Roberta Findlay – The Altar of Lust (1971)
A sexually confused young woman in a session with her psychiatrist relates her tale of coming to New York City from Sweden after being raped by her stepfather, falling in love with a young man named Don and then realizing that she is finding herself attracted more and more to women.
Porn is porn no matter what decade it’s from. Although it’s probably theorized that the older it is, the more “story” there might be to string the other segments together. With Roberta Findlay as director on these two films, I’d say that’s where your bet means a little more.
“Alter of Lust” isn’t bad…and I probably got this disc more for historical significance that anything else.
Findlay herself provides the voice for Viveca, the main character, played by blonde and skinny “Erotica Lantern”… I think Landers was her real name. Roberta’s husband Michael, provides the voice of Viveca’s therapist. You see when each of them are speaking, the camera is ON the other person. So you don’t SEE the person who’s speaking at the time. This enabled the Findlay’s to dub each of their own voices to the characters.
The movie is a series of flashbacks as she describes to her therapist the details of her sexual encounters. Once a heterosexual, she finds that she’s turned lesbian… and wonders what’s wrong with her! The therapist is played by Fred Lincoln who also starred in Wes Craven’s first movie, “Last House on the Left” … then went on to a long career in X-rated movies. Long time adult star Harry Reems (before he got a mustache) is Viveca’s boyfriend. The movie was made as the porn industry was teetering between soft and hardcore porn. So while most of the sex is simulated softcore, there are scenes which you’d normally only expect to see in a hardcore film. So, plan on a bit of both…which actually works. Be aware, NOBODY (outside of Findlay) uses their real name in the credits! This movie restoration looks decent. The colors as well as the audio are as they should be. Sometimes the original film elements for these classics are in rough shape. But these must’ve been sourced from pretty clean negatives. I would say if you appreciate 70’s pornography, and would like to see a couple of future stars who’s careers were just getting underway…PLUS own a movie made by the infamous Roberta Findlay…then go for i. If nothing else, it’s a piece of history!
“Doctah, I’m a lesbian. Can you cure me?” Vinegar Syndrome moves a few steps back from its recent focus on 70’s hardcore classics and one off period obscurities towards classic grindhouse auteurist cinema with their latest release. Tackling for the first time the less salubrious portion of the back catalogue of the inimitable Roberta Findlay, we get a pairing of hard-R softcore and straight up hardcore adult pictures, one from the very start of her adult film career, the other smack dab in the middle of same and featuring several ‘name’ commodities to its credit.
The Altar of Lust, starring the improbably monikered “Erotica Lantern”. Amusingly, the voice overs for the psychiatrist and her patient are (quite obviously) performed by Michael and Roberta Findlay themselves! Their thick New Yawk accents and disinterested, flat delivery add unintended humor.
Our heroine, a not entirely unattractive but somewhat hangdog bottle blonde with a nice body climbs rocks in a great pair of knee high white go-go boots and see-through white lace panties (there’s a hideous floral print mini too, but it’s better not visualized). Some old wino with a face weathered by gin blossoms (longtime Doris Wishman cameraman C. Davis Smith) chases after her, strips her, and bites down on her nipples a bit too hard. We get to see his flabby white ass jiggle more than we ever really needed to, and he faux-humps away at her pathetically while making bizarre faces. I found myself concentrating a lot on her gold choker during this sequence, just for sanity’s sake. Seriously, take my word for it – he may give an amusing joint commentary with Doris on the old Elite disc for A Night to Dismember, but visually? This guy is truly nauseating. She finds herself ‘for the first time in her life, truly happy’ with a pre-mustachioed Harry Reems, who unlike the repulsive drunk does actually feel her up before once again dry humping oddly and showing far more of his hairy ass than any man need ever be exposed to. Boy, Roberta really does dig missionary, huh? At least she does some hilariously bored moaning and undercranks the film when ‘Erotica’ finally takes top. Is this film supposed to be funny? Things finally move towards an X rating in the shower scene, where they’re definitely going at it for real, feeling and soaping each other up while Harry gets visibly aroused. But wait, they’re fake humping again. What the…? And what’s with those goofy duck faces he’s making, or the mediocre acid rock song playing throughout? So Harry’s a two-timer, and she catches him with a less appealing Swedish blonde named ‘Marie’ (Suzy Mann) who pulls ‘Erotica’ into a three way…oh, wait, ‘Marie’ just kicked Harry out, triggering some homosexual panic and gender role confusion in our heroine as well as blowing a good 15 minutes of running time. Harry and ‘Erotica’ go to a ‘party’ in an empty apartment. Oh, wait, here comes the owner ‘Linda’ (Laura Cannon), a rather middling redhead who immediately goes at it with ‘Erotica’, while Harry gets a free show from an attractive ‘belly dancer’ (‘Ariana Blue’) who looks a bit like 80’s coke fiend porn starlet Aja – she’s definitely the best looking thing in this film. You know, laws back then were pretty screwed up. There may be no actual penetration (the faces and motions are really fake), but Harry definitely is fingering and eating all these ladies…so is it hardcore or not? Whoa, hold up, our ‘belly dancer’ just gave Harry oral favors, no ambiguity about it. “Jokingly, she said that she preferred me to her hairbrush.”
‘Erotica’ goes back to visit ‘Linda’, who’s diddling herself with her hairbrush. After the bad acid rock stops, we get treated to a very familiar CAM archives cue, which then morphs into a sort of jazz oddity with chimes, vibraphone, horns and fuzz guitar (probably more Italian film soundtrack goodness). ‘Linda’ continues to make weird faces like she’s crying as ‘Erotica’ diddles her. Finally, our shrink (porn director F.J. Lincoln) violates his Hippocratic oath in time honored smoker tradition, humping our gender-confused heroine as more lousy acid rock blares. She doesn’t seem very excited by his ‘treatment’ until she hallucinates his being ‘Linda’. We get a few too many close ups at what appears to be glaring red sores all over his back, and the title card comes up – the end.