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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Erotic > Sex > Sexploitation > Drama > Relationships > Serena: An Adult Fairy Tale (1979)/Same Time Every Year (1981/Impulse Pictures DVDs)/28 Hotel Rooms (2012/Oscilloscope DVD)

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-



Sex in 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.



Such is 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.


It also 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.


Neither 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.



As the 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.


Matt 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 intense sex?


The film 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.


Extras 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.



The 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.


The lossy 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 restoration work.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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