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Roommates (Quality X) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Roommates (Quality X) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Quality X
    Released on: February 28th, 2024.
    Director: Chuck Vincent
    Cast: Samantha Fox, Vernoica Hart, Kelly Nichols, Jerry Butler, Jamie Gillis
    Year: 1982
    Purchase From Amazon

    Roommates – Movie Review:

    Directed by Chuck Vincent and released in 1982, Roommates opens with a scene where a young woman named Joan Harmon (Veronica Hart) gets a hotel room with an older man named Ken (Don Peterson, credited as Phil Smith), her drama teacher. After they have very quick sex which seems to give her no pleasure at all, he splits but before he does they talk about her move to New York City where she hopes to make it as an actress. Ken won't leave his wife, Arleen (Margaret Smith), but he does promise that he'll come visit her in the big city.

    Elsewhere, a high class call girl named Billie (Samantha Fox) tells her madam (Gloria Leonard) that she's done with the business and that in order to keep her fancy Manhattan apartment, she'll bring on two roommates. Joan lands one spot, while the other is taken up by a model named Sherry (Kelly Nichols). Shortly after everyone moves in, they trio heads out to a disco to live it up, where Sherry where does some amyl nitrate and winds up sleeping with a random guy (Ron Hudd) only to wake up the next morning with no idea who he is or where she is.

    As the girls go about trying to make ends meet and live their lives on their own terms, Joan meets a kindly gay man named Eddie (Jerry Butler) who helps her land a role in a play that he's starring in. They hit it off and become good friends. Billie gets a job working as a production assistant for a man named Marv (Bobby Astyr) and gets Sherry a job modelling for a commercial that she's working on. Eventually, Billie meets and hits it off with a nice guy named Jim (Jack Wrangler), while Sherry's drug use gets the better of her and she winds up being gang raped only to be 'saved' by a man named Joel (Jamie Gillis) who has very serious issues of his own. Meanwhile, Marv starts coercing Billie into sleeping with prospective customers even if she doesn't want to, and Joan learns the truth about Ken when he and his wife show up in New York City to see a play.

    Co-written by Chuck Vincent and Rick Marx with the three female leads specifically in mind for their respective roles, Roommates is one of those rare XXX movies that would work just as well without the hardcore sex in it, which is a testament to the skills of not only the film’s director but to its talented cast as well. Clearly meant to provoke thought rather than lust, it’s a smart movie with strong character development and even stronger acting, with Hart, Nichols and Fox all delivering work here that’s as good, if not better, than anything else they’ve done in their careers. On top of this, we get really solid supporting performances from a goofy but likeable Jerry Butler, a super sleazy Bobby Astyr, a manipulative Don Peterson and a genuinely frightening turn from, of course, Jamie Gillis (Gillis really commits in this one and has no problem taking the movie into some decidedly dark territory with his take on Joel).

    Shot and lit by Larry Revene, Roommates boasts really strong production values, benefitting from a strong score and some decent original music, great cinematography, excellent wardrobe and location work and appropriately judicious editing choices. While the movie very definitely qualifies as full on XXX material, featuring nine scenes with actual hardcore in them, the sex doesn’t slow the storyline down or full like it’s only there for the sake of showing people fucking. Rather, the sex feels ‘right’ in the context of the story and it’s just as likely that a scene will be played for dramatic effect rather than to titillate. If the movie isn’t always specifically erotic, it does tell a genuinely engaging story and prove that there absolutely were some very talented actors in the adult film industry at the time, and that quality adult films can be made that deal with real life problems by depicting their characters as believable people rather than just sex objects (making it no surprise that softcore and R-rated versions of the movie were made in an attempt to get audiences that weren’t necessarily prepared to engage with the raincoat crowd to give it a watch).

    Roommates – Blu-ray Review:

    Roommates arrives on Blu-ray from Quality X with in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen on a region free 50GB disc “newly scanned & restored in 2K from multiple 35mm prints.” While this might not be a reference quality Blu-ray transfer due to the elements available, it’s a damn good one and a serious improvement over the previous DVD edition. The image is grainy but never to the point of distraction and there isn’t any serious print damage to cover, just small white specks here and there. Skin tones look nice and natural and black levels are decent. Detail levels are generally pretty strong and the image is free of any noise reduction or compression issues.

    The only audio option on the disc is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in English with optional subtitles provided in English only. There are some bits that sound just a tad flat but overall, the audio quality here is just fine. The track is properly balanced and despite the occasional line of muffled dialogue, things are generally quite easy to understand and follow. The score and music used in the movie also sounds pretty solid.

    Extras kick off with an audio commentary with Veronica Hart and Kelly Nichols (with a moderator who chimes in from time to time) that is a reasonably scene specific discussion, noting Chuck Vincent's cameo as the jogger in the opening credits, recollections of the different cast members that they worked with on the movie, what it was like working with Vincent on the movie, the different locations that were used for the shoot, thoughts on the characters that they played in the movie, how (sadly) many of their co-stars on this movie have passed away, Gloria Leonard's work in the movie and as a men's magazine editor, memories of shooting 'amyl nitrate' scene at the disco and the subsequent sex scene, what went into their wardrobe and hair for the movie, Butler's performance as a gay man and his solid acting skills, why certain shots are framed the way they are, the mechanics of shooting sex scenes on a 35mm production, Gillis' ability to be open to anything and everything and what it was like working with him on this movie as well as his background doing live sex shows, who played some of the extras in the movie and why and lots more. The audio quality on this track is a little rough but the content is definitely interesting and the track is worth listening to.

    Revisiting Roommates is an archival Interview with Veronica Hart and Kelly Nichols from 2010 that runs thirty-nine minutes. It covers some of the same ground as the commentary track but also some new ground, going over how the actresses came to meet and work with Chuck Vincent and what he was like as a person (Nichols describes him as being "like a little elf"), how Nichols wound up in The Toolbox Murders, coming up with their screen names, how Vincent's background in theater gave him a skill set that other adult filmmakers didn't have as well as his abilities to work within different genres, thoughts on which adult film stars are still active, Hart's decision to tell her parents about her work in the adult film business, working with Samantha Fox and their other co-stars in Roommates, trying to bring a sense of realism to the film, memories of shooting specific scenes, Nichols' memories of shooting the rougher scenes with Jamie Gillis and other details related to the making of the movie.

    Up next is an Archival Q&A At Anthology Film Archives from 2014 featuring Veronica Hart, Kelly Nichols, Larry Revene, Eddie Heath and Rick Marx conducted by moderator Casey Scott that runs sixty-five minutes in length. Lots of talk here about how they all first met and came to work with Chuck Vincent, memories from the shoot, how much of themselves Nichols and Hart put into their characters in the movie, why Roommates is the way it is and why the cast and crew wanted to make something different with it, working on a modest budget on this and other Vincent productions, recollections of the other cast members that worked on the picture including Samantha Fox, Jerry Butler and Jamie Gillis, Vincent's tendency to play fast and loose with his scripts, Henri Pachard's cameo in the movie and more - it's quite an interesting talk.

    The Best Of Everything is a new video interview with Screenwriter Rick Marx. This half hour piece lets him talk about what went into making a 'crossover' film that might get critical lauds from mainstream critics and audiences, how he came to write the movie in the first place, living in Manhattan at the time and how he came to be involved in the adult movie scene and some of the people he worked with early on, what Vincent was like to know professionally and personally as well as how charismatic he was, the director's skills as a businessman, thoughts on the casting and the performances in the movie, how the three female leads wanted to make a statement with the movie, wanting to show sex as it really is and wanting to make a realistic movie, where some of the influence for the story came from, intentionally including scenes that would make people uncomfortable but doing it anyway in order to make a better movie, Larry Revene's cinematography and ability to capture what Vincent wanted, how the finished film came out very close to the script and why he feels the movie surpasses other adult films.

    Moving In is a new video interview with Cinematographer Larry Revene running thirty-six minutes. He talks about the specifics of shooting sex scenes, what he liked about working with Chuck Vincent, the importance of lighting and his work in that department, how he got his start in the film industry in New York in the seventies, working for Universal Studios, the impact of the success of Easy Rider, doing work as an editor, how he found work in the adult film industry, early work shooting loops, working on mainstream films and X-rated material at the same time, working with other directors like Armond Weston, memories of shooting Roommates, Vincent's working process, hoping that Roommates would be the 'break through film' that legitimized the XXX scene, shooting most of the movie on location, memories of working with the cast and crew on the picture, thoughts on Jerry Butler's book 'Raw Talent' and how it ruined his career in the industry, how the finished film was sold and how Vincent wound up losing everything after making a bad business deal but the resiliency the director showed in the face of this.

    The disc also includes eighteen minutes of alternate soft scenes (basically penetration-free versions of all of the sex scenes from the film), an X-rated trailer, a softcore trailer and an R-rated trailer, a pair of music videos comprised of footage from the movie, a six minute script-on-screen featurette that shows finished scenes from the movie with pages from the script next to them, an archival image gallery, menus and chapter selection options.

    Also included inside the Blu-ray case is the film’s soundtrack on CD, which is always appreciated.

    As to the packaging for this release, inside the clear Blu-ray case is some reversible cover sleeve artwork and a folded up 11 x 17 poster. The Blu-ray case and everything inside it fits nicely inside a sturdy, side-loading slipcover that also holds a full color, forty-page book that contains some nice archival stills, cast and crew information, an essay titled ‘Chuck Vincent, Roommates And A Lasting Legacy’ by Rick Marx, a second essay titled ‘Chuck’s Angels’ by Casey Scott, notes on the transfer and biographical information on the three female leads.

    Roommates - The Final Word:

    Roommates isn’t your typical adult film but it is an exceptionally well-made one, featuring excellent performances, strong production values and a genuinely engaging storyline. The special edition Blu-ray release from Quality X gives the movie the red carpet treatment that it deserves, with a vastly improved high definition presentation and a great selection of extra features. A great package for a worthy film.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Roommates Blu-ray screen caps!

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