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August 5, 2014

Movie Review: Baby Rosemary (1976) and Hot Lunch (1978)

Directed by “Howard Perkins”

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Vinegar Syndrome wipes off a couple of shot-on-film XXX favorites that are, uh, more interesting than most. Both Baby Rosemary and Hot Lunch were directed by John Hayes, who directed the quirky Garden of the Dead and Grave of the Vampire. Under the name of Howard Perkins, Hayes would helm hardcore porn, giving these features a bit more attention than they probably deserved.

Baby Rosemary is unconnected with Roman Polanski’s horror classic Rosemary’s Baby (1968), although it has distinct horror elements. Sharon Thorpe plays Rosemary, a most unappealing female lead. With her dishrag personality and frequently dirty hair, still outgrowing a blonde dye job, she blue-balls her boyfriend Jon (John Leslie). Not to worry – John just hoofs it across town to a prostitute (Leslie Bovee) for some relief. The next day, Rosemary goes to visit her estranged father at a San Francisco flophouse – where she is raped at knifepoint by her father’s neighbors Ken Scudder and Monique Cardin! Rosemary decides she likes it and begins to see Scudder romantically where he brutalizes her a second time. She’s saved by John, now in his day job as a police officer!

No, it doesn’t make any sense – remember, this is a porno film! Rosemary’s father has passed, and she is asked to formally identify him at the coroner’s office. Now a teacher at an all girl’s school, two of Rosemary’s prize students, played by Candida Royalle and Melba Bruce, drop to their knees to offer up a pagan prayer involving a Priapic god. Visiting a funeral home, Rosemary’s two students ball a mortuary attendant in a room with classic horror movie posters tacked to the wall.

After a lot of sex with unappealing people, Rosemary is summoned back by a ghostly voice to the funeral home where her father lies in state. The people from her immediate past begin to fill the funeral home as an unseen stage hand douses the set with artificial fog – noisily. As the unseen stage hand adds atmosphere with a highly audible SPRITZ, SPRITZ and SPRITZ from his smoke machine, everyone around her indulges in an orgy, one character in skull makeup from the neck up. Rosemary is pulled into the festivities as she cries out to her father in the coffin. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”

And there you have it. Seventies porn with sort-of pretty actresses, bad acting and knee-jerk plot. Shot on 35mm film and brightly lit, Baby Rosemary is easy on the eyes. The print by Vinegar Syndrome only goes bad for a few seconds during a reel change.

Hot Lunch is another thing entirely. Greasy-haired nebbish (Jon Martin) is fired the first day from his dishwashing job after his boss enjoys a hot lesbian tryst with a prostitute. Things go from bad to worse and he comes home to find his wife in a hot threesome with two male rock musicians. She demands a divorce, and things really start to suck.

Things take a turn when he lands a job as a dictionary salesman. A female winery owner “retains his service” and gives him a high-paying commission. Washing his hair, his voracious boss sends him in the direction of some needy female clients, and well – all’s well that ends well.

Hot Lunch will leave many people cold; other than Pretty Peaches herself Desiree Cousteau, the female talent on display is, uh, regrettable. Martin himself is a “stiff performer.” It must be noted that a great deal of care was lavished on many exterior scenes. The photography set in a forest is nothing short of spectacular – one could almost forget that they were watching a skin flick, and Vinegar Syndrome’s impeccable restoration efforts here are well served. Rest assured, however, Hot Lunch is NOTHING to have bronzed.

Extras on the disc include trailers for both Baby Rosemary and Hot Lunch, as well as “soft” alternate takes for Hot Lunch, perhaps intended for cable TV. Fans of Golden Age porno will enjoy this quirky double feature from Vinegar Syndrome, who have done an awful lot in preserving America’s notorious skin flick past.

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