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The opinions expressed in this review of Memories Within Miss Aggie from Arrow Productions are not necessarily the opinions of Adult DVD Talk. Adult DVD Talk provides a public forum for consumers to post their DVD reviews. Adult DVD Talk does not edit these reviews.
In 1974, when this film was made, director Gearard Damiano was the most recognizable and prolific artist in hardcore cinema. Perhaps the only director whose name alone was bankable, Damiano took his new found fame and invested it in a series of standout projects intended to show that films with explicit sex were more than mere masturbation fodder.
"Nothing was missing from Aggie's life... except Aggie."
So read the tagline to this strange seeming film atop a poster covered with reviews credited to ABC, Playboy, Variety, and more. "The new film from Gerard Damiano!" and "Due to the shocking nature of this film's conclusion, no one will be admitted into the theatre during the final 10 minutes." Coming off more as a surreal seeming horror film than a lowly skin-flick, Memories Within Miss Aggie appeared an enigma. What possibly could it be?
Opening with the image of a haggard looking middle aged woman cleaning the floor, then emptying her bucket of dirty water onto some virgin snow, which momentarily turns into blood, it is clear that no sex-film genre expectations are to be adhered to in this film. As the story begins to unfold, we find out that the woman we have been following is Aggie, a miserable soul, living in an isolated and wintry country house with a wheelchair bound companion named Richard.
Richard, presumable her husband or lover, sits, saying almost nothing as Aggie painstakingly tries to remember how they met. As Aggie tells Richard each of her "memories," we become aware of the different, and increasingly sinister sides of Aggie's personality, until we finally learn the horrifying truth of their first meeting.
Written by Ron Wertheim, who also co-scripted the incomparably brilliant Through the Looking Glass, Aggie is a tense psychological study of loneliness and isolation, set against a forbidding backdrop of rural depression and religious obsession. Described by Damiano as his re-envisioning of what Justine Jones life would have been had she not committed suicide, Aggie is easily Damiano's most bleak and pessimistic work.
Joćo Fernandes murky long shots and Rupert Holmes' outstanding score, which mixes bars from Amazing Grace with his own chilling compositions, breathtakingly elevate the atmosphere of the film. Kim Pope and Mary Stuart, both of whom play younger versions of Aggie, are tremendous in their small, yet extremely powerful roles. Deborah Ashira and Patrick L. Farrelly who play the present day Aggie and Richard are both powerful and believable, yet posses a certain cartoonishness that makes the film's final revelations all the more believable.
Damiano's only film to play at Cannes, Aggie is quite possibly his finest effort, and easily his most thought provoking.
I've seen hundreds, no thousands of low quality VHS bootlegs, marred by zooming, cropping, ghosting, and a whole bunch of other "ings," but I don't think I've ever seen an "official release" of a film look this shabby. For one, it is mastered off a tape that is probably close to a decade older than I am! There are next to no colors, and what little color there is is murky and has a ghosting effect whenever anyone moves. Tracking lines galore. Dropouts, hissy sound, distortion, etc. There isn't one good thing to say about this release. The film is center zoomed to boot, destroying a lot of the compositions (as evidenced by the terribly cropped opening credits. This release is nothing short of a blight. Arrow ought to be ashamed of themselves for this travesty.
None. The theatrical trailer can be found on a DVD released by "Other Cinema" titled "The Subject is Sex."
Who Should See It?
For fans of Damiano, the cast or just good psychological dramas, Memories Within Miss Aggie is a must.
Who Should Skip It?
Those who are typically scared off by violence, good acting, good writing, lengthy periods with absolutely no sex or nudity, etc. should probably skip this film.
Arrow's awful transfer of this film leaves so much to desire, I can't really recommend picking up this disc to anyone. That said, this is a great film which, if you can find it for super cheap, is well worth the watch.