plot. The brothel's favorite girl, Rita (Kitty Shayne) has lost her fiancĂ© to battle, and she tearfully heads off to San Francisco to start life anew. Various serviceman stop by and are very disappointed that Rita has hit the road – but that doesn't stop them giving the other girls the ol' heave-ho. The high point of the film is a silent black-and-white stag film screened at an orgy where a guy loses his wristwatch in a most interesting way along with a girl indulges in some quick nicotine in an even MORE interesting way …

Producer Gail Palmer – whose name appears before the title in lieu of Chinn, corralled some decent sets and costumes for this opus, but couldn't convince the male actors to trim their shaggy Disco-era mops. On a far more important point, this reviewer can't imagine the typical stag film patron walking away from Tropic of Desire satisfied. In the first few minutes there's a non-climactic oral scene and a non-explicit masturbation scene and then NOTHING happens for at least 43 minutes, when the onscreen action finally, ahem, “gets to the point.” This was probably done in order to placate female members of the audience who were dragged to the theater by their boyfriends or husbands who could tell them, “See? This is like a real movie!” Not quite, as the acting and blocking is particularly bad, even for a blue movie!

On a more interesting note, skin flick vet Ken Scudder (under the nom de plume Ken Cotton) appears as a lovelorn sailor. Scudder played the hitch hiker in Curt McDowell's Thundercrack! (1975), the notorious black-and-white horror-porno-comedy involving people waylaid at a windswept mansion and a climactic sex scene with a gorilla. In all previous material written about Thundercrack!, one was led to believe that all the actors were “porno virgins” who had never performed before the camera before. It turns out that Scudder has porno credits at least a mile long, and Thundercrack! Co-star Melinda McDowell recently shared with this reviewer that both her and Scudder “shared the screen more than a few times.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Co-feature Fantasy World can best be described as Cafe Flesh (1982) without imagination. Recycling the warship set from Tropic of Desire, three long-haired and bearded member of the United States Navy (cut your hair, guys! C'mon!) dock in San Francisco and pledge to try something a little different … at the same time, three gals from the Midwest are in the City and are feeling adventurous. They all converge at Fantasy World, a shabby little hole in the wall that promises to fulfill the audience's wildest fantasies. It appears that the sailors and the girls are pretty prosaic; the situations are dull and mundane. There is a quasi-sadomasochistic scene at the conclusion that winds up being the usual patty-cake sequence. There's lots of talk, talk, talk: the characters are greeted by a debonair man dressed in black (Ted Reynolds) at the entrance and are then regaled by a British master of ceremonies Nigel, (James Price) dressed in white who can't conceal his abject boredom!  

Both Tropic of Desire and Fantasy World would be a very pleasant surprise to someone who has never seen a pornographic film before. For the rest of us jaded cineastes, however, it's just par for the course. The DVD, as in the manner of previous Vinegar Syndrome releases, divvies up the action with “reels.” The theatrical trailer for both films are included as bonus material.

No comments:

Post a Comment