A young Victorian aristocrat named Jack Tanner (Ole Soltoft) falls in love with the daughter of the local clergyman. Her name is Alice (Sue Longhurst), and he does everything he can to sway her after meeting her in a small art gallery. He decides to show her how cultured he is by taking up photography and seeks advice from the local madame (Diana Dors)on how best to make her his. Finally he buys a former insane asylum and renovates it into the ultimate pleasure palace, complete with a secret room and many unusual devices.
When, thanks to a severe thunderstorm, Jack is finally able to get Alice into one of the secret rooms hoping to finally make his move on her, Alice shows Jack how things really are and pulls a complete role reversal on him. While all this is going on, the maid and the butler (Charlie Elvegard) are going about their randy ways, and much in the way of sexual hijinks occurs in the strange house. To complicate matters further, the house is full of secret passage ways and Jack The Ripper has found his way in and is now living in amongst its walls, and playing with the electrical panel.
Released in various different markets under a few alternate titles (it's commonly known as What The Swedish Butler Saw and My Favorite Butler) and with various trims made here and there to alter the running time and up the sex ante, The Groove Room is an enjoyable vintage sex comedy that provides a few decent laughs and some pretty girls to boot. The Swedish cut, according to the IMDB (always of dubious reliability in these regards, so take this as you will) supposedly runs ninety-three minutes in length, while this Guilty Pleasures/Media Blasters disc clocks in at roughly eighty-five minutes, so it is entirely possible that this isn't the longest version out there on this DVD.
Performances are above average for a European seventies softcore sex comedy, Sue Longhurst in particular doing a good job with the material and always remaining a prim and proper Victorian lady despite the insanity manifesting around her during the outcome of the film. Ole Soltoft does a good job of playing the clumsy oaf who thinks with the head between his legs and not the one on his shoulder and he comes across as a good natured sort, even if he is a little overly aggressive at times (though when you look at Longhurst, you can't blame him for being a little overzealous).
Director Vernon P. Becker does a good job with the pacing on the film, keeping the action and laughs coming at you in a pretty regular manner. The look of the film is also quite good, in that a lot of the costumes and sets are rather convincing and do look the part of upper class Victorian era society. Some of the shots are obviously designed to take advantage of the 3-D format that the film was shot for, and so it isn't unusual to see things head towards the camera from time to time that otherwise wouldn't have any place heading in that direction. It all works though, and it adds to the goofiness factor that makes the movie a fair bit of fun.
Well, there's good news and there's bad news about the video quality on this release. First the good news – the film is presented in both flat and 3-D versions on this disc, giving you the choice of how you'd like to see the film. The bad news is that the 3-D version looks terrible, with really smeared colors and a soft, fuzzy looking image that is due to the fact that it is presented in the wrong format (this is even acknowledged in the commentary track!). The film was meant to be seen in polarized 3-D and this DVD shows it in anaglyph 3-D. The picture is shown in an anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen transfer and at times it looks a little bit cramped. I'm not entirely sure if this is the right aspect ratio or not, but this image might be over matted a little bit.
The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack has some mild hiss in a couple of scenes and the occasional audible pop in the mix but for the most part it is a clean sounding mix and there aren't any problems following the dialogue and the background music and sound effects levels are well balanced and properly mixed, never overshadowing anyone when they're talking.
Aside from the 3-D and flat versions of the film (there are four pairs of 3-D glasses in the keepcase), the DVD also contains the original theatrical trailer for the film, an introduction by Producer Sam Sherman and director Vernon P. Becker, and a commentary track from the two gentlemen as well. The commentary is a lot of fun – Sherman is never at a loss for words and makes for a good listen while Becker has a pretty decent memory about making the movie as well.
Video quality (and possible missing footage) aside, this DVD release of The Groove Room is decent enough. The commentary is informative and fun and the movie itself has aged rather well. Eurocult and sexploitation buffs, this one comes recommended to you until a better version is made available, everyone else might want to rent it first.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.