Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blu-ray Review: SCORE (1972)

Radley Metzger's SCORE (1972)
Label: Arrow Video
Region: Region FREE
Rating: 18 Certificate
Duration: 84 min.Audio: Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 

Video: Widescreen (1.78:1) 1080p
Director: Radley Metzger

Cast: Claire Wilbur, Lynn Lowry, Calvin Culver, Gerald Grant, Carl Parker
Tagline: A Feast for the Erotic Gourmet

Synopsis: Score is the tale of a happily married swinging couple who make a bet that they can seduce a couple of naive young newlyweds during a weekend get-together at their luxury Riviera villa.

Score is a film by the arty erotic auteur Radley Metzger and is an adaptation of the 1971 Jerry Douglass play by the same that co-starred a 25-year-old Italian stallion by the name of Sylvester Stallone. The opening narrative sets the film up as a playful, erotic fairytale and the atmosphere is light-hearted and fun, it's a very farcical comedy at it's heart. The artful lensing and snappy dialogue made me forget this was a softcore film. Metzger's direction and gorgeous cinematography was superb, very stylishly shot. Jack (Gerald Grant) and Elvira (Claire Wilbur) are a couple of fun-loving bi-sexual swingers in the French Riviera, their relationship is defined by swinging parties and a friendly game of sexual one upsmanship between each other. After a night of orgiastic activities the couple make a bet amongst themselves. Each is betting they can seduce their same-sex counterparts in a newlywed couple of Betsy (Lynn Lowry) and Eddie (Calvin Culver).

Jack and Elvira come of as experienced and cunning swingers skilled in the art of seduction. Betsy and Eddie ...not so much. Betsy is a super-attractive, bright-eyed beauty, a bit naive as well. Her husband Eddie is a handsome young man and seems a bit on the bent-side of things. When the couple is introduced it is evident that they are having some intimacy difficulties in the bedroom.... hmm, I wonder what the problem is? Elvira and Jack have no such issues and their libidos are in full bloom throughout the film.

The interplay among the characters is well-crafted and fun to watch, very comedic stuff full of colorful dialogue and witty remarks, the characters are well formed and defined. The story is not the stuff of Shakespeare but it's whimsical and a fun watch as the storyline plays out. Be forewarned that the this is truly an erotic film that caters to all persuasions. But fear not, there are no graphic depictions of male-on-male penetration but it's pretty close, so just be informed. The sex scenes are filmed stylishly and look great. This is not sex on the screen soley for the sake of sex on the screen, it's intimate, fun and playful.

For me, the true find of the film was the super-cute star Lynn Lowry whom previously appeared in George A. Romero's plague film The Crazies (1972) as well as Lloyd Kaufman's softcore film Sugar Cookies (1973). She later went on to appear in David Cronenberg's Shivers (1975) and Paul Schrader's remake of the Val Lewton's classic Cat People (1982). She is a true beauty and is still appearing in film today including the remake of The Crazies and a few indie titles like Torture Chamber (2012) and the horror anthology The Theatre Bizarre (2011).

Blu-ray: Arrow Video's presentation appears to be sourced from the very same newly restored 1080p high definition transfer as we saw from Cult Epics a few years ago, and it's quite a treat. Presented in it's proper aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with a MPEG-4 AVC encode it simply looks fantastic, the print is not perfect with some minor print damage evident but the transfer is especially stunning when compared to the unrestored clips of the film in the trailers and the On the Set of Score featurette. What we do not get here is the 92 minute uncensored, uncut version that included seven minutes of additional erotic content that we saw from Cult Epics, perhaps it was a bit too much for the refined tastes of the notorious prude BBFC, what we do get is Radley Metzger's 84 minute censored cut of the film. The only audio option, excluding the audio commentary, is an English language LPCM 2.0 track with optional English SDH subtitles. It offers little in the way of depth and dynamics but is adequate if not stellar.

The bonus content mirrors the extras from Cult Epics Blu-ray, we get The On the Set of Score (18:27) featurette, a brief and illuminating look at the making of the films and his interactions with the cast. I particularly enjoyed the Keeping Score with Lynn Lowry (19:35) interview where she reflects on the film, her experiences on-set and her relationships with her co-stars and her difficulties with co-star Claire Wilbur. The Audio commentary with director Radley Metzger and film historian Michael Bowen made for a great listen, Metzger is always a pleasure to hear as he talks about the film, actors and shooting specific sequences. Rounding out the features are trailers for Score (3:38), Camille 2000 (2:16), and The Lickerish Quartet (2:45). Not included with the screener sent to us or review but worth a mention are the reversible sleeve featuring original and newly illustrated artwork by The Red Dress and a collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Robin Bougie.

Special Features:
- High Definition Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD Presentation
- Brand new high definition restoration of the film – available for the first time in the UK
- Optional English SDH subtitles
- Audio commentary with director Radley Metzger and film historian Michael Bowen
- On the set of Score – a behind the scenes look at the making of Score containing rare footage of Claire Wilber, Lynn Lowry, Cal Culver, Gerald Grant and Radley Metzger (18:27)
- Keeping Score with Lynn Lowry (The Crazies, Shivers) – a brand new interview with Score’s star (19:35)
- Original trailers for Score (3:38), Camille 2000 (2:16), The Lickerish Quartet (2:45)
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly illustrated artwork by The Red Dress
- Collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Robin Bougie

Verdict: If you are looking for some whimsical erotic cinema that looks great in 1080 I highly recommend Score (1972), a fantastically arousing fun film with playful execution and Metzger's artful eye for cinema. Completest might want to snag the Cult Epics edition for the seven minutes of additional erotic scenes but this Arrow Video edition with it's mirrored special features and sweet packaging is quite a prize. 3.5 Outta 5