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Vinegar Syndrome’s Star Virgin DVD Release
It's not at all what it appears to be on face value, not always successful, but never, ever boring.
Published on February 6, 2016 | Filed under Review
Star Virgin

Whoa. I’ll admit that when I first gazed at the cover art for Star Virgin, I immediately thought that this was going to be some sort of campy, XXX riff on Star Wars and other staples of 70s sci-fi, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Actually, outside of its wrap-around segments, this anthology really isn’t all that focused on sci-fi at all, instead bringing together a few disparate genres and making them all cohere as well as possible via our titular “star virgin.”

First thing to note here is that this comes to us from Howard Ziehm, who co-directed Flesh Gordon a few years prior to Star Virgin and also broke down barriers by creating Mona: The Virgin Nymph, which was the first hardcore adult film to be released in the US in 1970. So, we’re in good hands. And Star Virgin is really like nothing else Ziehm made either, working as an anthology film that melds genres all the while delivering some quality XXX scenes that audiences would expect from him. And Star Virgin is no slouch in either area.

Star Virgin

Things start with our titular character (Kari Klark) coming off a bit too much like Barbarella, having no memory of what sex is and turning to her adorable, British accented robot for help. Which starts the four stories the film is comprised of. We begin – like all things do – with a “Garden of Eden” tale that takes place in the 50s with “Eden” actually being a place that the kids go to park and fool around. And, naturally, there’s some creepy mustachioed guy dressed up as a snake, that looks like he slithered his way out of Forbidden Zone, there to coach the kids through their fornication. Then things turn black and white and silent as we enter Dracula’s castle on a stormy night. This basically feels like an even more bargain bin version of Thundercrack! with the inter-titles appearing to be taped on to construction paper. And it features Dracula and a guy in a Richard Nixon mask having their way with a girl on the dining room table. So, that’s a thing. After that, we get into a cheerleader comedy with two gals trying to fix up an injured player. You can guess how that goes. And, lastly, we get a big orgy that doesn’t have all that much narrative going for it. Maybe it’s Carlos Tobalina’s guest spot.

This all works to varying degrees of success, with none of it ever completely failing. It’s a mixed bag, as any anthology film ultimately is but everything here feels sincere and inspired and, well, the sex is good too! It’s nowhere near the camp sensibilities of the Flesh Gordon features, so anyone looking for that will ultimately be disappointed but if you’re interested in something a bit different and more unpredictable than what we tend to see in late 70s adult cinema, here ya go.

Vinegar Syndrome have brought Star Virgin to DVD only for this release and it looks pretty great for what it is. The transfer is in 2K from 35mm elements and it overall looks good. There’s definitely some damage present, but nothing overly detrimental. It’s apparent that this didn’t get the same restoration job and/or its source(s) provided more of a hurdle than titles like Pretty Peaches or Sex World, but outside of some superficial damage this looks really great. Colors are striking, black levels are deep – especially during that black and white sequence – and grain is rich and inherent throughout. Audio sounds good with no major issues to report.

Star Virgin

The only extra on the disc is a commentary with Ziehm in conversation with VS’s Joe Rubin. It’s a rich track that details some issues with the production/actors, the involvement with organized crime and some amusing anecdotes (one of which is a real doozy that I won’t spoil here, but will likely become a weird piece of cult cinema nerd trivia). It’s absolutely worth a listen for fans.

Star Virgin is not at all what it appears to be on face value. It’s basically a multi-genre anthology film hosted by a faux Barbarella and her dime-store made, British accented robot assembled of stories designed to educate her (and maybe even the viewer..) about sex. It’s not always successful but it’s never, ever boring. Vinegar Syndrome have brought it to DVD in a solid presentation and accompanied by a worthwhile commentary track. Very happy to have this one on disc and I can’t wait to share it with the more adventurous cinephiles that I know. Highly Recommended.

Justin LaLiberty holds degrees in film preservation from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and film studies from Keene State College. He is the Creative Manager at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers and is an itinerant projectionist, ready to run reels if you’ve got ’em.

Justin LaLiberty

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