Babylon Pink
U.S.A. | 1979
Directed by Henri Pachard
Samantha Fox
Arcadia Lake
Vanessa Del Rio
| 77 Minutes | XXX
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC
| 2-disc set)
Command Video
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Guest Review by Troy Howarth
Several New York women from different backgrounds find their day interrupted by erotic fantasies...
    It's fascinating to compare the evolution of hardcore cinema from its development from silent "loops" in the 1960s and '70s to its current form in the 21st century. At the beginning of actual erotic cinema, a certain degree of care went into creating a plot, developing some semblance of characterization and paying attention to performance outside of the sexual interludes. This is not to suggest that every porno film back in the day was a masterpiece of creative plotting and finely tuned performing, but the erotica of this time frame nevertheless tended to have the feel of a real movie. Compared to the shot on video quickies of today, the aesthetic of these films is bound to come as a surprise to those only familiar with the average offering from Vivid or Wicked, for example. The difference isn't merely aesthetic, either the look of the performers has gone from typical-looking people to more idealized, 'perfect' performers, a move that actually reflects the trend in most Hollywood films. Babylon Pink is a good example of the '70s aesthetic.
    The story is pretty basic, but writer/director Henri Pachard set the stage for many films to follow. A major contribution he added was the idea of scripted dialogue during sex scenes this would become de rigueur in skin flicks for years to come, much of it so clichéd as to be the stuff of parody today (e.g., "Oh yeah, you like that, don't you?"). The real invention of the story is to be told from a feminine perspective the idea of putting female fantasies on film is nothing new, of course, but Pachard's scenario plays out in a more credible fashion. In avoiding the crass, thoughtlessly misogynistic tone of later sex films, Pachard treads a fine line between good and bad taste without degenerating into prurient disgust. It certainly helps, too, that he knows how to stage a good sex scene. Compared with the typical bump and grind set-piece of current porno titles, many of which go on and on for an interminable length of time, Pachard knows how to pace and edit the action so that it doesn't have a chance to become boring. The introduction of more risqué elements, like the inevitable wide-eyed virgin being deflowered by an experienced older man, is sensibly played with a comedic tone, thus steering clear of the sordidness of many films of its ilk. Quite frankly, even at its most risqué, the film plays far more innocently and appealingly than the many "gonzo" porn films of today.
    The cast is comprised of familiar adult film performers of the period. In terms of sheer photogenic appeal, the real standouts are Vanessa Del Rio, still one of the most stunning performers to have ever graced the business, and the tragically short-lived Arcadia Lake, who later succumbed to anorexia and drug addiction. Del Rio made many films during her long career, but her fantasy sequence here is one of the steamiest she ever participated in. The Samantha Fox 'submission' sequence is also memorable, with the lovely starlet diving into action with palpable enthusiasm. Comparing the likes of Fox and even the buxom Del Rio to the starlets of today, it's quite apparent that many of the older starlets simply wouldn't make the cut nowadays (Jenna Jameson being the obvious example) they quite simply look too real. An even more startling contrast, however, is in the male performers. '70s porno stalwarts like Richard Bolla (AKA Robert Kerman, the star of Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust) and Eric Edwards (Abigail Leslie is Back in Town) have an Average Joe look and build that stands in stark contrast to the buff, waxed, almost effete porno studs of today.
    Capably lensed by Roberta Findlay (wife and key collaborator of Michael Findlay, of Snuff infamy), Babylon Pink is well above average for its genre; fans should have a good time with it.

Media Blasters' release of Babylon Pink, as part of their ongoing Cecil Howard Collection under the Command Video sub-label, is first-rate. The fullframe transfer looks very good. While there is some print damage in evidence, detail is sharp. Colors are a bit muted, but this seems to be consistent with the original photography. The print is completely uncut. Audio options include the original mono, as well as a newly remixed 5.1 track. The former is clean and clear, while the latter feels like a needless addition. Extras include the edited cable TV edition of the film, which obviously removes all the money shots and replaces various images with inserts, which is worth having merely as a point of comparison; the image is darker and muddier than that of the uncut print. Also included are audio commentaries from producer Cecil Howard and writer/director Pachard, on-camera interviews with Pachard, Findlay and co-star Eric Edwards, the theatrical trailer, a stills gallery, and a collection of cover art for Howard's productions. Howard's commentary is a particular joy to listen to, and of the interviewees, Edwards comes off as the most interesting and articulate in recollecting his varied career. 1/24/06