by Jason Suzuki
As part of their Drive-In Collection, Vinegar Syndrome releases two films from director Chris Warfield on a dual layer DVD.
REVIEW: Little Miss Innocence (Chris Warfield, 1972)
Rick Engels (John Alderman) picks up two young and attractive hitchhikers Carol and Judy (Sandy Dempsey and Terri Johnson). To his surprise the girls come visit him later that day and take him up on his throwaway sleazy offer to come over for a drink. That night he pops Judy’s cherry, sleeps with the more experienced Carol, and then sleeps with both of them. Rick’s dream night is really just the start of an amazing chamber piece of dueling power plays taking place in Rick’s pad. The two girls initially refuse to leave, wanting to have sex with Rick every chance they get. When Rick passes out we get Carol and Judy talking about their plan, not giving out much details but just generally mentioning it. The premise keeps you pushing forward to see what the fuck these girls are really up to and when you find out it surprisingly ends on a sobering note. Sandy Dempsey as Carol, the strong willed one of the two, really shines and plays a character fueled by past traumas much like Sondra Currie in the other film on this disc.
“Rick, he could be my father.” “He could be anybody’s father.”
Something I need to mention is that this film has two great scene transitions. Chris Warfield uses the transitional graphic match as if Ozu was making a house drama about threesomes. See below:
As a Kurosawa fan I love keeping an eye out for transitional wipes and as an Ozu fan I was delighted to see this. If you’re a fan of graphic matches or want a dark chamber piece wrapped in a sexploitation shell you should check out Little Miss Innocence.
REVIEW: Teenage Seductress (Chris Warfield, 1973)
The other film paired on this disc with Little Miss Innocence is Teenage Seductress, another film from Chris Warfield. It’s a film that both does and does not live up to its amazingly warped premise. A woman (Sondra Currie) arrives in Sante Fe, New Mexico. From the convenience store attendant to the local librarian, every interaction Terry has usually ends with her bringing up famous author Preston King (Warfield moving in front of the camera this time). Her insistence on knowing where he lives is what usually ends these encounters on a sour and awkward note. Luckily for her she meets an art gallery owner, Reggie who sells King’s paintings and is so attracted to her he is able to overlook her bizarre insistence on knowing where King lives. Thanks to his attraction to Terry, Reggie agrees to take her to King’s residence. When no one’s home she breaks down at the front door. So now we have further confirmation of emotional instability that was only hinted at in Terry’s earlier conversation with the people of New Mexico, in which she showed no attempt to hide that all she really wants to know is King’s address.
At this point in the film we still don’t know what she wants with King yet, and things have started off a little slow. But then this happens:
The floating head of her mother comes in periodically to act as a shoulder angel, reminding Terry that all men are scum. This concludes our determined protagonist’s first night in Santa Fe, making some progress to come into contact with King. The following morning Terry, sitting in her car parked across the street from King’s home, watching as he opens the gate for his housekeeper says this:
“I’m going to fuck you father just like you fucked me.”
The reveal is a punch similar to the infamous reveal in Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy except now that it’s happened in the first act of the narrative, and that it’s the impetus for the narrative, there are expectations for a certain type of trash. And while part of me was disappointed that the ensuing film was not as insane and trashy as Terry‘s plan for revenge against her father who skipped out on her and her mother, I do respect that the film takes it easy and lets it play out without pandering to the WTF crowd. In a way this makes the film a bit more interesting. Currie does an excellent job when taking into consideration the character choices she was given, she’s able to make it believable and somewhat natural the question of whether she is falling for her father or still following through on her plan. So while Teenage Seductress might not be something you can put on for friends to have instant enjoyment, it’s definitely worth watching when you’re up for subtle belated enjoyment.
This is a fun double feature from Chris Warfield who showed an interest in stories that both do and don’t provide the illicit thrills but go beyond into more interesting territories. Both films are cautionary tales for (older) men who chase young skirt or skip out on their daughters. But still, those transitional graphic matches…
Jason Suzuki is co-editor to Cinema Adrift.