|Index||8 reviews in total|
It is too easy to dismiss "Sin In The Suburbs" as mere camp, Joe
Sarno has some serious things on his mind and his efforts show
results. His movie resembles Cassavettes and Warhol, but I think
Sarno was a better filmmaker than either one one of them; he
uses a porno house plot to explore the emotional depths of
The Suburban milieu is once again viewed as a repressionland but unlike "American Beauty" it is populated not by walking cheap shots, but by real, unsentimental characters. Sarno's method's sound somewhat like Mike Leigh's; but working one imagines under much greater time and budget constraints, his results are more hit and miss. The wall to wall jazz is a big problem.
The Grindhouse boys once took a Bergman Film and tried to sell it as porno, one can only wonder what they made of Sarno;
A mature and intelligent sexploitation film? "Sin in the Suburbs" fills
that bill well. Joe Sarno obviously isn't interested in simple
titillation. The film keeps the nudity to the most minimal possible
(any actual nudity is brief and partial). Most of the film concentrates
more on what drives people to such bizarre sexual acts as opposed to
focusing on the acts themselves. The characters are all honest,
sympathetic, and considerably well-developed. The film deals with such
potentially exploitable elements in a tasteful way. Sarno was far more
ambitious than Barry Mahon and the other nudie filmmakers, and while he
isn't on the level of Bergman (as some of his defenders claim), he's
certainly worth a look. The brilliant scenes with the club may recall
"Eyes Wide Shut". His screenplay is also good with some surprisingly
clever dialog. Plus, the cutting between scenes is impressive.
There are several things that drag the film down. While some of the acting is good, some of it is mediocre, but this is more forgivable considering the resources Sarno had to work with. The main stars turn in competent performances, which is what ultimately matters. What is a bit more problematic is the absolutely horrible pacing. While Sarno was an intelligent man and he crafted an unique and stylish picture, "Sin in the Suburbs" seriously drags at moments, unbearably so occasionally. This prevents it from being a true cult classic. Still, its interesting just because its a sexploitation film done with a degree of smarts. (6/10)
With very limited resources at this disposal (the budget, shooting
time, and acting talent were clearly in short supply), Sarno has
combined a poor plot with an almost anthropological approach to
encapsulating the fashions (hair and clothing) and the physical
landscape of domestic split-level commuter suburbia (Long Island,
perhaps?) in the mid-1960s.
The visual titillation is very minimal, alas, so this isn't much of a sexploitation treat, but it does serve as almost a work of cinema verite, brought about by lack of resources for depicting anything beyond recording that physical milieu directly and accurately.
There is also some attempt as social commentary -- everyone's house is the same, and all the breadwinners (male, of course) take the 7:21 train into the city and return on the 6:35, while their wives stay home and try to fend off boredom). Too bad that Sarno wasn't given enough resources to develop and capture a vision.
As it is, this is sort of a proto-indie movie, wherein the filmmaker was allowed some degree of personal expression within the straitjacket of the highly inhibited sexploitation genre of the era.
SiTS would have benefited from more flesh, and more fleshing out. A nice curiosity nevertheless.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There was one particular scene where the daughter of Audrey Campbell
(Ms. Olga herself may she RIP) ran to the arms of none other than Queen
Ilsa before she was Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne). But of course it wasn't so
simple, there was embellishment: the pulsing base of a Jazz tune, whose
cadence represented a racing heartbeat and Thorne's (her character's
name is Yvette Talman) slowly disrobing with a seductive sashay as she
gingerly approached her young devotee.
Such a presentation turned what could have been a mild scene to a robust form of art.
No simple display of nudity here there was feeling and mood throughout.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This 'midnight' movie from 1964 rates high on the sleaze factor, and
aside from the inept scripting and bad acting, director Joe Sarno
manages to give us something interesting in some of the camera framing
and some of the ideas in the story. If you can stay awake past the
mind-numbingly slow exposition and get to the nub of the story the
movie does gain momentum, albeit to a muddled climax.
In a small New England town Geraldine Lewis (Audrey Campbell) becomes bored when her workaholic husband ignores her and she gets interested in other men, and begins taking extramarital afternoon trysts with a neighborhood friend and another man. Her daughter Kathy (Alice Linville), just beginning to understand her feelings about personal relationships comes home early from school one day to discover her mother in a clinch. Shocked and confused Kathy confides to neighbor Yvette Tallman (Dyanne Thorne) and the older woman seduces the young girl. Yvette and her incestuous brother Lou (W.B. Parker) initiate and organize a neighborhood sex-swap ring and Geraldine and others are lured in but danger is imminent when under-age Kathy is brought in too.
This is Dyanne Thorne's first film, after which she went on to other cult faves like Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, and other sleaze-founded films. Thorne will delight the male viewer s her character is a voluptuous coquette who seduces men and women for whatever she wants. Not an actress Thorne manages to present to the camera two emotive states seducing and just plain nothing. As a support co-star she could've been better with a better script, maybe.
The real actress is Judy Young who plays Kathy. Her performance is muted, substantial, and detailed and she shows the viewer the real soul of the film. It is too bed that this actress never got a real break. The best thing she was able to accomplish is a guest-starring role on Welcome Back Kotter.
The film does have some good moments. Cinematography by James J. Markos and camera work is good even though lighting is laughable. The way actors move in and out of frame restricts the viewer from gaining all the information and his bit of creativity allows a more dynamic connection with the story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Extremely prolific and dependable low-budget soft-core independent filmmaker Joe Sarno scored one of his biggest hits with this hugely enjoyable and for the time quite daring sexploitation gem. A bunch of bored suburbanites join a secret sex cult in which all the members wear masks and robes ala Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut." When pretty teenager Kathy Lewis (nicely played by the fetching Alice Linville) discovers that her adulterous mother Geraldine (a fine performance by the lovely Audrey Campbell of "Olga" infamy) is having an affair, she falls under the seductive spell of sultry cult leader Yvette Talman (a perfectly commanding portrayal by the almighty Dyanne Thorne of "Ilsa" notoriety). Writer/director Sarno presents a bold and revealing expose of sleepy upper middle class small American town morality and hypocrisy, depicting the wild debauched stuff that goes on behind closed doors with considerable incisiveness and commendable restraint (the nudity is quite mild and the on-screen sex surprisingly chaste). Sarno also gives the interesting characters an unusual amount of depth and elicits mostly solid acting from a sturdy cast. W.B. Parker in particular excels with his deliciously smarmy turn as supremely sleazy and sinister sex cult ringleader Louis Muse; Parker's rich, yet gravelly baritone voice and creepy screen presence suggest a seedy straight deviant version of Harvey Fierstein. Sam S. Fiedel's groovy swinging jazz score further enhances the kinky fun. James J. Markos' crisp black and white cinematography likewise does the trick. Although rather tame by today's standards, this vintage 60's blast still nonetheless overall qualifies as a real wicked treat.
8/10 may be just a little generous for this b/w number but it has been made with surprising care and what we may be lacking in wide expanses of naked flesh is certainly made up for in dramatic storyline and non stop action. Pity we don't see more of the masked activities but we have to remember how early this is and that in many films around this time the title was as sexy as it gets. Here at least we get lots of enthusiastic fumblings, much suggestion of developing depravity and a sense that everyone is at it including the teenagers (and not with each other!). Nicely over the top performance in male lead who is trying to emulate his childhood hero, the circus ringmaster! Plus his sister(?) who is none other than Dyanne Thorne who will later transmogrify into the infamous, 'Ilsa' and 'Olga' is here too with a couple of cohorts later to be seen in 'Olga's House of Shame' So, fun enough to watch and most significant in the development of sex in US movies.
Sleazy, cheesy fun from the sexually-repressed early 1960s. Complete with jazzy soundtrack, freeze-frames, fervent coupling in kitschy bedrooms and silly costumes for the not-so-shocking "shock" ending. Stands out among the pioneering "adult" films.
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