Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Harlot/Tijuana Blue (Vinegar Syndrome DVD Review) - Ziehm Goes to Mexico

It's time for another foray into the adult cinema world with a double feature from the Peekarama series. Important to note: These are 16 mm prints. That means that you may notice more film grain than normal or other imperfections. Both movie were made in the 70s by the same director Howard Ziehm who is a bit of a legend in the porn world. The  Director has some fun porn titles in his catalog including the infamous Flesh Gordon and its sequel. Flesh Gordon was featured prominently in the first mail order catalog I received out of the back of Fangoria during the big bad VHS bootleg days. Let's dig in with some very unique pieces of adult cinema that will challenge you more than they'll help you get off.


This one actually includes a commentary with Howard Ziehm himself! It proudly announces “It’s a Graffit Picture Folks” in the opening credits. The music is old school jazz that almost gives it the ere of good taste. While the credits are scratchy with some damage to original print, the whole thing does get better. Still it is all grindhouse, all the time with this series from VS.

The story line focuses on sexual education of some young ladies. The funny old jazz music continues in the background that feels inappropriate; this is less classy than the stuff that was over the credits and now has a goofy feel. If there's one thing I can't stand about this period in porn it's the flaccid cock blow jobs. Sure it's characteristic of the time, but it comes off like watching a toothless woman eating limp asparagus that's been steamed too long than a sexual act.

There's a variety of different sexual situations. A blow job in a car.  Fucking in an elevator  or should I say solely going into the elevator for the purpose of fucking. While they get caught in the act which is a really weird scene it may not be as weird as the “friend” who simply watches said girl fucking in the elevator. There's a voyeurism/exhibitionist fetish being played out in both scenes, but it feels like a deliberate forced sexual experiment. This gives way to some serious close ups of a blow job on a rooftop set to organ music. Almost uncomfortably close. Then of course there's the stereotypical instructional moments with the friend all the time the music varying from inappropriate to strangely more inappropriate than the last.

The real shining star of a scene is the sex with teacher sequence. There's some anal play which seems somewhat advanced for a flick from 71. The female teacher is wearing a black belt the whole time… has a very cool look. This is highly stylized and stands out from the rest of the movie as being bold. Of course the movie does continue in this direction.What may have seemed like a fairly normal skin flick is about to get weird and rough.

Take for example this Stephen King/Jordy Verril lookin' fella getting spanked in a car while he has his nuts scrubbed with a very serious looking brush as he screams. It’d be funny if it wasn’t terrifying. Then we actually get some more anal play (his not hers) involving a sex toy. He keeps screaming "it hurts". You feel pretty damn bad for this guy. It finishes off with fucking while driving. Some pretty cool cars are featured… if you’re into that kind of thing.

Did you think it could get any weirder? Well, it kind of does. The final sex scene of the movie features a biker raping our lead actress which starts out as a serious rape scene and then turns into a naked chase scene with strange calliope music in the background. It's sped up which provides a comedic element, and just when you thought you might actually get the feeling for what is happening in this picture, the movie slows down again. This guy is running around with a blanket-like a cape and the music is some kind of a orchestral nature film overture which gives way to making love on the beach with backward music. You have no time to actually consider rubbing one out because of the tragic death on the via motorcycle crash!

Most adult films are hodge podges of sex scenes with plot interspersed and a few laughs. This is a true sexual adventure that is almost taxing to watch. It puts you through the whole range of emotions.

Tijuana Blue

There are no extras for this one, but the quality of this one is better than Harlot. The name of the director on the print is Harry Hopper in in lieu of Howard Ziehm. The picture opens with flamenco guitar which is more appropriate given the title of the movie, but also gives us a sense of Ziehm's style. He likes interesting music in his adult movies.

This one opens with a couple having sex after he picks up drugs. It's a long sex scene with standard stuff (after Harlot I was thinking that somehow she'd try to smoke reefer out of his cock while lighting his balls on fire).Now these are some hairy folks, ungroomed, which is keeping in the style of the times. Perhaps harrier than normal thus worth noting here. The lead reminds me of Bill Murray, so if you ever wondered what it would be like to watch Bill Murray fuck... here's your chance.

Continuing the strange connection to Saturday Night Live, this guy’s drug contact looks like he stepped off the step of the Blues Brothers. Despite the explicit warnings of our friendly neighborhood drug dealer our protagonist goes south of the border, directly to a strip club and has sex with the stripper right there in the bar. This is followed up by an interracial sex show in a hotel room with toys. Stay away from perverts? We ARE the perverts,buddy boy!

Perhaps the most oddball scene in the movie happens when these guys are walking next to the ocean, and this random woman forces one of our heroes to eat cherry lifesavers like benwa balls out of her snatch. She just orders him around. It’s almost like watching a precursor to Mole in Desperate Living. It's uncomfortable to watch at best but serves a purpose. It's all a ploy set up by that Blues Brother looking motherfucker to test our heroe's loyalt . He fails by  being a pervert, is forced to blow up a raft and sails off into the ocean while zydeco music/Latin music of some kind plays while the dealer, Mole and his buddy make fun of him.

Did you get all that? It's damn exhausting!

You can pick up this release now from Vinegar Syndrome HERE.

From Vinegar Syndrome:

Following the unprecedented success of his 1970 film Mona, director Howard Ziehm quickly established himself as a one-man filmmaking machine, directing dozens of boundary pushing sex films. Presented here are two of his most unique and important early works.

Mary and Melody are best friends, though Melody is uncomfortable around Mary’s sexual openness. After finally being coaxed into sexual experimentation, Melody begins to discover her erotic self and indulges in a series of sexual adventures, each wilder than the last. One of the most transgressive early X rated films, HARLOT is an avant-garde influenced, anti-establishment oddity, presented fully uncut for the first time on DVD.
D: Howard Ziehm / 1970 / 64 min / Color / 1.33:1

After discovering that his girlfriend is pregnant, a man named Jamie agrees to assist on a drug run from Tijuana back to LA so that he can raise the money necessary for an abortion. However upon his arrival in Mexico, he soon discovers that there may be more to the operation than drugs…
D: Howard Ziehm / 1971 / 92 min / Color / 1.33:1

Features Include:

• DVD | Region Free | 1.33:1 OAR
• Scanned and restored in 2k from 16mm vault elements
• Commentary track by director Howard Ziehm for HARLOT

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