Vinegar Syndrome has released a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the 1966 Black and White erotic fantasy film Red Roses of Passion on their new Sexploitation Signature Series.
Red Roses of Passion, as you may guess, is a low budget sexploitation film from filmmaker Joseph Sarno. Sarno has 123 directing credits on IMDB with titles such as: Screw the Right Thing, Coming on America, Hung Jury, The Horneymooners, Porked!, Inside Little Oral Annie, and SS Operation Wolf Cub. If you didn’t at least giggle or crack a smile at those movie names then you might as well pass on this film.
Apparently Red Roses of Passion is one of Sarnos “better” films, although to me it still was pretty much an unedited version of a Mystery Science Theater picture. It’s basically a Gothic tale of sex cults, demonic influences and dangerous babes.
Carla (Patricia McNair) is fed up with her dull home life, living a prudish existence with her spinster aunt, who sees everything as a sin. After being introduced to a tarot reader (Helena Clayton), Carla quickly finds herself involved with a mysterious sect known as The Cult of Pan, who have learned to harness the carnal powers of roses to entrap men into sexual liaisons. But as Carla delves deeper into the occult world, the true and much more sinister motives of the cult start to become apparent.
What sets Red Roses of Passion apart from some other low budget films of this era is the fact that the people involved behind the scenes take the film rather seriously which in turn makes it entertaining. Fans of Joe Sarno certainly need to check this out. While this is the first film of his that I’ve seen I could tell that he was trying more artistic techniques than your typical naughty 60’s movie.
The cinematography was done by Anthony Lover, who you may not recognize by name but he actually won a Daytime Emmy, a Best Film award in 2006 for My Brother at the American Black Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar in 1969 for a Short Subject film. The editor of the film is David E Durston who you may recognize as the writer of I Drink Your Blood, Stigma and The Blue Sextet. So while it’s a low budget erotic movie it has a bit of a pedigree and the talent is apparent.
The story itself is fairly ridiculous and character motivations are all over the place, which just add to the charm. Occasionally frames are out of focus and there is some slight film damage. However it is amazing that something like this is even available in high definition. Vinegar Syndrome (as seems to be their modus operandi) takes cinematic “trash” and makes it look just as it was intended 50 plus years ago. I think you can tell from the screen shots that it looks rather nice.
The audio is English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono with English SDH subtitles. As you would expect in a low budget flick from the 60’s there is a bit of a reliance on high treble and a bit of hiss and pop from age. The dialog and score are clear, only limited by the production and not the disc itself.
20 Minute Interview with historian Michael Bowen on director/writer Joseph Sarno. (Note – the video seemed a bit pixelated to me so this may come from a lower resolution master, but it was informative).
Red Roses of Passion Final Thoughts:
It’s from the 60’s, it’s creepy, it’s campy and it has boobs. What more could you possibly want from a Vinegar Syndrome release? The flick is only 80 minutes long, region free and is certainly entertaining enough. I recommend it if you like these kinds of pictures. This Blu-ray/DVD combo is strictly limited to 2,000 units and exclusively available through Vinegar Syndrome and a few other select retail outlets.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.