24th Jun2015

‘Powder Burns’ DVD Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido

NOTE: For the review of Powder Burns‘ Peekarama DVD double-bill feature, Little Sisters, check out this episode of Mondo Squallido….

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(1971, dir: Alex deRenzy)
“Outlaw Men – Wild Women”

After a montage of the vastness of the desert (we’re nearly in Herzogian territory here!) we are thrown balls deep in to a small shoot out. Yep, welcome to the Old West! Well, not exactly! Aside from cowboys, horses and fitting music, we also have chaps wearing aviator shades and scrapped cars laying about. The year is actually 1969 and we’re in the small town of Sewer Pipe Creek. The local sheriff (and barkeep) is having a spot of trouble with the pesky McNasty Brothers, a trio of brothers who like to cause chaos in the town for a couple of weeks once a year. Our hero runs the scum out of town and as a result, his saloon girls aren’t too happy because although a troublesome threesome, they spend more money in the town in two weeks they are gallivanting than the locals do in a whole month. Cut to a year a later and we see the now former sheriff pondering on his career and life as he knows it. After trying to unsuccessfully woo his only remaining saloon girl, a new face appears in town. A young and curvy blonde go-go dancer nicknamed “The Golden Dream”. She struts her stuff (and what a lovely pair they are!) for the barkeep and his pals. She is an instant hit, sparking the barkeep to dream of the business opportunities his new dancer can bring to town. As he’s drooling over his new busty business venture, the McNasty Brothers are padding out the run time by slowly (I mean VERY slowly) roaming the desert and causing yet more mischief. They eventually return to Sewer Pipe Creek. Will history repeat itself? Well, after some innocent enough drinking and frolicking with the new dancers (that was quick barkeep!), a fight breaks out between the brothers and a couple of locals, resulting in another shootout in which all those involved are killed (even though you can clearly see them still breathing) leaving the girls to rob the corpses! Yep, your guess is as good as mine?

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What can I say about Powder Burns? Not that much actually. What we have here is an ultimately unforgettable film. A clumsily staged and acted outing that has more unintentional entertainment that intentional. Don’t get me wrong, the comedy element works with some genuinely funny dialogue from our sheriff / barkeep. There’s some nice talent on show too. Unfortunately, none of the girls are really credited, which is a shame because even though the film lacks in terms of story (an almost porn take on Samuel Fuller’s Forty Guns if you will), acting and visually appealing technical elements (with the exception of the occasionally interesting use of handheld cinematography), the girls are very nice indeed and I want to see more! There are some rather odd elements too, including an extended and sped up sequence of people drinking at the bar. I have no idea why that’s included, but it is and I suppose it adds to the charm (if a de Renzy film can be charming!) of the film. It’s inoffensive enough, but I could see some people having major problems with some of the out of place and odd sequences. If you’re here for the porn element, you may also be disappointed as the small amount of actual sex is clumped together within the final third. Yep, this is an unconventional (just like a deRenzy film should be) piece of early porno to say the least. I didn’t hate the film at all, I was just expecting much more. I mean, it’s Alex de Renzy making a meta western porno! It should have been more entertaining than it was.
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Overall, Little Sisters is the better of the two films. Powder Burns just completely pales in comparison. That being said, how can I be too harsh when we are presented with two of deRenzy’s earlier works on one disc? It’s great that we are getting his work on legitimate disc in the first place! Both films are quirky and unconventional in their own way so folks looking for a different adult experience should give these a try. If you are a fan of deRenzy, chances are you already own this release. If you want a fun experience, then this is a nice double feature that is sure to go down a treat at a drunken gathering! Both films are presented in their original aspect ratio and have been cleaned up as best as possible by Vinegar Syndrome. There is clear print and sound damage, but you have to remember that chances are the original prints were probably not in the best shape. The bottom line is this is the best presentation of these films we will ever get. There are no special features on the disc, but like I said, these are two early deRenzy films so we should be thankful we have them widely available. Let’s not forget that the Peekarama series is always brilliantly priced, so you are definitely getting your money’s worth. This is a must own release and I look forward to what deRenzy treats we will get from Vinegar Syndrome in the future!

The Little Sisters / Powder Burns double feature is available now from Vinegar Syndrome

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