Serena: An Adult Fairy Tale (1979)/Same
Time Every Year (1981/Impulse Pictures DVDs)/28 Hotel Rooms (2012/Oscilloscope DVD)
Picture: C/C/C+ Sound: C+ Extras: D/D/C+ Films: C/C+/B-
1970s cinema peaked in 1980 just before videotape started to really kick in, a
few epics were made (including Caligula
and softcore big budget camp works like Can’t
Stop The Music, et al) leaving the industry in a strange transition
period. This included the XXX
productions spending more money and/or trying to be more “artistic” and that
means the filmed works had to do something to make their money back and this
included becoming more sexually explicit.
the case in Fred J. Lincoln’s Serena: An
Adult Fairy Tale (1979) and Same
Time Every Year (1981), just issued by Impulse Pictures on DVD. Serena
is short at 69 minutes (no joke intended) is a weak Cinderella send-up with bad
writing, mixed sex moments and even the humor is on the weak side, while Year has humor more typical of the
industry at the time, more explicit sex than usual and a few moments that are
memorable and shows us the direction the industry was going to go into as they
eventually abandoned film for much cheaper videotape.
features early work by XXX survivor Ron Jeremy doing more humor than was
typical of such productions of the time, but as Porn Chic faded, Jeremy would
prop up the genre with his comic approach that would help the industry survive
and transition. This also happened when
Martial Arts films moved into much swifter decline in the late 1970s, so Jackie
Chan arrived for better and worse to continue making them, so by that logic,
Jeremy is the Jackie Chan of XXX films.
DVD has any extras, but they are curios into an industry trying to be more
legitimate and failing miserably (and profitably) at doing so. Lincoln
was also an actor in Wes Craven’s original Last
House On The Left.
unofficial XXX rating killed the legitimate adult status of the X rating and
was not very successfully succeeded by the NC-17 rating, there was still a
desire to see films with a mature adult sexual content and this eventually
produced new dramas and new approaches to sexual freedom on film.
Ross’ 28 Hotel Rooms (2012) is a
fine recent example of this as the film features a married woman (Marin Ireland) and
single writer (Chris Messina) having an affair that is serious, sexually
explicit and no joke. They are having
fun and really do like each other, trying the no strings attached approach
until it is obvious this is not going to work so easily. Might they love each other? What do they want with each other besides
is a character study without being pretentious, artsy and ironically is more
realistic than the XXX films above, but there were also approaches that were
rejected (voiceovers that might offer the stream of thought approach) and the
actors are pretty convincing all the way, even if a little bit of this does not
work or has run on issues in some scenes.
The chemistry and way the relationship evolves is a plus and that makes
the film worth a look, but it is explicit in its own way in this “not rated”
edition which also avoids the mumblecore independent production clichés.
include Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending that shows how they were
experimenting with several approaches, the Original Theatrical Trailer and an
interview with Director Ross during the Sundance Film Festival.
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on all three DVDs are soft, but Serena and Year have prints that have their share of age, damage, dirt and
color inconsistency, though you can see in some shots how good these must have
looked upon first release. Rooms is a new HD shoot and is nicely
shot throughout without major detail issues or motion blur problems. I would like to see it on Blu-ray.
Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Rooms is
dialogue and silence oriented, but it is well recorded for the most part and
just narrowly better than the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the other DVDs
which show the limited fidelity of their original recordings and need some
- Nicholas Sheffo