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Severin Films presents
Once Upon a Girl (1976)

"Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Cinderella, who slept in the haystack with Jack and the beanstalk. No, that's the wrong story. Little Red Riding Hood was sitting with Little Miss Muff—No. Jack and the bean—oh, well, once upon a time."
- Mother Goose (Hal Smith)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 28, 2006

Stars: Hal Smith
Other Stars: Richmond Johnson, Carol Piacente, Kelly Gordon, Frank Welker
Director: Don Jurwich

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, nudity, sexuality, perversions)
Run Time: 01h:19m:58s
Release Date: November 14, 2006
UPC: 891635001063
Genre: late night

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- C-B+B C-

DVD Review

In between sexploitation and hardcore is a weird and nebulous world of novelty adult pictures, including puppet porn and the like. Cel animation, due to its cost and labor-intensiveness, doesn't often get made for the raincoat audience. But this sexploitation picture satirizing fairy tales and putting them in a smutty context is a notable example of this twisted little subgenre, thanks to the use of experienced animators.

The live-action framing story involves Mother Goose (Hal Smith) standing trial for disturbing the peace and unlawful assembly due to telling obscene versions of fairy tales. She is adamant that these are the true versions of the tales, and proceeds to launch into sex-filled renditions of the familiar stories of Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, often with unexpected twists and silly details. For instance, Jack gets his magic beans as a consolation prize from the perverted eighth dwarf, Pimpy, while Cinderella is turned into a cake by her fairy godmother and sent to the ball only to erupt from the pastry in a bikini. And Little Red Riding Hood meets a succession of human wolves, who charge her a sexual toll to pass through the forest, until she meets a gay troll who isn't terribly interested.

Smith, appearing here in drag, is best known as Otis the Drunk from The Andy Griffith Show, lending an especially naughty air to the proceedings. He really throws himself into the character, playing it broadly but never quite succeeding in eliciting laughs. In fact, that's a problem that runs through this picture: you can tell they're trying hard to induce laughter, but to no avail. The results are pretty limp in a number of different senses. Little Red Riding Hood's awakening sexuality does have some amusing moments, especially when she arrives at church in the nude, and causes an orgy to erupt. There's also an amusing coda to Cinderella's story to reveal just how depressing their 'happily ever after' was.

Despite the prominent 'XXX' labeling on the front cover, the animation is very quite softcore, and the live action segments barely even dip into R territory for a few seconds. The release version doesn't quite go as far as the creators initially wanted, which is something of a shame. Frequently the action is frustratingly kept just offscreen, which somewhat misses the point of the exercise. Despite the copious cartoon nudity and sexuality, there's very little either erotic or entertaining here, in no small part due to the ill-considered combination of children's stories and sex.

The animation is fairly limited, with only a few portions of the screen in motion at any one time and some obvious repeating cycles betraying the cheapness of the production. That's something of a shame, since the animators were young women moonlighting from the Disney studio, and the director was a refugee from Hanna-Barbera; given a bit bigger budget they probably could have come up with something significantly better than what this ended up as. One wonders exactly who the target audience would be: it's certainly not for children, animation fans are likely to be disappointed, and porn aficionados will be bored so it's really just for curiosity seekers.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture is quite attractive during the animated sequences, with beautifully vivid colors and sharp line delineation. There's no apparent sign of digital noise reduction. Aliasing is apparent at numerous points, however, and backgrounds are rather grainy. The live action sequences have a very dated and slightly faded appearance to them, though that does help generate a period mood to some extent. Fans of the film should be quite pleased with what Severin has done for it.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono English audio is of varying quality, occasionally sounding slightly underwater and quite clear at other times. These appear to be faults of the original clumsy dubbing, however, rather than an issue with the transfer, so no points are taken off. Hiss is only nominal and easily disregarded for the most part. The cheesy synth score has good presence for what it is.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A theatrical trailer in decent shape demonstrates the difficulty of selling this picture to the sexploitation markets. Executive producer William Silberkeit discusses his career in exploitation films during the 1970s in an irritatingly brief nine-minute featurette, concluding with how changes in the tax laws drove him out of the business. A bit more detail about the various films he mentions, as well as about the principal feature, would have been welcome.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

This lusty cartoon sex epic doesn't hold up terribly well except as a curiosity item from the 1970s. The transfer is certainly better than one might expect, however, and it looks and sounds better than it probably did on its original run.


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