Last House On The Left is unique amongst horror films for the many ties it had to the world of adult filmmaking. Both Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham had dabbled in the worlds of softcore and hardcore porn before and after making Last House, star Jeremie Rain had appeared in one of the sexed-up Ginger films and Sandra Peabody had also been in a few sexploitation quickies.
However, star Fred Lincoln – best known to fans as Krug’s creepy second-in-command, Weasel – was the biggest tie between tie between Last House and the adult filmmaking world. Not only did he star in both hardcore and softcore porn, he moved behind the camera for an extensive career as a porn director. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 75 but he left behind a body work that ensures he’ll be long remembered as one of the genre’s workhorses: between 1976 and 2006, he directed a whopping 320 adult films.
This review covers a pair of Lincoln-directed porn efforts from the early days of his career in this genre – and both show that he’s a man who clearly enjoyed his work.
Serena: An Adult Fairytale:
This hypersexualized riff on Cinderella features the title porn veteran as the servant and frequent sexual playtoy at a seaside bordello (i.e. someone’s house on the California coastline). As a fairy godmother (China Leigh) narrates the story, Cindy is used and abused by her mistresses – often as a pinch-hitter to help out during one-guy/two-girl sex scenes – until a handsome prince (Paul Thomas) and his manservant (Jamie Gillis) show up to audition potential princesses via an orgy. The godmother helps Cindy crash the scene and all’s well that ends in multiple positions.
Serena: An Adult Fairytale has all the earmarks of a “quickie” production: the storyline is simple and familiar, the dialogue is minimal, everything takes place at one location and the majority of the running time is devoted to wall-to-wall sex scenes (counting the orgy, well over a dozen different couplings are crammed into just over an hour). There’s only so much Lincoln can do with the setup but he has fun with it, skilfully deploying a roving, handheld camera to capture the sex and varying its styles from lyrical couplings to gleeful raunch. Serena makes a confident lead, Gillis gleefully steals a few scenes and China Leigh delivers some of the most hilariously monotone line readings ever heard in a porn.
In short, Serena: An Adult Fairytale is pretty decent as far as a “quickie” porn production goes and good fun for anyone into ’70s adult filmmaking.
Same Time Every Year:
This film was made just two years after Serena but shows a big advance in budget, ambition and filmmaking skill. Again, the plot is extremely simple: a trio of husbands, including Paul Thomas and Mike Ranger, take off for a yearly “business conference” after giving their wives a quick morning schtup. The wives, including then-current starlet Loni Sanders, know full well that the husbands are heading off to sleep with other women but they make no attempts to outsmart them or get revenge. Instead, they all have their own casual flings that are just as fulfilling as the ones their husbands are enjoying.
The resulting film is a series of variations on the sexual revolution’s mantra of “if it feels good, do it.” Lincoln has a lot of fun staging sex scenes that vary in setting and mood: highlights include a scene where Lee Carroll does an acrobatic striptease before coaching Thomas through a sex scene that building from purred instructions to frenzied orgasm, a funny scene where Ranger’s fantasy is revealed to be stripping down for two women who treat him like a piece of meat and a sunny, poolside threesome featuring a pre-Hedgehog-era Ron Jeremy that plays out like a letter to the Penthouse forum.
Lincoln makes this erotic travelogue work because Lincoln plays with different styles for each scene: some have a sensual tone, some go for pure sleaze and others toy with bizarro formalist experimentation (like a lesbian coupling where the ladies’ ad-libs are drenched in echo). He uses library music very well, deftly cutting from lush string passages to raunchy porn-funk to capture the different moods. Best of all, the film has genuine movie-caliber cinematography thanks to “Harry Flecks,” a.k.a. Joao Fernandes, a cinematographer who would soon cross over into mainstream film by working with director Joseph Zito on films like Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter and Red Scorpion.
The result is a fun exercise in the “couples film” style. Those who are fond of that final shot-on-film era of porn will appreciate this film’s playfulness and ambitious technique.
DVD Notes: both of these films just got proper DVD releases through Impulse Pictures. As is often the case with Impulse, there are no extras and the focus is put on giving the two films upgrades in visual quality. Serena has a full-frame transfer that suits its visual style while the Same has an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. Porn films from this era were seldom carefully archived so there is a little scratchiness at the beginning of each film and some debris can be here and there but both have a natural celluloid look, with levels of visual clarity and color that are above average for vintage porn on DVD. Enthusiasts will definitely want to chuck their old VHS-style masters for these film-based remasters.