Director: Phil Prince
9th Avenue Exploitation / NTSC R1 / Adult Content / 1.33:1 Fullscreen / Mono / English Language / Approx. 57 minutes / PURCHASE FROM ALTERNATIVE CINEMA
The Avon 7 theater in Times Square during the “grindhouse era” became well known for showing violent, sadomasochistic porn affectionately known as “roughies”. They often featured rape, S&M, and all around sexual mayhem. Opened and owned by Chelly Wilson, a porn maven in New York City, but run by former cheesecake model Stella Stevens, the Avon 7 brought in the sexual dregs as actors, producers, patrons and directors. Their biggest draw was Phil Prince, soon to be the most infamous of roughie filmmakers. Accused of murdering his wife and rumored to be in a homosexual relationship with a meth-head, Prince would turn out one of the most shocking, yet most well made films in the rough trade, The Story of Prunella.
Prunella (Fox) is on her way to her wedding shower when she and her mother are kidnapped by 3 thugs who have escaped prison. Detective Paul (Jeremy), her fiancee, is on his way to investigate the jail break when he discovers that Prunella has been accosted. Lead by the maniacal Jimmy (Payne), the trio of perverted escapees force their captives to take them to the shower where they plan to rape and ravage the awaiting women. When they arrive, the surprised women are put through the sexual degradation ringer as the men take out their years of frustration from being locked up on them. When the detectives finally arrive, the damage has been done and only the shocking conclusion is to come.
Prunella is my first Phil Prince movie and even if this is considered his best, I want to see more. His film style is vintage New York grindhouse (or at least from what I can conclude from my few years of study without actually being there). Most of his movies were made on shoestring budgets, usually between 5-10k, but the content was pure gold to his fans. He gave them a crude sense of humor, a grimy feeling that you just can’t wash off and more than just vanilla sex, lots more. Prunella is an hour long, pornographic crime-drama that actually sets up the rough action with a storyline. Prince does a fantastic job with the sets and hand-held camera work opening up the escape scenes with wide shots and having the rape orgy done with tight, claustrophobic camera work.
But the actors and actresses that Prince put together are what made the movie for me. George Payne may just be one of my new favorite cinema psychos. He is disgusting as the violent, supercharged rapist leading the baddies and the ubiquitous Ron Jeremy is great as the straitlaced hero. Angel-faced Ambrosia Fox, who plays the titular character and takes the brunt of the nastiness, is used perfectly as her sweetness makes the grunting, snarling Payne all the more menacing. As far as sexually appealing, I would have to go with the voluptuous Niko who plays the “married woman” at the shower. She has a nasty girl look and is wonderfully curvy.
9th Avenue Exploitation along with After Hours Cinema and New York Grindhouse have released this classic on DVD as part of their “New York Grindhouse Avon 7 Collection” through Alternative Cinema. It’s an incredible release with a spectacular 1.33:1 remastered transfer from the original 16mm film elements. The sound is very clear and sounds much better than the muddy, nearly inaudiable VHS transfers from the same era. Aside from the standard trailer vault (which has some interesting stuff in it) and some very rare Prunella outtakes, this release is packed with supplimental goodness. Not only do you get a very informative liner note booklet, but the Phil Prince/roughie cinema documentary is worth the price of the disk all by itself.
NOTE: Read this very informative article on the Avon theaters by grindhouse historians Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford. (LINK)