MARASCHINO CHERRY DVD IS THE PITS!
Radley Metzger’s last hardcore effort under his Henry Paris nom-de-film is finally available on DVD from Video-X-Pix. Well, they saved the worst for last – and by that, I don’t mean from a content standpoint! While Maraschino Cherry is generally regarded as the weakest of that group of films, even Metzger’s weakest efforts far outstrip those of most of his porn peers and successors, IM (and many others’) HO. No, in this case, “worst” applies to the incredibly poor job Video-X-“Pukes” has done in producing this DVD! You think some of the earlier Caballero stuff sucks? Well, step right down to a new low! They ought to take the VXP folks down to Maraschino’s dungeon and do to them what she and Annette Haven do to C.J. Laing in the film’s finale!
First, some general comments. The print they used to make the transfer must have come off of years and years of being kicked around in various decrepit projection booths and basements! It’s in terrible shape! The color has shifted significantly and now has a heavy magenta tone (the old Eastmancolor fading/shifting problem – which tells you just how old this piece-of-crap print is!) The entire print (not just before and after reel changes) is full of splices (looks like quite a few people snipped out frames to mount as slides). Many of these splices result in the loss of a few seconds of screen time during important parts of the scenes, and, in one case, eliminate one of the cum shots! As if that’s not enough, the print is extremely scratched and dirty for its entire length, making watching it a real chore. These films may often be called “dirty pictures,” but on a new DVD we at least ought to have a clean print!
The framing is almost as bad as the print – it is, literally, the worst of all possible worlds! It appears that this film (like many of Metzger’s others of the era) was shot in Super 16. This process uses the space on the 16mm camera negative that otherwise would be occupied by the soundtrack for additional picture area. This results in an aspect ratio of about 1.66 or something like that. So you get a "widescreen" image, which is then blown up to 35mm (matted) or slightly reduced to 16mm (matted) release prints in an aspect ratio of between 1.66 and 1.85. Most DVD transfers of these films are full-frame blow-ups, with the video frame centered on the original widescreen image, so that part of each side of the original frame is cut off on video. (You can’t really call these “pan-and-scan” versions, since the video frame is locked in the center position – it neither pans nor scans.)
Well, folks -- VXP has found a new and nauseating way to screw even that up! The print they use is a widescreen, matted one, probably with a 1.85 aspect ratio. Did they do a widescreen, letterboxed transfer to show us the entire frame as originally intended by the director and as seen in the theater? No. Did they do a full-frame blow-up, with the video frame centered on the original widescreen image? NO! What these “vidiots” have done is a partially-letterboxed, somewhat blown-up transfer that is locked into the far-left portion of the frame! The result is an image that has very narrow black bars at the top and bottom of the picture (just enough to be obtrusive), and which is consistently (and annoyingly!) mis-framed left-of-center! In certain scenes, originally intended to be two-shots, you can hardly even see the nose of the person who should be on the right!
Finally, to add insult to already considerable injury, VXP has seen fit to periodically slap its logo on the lower right corner of the frame throughout the film, apparently (at minimum, perhaps more often – I lost count) at the start of each “chapter” of the DVD, even further obscuring the image and distracting the viewer from watching the film! At least when some other DVD producers do this, it’s meant to signal a “Multiple Angles” part of the disc, so the logo at least has some reason for being there. Not so, in this case – it’s just VXP reminding us who’s responsible for this piece of D-igital V-ideo D-reck!
Now, let’s discuss the actual (surviving) content of the film. Given all of the above-mentioned idiocy, you didn’t actually expect the entire film to be there, did you? Once again, VXP has lived down to our lowest expectations! The DVD runs 73 minutes, 10 seconds, actual clock time. The older VHS release (late ‘70s or early ‘80s) to which I compared it side-by-side, shot-by-shot, runs 84 minutes, 29 seconds. So, we are missing 11 minutes, 19 seconds. But here’s the kicker -- it is quite curious to note that they have not deleted the one scene which, I’d venture to say, most people probably expected them to delete. The final “dungeon” scene, with a decidedly S&M feel, involving Gloria Leonard, Annette Haven, C.J. Laing, a hotplate, two glasses of scotch and a couple of dildos inserted anally, is still there! Or at least mostly there. Remember all those splices I mentioned? The DVD version of this scene is fully 16 seconds shorter because of them! Oh, well – at least the scene is (mostly) still there. If this were a VCA DVD, I’m sure it would have been cut, so in this case, we actually benefit from VXP’s heads-down job.
So, what did get cut? A bunch of little and not-so-little things here and there, none of which seem to have deserved being deleted! (It figures!) I’ll list the actual excisions, where they occur on the DVD, what’s missing and how much time is involved. Remember, also, about the considerable number of splices throughout the print, and the appreciable amount of lost running time they represent!
The first major edit occurs at 13:06 into the DVD, during the scene in which Maraschino Cherry, played by Gloria Leonard (L), is talking with her younger sister, Penny, played by Jenny Baxter (B). B is explaining what’s been happening with her and her parents back in “Poplar Springs.” We are in an over-the-shoulder (OTS) shot of B, and she says to L, “They just knew that you worked in a cathouse.” At this point, the DVD EDITS to a 2-shot of them on a couch, and B says, “So, we thought it would be a natural for a middle-income whorehouse.”
What’s Missing: Cut to a close-up (CU) of L, who says, “In a high-class cathouse!” Cut back to the OTS of B, as she says, “You really made it big – you have the world by the tail!” B rises from her chair and crosses to sit next to L on the couch as L says, “I own a high-class cathouse!” B replies, “Well, that’s why they sent me here. Well, they thought they would just forget about buying another farm, and go into another line of work – something different.” L asks, “Really? How different?” B replies, “Well, as you know, Poplar Springs is right in the middle of a strongly religious and God-fearing area of the country.” L asks, “So?” (BACK TO DVD) B replies, “So, we thought it would be a natural for a middle-income whorehouse.” 33 seconds have been cut. Tell me why.
The next edit occurs at 19:51 into the DVD, at the end of the Suzanne McBain/Michael Gaunt “toilet seat” sex scene. The scene ends with a CU of his hands caressing her lower back after they’ve come. At this point, the DVD EDITS to a shot of a model sailboat going by on a small lake.
What’s Missing: Cut to a shot of L in her office, instructing B on the finer points of running a “house.” She says, “Probably the most important thing is the introduction. Like the bidding in a bridge game, or the first offer in a business deal? For example, I had a good customer who liked his introductions both unexpected and original!” Cut to a wide shot of Central Park Lake, with model sailboats on it. (BACK TO DVD) Cut to a shot of one sailboat going by. 17 seconds have been cut. Also, at this point, the audio becomes very “fluttery” for quite some time – obviously because a bad film splice had screwed up the projector’s threading at the sound pickup! Where were the techs during the transfer? Probably couldn’t hear a thing with their heads so far up their asses!
And while we’re talking about splices, at 27:39 into the DVD, a big splice loses about 5 seconds from the end of the scene in which Constance Money (M) gives a hand job to the “sailor” guy as they watch 8mm porn loops.
The next edit is at 40:11 into the DVD, during the extended “Matador” scene in the bar. Money (M) places two big jugs of wine on the back of the bar. Cut to a shot of the Matador (MT) and his woman (W) looking at M. DVD EDITS to an overhead shot of M lying face up on the bar as MT pulls out his cock and M begins to blow him.
What’s Missing: Cut back to M as she takes more bottles off the bar, intercut with shots of MT and W watching her. M then comes around in front of the bar with a bottle in each hand, moving her hips seductively. A series of shots of M and W, who gets up from where she has been sitting and begins moving her hips seductively. M comes over to W and they sway suggestively, facing each other, as the men watch. The two women kiss, then M pushes W gently back onto the table. M bends over and begins giving W head as the men watch. After a bit, M rises, dances away, and sits on top of the bar, looking at W and the men. She slowly removes her (toreador, of course) pants, opens her legs, and beings stroking her pussy, still looking at W and the men. MT gets up and comes over to her. The scene cuts back to a brief shot of MT and L in her office, as earlier in the film. MT asks, “For me?” L replies, “Of course, you!” Cut back to the bar, as MT says to M, “They say you like to be where the action is.” M says, “Up front.” MT continues, “You like to see the whole show.” She replies, “I love it! I get there early and I stay late.” MT says, “You like to be there for the kill.” M replies, “I am the kill.” MT laughs, then says, “A good matador never lets the bull prepare himself.” He snaps his fingers and gestures for W to come over to the bar, stepping back as she does. After a moment, M lies back on the bar and W goes down on her, as the men watch. Intercut numerous shots of W giving head, M enjoying it, the men watching, and MT beginning to undress. Then MT comes back over to the bar. (BACK TO DVD) Cut to the overhead shot as MT pulls out his cock and M begins to blow him. A total of 7 minutes, 51 seconds of excellent eroticism has been cut. Again, why? Also, at the end of the scene – 42:37 into the DVD – 5 seconds are missing from the shot of M and MT, their faces close together, after they have come.
The next installment of “Death by a Thousand Splices” occurs between 52:30 and 53:00 into the DVD, toward the end of the scene in the whorehouse between B and the two men. A series of splices chops around 9 or 10 seconds out of the “climax” of the scene, including the actual cumshot of the man getting the blowjob!
But wait! Don’t go away – there’s less! At the end of the scene with B and the two men, DVD EDITS to a CU of L in a piano bar, and we hear her voice-over, saying, “She gets all dressed up and goes out by herself.”
What’s Missing: At the end of the scene with B and the two men, cut to an interior pan of a wall in the whorehouse, as L is heard continuing B’s training, saying, “You’ll find that your most important item is housewives.” B says, “Really?” L replies, “Really! Without them, you’ll starve! Couples business is big, too, but if you want to make it with couples, sucking cock is not enough – you’ve got to eat good pussy! And being gay is no guarantee.” B asks, “It isn’t?” to which L replies, “Do all capitalists pray?” B asks, “Do stockbrokers eat good pussy?” By this time, we have panned over to a 2-shot of L & B. L replies, “Strictly Bloomingdales! Here’s a good case in point – and this’ll be of particular interest to you. There’s this housewife – rather well off. When her husband is away, and her child is off at school…” (BACK TO DVD) Cut to the piano bar as L is heard, saying, “…she gets all dressed up and goes out by herself.” 36 seconds are gone, along with the setup to the scene about to start.
Another short edit occurs at 63:18, at the end of the Annette Haven piano bar scene. L gets up, puts a note in Haven’s hand, and walks out. DVD EDITS to L, in the whorehouse, in mid-sentence, as she says, “…ing for a little while.”
What’s Missing: The man lies on top of Haven, spent, caressing her. After a moment, a woman walks into the bar and sits down next to a man at a table in back. L is heard in voice-over, saying, “I asked her in the note, very sweetly, if she would like to drop by one even… (BACK TO DVD) …ing for a little while.” 22 seconds have been cut.
As mentioned before, there are numerous splices in the final, anal dildo scene in the dungeon with L, Haven and Laing. Also, at the end of the scene, for some strange reason, the DVD repeats the earlier soundtrack of Laing gasping, etc., instead of the original, sync-sound audio of the three kissing and Laing sighing.
The last edit occurs at 71:32 into the DVD. At the end of the dungeon scene, the picture cuts to a daytime skyline shot. After a moment, DVD EDITS to another skyline shot, and L is heard in voice-over, saying, “Well, little sister, this is goodbye.”
What’s Missing: During the first skyline shot, a phone is heard ringing. Cut to inside the whorehouse as Lesllie Bovee walks into the shot, picks up the phone, and says, “Maraschino Cherry, where you care to suck the very best.” Cut to a wide shot of a guy giving head to Suzanne McBain, and she groans with pleasure three times. Another guy walks by in front of them, stops, looks at his watch, taps it, frowns, shakes his head, and walks out of the shot. (BACK TO DVD) Cut to the skyline shot, with L heard saying, “Well, little sister, this is goodbye.” 19 seconds, as well as the finale to a running gag throughout the film, have been chopped.
Also, the very end of the movie, as L’s cab drives away, is chopped up by numerous splices, rendering the voice-over dialog between L and the cab driver all but incomprehensible.
Just a word or two in closing. Even a horrible film deserves better treatment in becoming a DVD than what Video-X-“Pukes” has done to this (OK, minor, but still highly worthwhile) classic from one of the genre’s absolute top filmmakers. Any self-respecting DVD company, with even the slightest pretense of wanting to produce a quality product, would have taken one look at this print (or video master), projectile vomited, and then thrown it in the trash instead of spending dollar one to make a digital transfer. To have foisted this piece of dreck on the DVD-buying public shows that this company has absolutely zero respect for the consumer, and is only in it for whatever sales income they can steal until the word gets out about this incredibly shoddy product.
One can only hope, quite probably in vain, that some other company (one who thinks better of its customers than to pull stuff like this out of its ass and put a premium price on it!) may, one day, find a better print or video master of this title, and produce a DVD that is worth something! Meanwhile, each time anyone purchases or rents the current version (no matter how little they may pay) is getting ripped off by Video-X-Pix.