THE STORY OF PRUNELLA
U.S.A. | 1982
Directed by Phil Prince
Starring
Ron Jeremy
Ambrosia Fox
George Payne
Color
| 58 Minutes | XXX
Format: DVD(R1 - NTSC)
After Hours Cinema
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Movie Rating  
5
  DVD Rating   7   10 = Highest Rating  
Guest Review by Troy Howarth
Three criminals escape from prison and terrorize a woman (Ambrosia Fox) and her friends at her bridal shower...
   
In his insightful liner notes for this DVD, Michael Bowen tells a fascinating tale about the creator of The Story of Prunella, writer/director Phil Prince. His background is shaded in mystery, but he burst onto the adult film scene in the early '80s and established himself as a specialist in S&M tinged porn the kind of stuff that made the typical run of XXX features look a bit stuffy in comparison. His limited output displayed an ability to tell a coherent story while also managing to stage sex scenes with enthusiasm and aplomb. According to Bowen, however, things turned seedier and seedier for Prince, who ultimately did a stint behind bars for shooting an attendant at an ice cream store during the course of a botched hold up. It's like they say, sometimes real life is more interesting and unbelievable than fiction.
    Not much of Prince's work appears to have survived, and certainly none of it beyond The Story of Prunella has surfaced on DVD as of yet, but a look at this film shows that his work has some measure of interest. As hardcore porn, Prunella is uncomfortable stuff and it's hard to tell whether Prince is actually expecting the audience to get off on it or if he's using the medium to comment on the baser aspects of the human condition. Whatever his motivations, Prince ensures that the film is properly sordid and disturbing. Apart from an early copulation between a young and fit Ron Jeremy and his bride-to-be, played by the very cute Ambrosia Fox, the remainder of the sex scenes are filtered through a palpable sense of misogyny: women are raped, humiliated, forced to degrade themselves at the mercy of the trio of sadistic escapees. The fact that the women inevitably give in to male desire and seem to enjoy what is happening would seem to lend credence to the theory that Prince is just another morally bankrupt pornographer, but the ending seems to change all of that without wanting to give anything away, it's shocking in its suddenness and in the way it darkens the already bleak tone of the picture.
    The film offers a mixed bag of performances. As Prunella, Ambrosia Fox is the type of porn starlet one simply doesn't see anymore she's all natural (no surgical enhancements, piercings or body art here), is cute without coming off like a 42nd Street pro, and performs her sex scenes believably without indulging in anything too crude or sensationalist. She also does a credible job delivering her dialogue, ensuring that the character is likable despite the basic sketchiness of the characterization. It's fun to see a young Ron Jeremy at work, and he actually gives a pretty decent performance that allows him to display some of the humor that characterizes his persona. George Payne overacts as the head villain, though that seems to have been what was expected of him. In the supporting cast, Cheri Champagne and Niko are photogenic starlets, though neither can act a damn outside of their sex scenes.
    The location shooting and gritty visual scheme, combined with the kinky bent of the subject matter, ensure that the film is a prime example of the XXX grindhouse of the period. Like so many porn films of its time frame, it's at least well paced the sex scenes don't drag on interminably, for example and tightly edited.

After Hours Cinema's release of The Story of Prunella, as part of their New York Grindhouse Collection, is worth picking up. The fullframe, high definition transfer does justice to the grimy visual scheme, but has been sourced from a satisfactory source print. Print damage is limited to some speckling and negative dirt; the film is apparently complete and uncut. Detail is sharp and colors appear to be accurately rendered this is not a pretty film, but it looks as good as one could expect. The mono English soundtrack is clean overall the canned music comes through well enough, and dialogue is easy to understand.
   
Extras: A commentary track with the film's editor, Brian O'Hara, and a short vintage (circa 1983) documentary on Prince aptly titled The Prince of Porn. The laid back and amusing O'Hara provides optional commentary for this piece as well, and both tracks are worth listening to. In addition to the usual array of trailers, some Prunella outtakes and the aforementioned liner notes by Michael J. Bowen are included. 6/14/09
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