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Synapse Films presents
Fantasm (1976)

"Surely a woman should be able to be satisfied by her partner without the use of fantasy? The answer is, no, no und nein."
- Prof. Jurgen Notafreud (John Bluthal)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: December 01, 2004

Stars: Uschi Digard, John Holmes, Rene Bond, Candy Samples, Serena
Other Stars: Roxanne Brewer, John Bluthal
Director: Richard Franklin

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality, rape, violence, general kinkiness)
Run Time: 01h:26m:51s
Release Date: November 16, 2004
UPC: 654930303795
Genre: late night

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+BC- B

DVD Review

During the porn boom of the 1970s, one of the last holdouts was Australia, which insisted that all films be cut to be appropriate for all ages. That changed about mid-decade, and this film, the first Australian sexploitation picture, was poised to take advantage of that loosening of censorial standards. While hard-core porn was still unacceptable, this film's producers sought to skirt the edges with a somewhat kinky essay into soft-core.

Professor Jurgen Notafreund (an uncredited John Bluthal), sometimes also written as Jungenot A. Freud, a somewhat prissy psychologist, hosts eleven vignettes depicting common female sexual fantasies. These range from a pedicure and shave, strip poker, sex with food and a lesbian encounter in a sauna, to interracial rape, gang bang by devil worshippers and mother-daughter incest. Even though the vignettes are soft-core, the principal stars are American hardcore porn veterans, such as Rene Bond, Candy Samples, John Holmes and Serena. Cult favorite and Russ Meyer regular Uschi Digard also makes a memorable appearance in the sauna.

While there isn't a lot of explicit material here (though a frequently-scissored underwater sequence with John Holmes is just about over the boundary), it does have a nice erotic charge to most of the sequences. At the same time, the producers are not entirely serious and the linking narrative is more than a little tongue-in-cheek. There are also numerous funny segments during the vignettes, including a rubber duck making an appearance during incest in the bathtub and a surprisingly bit of humiliation in the cross-dressing segment. The often bumptious music also lends comedy to the proceedings. The humor helps give this a decent amount of replay value and lifts the film above the typical "sex ed" film that Fantasm is satirizing. It's by no means a classic, but it certainly has an entertainment value, though the rape sequence may be hard to take for sensitive audiences.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The film is transferred in anamorphic 1.66:1. Since it was made for next to nothing and shot on 16mm, there are limits to how good this can look. Grain is substantial and there's minor damage throughout, but colors (especially the all-important skin tones) are vivid and look very nice indeed. There are some splicey moments, but the film is completely uncut, according to the commentary.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Again, the limitations of the recording are apparent. There's significant hiss and the music is somewhat on the tinny side and not surprisingly lacking in deep bass. But the dialogue is clear enough and the visuals are the important part anyway.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by producer Antony I. Ginnane
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:03m:57s

Extras Review: Synapse lards on the goodies here with a full commentary from producer Antony I Ginnane, who identifies many of the notable stars, relates production anecdotes and the censorship woes of the film. Towards the end he runs a bit short of things to say, but it's worthwhile in any event. He makes reference to a stills gallery that doesn't seem to appear on the disc. A fairly thorough documentary, Fantasm Penetrated (22m:50s) covers some of the same ground but from different angles so the duplication is not irritating. There are a full-frame trailer and substantial production notes to boot.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

As sex comedies go, this one has the merit of being both sexy and comedic, so you could do a lot worse in the genre. The transfer's as good as can be expected and there are substantial extras for its fans.


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