Expectations / Confessions
There once was a time, before my time even, where if one wanted to go get their rocks off to something other than dirty pictures they had to venture out into public to a mostly seedy theatre and sit amongst others who were wanting to be “entertained”. This was the Golden Age of Porno, or Porno Chic, and it wasn't just about getting your rocks off anymore. Before VCRs even existed viewing porn was a mostly communal experience, unless of course you owned a projector and could obtain loops, and at a time when exploitation ruled the grindhouses so did the blue movies. It was a time when pornography became cinematic art and directors told stories that evolved from just being pure titillation to something much more. And just like the cinema gave birth to both the auteurs and the idiot savants alike, so did the adult film industry breed both its masters and its vagrants. Vinegar Syndrome, the new independent label, is unearthing more than just lost drive-in films but also the stuff hidden under the covers. With their Drive-In Collection line the first X-rated double-bill contains two late '70s jaunts about women looking for more in Expectations and Confessions, both from director Anthony Spinelli.
Margo (Delania Raffino) is bored with her life and tired of men who aren't all that interested in her. She wants something new but can't seem to figure out how to obtain it herself, so she decides that if she wants to spice things up she needs to swap places with someone else and try on a new pair of shoes so to say. So she places an ad in an underground paper and upon getting a reply she meets the blonde Montana (Cris Cassidy under the name Suzette Holland) in a park and immediately feels like she's the right one. After all the necessary changes have been made, such as change of driver's license, social security, and all that jazz they make sure the other understands the rules and then they become what they both seek for the remainder of their agreement. But if one breaks the rules, the whole affair is off.
Upon entering her new home, Margo takes in Montana's surroundings with an a slight lack of confidence as she's not sure if she can fully become Montana. Celebrity head-shots and posters for Anna Karenina, Kansas City Bomber, and a Roy Lichtenstein gallery exhibit cover the walls. To fully become her new identity she changes into Montana's clothes, which mainly consist of jeans and t-shirts, something she's apparently not used to. Just as she's adjusting to her new persona and style the buzzer rings and an unscheduled guest asks to come in. Luckily for her the man at the door, Joey Donovon (Joey Sivera under the name Joey Civera), announces that they had only talked over the phone. With a sigh of relief knowing that he won't recognize that she's not actually Montana Margo lets him in.
Back at Margo's apartment Montana is making herself at home, but cannot seem to figure out how to put on a pair of Margo's see-through panties as they are a little too fancy for her. Which is the front and which is the back? She also struggles with a belly chain that requires a bit of force to get over her bust. Just like the unexpected visit paid to Margo, soon the buzzer rings here but it's Margo's eye-patch wearing brother Vincent (Jack Wright) who immediately is suspicious to find Montana in his sister's apartment. Montana coyly explains the swap scenario, violating the rules they had set, and seduces Vincent into an affair playing out the fantasy that she is not Montana, but Vincent's sister Margo. And so a series of unexpected visits occur at Montana's as Margo begins to get more than she bargained for in what may culminate in a reality-smashing conclusion destroying any and all expectations.
Expectations is standard paint-by-the-numbers fare for low-budget '70s adult cinema. Anthony Spinelli's tale of mixed identities unearths a hidden lust in its protagonist as she tries to explore her sexuality by being thrown into various scenarios with straight sex, rape fantasies, and sapphic love. Delania Raffino isn't the best at delivering her lines but keeps her deer-caught-in-the-headlights approach quite convincing throughout. She also appears to have a fascination with stars, as she has a star tattoo, a star pendant, and a star sewn into the back pocket on the pair of jeans she 'borrows' from Montana. The antagonist, played with force by Cris Cassidy, seedily mixes things up and continually fulfills her desires by setting all of the dominoes into motion. Expectations is moodily lit in certain scenes, playing with shadow and light, and the shot selections accentuate the story and skillfully heighten the erotic instead of being chosen to purely titillate. The story overall is an interesting master and slave tale where the sex scenes are actually less exciting and slow the film down considerably, such as the opening scene which goes on for 11 and a half minutes. A few elements in the film are less than stellar, such as the repetitive music cues that don't always suite the mood and the unexplainable and hilarious fact of Vincent's eye-patch. Is he a one-eyed pirate? Did he lose it in a game of poker? Or a family accident? We'll never know...
A bored housewife by the name of Beth (Kristine Heller under the name Cindy Johnson) wakes up to a catchy pop rock tune on the radio and wakes her husband Gary (John Leslie) as he's going to be late for work. But before he gets out of bed he gets up and has Beth provide him some morning satisfaction to cure his "headache". Before she can get laid herself Gary hops in the shower as he's already late and won't take the day off to please her or take a minute to discuss their relationship. Beth's needs are eating away at her and her desires aren't being fulfilled by her lover who's work seems more important than their bond together. Beth decides if she wants satisfaction she's going to have to get it herself.
Beth gets dressed up and goes out on the town, trying to feel sexy and wanted. She's cute, down to earth looking with a bit of a tomboy thrown in and a welcoming toothy smile. She “accidentally” bumps into a Peter Fonda wannabe on a motorcycle (Ron Rogers) while out driving around in a yellow Honda CVCC with no license plate. They wind up back at his place and after some foreplay he's not impressed with her oral technique, so he shows her how he likes it on her finger. After the foreplay they proceed to get down and after going through the motions he wants to know her name but she doesn't want to tell, she just wants it discrete and to be a one time only thing. On the condition that they won't be seeing each other again he demands she stay there so they can play a bit further. Beth agrees and he whips out a vibrator and diddles her between two giant posters of Marlon Brando and Brigitte Bardot on motorcycles.
Later in the evening Beth attends a work party of her husband's where she's introduced to his boss Tom (Joey Sivera under the name Eric Marin). Over some chime sound effects she and Tom meet gazes and begin to flirt with their eyes. She heads to the bathroom and Tom ditches Gary mid-sentence to follow his wife to the bathroom. Gary takes no notice and begins socializing with the rest of the people at the party. While she's fellating his boss in the bathroom, Gary is talking her up to the party guests. The next day, it's business as usual and this bored housewife once again goes out on the town to fulfil her further desires and fantasies which has her pleasing an upper-class couple (Karen Cusick and Jack Wright under the name Terence Scanlon) and becoming a prostitute in a scene culminating to her announcing to the john (Sonny Lustig) “You said I was worth every penny but I'm not sure you were” and throwing back the $200 he had paid her. Can this housewife return home or has her lust awoken new desires of the flesh?
Confessions, also known as Confessions of a Woman, is a much better acted and shot film than Expectations, but here its tale of a bored housewife is actually less exciting and the sex scenes are much more appealing. Kristine Heller's performance and “performances” are this adult film's highlights and she has a screen presence that's girl next door and is quite natural in front of the camera, both delivering her lines and performing the acts. It's a shame she ended up committing suicide in 1989. Anthony Spinelli, here under the alias of Leonard Burke, directs with a flair thats as cheap and run-and-gun as most Herschell Gordon Lewis productions and the majority of lower-grade pornography and here some of the set-pieces are a little shoddier constructed, such as the random inane chit-chatter in the party sequence. Confessions a better paced film than Expectations, and more enjoyable overall as an adult film but it still isn't all that memorable of a film for its era.
Vinegar Syndrome’s DVD contains both features in their original aspect ration of 1.85:1 in standard definition. These transfers were scanned in 2K from 35mm archival prints and the condition of the films is actually pretty good with minimal scratches throughout and they are both fairly clean, but at times can look a tad soft, but that's likely a mistake in the focus via the camera operator and not the transfer. Obviously there is still the occasional emulsion scratch, splice, and sprocket wobble, but overall they look presentable and probably close enough to their original sources. Confessions has some obvious optical printing errors with crossfades, but that's inherent in the source. Colour seems accurate to their original stock material, shot cheaply and quickly on 35mm without a whole lot of proper colour timing, as highlights veer off into the yellowish green colour you'd find on a lot of films from this era, budget and genre.
Expectations and Confessions are both presented with Dolby Stereo audio and the track for both films is clean and clear. These are adult films so you're lucky enough to get some decent audio here as there aren't any issue with dialogue, music, or the sounds of love, and although they won't turn your stereo system on they are adequate enough to satisfy you while you watch. Expectations music cues, as mentioned, do get a bit repetitive but are reminiscent of their time and place. Confessions features some better numbers and a theme song so to say at the head and tail of the film that may possibly get stuck in your head for a brief period of time after viewing.
Expectations and Confessions, both Essex Productions from 1977, are products of their era with a director interested in women exploring their fantasies as rebellion against the heartbreak and strain of unfulfilling relationships. Both films feature the exact same crew and a lot of the same cast, and seeing as they were released the same year they were likely shot close together, if not back to back or at the same time. Vinegar Syndrome's Dive-In Collection double-bill is a satisfying dip into this 42nd Street experience for those interested in this type of fare and although the films themselves aren't the best examples of their genre or all that arousing, there is still plenty of underlying themes to pick apart under the subpar acting and untamed pubic hair.
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