Thursday, February 7, 2019

Phil's Porno Chic Theatre - MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE (1974) from Vinegar Syndrome - February 2, 2019

MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE Slipcover Blu-Ray
MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE (1974)

Starring Kim Pope, Mary Stuart, Darby Lloyd Raines, Eric Edwards, Harry Reems, Deborah Ashira, Patrick L. Farrelly, Ralph Herman
Written by Ron Wertheim
Cinematography by João Fernandes (as Harry Flecks)
Edited by Saint Marks Place
Produced by Inish Kae, Limited
Directed by Gerard Damiano
Originally released by Cinépix Film Properties
Released by Vinegar Syndrome

When one thinks of some of the greatest adult filmmakers of all time, one name comes to mind that is often overlooked, and that individual's name is Gerard Damiano. With his breakout hit DEEP THROAT, he helped usher in the "Golden Age of Adult Films" and made it chic to see a "dirty movie" at your local cinema. With his follow up film THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES, Damino pulled no punches when it came to making the movie; addressing themes such as life, death, suicide, lust, greed, promiscuity and loneliness. In 2019, the folks at Vinegar Syndrome has released his third feature, one that I've only seen posters of and maybe few stills here and there. Finally, I had the pleasure of seeing Damiano's forgotten and most erotic arthouse adult film MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE.

The film's official synopsis: The only thing missing from Aggie’s life…was Aggie. In the middle of nowhere lives middle aged Aggie, with her wheelchair bound companion Richard. As snow falls outside, Aggie tries desperately to remember the circumstances under which they met. As she plays through in her mind a series of possible scenarios, only to dismiss each as a false past, she inadvertently begins to reveal an increasingly dark portrait of her true self, leading to the unexpected and shocking reality of her relationship with Richard.

I can honestly say that I have never seen an adult film like this before! Ever! The tone is very mysterious and psychologically dark, yet erotic and loving. I noticed that he film references a couple of movies that most fans of cinema will recognize: Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 iconic horror film PSYCHO and Ingmar Bergamn's 1966  psychological drama PERSONA. The movie lifts a lot from these two cinematic treasures, especially PSYCHO; with it's traumatic ending that, one can see coming, yet hard not to be shocked! Again, this was something completely new to me and it was a very interesting viewing experience!

Original Theatrical Poster (1974)
Damiano really shows off his directing chops with the film, carefully crafting a balance between art and sex. His compositions and set-ups feel very European; with it's use of simple camera shots, low lighting, intimate close-ups, and few edits, it helps elevate the movie from its simple definition of a "porno flick." The movie is an example of just how talented Damiano was and how he was willing to take chances and to make sex artistic within the adult film world. He is one of a few filmmakers within the genre that when you watch a movie, you can tell who made it. I would like to state that Damiano was, and still is, a true film auteur in the annuls of adult cinema history!

On September 19, 2015, the website The Rialto Report posted an article entitled, "Adult Film Locations 4: In Search of Miss Aggie, The Devil and Miss Jones." In the article, they went on a mission to locate the famous locations that were featured in both THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES and MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE: the infamous house and countryside locations. After conducting some serious research, and contacting those who were there, they eventually found out where both films were shot: an old apple-packing plant located in Milanville, Pennsylvania, about a hour's drive from New York. Also mentioned were the bridge and the Conklin Hill Church that was used, as well as several pictures of what the area looks now with screen grabs from both films for comparisons.

For this new release, the film was newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 16mm archival negative elements. The final results are really fantastic, making this the best version of the movie! For so many years, fans of the movie had to deal with the dark, murky, and blurry transfers that looked like they were from old VHS copies, but now those can be tossed aside and recycled. There's also a couple of special features on the discs: a promotional still and article gallery and the film's theatrical trailer. Granted, I wished there more on here, but since most of the key players of the film have passed on (Damiano and Reems more specifically), it would have been nice to hear from Eric Edwards and have him share some of his thoughts and memories on making the film. The combo has has a reversible cover artwork, and the first 1,000 copies has a cool looking, special limited edition embossed slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr. (As I am writing this review, the limited edition slipcovers are now sold out, and there are only 351 copies left of the standard version).

MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE  is an undiscovered erotic masterpiece that perfectly showcases the talent of the legendary Gerard Damiano! It's a movie that, almost 45 years later, still continues to attract new fans while remaining a favorite with those who saw it originally in theaters. With it's combination of European arthouse visuals, intense eroticism, and shocking finale, the film perfectly captures what the Golden Age of Adult Films was all about and remains one of Damiano's best films that you haven't seen yet!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!



MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE  is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome. To order a copy for yourself, visit their website at vinegarsyndrome.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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