The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill/The Head Mistress
By: M. Walsh on November 30, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 141 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Peter Stootsberry, Byron Mabe
Starring:Stacey Walker, James Brand, Orlando Fenwick/Julia Blackburn, Victor Brandt, Marsha Jordan
Screenplay: Jim Markham
Country: USA
In the short time that I have been a part of the Digital Retribution team, I've occasionally reviewed a film or two that didn't really knock my socks off. Films like Horror and Requiem which both have a devoted fan base and whose merits were, for some reason, lost on me. The fans of those films, if they ever read my reviews, would probably want to attack me with something long and unpleasantly shaped. However, a reviewers' job is merely to express a singular personal opinion and not to colour the opinions of others. My thoughts on the films mentioned above are my own and they are there to be taken, or disregarded, as the reader sees fit. Well, all of that is about to change as I have just sat through The Notorious Daughter Of Fanny Hill and The Head Mistress and I am here to tell you, right now, that they are amongst the worst films I have ever seen. If you have watched and liked either one of them then I can only assume that you are David F. Friedman, and if you still want to see them after reading this review then I have failed in my efforts to keep both your eyes, ears and brain from leaping from your head and throwing themselves against a wall until they explode.

The Notorious Daughter Of Fanny Hill purports to tell the story of Kissy Hill (Stacey Walker), the Notorious Daughter of the title. Kissy sits around her bedroom, scrawls inane observations in her diary and "services" a selection of 18th century dignitaries. Get used to that bedroom, too, because this is a one set film and that bedroom is it. The film opens with Kissy waking up and getting dressed. These two actions amount to FIVE MINUTES of screen time. Five minutes. Those words seem so innocuous when they're written down but, believe me, you will never really appreciate just how long a time frame that is until you have seen this film. Please do not take that as an endorsement to see this film. Kissy then has dinner with a Duke during which she performs all sorts of seductive acts on a banana before the two of them get up to some very boring, very stilted and very tame soft core petting. And that's it. The film continues this way until we're treated to the "surprise shock ending" which is only a surprise or a shock if you have given one solitary fuck about anything that has happened in the film up to that point. Never before have I been so tempted to neglect my duties as a reviewer and glue down the fast forward button before smashing the remote control, and then the DVD player, and then my face into a jar of corrosive acid. Trudging through twenty minute blocks of concentrated monotony just to see some of worst and most shatteringly dull sex scenes ever committed to celluloid is not what I would call an entertaining way to spend over an hour of one's life.

The Head Mistress is the better of the two films, but only because it features more breasts, less running time and a plant that fondles people. The woman-fondling plant is probably given just over two minutes of screen time though, with the remaining 68 minutes being devoted to more tedious sex scenes and a truly moronic storyline. Tired of being made a fool out of by a bunch of topless, nubile schoolgirls, an old gardener decides to exact a cunning revenge by convincing a young stud to take over his position, thereby damning the girls to a curriculum of hot (read: lifeless) sex with a hot (read: hairy) guy. Yeah, that's showing those schoolgirls who's boss. In between these vapid encounters, the Head Mistress teaches the girls some rudimentary lesbian equations, like Fumbling + Awkwardness = Walsh Falls Asleep. Then, for reasons too stupid to even mention, the Head Mistress plants the skull of her dead boyfriend in a pot by her bed. Eventually, the skull starts to sprout and fondle people, never once posing a threat to the other members of his family who made their debut in The Evil Dead.

I suppose this all sounds like it might be good for a laugh, but it isn't. It's hard to giggle at the incompetence of a film when the convulsions you had while watching it caused you to bite off your own tongue. These films caused me serious, possibly irreparable, borderline spiritual harm and I never, ever want to see even a single frame from either one of them ever again.
Video
I wracked my brains trying to think of a reason as to why these transfers look as good as they do, and this is what I have come up with: no one has actually ever seen these films until now. As soon as the directors yelled "Cut!" the negatives were welded into their cans, locked in a wrought iron chest and thrown from a trawler into the North Atlantic Ocean. How they arrived at Something Weird HQ after spending the better part of 40 years in a dark, watery abyss is a complete mystery, but I'd be surprised if David F. Friedman hadn't renewed his scuba license just prior to these films resurfacing. Of the two, Fanny Hill is in slightly better shape but, apart from a few instances of print damage (perhaps the chest had a leak), both films look astonishingly good. Really vibrant colours, lots of detail and deep, rich blacks. The film stock was certainly not of a high quality, but I've seen much better films look a whole lot worse than these do when they've reached DVD.
Audio
The original mono soundtracks complete with crackles, distortion and tape hiss.
Extra Features
I don't actually have to wade through all of this, do I? David F. Friedman provides commentaries for both of the films and, from what I can gather, there is not an awful lot of dead air on these tracks. The trailers for Fanny Hill and The Head Mistress are included, as are a slew of trailers for other Friedman productions: Brand Of Shame, The Fabulous Bastard From Chicago, Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico, Fanny Hill Meets Lady Chatterly, Fanny Hill Meets The Red Baron and The Lustful Turk. Also on the disc are three short films, two of which are directed by Friedman; But Charlie, I Never Played Volleyball! is set at a nudist camp and is even worse than the title suggests, and Stacey Walker, Dreamgirl! This short would have been far more entertaining if, instead of Stacey Walker being tied up and lightly whipped, David F. Friedman was tied up and viciously beaten into a coma with a potato sack crammed full of copies of this DVD. The non-Friedman film, SWV Raids David F. Friedman's Film Vault, 1991! is a tender, contemplative meditation on innocence lost and responsibility gained. No, it isn't. It is precisely what the title says it is. I sat through the short film in the hope that, at the end, the guys from Something Weird would fling petrol bombs into the vault and then dance around the flames, naked, while an "effigy" of Friedman was repeatedly kicked in the head by a wild horse. This, unfortunately, never happened and so I didn't enjoy the film at all. Finishing up the Extras section is a gallery of exploitation art. Various radio spots play under the artwork making the films seem far, far more interesting than they actually are.
The Verdict
Something Weird Video should be applauded for lavishing such attention and respect onto films as unworthy as The Head Mistress and The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill, and then given a stern talking to for making it possible for any member of the human race to ever watch them, accidently or otherwise. Fans of the two titles included on this disc will be overjoyed with the presentation that they have received, but fans of these films wouldn't know entertainment if it turned into a plant and fondled them while they were asleep.
Movie Score
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