Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Telephone Book - Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray/DVD Combo Review

The Telephone Book
"And then I'd kiss him. Not like a fag, like the way a man would kiss another man."

Director/Writer: Nelson Lyon
Stars:
Sarah Kennedy, Norman Rose, Roger C. Carmel, William Hickey
Studio: Vinegar Syndrome
Discs: 2 - 1 Blu-ray + 1 DVD
Region: ALL
Release Date: 05.07.13


A perky young blonde named Alice (Sarah Kennedy rolls around naked on her bed, her walls adorned with porn filmstrip wallpaper. Her phone rings, on the other end of the line is an obscene phone caller. This is not any obscene phone caller, this guy prides himself on being the best obscene caller in the world - perhaps the universe. He's masterful at talking to strangers about their tits. This guy is so good he has a special glove he wears while he makes his calls, always from a rotary pay phone. Alice is a very kinky chick, so the obscenity doesn't phase her a bit, in fact she finds herself immediately smitten by this man, so much so that she becomes determined to track him down. Unfortunately she only knows his name - John Smith. She lives in New York City and there are a literally a couple hundred Smiths named John, so this will be no easy task. The film follows her on an erotic journey to find the sex pervert who won her heart, while she encounters several bizarre New Yorkers along the way; including fallen porn star Har Poon and a mustached flasher who wants to hear about the "best fuck of her life."
Vinegar Syndrome has some sort of gift for digging up these amazingly rare films I've never heard of that win me over with their off-kilter style and ridiculously funny dialog. Since most of what I watch falls under the Horror genre I wasn't sure that I'd like The Telephone Book at all. It's just not a kind of movie I would've normally even thought to watch, but I'm so glad I gave it a shot because I absolutely enjoyed it more than I ever thought possible. 

It's shot like a pretentious art film; stark black and white photography, weird sound effects and a lot of experimentation, but there's also an absurdist sense of humor running through the film that is truly hilarious. Some of the one-liners in this are absolute howlers, I was frequently rewinding with one hand, while wiping tears of laughter away from my eyes with the other. This was Sarah Kennedy's acting debut and she is adorably enthusiastic as Alice, she's kind of daft, but at the same time very funny with great delivery. In fact, her masterful comedic timing would land her a job on Laugh-In soon after. Some might find her high pitched voice a bit irritating, but I wasn't bothered by it a bit. Norman Rose is also great as John Smith. He has such an amazing voice, it's almost hypnotic. I'd watch an entire movie of him sitting in a room reading ingredients off of a stack of cereal boxes, that's how great this guy's voice is.

While this is a very enjoyable film,  I do have to find something to complain about and for me it would be the ending. Now the resolution of the story was perfect, it's just the way it was done really gave me a headache. It's about a 5 minute long scene with an overwhelming onslaught of disgusting slurping sounds and heavy breathing on the soundtrack while some admittedly beautiful color footage of her and John Smith is intercut with sloppy and ugly pornographic animation from Len Glasser. Were talking some really oddball shit with this animation, a big titted topless torso with a giant tongue for a head, a man farting around space on a rocket made of his own enormous cock and balls, and a giant woman riding a skyscraper like it's the world's biggest dildo. Now, this was a small part of the film and it didn't ruin it for me at all, it just felt like the movie was trying to murder my senses with obnoxiousness for a few minutes. It might not have been as memorable, but I think just a minute of footage of her and John Smith standing in phone booths with music playing before hitting the credits would've made for a beautiful ending.

Things to watch for:
Goldie Hawning
24 boobs onscreen simultaneously - a new record.
The everlasting erection that destroyed a family
World's first zoom in on a subtitle
Cock Rocket

The Blu-ray, as with all VS Blu-rays so far looks rather good, it's a grainy film, but it looks solid especially considering the rarity. After many headaches and lots of cursing, I've figured out a way around my Blu-ray screenshot dilemma (for now), so here are some shots from the Blu-ray:












The major extra on the disc is a commentary track by producer Merv Bloch and Joe Rubin. Other than that extras are limited to two trailers (a short original trailer and a raunchier rerelease trailer with the title Hot Number), a photo gallery and some radio spots. While not loaded with features (though what we get is great) Vinegar Syndrome has really come through by rescuing this unique and hysterical film from obscurity. Highly recommended. Buy it now from Vinegar Syndrome.

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