Dark Dreams - Dark Dreams(DVD) [Vinegar Syndrome - 2017]From the early 1970ís Dark Dreams was an attempt to blend together hardcore action, with unsettling & horror fed atmospherics. And it does so to fairly mixed results- not fully satisfying as an arousing skin flick due to the unsettling mood, and lacking enough depth of story to be an effective chiller. Though that said it does summon up so quite effective moments of unease & puzzlement- making it worth a look, for those looking for something a little unusual in their 70ís sleaze hit. Here from Vinegar Syndrome, we have the first official DVD of this cross-breed oddity.
Made in 1971 Dark Dreams was the one & only directorial credit from Roger Guermantes, who is seemingly a fairly mysterious & shadowy character- with my research offering up only mentions of this film & no other info. The film featured in its lead roles two of 70ís hardcore stars Harry Reems & Tina Russell- they play Jack and Jill, a just married couple.
The film opens with a monologue from a rather un-threatening & fairy tale like an elderly witch, talking about different types magic over a hazy montage of different spell ingredients. Then we meet Jack & Jill, in a car making their way through snowy landscape & roads- over the top of this, we get a rather tunefully pleasing, though slightly melancholic slice of US 70ís folk-rock number nicely setting the mood. As the pair carry on their journey itís clear all itís not well, as Jack tries it on with Jill & gets battered back, then the tire blows out on the car. I rather enjoy the opening journey & their bickering- Reemís does surprisingly well at acting the disgruntled lover, and from time-to-time, we get very jarring cuts of intercourse, which really throws one out- also the snowy landscape is well shot, and adds another layer to the feeling of tension & coolness between the pair.
After the tire blows out the pair walk to a nearby isolated house-they knock on the door, and shortly the older witch character from the start ushers them in. She makes them some strange tea, and then fairly soon weíre into the main body of the film. This focuses in on the pair been separated, and each has a series of sexual encounters- these save for one, are played out over by an unsettling & often trippy blend of organ-led psycho rock jams, avant percussion & wavering voice mixers, colleges of weird noises & muffled female voices. Jack has a fairly plain sailing series of encounters, while Jillís are a lot more unsettling- with her first being passed out & groped by a black-gowned figure, and later tired up near-naked & mauled by another woman. Throughout these encounters, we get some often quite rapid cutting- between the pair, candles/ ritual items, and we also snippets of a women being held down & attacked. The only more formally 70ís porn sequences appears towards the end of the film, when Reems meets up with a women & a bowl of cream- this is soundtracked by more typically 70ís funk music- and really didnít seem to fit the rest of the film; but I guess the makers may have thought they better in put at least one straight interplay in.
The DVD is sadly very bare bones- and you only get the trailer. It would have been great to get maybe have a feature on the mysterious director, or maybe even a commentary. And what would have been really neat would have been a CD of the film's soundtrack- which is fairly varied, great, and satisfyingly moody/ weird though-out. The soundtrack was done by Rob Morrow- who later went on to soundtrack Ken Russell,s Altered States.
All in all Dark Dreams is another bizarre curio from Vinegar Syndrome- itís not wholly successful in itís blending of porn & horror, but it does have a sort-of-distinctly unsettling vibe prevailing most of its runtime. I can certainly see this appealing to those who enjoyed Storefront Theatre Collection #2 Ė Bizarre Art- the odd & obscure sex/horror collection that Vinegar Syndrome put out a year or so back.Roger Batty