THE SINS OF SODOM
egotistical fashion photographer fails to realize that he is being
manipulated by a mysterious model (Sue Akers) he has engaged for
a steamy photo shoot...
Sarno remains one of the most consistently interesting figures
in the American erotic film industry. His films are erotic but
filtered through a tasteful sensibility. Sooner than overload
his films with overly padded sex scenes or take a gynecological
approach to filming the act itself, he relies more on suggestion.
It's not unusual in a Sarno film for the action to be focused
on the performers' faces, where all the signs of ecstasy are there
to be seen. In the late '60s, following a foray to Sweden where
he shot the softcore classic Inga
(1967), he returned to the East Coast for a trilogy of sex films.
All the Sins of Sodom was reportedly
the first in this trilogy, and it serves as a fine intro to his
story concerns an arrogant photographer, Henning, who beds most
of the models he works with. He is obsessed with finding a model
who embodies the look and spirit of evil, but his efforts generally
fall flat. When the mysterious Joyce shows up on his doorstep,
he initially feels pity for her —
he takes her in and offers her a place to stay without forcing
his intentions. Gradually, however, he comes to realize that she
is exactly the model he has been seeking. Henning is thrilled
by the results of their labors, but doesn't clue in on the fact
that she is using her body to distract him from the fact that
she is intent on ruining his life. The dynamic between the two
characters is developed in an interesting manner, with the femme
fatale-like model eliciting more sympathy than the thickheaded
photographer. The film builds to an ending that can either be
read as downbeat or strangely liberating, depending on which side
the viewer opts to take.
performances are generally very good, though there is no cast
list and little is known about the actors themselves. The actor
who plays Henning is very convincing —
he exudes the right air of cocky arrogance, and he proves quite
able to play the various emotional outbursts in a credible manner.
The actress who plays Joyce has been tentatively identified as
one "Sue Akers", but this is likely a pseudonym. With
her waif-like, delicate appearance and flowing raven hair she
is likely to remind Euro-Cult buffs of the tragically short-lived
Soledad Miranda (Eugenie
de Sade). She isn't exactly the most emotive actress in
the world, but she's a striking presence and is able to project
the right air of malevolence. Rounding out the main cast is the
lovely Maria Lease, who went on to appear in numerous grindhouse
efforts of the '70s, ranging from more softcore (Love
Camp 7) to grade-Z horror (Al Adamson's notorious Dracula
vs. Frankenstein). Lease gives the film's best performance
as the sultry model vying for Henning's affections.
sex scenes are brief but potent, and the film flirts with then-nasty
elements like introducing 'power tools' into the proceedings.
Akers participates in some effective lesbian trysts, including
a threesome with the lead actor and Lease. The sequences are all
the more effective due to their lack of repetition and annoying
Muzak on the soundtrack.
keen visual sense is evident throughout. Production values are
slim, but add to the film's air of mystery. The black and white
photography yields some striking images, with excellent use made
of light and shadow.
and compellingly told, All the Sins of
Sodom is a softcore film with more on its mind than endless
sex scenes. Fans of erotica able to appreciate a sex film with
a bit of substance are bound to appreciate this one.
release of All the Sins of Sodom
(under its Secret Key imprint) is cause for celebration. Long
feared lost, the film resurfaced recently — and not in a beat
up 16mm print, either. Given access to the film's original camera
negative, Retro have delivered a pristine widescreen transfer.
The 1.78/16x9 transfer is very sharp. Print damage is limited
to some minor speckling and the occasional splice. Overall, the
image is in terrific shape. With the exception of one noticeable
dropout, the mono soundtrack is also crisp and clear; some background
hiss is evident, but it's never overpowering.
include a interview with the jovial Joe Sarno, a brief documentary
on the film's exhumation and late night showing in Austin, Texas,
a commentary with Peggy Sarno (who plays a non-sexy role in the
film and also worked on the crew wearing various hats), various
trailers, and some informative liner notes by Michael J. Bowen.