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The Defilers/A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! (AGFA/Something Weird) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • The Defilers/A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! (AGFA/SWV) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: AGFA/Something Weird Video
    Released on: September 26th, 2023.
    Director: David F. Friedman, R. Lee Frost, Byron Mabe
    Cast: Jerome Eden, Byron Mabe, Mai Jansseon, Mimi Marlowe, Stacey Walker
    Year: 1965/1966
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Defilers/A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! – Movie Review:

    AGFA and Something Weird team up for the Blu-ray debut of two vintage roughies produced by the inimitable David F. Friedman!

    The Defilers:

    Our first film follows two pals, Jamie (Jerome Eden) and Carl (Byron Mabe), who live for nothing but kicks, chicks and more kicks. Jamie’s a fairly restrained guy when it comes to the ladies. Sure, he likes to get his wick wet but he’s not about to slap a girl around if she doesn’t cooperate. Carl, however, has no qualms whatsoever about stripping a girl down and giving her a few good whacks if he feels she deserves it, or even if he just feels like doing it. He’s a misogynist pig and a bit of a scumbag,

    After Carl and Jamie smoke some of the devil’s weed, Carl decides that the kind of kicks that they’ve been getting these last few weeks just aren’t cutting it and that it’s time for something bigger and badder to keep the thrills real. How are they going to make this happen? With some help from a dope dealing landlady (Mimi Marlowe), they kidnap a blonde chick (Mai Jansseon), new to the neighborhood and here in hopes of making it as an actress, to hold her hostage in Carl’s dungeon of kink. As the plot plays out, tensions arise between the two guys as to Carl’s treatment of their new plaything and the pot begins to boil over…

    Quick moving and plenty atmospheric, notorious exploitation film director R. Lee Frost keeps the action moving along at a good pace while the dialogue, which comes courtesy of a script from David Friedman, is so full of sixties colloquialisms that you can’t take any of it all that seriously, even if the film would like you to. The cinematography is great, using shadow and light to build a sufficiently perverse atmosphere, while the actors are all in it to win it, giving a hundred percent and, in some scenes, maybe even a bit more. Sure, there are a few spots where the cast overdoes it just a bit but it just adds to the mayhem.

    Slick, sexy, well-paced and well-shot, The Defilers is a prime example of roughie filmmaking at its finest. That twisted atmosphere that Frost would perfect in later films is starting to take shape here, and Mai Jansson, in her only known screen credit, is plenty easy on the eyes.

    A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine!:

    The second feature tells the sordid tale of one Sharon Winters (Stacey Walker), a curvaceous blonde with wild hair who works as a receptionist at an office building in Los Angeles. Sharon’s got an odd kink, in that she gets off on teasing guys to the point that they think it’s time to make a move, only to then tell them to stop and accuse them of rape. This happens early in the film when an encounter in a car lands her former boy toy in court on rape charges!

    Sharon doesn’t just do this to men – she even gets her gal pal Paula (Sharon Carr) all hot and bothered in bed with her only to push her away when things heat up, putting her down for her Sapphic desires. After Paula pulls her shtick on a few other guys but then meets Lowell Carter (Sam Melville credited as Neville Coward). Their romance happens fast and heats up even faster and before you know it they’re hanging out in dive bars and he’s singing songs and then they’re having odd knife-wielding BDSM fantasies about one another tied up in a crazy sex dungeon.

    What Sharon doesn’t realize, however, is that her new beau isn’t one to take no for an answer…

    Written and produced by David F. Friedman and directed by Byron Mabe, this feature moves quick and keeps you interested throughout. Highlighted by a fiery performance from the enigmatic Winters, it’s a sleaze-tastic slice of sixties sadism. The black and white cinematography is pretty slick and does a great job of capturing the different faces and expressions of the performers that populate the movie. The film is light on story to be sure but Winters does such a great job with her role that you don’t really mind so much, it’s just entertaining to watch her chew up and spit out everyone who comes across her bed.

    The Defilers/A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! – Blu-ray Review:

    AGFA/Something Weird Video bring these two films to Blu-ray for the first time with the black and white AVC encoded 1080p transfers with The Defilers framed 1.33.1 at A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! at 1.85.1. The Defilers is taken from a restoration of the 35mm dupe negative while A Smell Of Honey is transferred from one of the only known existing 35mm prints. Not surprisingly, given the elements available, The Defilers looks considerably better than the second feature. The contrast looks really good and we get strong depth and detail throughout. Minor print damage shows up, but it’s just that – minor. A Smell Of Honey was taken from elements that have been better days, the print shows quite a bit more wear and tear than the first feature does and has quite a few noticeable jumps where frames were clearly damaged beyond repair, but despite this it’s perfectly watchable. Contrast isn’t as strong here and detail isn’t as impressive but, just like the first movie, it’s a big step up from how it looked on DVD and all in all, a solid transfer from an imperfect source.

    Both films get English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono mixes with optional English subtitles. Again, The Defilers fares better than A Smell Of Honey. The first track has a bit of sibilance and some hiss here and there but it isn’t especially significant. The second feature’s audible flaws are more pronounced. Levels are balanced well enough and you’ll be able to make out the dialogue and hear everything just fine, but you should expect a bit more hiss and some snaps and pops here and there.

    Extras for The Defilers include the archival commentary track from the old DVD release with The Defilers’ producer, David Friedman. Here he talks about working with Lee Frost on the film, shooting it around the various locations that were used, where the cast members appeared before and after and some of the issues that they ran into while filming. It’s a fun, active track that lets Friedman speak candidly and honestly about the film. A second archival commentary with Mike Vraney, filmmaker Frank Henenlotter and Friedman plays out over A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! and it’s also well-worth listening to if you haven’t heard it before. There’s talk here of Stacey Walker’s work in the film as well as plenty of info about how Friedman came to work on this, getting along with the directors, the marketing, cast members and more. Both of these are worth your time and fascinating glimpses into exploitation film history.

    A short film called But Charley, I Never Played Volleyball starring Stacey Walker and Charlie Reklaw and produced and directed by Davis Freeman. It's about a woman named Stacey who won a beauty contest in Oklahoma who over footage of herself in the pool about meeting Charlie, who co-narrates, a man who said he could help her with her acting career. As the ten minute short plays out, we see them visit a nudist camp together where they take in a concert and a beauty contest.

    Finishing things up on the disc is a selection of David F. Friedman trailers (The Defilers, The Notorious Daughter Of Fanny Hill, A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine and She-Freak), a still gallery, menus and chapter selection options.

    Inside the case, along with some reversible cover sleeve artwork, we get a full color booklet with writing by Something Weird’s Lisa Petrucci in an essay titled ‘A Tale Of Two Roughies: David Friedman In La La Land’ that details the filmmakers career during this period in his life. Well worth a read, genuinely interesting stuff.

    The Defilers/A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! - The Final Word:

    AGFA/Something Weird Video's double feature Blu-ray release of The Defilers/A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! brings to high definition two legitimate exploitation classics in nice upgrades from their standard definition counterparts and some decent extra features as well. These won’t be to all tastes, of course, but fans of vintage roughies will eat it all up and gladly ask for seconds!

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized The Defilers/A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine! Blu-ray screen caps!

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