27th Mar2016

‘Robin’s Nest / Bella’ Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido

ROBIN’S NEST (1980)

“There’s high flying action when the pretty little birds flock together…”

robin-nest

Newlyweds Alan (Eric Edwards, Laura’s Toys) and Robin (Arcadia Lake, Debbie Does Dallas) spend their first day as a married couple by moving in to their new apartment. Naturally, that evening they christen said apartment like most couples would do and damn do they start married life with a bang! The perfect start to what will be a truly future? Maybe not, because fast forward six months later and the couple’s bickering has lead to the pair undergoing a trial separation and Robin to move out. She decides to stay with her high society nympho of a friend; Glenna (Robin Byrd, Pleasure Palace). The pair then do some “catching up”. With her mind somewhat at ease, Robin’s healing process is off to a great start! Alan on the other hand is a bumbling, scruffy mess. Thankfully, he gets cheered up by his own nympho of a friend; Larry (Paul Thomas, The Price of Desire) after a chance encounter in the local drinking hole. Unlike Glenna however, Larry is a bit of a creep who in his spare time likes to stalk a cheating housewife known as Mrs. G (Marcia Mager, Sweet Wet Lips). After a few drinks, Larry invites Alan back to his wife Lorraine’s (Samantha Fox, Babylon Pink) funded swanky abode. How does he cheer up Alan? By letting him have some “consoling” of his own with Lorraine’s young plaything; Honey (Crystal Day, Secrets of a Willing Wife). If things weren’t complicated and ugly enough (well, depends on how you look at it.) for both Alan and Robin, the fact that Lorraine is “good friends” with Glenna may just make the situation uglier than it already is!

In a nutshell, Robin’s Nest is a simple piece of melodrama with a touch of comedy thrown in for good measure. Stylistically, the film reminded me of a late 1960′s piece of sexploitation cinema. After looking at Victor Bertini’s filmography, that was no surprise to me as this (his final film) was his first film since a trio of late 1960′s sexploitation efforts (his only other directorial credits). Of course, instead of flirty thrills, we have unsimulated sex and even though the cinematography and set layouts are reminiscent of retro cheeseball sexploitation cinema, there is a contemporary (for the time) style and set decoration. It makes for a visually intriguing experience. Overall, the film has a sense of cheapness about it, but Bertini pulls off a somewhat accomplished piece of hardcore cinema. You’d think he’d been shooting X-Rated skin flicks for years! To compliment the action, there’s a great selection of music throughout and although credited to an outfit called Goldenrod, it seems more likely that it’s just a tactic to hide the (wonderfully handpicked) usage of library music. To match the style, there are great performances throughout from everyone involved. Although only appearing together in a handful of scenes, there’s genuine chemistry between Arcadia Lake and Eric Edwards (something I will touch upon again at the end of the review!. It’s not exactly the most entertaining film of its kind, but there are some great individual gags throughout and definitely worth watching more than once. On a completely different note, it reminded me of the 1985 shot on video outing The Initiation of Cynthia, a film I have watched recently… What do you mean you don’t care!?

BELLA (1979)

“The most classically erotic film ever made…”

bella

With her husband Bob (Jake Teague, Cannibal Ferox) constantly away on business trips, it’s no surprise that lonely housewife Susan (Diana Sloan, Dracula Exotica) would begin an affair with the local hunky handyman Tom (Eric Edwards). Unfortunately for her however, her young daughter Bella (Tracy Adams, Fascination) discovers her engaging in her dirty little hobby after returning home earlier than usual one day. Instead of confronting her mother and revealing the truth to her father upon his return, Bella is overcome by lust after witnessing Tom and his DIY skills. Thus, begins a sordid little love triangle. Bella’s lust soon turns to love and obsession, but Tom is unwilling to commit. Bella’s obsession combined with her jealousy leads her to take drastic measures, involving her friend and all-round unknowing participant; Patty (Arcadia Lake). With the stakes and tensions high, what happens will change everyone and everything forever. Will Bella do something she may regret or can she come to a compromise with her mother? One thing’s for certain, this is probably the most hands-on work Tom has ever had to do in his life!

Much like the previous film, Bella is a melodrama with a simple concept. It may not be the most original of concepts, but it’s far from the weakest attempt at the “mother and daughter fall for the same man” plot. Things are pretty straightforward and somewhat vanilla for most of the film, but the final third REALLY stands out. It may not be the most shocking, heart-wrenching or adrenaline filled final thirds, but it definitely leaves an impression. All in all, it’s a solidly paced film with only a couple of sex scenes being a few minutes too long. In terms of pornography, there’s no complaints at all. Aside from Diana Sloan, the film is well acted and the characters are believable. Although the delivery of her dialogue is wooden to say the least, it doesn’t detract too much from the overall film. The star of the show for me is of course the lovely Tracy Adams who really does portray the obsessed naïve lover almost perfectly. That being said, even if her performance wasn’t the greatest, you really wouldn’t complain. It’s a travesty that this was only the second of a handful of films she starred in because she could have made a REALLY big name for herself. In terms of style, the film almost has a feel of Joe Sarno (Abigail Leslie is Back in Town) to it; solid enough erotic, yet kitchen sink drama and genuinely cinematic. It’s no surprise the film is shot so wonderfully as porn veteran Carter Stevens (Punk Rock) was behind the camera with complete artistic freedom. Shots are wonderfully and thoughtfully staged and there are some great handheld and dolly shots thrown in too for good measure! You’ll be hard pressed to find a film of this nature and budget that looks as good. Overall, this film has a lot to offer and can warrant repeat viewings.
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Wouldn’t you know? Vinegar Syndrome have done yet another great job with the restoration and presentation of these films. Aside from maybe one or two incidences with clear signs of irreversible print damage, the films look and sound great, especially when it comes to the cinematography of Carter Stevens in Bella. Speaking of Carter Stevens, the main feature on this disc is a short interview with the man himself (why has no one made a feature length documentary about him!?). He talks about his experience and freedom on the film as well as talking about Blue Underground’s very own Bill Lustig and his involvement with the film. It’s a fantastic little interview and I hope there’s going to be much more in the future. The only other special feature is a trailer for Bella. Overall, this is a solid double feature mainly to commemorate the real life relationship between Arcadia Lake and Eric Edwards. It doesn’t just work on that level because both films have the same sort of vibes and compliment each other. If you want to see character driven porn, give this release a try! Just don’t let your mother find out…

Robin’s Nest and Bella are available as a double feature DVD release as well as being streamable on Exploitation.tv

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