Saturday, May 4, 2019

FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Andy Milligan
Written By: Andy Milligan
Starring: Laura Cannon, Harry Reems, Neil Flanagan
Color/87 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: March 26, 2019

The Film 
Andy Milligan is a polarizing director in cult film history. Some viewers really eat up his stuff but I've found the majority find most of his films to be exhausting exercises in futility. I've seen enough to know that I pretty actively stay away from anything with his name on it but sometimes a movie comes around and totally surprises you. FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET is one of those movies.

Andy Milligan wrote, directed and photographed this film that follows a smart young prostitute named Dusty who turns tricks to make ends meet but longs for more out of her life and ends up meeting a young lawyer named Bob who she falls in love with and may be her escape from a gritty life in downtown New York City if she can manage to rewrite her own existence.

FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET is a sexploitation film that borders on being a masterpiece of life and destiny. Laura Cannon is flawless as Dusty, playing a character much wiser and more experienced than her 20 years on Earth would suggest. She's been through a marriage and now struggles to find a constant place to stay and spends time with her best friend, a local drag queen. The film excels because it feels effortless in all aspects. Scenes never feel set up, the performances never feel stilted and Andy Milligan's direction and cinematography feel more like a documentary than a narrative film.

A common complaint of Andy Milligan's films is that they drag on and on and he spends entirely too much time in exposition to the point that you may as well be getting hit over the head with a hammer as he screams at you about the movie. It's downright exhausting and tedious. FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET couldn't be further from that as these characters just suck you in and the 87 minutes absolutely flies by. Milligan could have wrote a more convoluted script but he keeps it simple but effective and personal and that's why this film works. Of course the plentiful sex and skin are nice and will be the thing that draw most of the audience in, it will be the characters and the simplistic perfection of the storytelling that they'll remember.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome have given FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET a brand new 4K scan and restoration from the 16mm camera reversal for this Blu-ray release with a pair of viewing options; the original 1.33:1 full frame presentation and the 1.85:1 theatrical framing. I chose to go with the director's intended look and went with the full frame presentation and couldn't ask for anything better with how this one turned out. This is an obviously low budget piece of exploitation from the early 70s that didn't have ideal filming conditions as it was largely shot on the streets of New York City so at times the film is dark or lighting isn't the best. These scenes still look quite nice on this disc with a natural and healthy grain appearance, deep black levels, and natural skin tones. The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono and sounds crisp, and balanced with no hissing, buzzing, or other background noise issues.

The Extras
-Audio Commentary with film historians Samm Deighan, Heather Drain, and Kat Ellinger
-Locations "Then and Now" Comparison

The Bottom Line
FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET is without a doubt my favorite Andy Milligan film and is something I can see myself revisiting frequently and it has been preserved for generations to come with this essential Vinegar Syndrome release.


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