26th Jan2017

‘Storefront Theatre Collection #1: Po-No’ Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido


Ever wondered what it would be like to visit an LA porn theatre in the early 1970’s? Well, those lovely folks over at Vinegar Syndrome may have the release just for you. I’d usually set the scene and build up the excitement (I do actually do that right?), but we have over 12 hours of smut to get through so let’s get on with it!

DISC 1: 7 PM – 11 PM

(19??, dir: unknown)

Our uninterrupted sleazefest starts off a little bit tame actually (as it is a purely simulated scene) and sees a too cool for school yuppie returning home to his wife after being away for a couple of days. Naturally, he wants a welcome home present and it’s not until he’s in that classic handstand position with his tiny pecker exposed in all its limp glory that he gets it. Just like his member, this segment is short and sweet. A rather surprising start I think you will agree!

(1970, dir: unknown)

To follow that we then have a much longer, harder and fatter offering, following the exploits of Homer, an ageing and overweight porn film editor, who starts his day by dreaming he’s in a hardcore epic surrounded by beautiful women. His rather abrasive mother puts an end to that and sends him off to work. Whilst editing a stag film at work (an Inception moment if you will) involving a Bonnie and Clyde like couple, he falls back asleep and is then sent for coffee to wake him up. Upon his return he is introduced to the studio’s latest buxom secretary, who immediately invites him back to her place for a swim and a completely different type of dip. Not a bad day if you ask me.

(1973, dir: unknown)

Moving on to something quite groundbreaking; a POV film! Yep, probably one of today’s most popular genres / styles (I’m guessing… I wouldn’t know of such things… obviously!) was done here in 1973. We follow a sex writer as he finds himself walking in to a handful of sexual encounters. Like they always say, research is always the hardest part of writing. The feature plays out more like a mini documentary rather than what we consider a POV styled video nowadays. A very intriguing effort indeed with some unintentionally funny, surreal and genuinely awkward moments throughout.

(1971, dir: unknown)

Speaking of documentaries, the next offering is a clever spin on the popular Mondo-style documentary genre. It’s almost exactly what you would expect from a Mondo film. The biggest giveaway is the fact that the talking heads they interview are clearly actors (Rene Bond even makes an appearance as a well-respected writer of pornographic films!). Of course, there are sensationalist images throughout, but it is a porn documentary. What does strike you is the fact that the film does have a genuine message and some fantastic topics and opinions centred around porn as art, the quality and quantity of porn films being made at the time and of course the moral and societal aspects such as regulations, consent and censorship. You won’t find any borderline racist false narratives playing out over reused stock footage here. All in all, a genuinely interesting and thought provoking glimpse in to the growing industry at the time with talking points that are relevant even to this day.

(1970, dir: unknown)

In the final film on disc one, as the title suggests; we touch upon the subject of sex before marriage and catch up with a couple who decide they just can’t wait anymore and have an afternoon of pure passion on the kitchen table. They need to hurry though because the mother of the bride-to-be will be home any minute! Thankfully, they finish and we follow their relationship. There’s plenty of nooky to be had, but not always involving each other. You know how life goes! All in all, this little oddity has its quirks and some slapstick humour. A light hearted end to the first disc!

DISC 2: 11 PM – 3 AM

 (19??, dir: unknown)

The second disc kicks off with some young love as we follow a carefree young couple who decide to have a little frolic in the woods. They’re rudely interrupted when they realise that they are being watched by another couple. Well, this is Pornoland and we all know what happens in Pornoland right? Yep, the two couples literally come together for something far more exciting than a Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Short and simple.

 (1970, dir: unknown)

We pick up the pace and follow the exploits of a rather well spoken and charming mature Australian (or is he British!?) chap who receives a phone call from one of his pets and after some clumsy dirty talk (where he is literally talking off screen) arranges a meeting. Before that however, he has to tend to his lady at home. Things get interesting when his bit on the side arrives early. What’s a man to do!? Tend to each of them in different rooms of course! When another floosie stops by, it’s becoming tough work. Thankfully, a young John Holmes arrives to save the day… Hopefully.

 (1973, dir: Sam Weston)

After being treated to a couple of fine hygiene and makeup commercials, we are thrown in to the dark and sadistic world of vampires running rampant on the streets of Los Angeles. From dramatic reconstructions and on-location reports to undercover footage, you will be shocked at this thrilling and shocking exposé! Yeah, even you called bullshit on that one. This is a lovely little oddity full to the brim of zany, self-aware humour that actually stands up with a lot of the faux-commercial and Adult Swim copycats that my fellow hipsters love. It never falls in to cornball territory and you will find some genuine chuckles. Not only that, but the library music and original music used just take it to another level. A real stand out short that you can watch multiple times.

(1971, dir: Mark Hunter)

First of all – No. This isn’t a documentary about Madonna, but a shocking little short in which a Chris Rea lookalike snatches a young woman off the streets so he can have a bit of fun at her expense and dignity. Once he has finished, he savagely slaps her, steals her money and leaves her to lay in the alley. A real piece of shit I think you will agree. Our scumbag returns home to shoot up and carry on his miserable life. Little does he know that his latest victim is actually part of an infamous all-girl gang and they are rightfully out for revenge. He’d better watch his back, that’s for sure. This was actually a little, down and dirty shocker. Predating films such as I Spit on Your Grave, Last House on the Left, Switchblade Sisters and being a damn side nastier, this is a great example of rape revenge story telling that can still be uneasy to watch.

(1971, dir: Rik Taz’ner)

It’s a much lighter affair for our last film on the second disc as we are transported through the annals of Greek mythology. Unlike our previous Greek outing, this is the real Hercules and it’s all based on genuine scripture chronicling his rampant sexual exploits… Honest! See Hercules defy his mightiest enemy. Marvel as he unleashes his mighty strength and gasp at his mighty member! Yeah, you get the picture. Epic peplum this is not, but the film does have a genuine artistic style with some great costume and set design which is complimented by a grand orchestral score. A nice and imaginative way to end the disc.

DISC 3: 3 AM – 7AM

 (1971, dir: Jon Donne)

We’re beginning to see the home stretch now ladies and gentlemen! You’ve been a patient audience! Anyways, to kick off our third and final disc gives us an insight in to what happens behind the scenes of some of our favourite movies. We’ve all heard about the drama between actors and directors as well as the affairs that come with it. Now you can see it. Oh Hollywood! The lovely Rene Bond makes another appearance in this intriguing and well written comedy drama. Anyone aspiring to forge a career in movies should take note!

 (1972, dir: unknown)

It’s time for a good old fashioned crime outing as we follow a young woman who has recently flown in from Las Vegas to get down to business with a young John Holmes making another appearance. He has one last caper for them both – to sell a shitload of coke allowing the pair to get out of the game and live their lives crime free. She sets out to visit some of her most reliable friends and customers to help sell this mountain of snow. We all know though that things aren’t always what they seem and there’s a few surprises to be had in this interesting little crime thriller.

(1971, dir: unknown)

It’s time for something cheaper… a whole lot cheaper! We follow a prostitute who loves what she does and is a master of her craft. Whilst taking a walk round her local park, she encounters a young girl who is new to the city and takes her under her wing on as an apprentice. She teaches her about the business as well as giving handy hints and tips. Things are going swimmingly for both of them until our young apprentice’s past comes back to haunt her putting her in to a downward spiral. Boy oh boy is this a sleazy little number and the film is crude both in its execution and content. Not amazingly explicit, but you want to wash yourself just in case.

(1972, dir: Huck Walker)

Once you have cleaned your self off (no, not in that way!) we can get comfortable with our final feature of the set. We are literally ending on a high with another bleak offering. Just like the previous film, we follow a young prostitute and her heroin addicted friend. At first, their life seems quite grand, but the more parties they go to and the more men they service, the more they realise that their existence is less than ideal. Quite riveting and hard hitting in places with a generally surprising final act to the film. Thanks for leaving us with happy memories guys! Mood kill much?

Phew! I’m sure you’re just as tired as me after that sweaty, crust-filled marathon of sleaze. I won’t keep you much longer so don’t worry! If you have ever wanted to know what it would be like to enter a porn theatre in the early 1970’s then this is the release for you. OK, not all of the flicks on show are going to be winners, but when you stumble across the likes of All-American Hustler, Porno Mondo and (my personal favourite) Suckula, it’s a rewarding experience to say the least. This is a great little release showcasing the types of films that would be shown in the more “storefront” dives as opposed the bigger establishments showing the theatrical offerings of the time. Want a cheap thrill with yourself, your significant other or a complete stranger? Come on down to The PO-NO and sit back. Releases like this are becoming ever popular, but I have to say Vinegar Syndrome have nailed the formula and hit the target better than John Holmes ever could.

You do get the option to watch all discs uninterrupted to match smutty days gone by or you can hit that menu button and watch each short individually. All films are presented as best as they possibly could be and are much superior to their appearances on other releases throughout the years. I’m always the type who thinks stuff like this shouldn’t be completely restored and cleaned up and thankfully Vinegar Syndrome do just that. To compliment the experience, the release is packaged in a digipak format with slipcover and the card is recycled. The artwork comes from the legendary Robin Bougie who not only captures the essence of porn theatre window displays and newspaper ads, but also makes this one of Vinegar Syndrome’s most beautiful looking releases. Overall, a wonderful collection and a must own for anyone who is a fan of vintage pornography


I need a break before I watch it again though. This trench coat stinks!


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