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Category:    Home > Reviews > Exploitation > Hicksploitation > Sexploitation > Camp > Comedy > Drama > Relationships > Italy > Teens > Backwoods Double-Feature: Common Law Wife + Jennie Wife / Child (both 1963/Film Masters Blu-ray Set)/Frivolous Lola 4K (1998 aka Monella/Cult Epics 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/Homework (1982/Unear

Backwoods Double-Feature: Common Law Wife + Jennie Wife / Child (both 1963/Film Masters Blu-ray Set)/Frivolous Lola 4K (1998 aka Monella/Cult Epics 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/Homework (1982/Unearthed Blu-ray/*both MVD)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: B/B-/C+ Films: C+/B-/C+

Sexploitation, exploitation, something else or all of the above? These next releases will have you wondering at times...

Backwoods Double-Feature: Common Law Wife + Jennie Wife / Child (both 1963) are definitely is baiting stereotypes, sexism, a lurid take on sexuality, echoes of socioeconomic division, the improper, illegal, knowingly depraved, sick and anything else cheap it can comer up with for titillation and empty thrills. Common Law Wife has a goofy guy wanting to get rid of his 'old wife' and have his niece (named 'Baby Doll'!!!) replace her. When the girlfriend has been with him long enough to qualify for the title status, things get wackier.

Jennie Wife/Child has an older guy marrying a much younger gal, really way too young, but she lands up finding some guy her own age to be with intimately and hopes her new 'husband' will not find out. Of course, he does and....

It would be nice and comfortable to say that this kind of thing was limited to small B-movies, but that is wrong and the Southern stereotypes even go back to the silent era, while any such characters are partly a manifestation of the fact that the United States had no major intellectual beginnings the way you would see in some European countries. That has its advantages and disadvantages, but after The Civil War, this is how these stereotypes get such credit exposing how 'the losers' or the like got that way.

On the other hand, the stereotypes could be gentle friendly ones (The Beverly Hillbillies remains one of the biggest hit TV shows of all time and premiered the year before these films were released) and the documentary included here does explain some of this phenomenon. Those stereotypes are still with us, transmuted as they have become and it makes watching these as strange and sick as it does sad. However, A-movies with major actors even would feature such characters as soon as sound arrived on film, so this is just the bottom end of a much larger trend.

These are not great or good films, but worth seeing to see how bad and bizarre they are and some viewers seek out junky films like this, the kind Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been great at mocking for many decades. However, this set is only for the most curious or those actually researching such things.

Extras (per the press release) include Ballyhoo Motion Pictures documentary, That's Hicksploitation: The Origin of Southern Sinema; archival audio commentary for Common Law Wife by director of Swamp Rose, Larry Buchanan, and film historian/Mondo Digital founder, Nathaniel Thompson; Millie De Chirico, film programmer, writer and host of the podcast I Saw What You Did, and Ben Cheaves, programmer at Turner Classic Movies, provide a new, feature-length audio commentary for Common Law Wife; De Chirico also provides the full-length audio commentary for Jennie Wife/Child; liner notes by Lisa Petrucci; original, restored trailer for Common Law Wife; and newly created trailer by Film Masters for Jennie, Wife/Child.

Tinto Brass' Frivolous Lola 4K (1998) is one of the Penthouse Magazine Caligula director's better erotic films having a little more story and plot than usual. Not part of the import DVD box set we covered eons ago, it was issued on an import Blu-ray we reviewed at this link:


As explained in the previous coverage of the film, ''Lola (Anna Ammirati) and her fiancee/baker Masetto (Mario Parodi) dealing with the oppression of 1950s Italy, but while he wants to wait until they get married to have sex, she is not waiting and finds other men, including her mother's new lover Andre (Patrick Mower of the British spy series Callan, among others.) It just works and flows a bit better than his usual film and I guess that is why it has received better treatment than most of the others (at least until Caligula comes to 4K disc with a new version of the film comprised of surviving earlier, better takes where the cast gets to actual show their acting abilities!) so it is worth a good look if you have not seen it before.''

Extras go beyond the Original Theatrical Trailer that was the import Blu-ray's only extra, also here in 4K, the new disc set adds mini lobby cards, a good slip case, a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text, posters and the like beyond this film, while the actual discs add a feature length audio commentary track by Eugenio Ercolani and Nathaniel Thompson more trailers, a Photo Gallery and a 2004 Tinto Brass interview.

James Beshears' Homework (1982) features Joan Collins prominently in the artwork as 'the older woman' in a film about a young teen maned Tommy (Michael Morgan) who is obsessed with sex and wants to 'get some' as soon as possible. Collins is hardly in the film, but her sudden next wave of acting success on the huge 1980s hit nighttime soap opera Dynasty (staring with the Second Season for her, reviewed elsewhere on this site) ion the latter half of the year this film arrived.

Still being a teen B-movie of the time, it is on the raw, exploitive and even politically incorrect side and some of the jokes are just plain bad to desperate, yet Morgan is convincing in the lead role and it lands up having some good and interesting moments when it is not just plain dumb. A definite product of the late 1970s (especially, say, pre-Disco mania era) he tris to get a rock band together he tells the potential members cold be the biggest thing since KISS!!!

Thus, it is a time capsule of a lost era worth seeing now more than ever just for that. Had the makers tried harder and focused on the better aspects of what we get here, this might be remembered better like all of the Matt Dillon teen films of the time or the teen novel adaption Francis Coppola was making at the time. The supporting cast is better than you might expect, including Carrie Snodgress, Wings Hauser, Betty Thomas, Howard Storm, Stephan Gustafson and sometimes director but longtime character actor Mel Welles.

That makes this a curio most people should consider catching and for the scenes Collins has, she shows off her acting chops and steals every moment.

Extras include an illustrated slipcase, Promotional Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailers and an on camera interview with longtime producer Max Rosenberg.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Ultra High Definition image on Lola is interesting as compared to the import Blu-ray and Blu-ray included. Of course, this new disc set comes from the same transfer, but despite some new clarity in the 4K and flesh tones are good, the color overall seems to be different and sometimes, the import Blu-ray had better or different colors. It is hard to say which of the three discs are the best, but none of them necessarily seem 100% on the money. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is just a weaker variant of the 4K and passable, but makes the film look a little older than it should, while the 4K puts a little age on the two different Blu-rays.

The sound is here in two English and two Italian DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but the original sound recordings are only so good and limited, though both are legit soundtracks in this case. The older import Blu-ray only had Italian PCM 2.0 Stereo, as authentic as any of the soundtracks here and the 5.1 upgrades in both languages is really pushing it. You can choose which one you like, but I would stick with either Stereo version and they are as good as this film will ever sound.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfers on the Backwoods set can certainly show the age of the materials used, but much work has been done to fix these as much as possible and they look good for their low budget age and likely as good as we will ever see them. It is nice and interesting that they survived as well as they have. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes are as good as the films will ever sound and cheers to whomever restored and fixed the limited sonics on these films.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Homework is from an older HD master with various flaws, dirt and is looking older than it is in some ways, but color can be really good ands we get some good shots too. Any of those issues can be corrected of the negative survives and they can get a 4K scan. Not bad looking for its low budget. The PCM 2.0 Mono represents the original theatrical monophonic sound about as well as it can, but maybe it could sound marginally better if they went back to the surviving sound materials. Otherwise, this is the best the film has looked and sounded on home video to date.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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