Alex de Renzy was one of the most highly-regarded auteurs in adult film history, and Vinegar Syndrome has helped to introduce new audiences to some of his best-known work with their release of the PRETTY PEACHES films. The first release in their “Films of Alex de Renzy” line was a double-feature of PRETTY PEACHES 2 & 3, and now the latest double-feature disc has been released with two early de Renzy films: LITTLE SISTERS (1972) and POWDER BURNS (1971). These two films point toward the defining characteristics of de Renzy’s later work and what makes his films so popular among fans of adult cinema.
Vinegar Syndrome referred to LITTLE SISTERS as “what may be the weirdest film deRenzy ever made,” and they are not exaggerating. A mother and her two young daughters live in a trailer deep in the woods where Mother keeps her girls shielded from the dangers of the world. One day while Mother is out running an errand, a group of pirates stumble upon the girls and kidnap them, leaving behind a rude note for Mother claiming the kidnapping was the work of “The Dykes.”
While the pirates have their way with the daughters, Mother has a series of bizarre encounters in the woods while she searches for them, including a stop at a monastery that turns into a full-on gay orgy. Finally, she is assisted by a forest elf named Derek who brings everyone together for a proper scolding and a surprise sing-along.
LITTLE SISTERS crams a wide variety of sexual encounters into its brief 65-minute running time; there’s something here for just about everyone. And something to offend nearly everyone, as well. When the daughters are being kidnapped, the older sister states that the younger is 12, and while neither of the women look anywhere near 12 years old, it makes an already squirm-inducing gang-rape scene even more uncomfortable. The tone of most of the film is fairly light and the comedy is goofy, but this scene stands out as being unpleasant and mean-spirited (not unlike the lesbian gang-rape scene in PRETTY PEACHES).
Other than this scene, LITTLE SISTERS is pitched at a broad comic tone, with de Renzy’s game performers up for all sorts of sexual antics. Anyone who is easily offended—or hell, anyone who is even reasonably offended—might want to give this film a wide berth, but anyone interested in de Renzy’s early work and what kind of stuff filmmakers could get away with in adult cinema of the early 1970s will find this required viewing.
The second film on the disc is POWDER BURNS, a strange Western/comedy/porn hybrid that takes place entirely in and around what looks like a saloon set up in a huge barn in the middle of nowhere. A narrator explains what is happening at irregular intervals, sometimes even speaking over characters speaking dialogue in the scenes. The sheriff/bartender in the town of Sewerpipe Creek chases the McNasty brothers out of town and hires a go-go dancer named Lolita (who drives up to the saloon in a ’60s car). She helps him recruit a bunch of other girls, turning the saloon into an all-purpose entertainment center for the town: saloon, strip club, dance hall, and brothel. When the McNasty brothers return, they have a good ol’ time all night before engaging the Sheriff and in a final gunfight in the morning.
POWDER BURNS is a pretty tough watch. None of the actors seem to have any idea what they’re supposed to do in front of the camera when they’re not having sex, which is the majority of the film. The movie runs a little over 70 minutes, but there’s no sex until well over halfway through. Once it starts, the back half of the film is pretty much just a long series of scenes panning around the different parts of the barn where the girls and the McNasty brothers are having sex, occasionally punctuated with some mugging for the camera. Both LITTLE SISTERS and POWDER BURNS feel like someone learning how to put a movie together, for better and for worse. There are moments of inspired weirdness in both films, but they’re also both very unpolished. They are much more interesting in historical importance than as entertainment.
Vinegar Syndrome presents LITTLE SISTERS and POWDER BURNS restored from 16mm vault elements. LITTLE SISTERS looks nice for such a small production transferred from an old print, and most of POWDER BURNS looks fine. However, there is some damage to the image in some outdoor scenes. The film is still more than watchable, and the issue only pops up a few times, but anyone expecting the typically pristine image quality of most Vinegar Syndrome presentations should be aware of it. Given how obscure the film is, though, it’s better to have it transferred complete and uncut from an imperfect source than to not have it at all. There are no extras on the disc to accompany the features, but again having nice transfers of the complete, uncut versions of these films is a big deal.
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