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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD . Adam & Eve.

Grindhouse XXXGiven that it was a box office bomb, it’s interesting just how many imitators, offshoots and cash-ins Grindhouse was spawned – from movies like Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun to numerous DVD double-bills, trailer collections and box sets using the Grindhouse name and visuals as a selling point. Clearly, while not for the mainstream, the retro sleaze experience is one that has a solid market.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, that there have been a couple of porno pastiches of the concept. Thankfully not basing their stories of Death Proof or Planet Terror, these X-rated tales have instead taken to visuals and the flavour of movies made at a time when hardcore was also at its creative peak. How successful are they at capturing that feel? Well, not very. But much like the film that inspired it, Grindhouse XXX is a mixed bag.

Topped off with the ‘coming attractions’ film reel, film leader and scratches that every pseudo grindhouse filmmaker (me included) has been obliged to use, this interestingly packaged* double bill offers up two films, approximately 70 minutes a piece, as well as a rather ridiculous and amusing fake trailer for Easter, in which a psychotic Easter Bunny ploughs through assorted victims. It’s crude stuff, but is more fun that Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving trailer.

The opening film, sadly, is pretty poor. Student Assassin stars Tegan Presley as…erm… Tegan Presley, who tools up with a laughably huge collection of weapons when her cop girlfriend (Nina Mercedez) is kidnapped by a drug lord (Derrick Pierce), and sets out on a rescue / revenge mission. This had potential, but Presley has the acting ability of a lag (a problem when she is called on to emote) and director David Lord crams the whole story into about five minutes, the rest of the film being pretty generic sex scenes. Okay, it’s porn – you expect a lot of sex. But if you’ve gone to the effort of providing a narrative structure, rather than simply offering up Gonzo vignettes, then I expect you to follow through. In the end, tattoos aside, this feels like something from hardcore’s lowest ebb in the second half of the 1980s. And to make things worse, the video has been given that same post-production colour treatment that you find in the likes of Mega Piranha as an attempt to make the film look less cheap. It doesn’t work. It’s a shame, because the few minutes of action are handled with a degree of skill.

Grindhouse XXXThankfully the second film in the double bill improves things considerably. Andre Madness' Massacre at Pine Lake is a Friday 13th inspired slasher, with an escaped serial killer offing camp counsellors in the time-honoured tradition. Headed by Alexis Ford, these are the most unlikely bunch of counsellors you’ll ever see, and are horny enough to evoke the ire of any self-respecting Eighties horror villain.

The film takes a surprisingly long time to get to the first sex scene, and only has three porno sequences in the whole thing – there’s actually more plot than porn here. Unfortunately, it also takes quite a long time to get down to anything else, with lengthy scenes of the soon-to-be-victims tidying up and gardening, like it’s some sort of minimalist farming drama. Once our villain arrives on the scene though, there are some passably effective moments of horror before – spoiler alert for any readers who haven’t seen horror films before – our heroine dispatches him with a witty one-liner.

It’s not up to the standard of Camp Cuddly Pines Powertool Massacre, another porno slasher spoof from a few years ago, but Massacre at Pine Lake is an amusing distraction for genre fans.

Wrapped up with behind-the-scenes docos for both films, blooper reels, interviews, trailers and a commentary track, there’s no faulting this as a package. I just wish more effort had been made with Student Assassin. But then again, I could say the same about Grindhouse and Death Proof

* The box for Grindhouse XXX is a landscape format double sized affair, holding two boxed DVDs side by side. It’s impressive, but a bit of a bugger when it comes to shelf space!





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