Impulse Films has released two vintage erotic titles, Serena: An Adult Fairy Tale and Same Time Every Year. The most surprising element of both titles is that they are hard-core porn, but they are being accorded mainstream status through an aggressive promotional campaign by the DVD label, which is a division of Synapse Films. What is enjoyable about the Synapse catalog is the sheer diversity of their releases, ranging from classic and cult horror films to the notorious Nikkatsu Japanese soft-core titles (which are accorded Citizen Kane-like treatment, complete with extensive liner notes and poster reproductions.). These new titles don't get the same tender, loving care, but they are accorded "respectable" status nonetheless.
Serena: An Adult Fairy Tale- is a 1980 spin on the Cinderella legend, albeit of a kind that would have dear old Walt Disney spinning in his grave. Serena (played by an actress known as Serena), is a teenage sexpot who is sold into modern slavery by an evil stepfather. In her new "home", she is abused both sexually and psychologically. In between doing back-breaking housework, Serena is routinely called upon to satisfy her new mistress and her other female household guests. She's also used for sexual pleasure by a string of male visitors to the house. There isn't a social message being made here about the horrors of modern sex slavery, as Serena seems even more perturbed when she is left out of the action. The razor-thin "plot" finds the females of the house preparing for a big party for some hunky males (in this case, "grand ball" takes on an entirely different meaning.) Serena has been banished to her room as the other girls enjoy the orgy. She is visited by an equally sexy female supernatural presence who grants her wish to be able to attend the festivities. Presto! Serena suddenly appears at the party and predictably steals all the attention away from the egotistical women who have long mistreated her. Familiar faces from the era appear in the movie, including China Leigh and Jamie Gillis. Perhaps not coincidentally, the running time of the film is 69 minutes.
Same Time Every Year- was shot in 1981 and centers on an amusing scenario in which a group of male friends pretend each year that they must leave town for a business convention, leaving their wives back home. In fact, they are meeting their mistresses for wild sexual encounters. Meanwhile, the not-so-desperate housewives are all too happy to go along with the scenario, as it gives them an opportunity to get it on with a string of male and female lovers of their own. That's pretty much it. As with Serena, the movie was remastered from original 35mm film elements. (The opening and end titles show a lot of wear, but we have to remember these were not preserved in the Library of Congress) and, for the most part, quality is very good. The cast in this one includes the omnipresent China Leigh, Loni Sanders, Herschel Savage, Holly McCall and an impossibly svelte Ron Jeremy, before he indulged in the Marlon Brando dietary plan. There is also a credit for Boo, The Wonder Horse, but don't panic- the action never gets that kinky.
Both films are "directed" (so to speak) by one Fred J. Lincoln, whose apparent "legit" claim to fame is having appeared in Wes Craven's original Last House on the Left. A look at his IMDB credits shows Mr. Lincoln must be the hardest working man in the porn industry, having cranked out many dozens of titles right up through today, including some with some name recognition such as Dallas Does Debbie the infamous 1970s flick The Defiance of Good that preceded the Traci Lords scandal when it was revealed that the movie's female lead, Jean Jennings, was under age.
I suppose that one's ability to wax nostalgic about porn movies very much depends upon your receptiveness to the genre itself, as well as the era in which you grew up. Back in the pre-home video day, it was considered an upscale experience when a porn film was shot in 35mm. These "expensive" productions drew large audiences and sometimes played for years in the same theater. The quality still exceeds today's boring adult fare in the sense that, at least some degree of film making skill was required behind the camera. There are also some hints of production values, with occasional glimpses of opulent homes and settings. Probably the biggest difference between then and now is that the actors actually resembled real people in those days. There's an abundance of hair and sweat, but the cast members actually look real people, as opposed to the Botox and silicone-injected, indistinguishable robots who populate today's boring erotic videos.
There are no extras on the DVDs, which is too bad because it would be interesting to hear Fred J. Lincoln's insights on how the porn business has changed over the decades. Nevertheless, if you're not offended by these types of things, the Impulse releases will bring back some good (and naughty) memories.