Indulge In Some Decadent, Adult Fairy Tales Nostalgia

Producer Charles Band's Adult Fairy Tales comes from a rare strain of films that I don't think could even work in today's internet age, but is certainly fascinating to go back and look at as a curiosity.  The most obvious issue you'll notice when watching this today is simply: who's the audience for this?  It's a dirty, silly 70s comedy with a sense of juvenile humor that kids in schoolyards all around the world would get a kick out of.  But it's packed to the brim with full frontal nudity and off-color material totally inappropriate for children.  And of course, that's what I loved about it as a kid.  If it only had safe, kid-friendly material, it would've been intolerably lame, with its cheap sets and hammy performances.  It's funny because it's so outrageously "x-rated" (in quotes, because this is really an R-rated sex comedy, not a hardcore flick).
It's the kind of movie where a topless woman in a bonnet talks about impotence in a baby voice.  It was the kind of film you could tell your friends about and they wouldn't even believe you.  "Oh man, on TV last night there was this movie where the frog prince is waiting for a princess to free him from his curse, right?  But he looks totally normal and you're like what's going on, but then his hard-on ribbets!"  But I don't think it could work today where everyone can find far weirder and worse online in an instant.  And because a big part of what made a novelty a novelty was the barrier to entry.  It was hardly an original or creative idea in this movie to have Snow White having group sex with the seven dwarves.  Every little brother around the world's come up with that.  But when movies had to be shot on real film with expensive cameras, etc, the part that was so hard to believe was that somebody would film it with enough production values to get it distributed.
You might scoff when I say "production values" looking at that big, paper mache shoe, but still, that took a crew some time and dedication to build that your basic fairy tale-themed porno wouldn't bother with.  There's a big cast and even musical numbers, because yes, this is a musical, too.  For the most part, this film just works on that one thin, nostalgic line I was talking about in my Deathrow Gameshow post, where children of the 80s who will be nostalgic for the wild memories this film generated will get a kick out of revisiting it, but there's no way you could pass it off to your spouse or anyone who didn't grow up with it as an legitimately good movie they should watch with you.  You've really got to be in the club for this release.
But that's not to say this film has absolutely nothing to offer the uninitiated film lover; it has its interesting moments.  Martha Reeves (of Martha and the Vandellas fame... even if you don't recognize the name, you'll surely recognize their monster Motown hits like "Dancing In the Streets" "Jimmy Mack" and "Heatwave") was somehow talked into providing a great song and on-camera performance, reminiscent of Tina Turner's stand-out number in Tommy.  That's the only legitimate good song, but there's also an amusing parody of The Andrews' Sisters "Beat Me Daddy, Eight To the Bar" as - you guessed it - an S&M theme.  If you remember Band's previous venture of this ilk, Cinderella, you'll probably recognize the highlight of that film, the fairy godmother, is back in another scene-stealing role as Sirus the pimp.  And this film is noteworthy for featuring the first appearance of Linnea Quigley.  I know there's a lot of info out there that Psycho From Texas was her first film, but I tracked down this interview with Quigley that should clear that up.
So those are all fun to look out for, but unfortunately, apart from that, it's just starts to get boring.  The film languishes in a handful of locations, and most of the jokes and songs just fall flat.  It's like those terrible Bob Hope specials he kept making into the 90s, except with nudity.  And even when they work - like, like that frog prince gag genuinely made me chuckle - they run them into the ground.  Who's still laughing by the fifth time they pan down to the prince's crotch for another ribbet?  And that issue's compounded by what should be a really good thing about this new release.  When Fairy Tales was restored for blu-ray, several minutes of lost footage was discovered and reinstated.  Awesome!  But what's the footage?  Well, there's this bit where Peeping Tom is watching an orgy through a keyhole.  And this footage is like five extra minutes of bland orgy footage.  Just like those scenes in the extended cut of Caligula.  And they keep cutting back to it, somewhat randomly, throughout the second half of the film.  It doesn't even look like it was shot for this movie.  So it's great that lost footage (presumably removed so the film could get distributed as an R) was recovered, but an argument could be made that it hurts as much as it helps.
88 Films 2018 UK blu.
So, 88 Films was good enough to send me a review copy of their brand blu, which features a "[b]rand new HD restoration from the original camera negative."  Of course, it's a restoration by Full Moon, created for their 2016 blu over here in the states (under it's shorter, US title Fairy Tales, and which 88 already released on DVD last year), so it raises a few small questions.  As you can see above, grain seems a bit light, suggestive of an older HD scan, and the case lists a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but the film's actually presented in an even wider 2.55:1 AR.  But it's still a solid HD image.  A little light flickering definitely gives the look of authentic film, and seeing the movie restored like this obviously blows away the images we grew up with.  And it really makes the film better, if only that it ups the audacity factor that they actually made a "real movie" of this ridiculous material.
Also, I don't have the previous Full Moon release of this film, but I did read that it had some issues with vertical squeezing (possibly related to that unusual AR?) and lossy audio.  Happily, 88 continues their long-standing tradition of quietly improving on their UK imports of FM's releases.  Whether they're adding extra commentaries to Subspecies and Puppet Master, including The Evil Clergyman with Castle Freak or correcting the AR of The Pit and the Pendulum, 88's been on the ball and going that extra mile consistently enough that anytime Full Moon comes out with something promising, I hold off to see what 88 will do with it.  And if you waited for (Adult) Fairy Tales, it just paid off again, because there doesn't appear to be any vertical stretching, and the audio is the original mono in lossless LPCM 2.0, with optional English subtitles.
Both blus, though, off a pretty entertaining audio commentary by Band and co-writer (and co-star!) Frank Ray Perilli.  It's not perfect - neither remember the film all that well, and Band keeps stopping the discussion to listen to the movie.  But it's still a fun mix of informative anecdotes and sharing a laugh at the wacked out movie they created.  If you're hoping the commentary will be so much fun that it's worth buying a movie you otherwise wouldn't care to own, I'm not sure it quite reaches those heights; but it's a very strong inclusion.  88's blu also includes the original theatrical trailer, reversible cover art, and a limited edition (1500) slip cover with the first pressing.  I think Adult Fairy Tales is aiming at a very narrow demographic, but if that's you, 88 has come up with the best edition of it to date.

No comments:

Post a Comment