A for effort, D for execution in ambitious porn failure
Chuck Vincent and his erstwhile cameraman Larry Revene pulled out the budget stops for SIZZLE, the epitome of a porno chic project gone wrong.
Format is familiar from mainstream cinema of yore, typically Julien Duvivier's TALES OF MANHATTAN and FLESH AND FANTASY, in which a linking object is used to loosely transition a series of vignettes. "Loosely" is the operative word, as the medallion/pendant we see being created Lord-of-the-ring style during the opening credits shows up during each segment of SIZZLE, but pointlessly. It's merely a gimmick.
Opening segment busts the budget with vintage '40s period cars (even a well-shot car chase on autumnal country roads by Revene) and costumes for an incipient gangster tale. Veri Knotty is well-cast as a femme fatale with elaborate hairdo who summons some guys to her lair, and lots of suspense (via well-chosen library music) is generated as they assemble. Instead of an expected gun battle, she merely undresses and we have a gang bang, set to jaunty jazz score, as the lady takes on five guys at once, including prominently Dave Ruby and Bobby Astyr. Veri's black stockings and garter belt are the dominant contrast here.
After her hubby shows up, scene shifts to 1953, where a young man in a college letter-man sweater (mustachioed Ron Hudd) romances blonde Margaret (Christine De Shaffer, very beautifully styled here), months after they had a one-night stand after meeting at a nearby lake. This is a romantic sequence, very well done, but cryptically ending as Margaret's adult son shows up, apparently destroying the illusions of our anti-MILF hero. I didn't understand the point of this vignette at all, since De Shaffer looks (and was) about 20 years younger than her character is supposed to be: she should be playing underage teens, not cast as a MILF. He beats a hasty exit in his vintage '50s car, and she finds the medallion on his key chain.
Per the credits in IMDb, presumably taken from a press kit, Hudd is playing Veri Knotty's son. I watched the scenes' dialog carefully and even on a repeat viewing there was no indication of this relationship at all. A simple aside by Hudd to the effect "this is a medallion my mom gave me" would have sufficed, but the film has nothing.
Part three has stereotypical hillbillies Roger Caine and Ron Jeremy concocting a plot to kidnap pigtailed young blonde Merle Michaels, in a story lifted from O. Henry's "Ransom of Red Chief". The feisty Michaels has to talk them into raping her, and eventually wears both of them out with her non-stop, night & day sexual demands. Instead of collecting a $500 ransom, they end up giving her dad $200 plus all their jewelry; it turns out Michaels & dad are con artists. This funny segment, despite Michaels' best efforts, is not sexy -the balance towards banjo-backed silliness overwhelms the porn content.
Next up is the '60s, supposedly set in California but probably shot in Long Island. Jesse Adams is well-cast as a blond surfer, picked up hitchhiking by a couple of girls in a vintage van. He falls asleep on the backseat and dreams a presumed flashback of two beautiful hippie girls servicing him on a beach. The blurry transfer of the DVD from a VHS original is quite poor here. The girls end his reverie by waking him up to drop him off and he tosses away the medallion/pendant, pointlessly. This vignette wastes a lot of talent, including Kandi Barbour doing nothing.
Film's centerpiece is up next, an overpopulated vignette of a family cookout and reunion gone wrong. Samantha Fox (her character's handily named Sam) and Candida Royalle continue a sibling rivalry by sleeping with each other's husbands, Sam's having been the guy whom Candida had a crush on way back when. Director/co-writer/cinematographer/editor Revene desperately tries to fashion a "real movie" in this overwritten segment that's loaded with character actors playing the relatives, but it's not very interesting or sexy, despite Candida and Fox doing their XXX thing well, as usual. Much talk about the pendant is included to nil effect.
Film ends with an abstract sequence of Fox rising from the waves clad in a literal fish net (not stockings, but for fishing) and making love to a Crusoe styled guy on a desert island setting, then returning to the ocean wearing the pendant. The blur-o-vision video transfer here is truly horrible.
So what does it all add up to? Hardly the SIZZLE of the title. Instead we have mildly diverting porn that would have merely had me scratching my head back in 1980. Obviously superior to a no-effort, wall-to-wall sex junker, SIZZLE fails on every count (except production values) to deliver on its ambitions. Co-writer Jim Vidos contributed to several wonderful Chuck Vincent films including MRS. BARRINGTON and FAREWELL SCARLET, but SIZZLE is disappointing.
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