Sylvia is a racy, action packed, fast moving. Sylvia is seemingly a quiet, reserved, saintly person living on a quiet, reserved well-manicured street in upper-middle class suburbia. However...
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Sylvia is a racy, action packed, fast moving. Sylvia is seemingly a quiet, reserved, saintly person living on a quiet, reserved well-manicured street in upper-middle class suburbia. However, Sylvia is hiding a secret - she has a multiple promiscuous personality disorder. However, one of her other persona's is about to cross the line. Written by
The crew of this movie was composed of undergraduates from the New York University Film School. See more »
After Sheila leaves the room, while Cousin Toby is drinking a drugged drink, Sylvia says, "Alright, Pam. Off to the sack. Take a nice, long nap." Pamela Serpe is the actress who plays Cousin Toby. See more »
Though recently revived with some fanfare by Seduction Cinema/After Hours on DVD, SYLVIA is a flop '70s hardcore porn film that reflects many of the pitfalls of the genre during its brief "porno chic" era.
Untalented filmmaker Peter Savage, wisely hiding behind a pseudonym, tried to make a real movie rather than a 90-minute sex loop, but his lack of prowess shows up early; in crude editing, and even violating the simple centerline rule of matching reverse shots (in an early car scene featuring Helen Madigan & Pamela Serpe).
Casting is 90% of the job most times, and here he failed miserably. In the demanding title role of Sylvia, a destitute man's LIZZIE or Eve from 3 FACES OF EVE, Joanna Bell is unattractive and varies from boring non-acting (as Sylvia) to over-the-top overacting (as Sylvia's several alternate personalities, fighting for dominion in her body). Her sole skill displayed is a mastery of the all-important (at the time) deep-throat technique, resembling that of all-time great C.J. Laing. But the frequent hardcore porn footage here is unerotic, just boring and poorly shot and edited.
Also miscast is Serpe, as Sylvia's cousin, who wanders around with a hangdog expression and is spared any hardcore penetration scenes. BUT she is forced to suffer the ignominy of a very violent rape scene, shot softcore but actually stronger than the non-violent sex scenes, as she's realistically beaten up. It takes place during an orgy sequence (group sex in the other room) that, like the rape, emphasizes interracial action. The director shows other fetishes, carefully pointed out in the unintentionally funny "historical" essay trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, that is issued with the DVD for presumably braindead viewers to consult.
Worst casting is Savage as Sylvia's shrink. His delivery of huge chunks of indigestible exposition and psychological mumbo-jumbo is putrid, and he takes the occasion to indulge himself in pure ego tripping (reminded me of Cornel Wilde in self-directed SHARK'S TREASURE) as he handily beats up two drug-addicted thugs (among them the miscast Sonny Landham).
Overlong pic perfunctorily delivers enough explicit sex goods to have gotten a playoff, but Savage does an obvious bait & switch in this epic's worst scene. Flashback features blonde Helen Devine as Sylvia's mom, aghast at young Sylvia (Bell looks exactly the same age here as in contemporary scenes, a cheap blunder) pleasuring herself in the bathtub, marking her for a round of punishment with various dildos Helen brings into the bathroom. As the audience wonders how kinky this will get, Sylvia conveniently knocks mom out, and coming to, Helen can't remember a thing, so nothing happens.
Overall, his biggest error was probably failing to shoot enough softcore coverage to be able to replace the typical hardcore "payoffs" with usable soft-X (or even R) material. The farrago is long enough to permit a soft version (a la the many Paul Thomas hard porn films shown over the years in bowdlerized versions on the Playboy Channel) had he done so, which could have played off as a typical '70s clunker at drive-ins.
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