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Bad Barbara 1970's Grindhouse Double Feature

    Ian Jane

  • Bad Barbara 1970's Grindhouse Double Feature

    Released by: After Hours Cinema
    Released on: June 13th, 2017.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Sharon Mitchell, Wade Nichols, Susan McBain, Vanessa Del Rio, Bobby Astyr
    Year: 1973/1971/1971
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    The Movies:

    Two dirty movies featuring the lovely and talented Sharon Mitchell on one DVD, transferred from original 1970's film prints presented by 42nd Street Pete? Yep. That's exactly what this is, and here's how it all plays out…

    Bad Barbara:

    Our first feature, which runs fifty-three minutes, is narrated by Barbara (Sharon Mitchell) who, from a perch in Central Park, tells us about her experiences with her favorite swingers, the Harris'.

    From there we cut to Mr. Frank Harris and his wife Mrs. Harris in bed (played by Wade Nichols and Susan McBain respectively) as they make out in bed next to a big mirror. After they screw, they get ready to head out for the night. Barbara shows up, she's been hired to watch over Roger for the night. Roger (who has awesome Conway Twitty hair) is the quirky brother of Frank and he's not quite right since the accident some time ago. Anyway, Barbara is to look after him while they head out for the night. The Harris' split and Barbara leaves Roger alone so that she can go and watch some TV. Alone in the room, she has a smoke and talks to herself about how lousy this job is. She turns on the TV and then starts poking around the room. She finds some lube and some sex toys - at which point she decides to test drive a big ol' vibrator.

    Elsewhere, Mr. and Mrs. Harris have arrived at their destination for the night: a swinger's party! Here Mrs. Harris talks to her friend Joan about how difficult Roger is to deal with, but her mind is put at ease when she's reminded of how hot Roger is, even if he's a bit damaged. The girls decide to put the women's lib movement to work and surprise the guys, who are upstairs talking about how hot Barbara is. As the swingers start swinging, Barbara decides to prove to Roger that she's the best babysitter he'll ever have by taking him into the bedroom and screwing his brains out. Back at the party, the girls finish off the guys who promptly fall asleep and so they wander off for some lesbian action. Eventually Frank winds up in bed with Barbara, and then so do Mrs. Harris and Joan, where they try out those sex toys again... unaware that Roger is watching from the sidelines. Joan and Barbara leave, but Roger, emboldened by his experiences with Barbara, realizes that his sister-in-law needs a good screwing (at which point he performs the world's loudest oral sex on her and then goes to town)! After that it's all hands on deck for a big orgy that finishes off the movie.

    Has this been released before? There's no information about this one around, at least not under the title Bad Barbara (the title card on the print used for this release was clearly digitally added - whether or not it's in place of an original title card it's tough to say, it's just as likely that the print didn't have one). It's a decent movie though, with a good cast too. Mitchell is in very fine form here. She looks great and performs well and it's easy to see why she became a pretty big star in the industry. Her co-stars are just as good. Wade Nichols seems to be enjoying himself here and Susan McBain looks great and also does good work. The story is pretty simple, there aren't really any surprises here, but if it's a formulaic picture it is at least entertaining enough - and the sex is well shot and enthusiastic, which always makes a big difference.

    Too Young To Care:

    Our second and final feature (which sports a title card naming the film The Horny Landlady) begins when a chick named Carrie (Sharon Mitchell in her feature debut) is entertaining her boyfriend, Stony (Bobby Astyr), in a room she rents from a fairly reserved landlady named Dorothy (Vanessa Del Rio in one of her earliest features). They sneak up to her room and undress and have a pretty good time together rolling around in the bed and bumpin' uglies. Thankfully finish up just before Dorothy knocks on the door. She's been in the kitchen making coffee this whole time and wants to talk to Carrie. The two ladies chat while Stony hides under the bed, and then he splits and Carrie takes off.

    Dorothy, nosey lady that she is, snoops through Carrie's stuff and finds a nifty old porno mag. She checks it out and has a fantasy about a black dude boffing an Asian chick which we see reenacted and shot in some very soft lighting. Carrie and Dorothy talk again and it turns out, as if you couldn't tell, that Dorothy really needs to get laid. Carrie heads to the bar where she talks to a guy enjoying a cool, refreshing bottle of Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers, and she sets something up for Dorothy. Shortly after, she instructs Dorothy to visit a sex instructor named Vincent. Before you know it, Dorothy is in a bedroom where some guy named Larry is sticking his dick in every one of her three canals of love while some other creepy dude sits in a chair and directs the action while enjoying a nice glass of wine.

    What? Ha. Wow. This story is awful. There are no credits on the print After Hours used for this release so it's pretty much impossible to figure out who is responsible for this mess but hey, enjoy it for what it is. Sharon Mitchell actually looks very good here, not wasted on smack as she appears to be in some of her other films but rather, lithe and very into what she's doing. Del Rio is Del Rio, she fucks with gusto the way she's famous for while Bobby Astyr steals the show as the comedic fuzzball who kind of jumps around like a flea when he and Mitchell almost get busted by Vanessa. The sex is plentiful and actually fairly well shot for the most part. We spend an inordinate amount of time in Vanessa's kitchen watching her make coffee but hey, gratuitous Miller High Life product placement, swank early seventies fashion and furnishings and anal sex are rarely combined so gleefully.

    This film was previously released by After Hours Cinema as part of their 42nd Street Pete's A Night At The Venus collection (reviewed here). When the feature ends there's some on-camera comments from Pete as well as a trailer for the 1979 Larry Revene film Sizzle that play directly afterwards.


    Both films are presented in 1.33.1 fullframe - which appears to be how they were shot - and transferred from film prints. They haven't been fully restored so expect a fair bit of print damage and plenty of visible scratches but that doesn't really detract from the experience much. Colors are faded and black levels all over the place but if the elements are in rough shape, at least the disc is fairly well authored and not plagued by compression artifacts or edge enhancement problems. It'd be nice if After Hours started using progressive transfers though - but it's nice to see the films presented in their proper aspect ratio.

    The audio is on par with the video, in that it's rough but serviceable considering the origins of the films and the materials available to work with. Each of the three English language Dolby Digital Mono tracks has some hiss and some audible cracking in spots but most fans of this material won't mind so much.

    There are some decent extras here, starting with a Cinema Wasteland Panel Discussion that is effectively an interview with Sharon Mitchell herself that runs just a hair over fifty-seven minutes in length. Pete moderates the panel along with Ed Demko. She talks about retiring from the business in 1986 to continue her education, but she also talks about how and why she got into porn in the first place, making her first movie with Bobby Astyr, her life in NYC at the time, her involvement in the notorious The Taming Of Rebecca which was made when she was working as a dominatrix (and the reaction to that movie when it came out!), drug use that was prominent at the time, how so many people she worked with were involved in the arts, her thoughts on the state of modern day pornography, and, what it was like working on the infamous Waterpower with Jeanne Silver (who she was roommates with at one point), Marlene Willoughby and Jamie Gillis. There's lots more in here - a short film she made, now lost, called The Nun's Bad Habit with Herschel Savage, working with Gerard Damiano, getting arrested for a public performance and having the cops not know what gender she was and being locked with the transvestites, working alongside Bill Margold and the Free Speech Coalition, the government's insistence on going after the porn industry, what it was like working with John Holmes and plenty more. Mitchell is well spoken, articulate and very often quite funny. Her talk is refreshingly honest and genuinely interesting - make sure you take the time to watch this if you've got any interest in her career or the scene that she was involved with back in the day.

    There's also an audio commentary of sorts where Pete talks to Michael Bowen overtop of Bad Barbara entitled Tales From The Deuce. This is basically a talk about Pete's life, how he got to be who he is, his time spent in and around the Times Square theaters. He talks about his childhood, seeing movies as a kid with his brother, and then moving on to stronger stuff at The Embassy Theater in Orange, New Jersey, with horror pictures and then drive-in's but how he kept going back to Times Square time and time again. He talks about the different adult book stores in the area as well as the theaters, interacting with different sex workers in the area, how and why Show World moved over to the token system, what was underground on 42nd Street and what wasn't, and how Pete got involved with the video side of things once that started booming. He also talks about how the area did start to become unsafe when the crack epidemic and AIDS rolled around, and how video basically killed the cinema scene in the area. Pete's got some interesting stories and isn't the type to pull punches. It's an interesting talk that gives a pretty honest account of what it was probably like to be 'there' before NYC cleaned everything up and turned Times Square into the tourist trap that it is now.

    Pete also provides a seven-minute intro where he talks about Mitchell's work with the AIM Healthcare Foundation in the nineties, how and why it was shutdown, how she came to do the Wasteland panel included on the disc and then, of course, the two features included on the disc. He notes here how in these early roles she was more feminine than she would be in the eighties, and then talks up the qualities of the two movies.

    The Final Word:

    After Hours Cinema's DVD release of Bad Barbara and Too Young Too Care offers up one legitimate Mitchell-starring rarity alongside a previously issued film that she stars in alongside Vanessa Del Rio in watchable, if rough, shape. Both movies are definitely worth seeing, and there are some good extras here. Pete's biographical commentary is as interesting as it is colorful but the real treat is the panel with Mitchell herself, which proves to be very much worthwhile for anyone interested in her career.

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