A medieval reenactment troupe find it increasingly difficult to keep their family-like group together, with pressure from local law enforcement, interest from entertainment agents and a growing sense of delusion from their leader.
Two horror tales based on short stories by Edgar Allan Poe directed by two famous horror directors, George A. Romero and Dario Argento. A greedy wife kills her husband, but not completely. A sleazy reporter adopts a strange black cat.
Chris Bradley is a young man who returns to his home city of Pittsburgh after several years of drifting and working odd jobs around the country since his discharge from the U.S. Army. Rejecting moving back in with his father and not wanting to return to the family business of manufacturing baby food, Chris meets and shacks up with Lynn, an older woman who works as a model in local TV commercials, and whom becomes his 'sugar mama' of supporting him financially and emotionally, which begins to put a strain on the affair especially when Lynn finds out that she's pregnant and does not feel that Chris would make a responsible father or husband. Written by
There's Always Vanilla (AKA: The Affair) (1971) was the first of George A. Romero's films after Night of the Living Dead (1968) and probably the least seen. I guess after making Night... Romero feared being pegged as a horror film director and launched himself after the release of Night with this Graduate-type romantic drama, written by his associate Rudi Ricci. But sadly it's not one of his best, and it's quite obvious that the director's heart just wasn't in making it. It does not exist on video or DVD, only on crude bootlegged VHS copies here and there.
As for the plot, it could have been better if done on a higher budget. It opens with a guy named Chris Bradley (Ray Laine who appeared in Jack's Wife (AKA: Season of the Witch)) who returns to his home city in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania a year or more after his discharge from the U.S. Army and serving a tour in Vietnam. Chris has drifted from town to town, and city to city making money from playing his guitar in bars, to pimping for prostitutes. Chris' stern but benevolent father (Roger McGovern) wants him to abandon his new lifestyle and return to the family business of making baby food in a local factory which Mr. Bradley owns. But Chris refuses, wanting to make a new life for himself. On the street, Chris meets a beautiful young woman named Lynn (Judith Steiner) whom is about 10 years older than him and makes a living by modeling in local TV commercials. Chris charms Lynn into letting him move in with her.
For a time, Chris and Lynn's relationship is good with both of them sharing their love of of lovemaking, pot smoking, and rock and roll music. But she is supporting both of them as he plans to write a book based on his life, whereas he just lays around doing nothing. She motivates him to get a steady job and he lands one in a small advertising agency, which he grows not to like it with each passing day. Then Lynn finds out that she's pregnant and keeps the news from Chris knowing that despite his wits and charm, he is not responsible to be a father or a husband to her and her unborn baby. For the rest of the film, it does downhill from there and for Chris heading towards ruin and misery.
If it was restored by Anchor Bay or Blue Underground, it would be an interesting look at late 1960's early 1970's life with lusuous visuals (the grainy color of the aging VHS tapes is the disadvantage). Sad to say that even Romero himself disavowed this film for its not all bad despite the bleak storyline. I hope one day, someone will restore this movie for the public to once again view for themselves.
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