It's always fun to go back and view films for the nostalgic factor. Usually you tend to watch a movie that you remember seeing when you were younger or during a specific moment in your life to recapture the spark that made you enjoy the film in the first place. Sometimes you can go back and watch films from an era that you really didn't get a chance to participate in initially. I tend to do that now, going back and watching films of the seventies that I didn't get a chance to enjoy at the time, since I was only a youngster. Exploitation, whether it be horror, action, kung-fu, or blaxsploitation are all on my list; and I really enjoy watching the trailers accompanying that era. 42nd Street Forever is a wonderful disc for that, and so it was with hesitation and a bit of glee that I journeyed into the film that is Cinderella 2000.
Having recently reviewed Kinky Kong, I was expecting Cinderella 2000 to be of the same ilk; a time waster posing as erotic cinema but with the added kitsch factor of having been made in 1977, under the auspicious direction of Al Adamson. I braced myself heartily and prepared for another slack jawed endeavor of boredom and clock watching. Surprisingly, what I got was a silly, very likeable throwback of a B-movie that you just want to hand to someone and say; "I know what it looks like, but just watch it and I guarantee you'll have something to say about it when it's over."
The plot is fairly straightforward - a variation on the Cinderella story taking place in the year 2047 where sex is illegal in the form of free love. All expressions of sex are prohibited unless previously authorized by The Controller; so much so that a couple looking at a diagram of fairly regular sexual positions doesn't even know how they could properly partake of them. Citizens do their best to try and have some type of sex whenever possible, avoiding the watchdog government Controller (Erwin Fuller), and more importantly Roscoe the Robot; who seems to be the main enforcer of sexual justice, crying out "Caught in the act, Caught in the act" before arresting the fornicators and shrinking them down for their disobedience. Enter Cindy (Catharine Erhardt) who is lorded over by her step mother and sisters and finds solace in the woods where she meets her Fairy Godfather (Jay B. Larson). With a wave of his wand (and musical prowess) Cindy is transformed for the party, falls in love with her prince (Vaughn Armstrong), and must do whatever she can to persuade The Controller that sex is love and ultimately should be enjoyed by all.
What was fun about this movie, and completely lacking in Kinky Kong for example, is that the movie knows it's bad and plays that to the audience without trying too hard. The sets are cheesy, the costumes are dime store, and the effects are laughingly 70's era low budget. When a film has random musical numbers inserted into a sex romp comedy you know the filmmakers are throwing caution to the wind, yet when the main "theme" song, "We all need love" comes on you'll be hard pressed to get it out of your head, but you won't be upset about it. It's that kind of fun, goofy energy the movie has throughout that puts it right at the realm of "so bad it's good" status; a true product of its time that was meant to be seen in a drive in or crowded theatre.
On the commentary track, the producer mentions that the film was transferred from the original negative onto Super-VHS, and the disc looks about right for that. Colors are fine, but nothing really sharp or having great contrast to them. The pops, grain, and other imperfections are still present particularly over the credits – beginning and end. The movie was originally filmed in Todd A-O 35mm widescreen, but was nowhere near transferred that way to the disc. The film is full frame, barely even pan and scan, with people being lost on either side of the frame at any given time. While it would've been nice to have a cleaned up widescreen version for completists sake, there's something worthwhile about having a "dirty" version to preserve the feeling of the grindhouse experience.
Sound appeared on my player as Dolby pro logic II, and honestly seemed like two channel mono. Again, no need for a significant surround sound option since the movie lends itself more to dialogue than anything else anyway.
There's a commentary track by producer Sam Sherman who provides insight on the film's genesis, working with director Al Adamson, and some anecdotes about the cast and production. He keeps the chat going with minimal pauses, but then runs out of things to say at the 51 minute mark and ends the commentary! For a movie that's only an hour and a half to begin with, it would've been nice to either have a moderator or another cast member present to keep things going.
Also on hand is a European cut of the film. Originally, the movie garnered an R rating for theatrical play with minimal overt sex included and clocking in at an hour and twenty-nine minutes. For the European version, more involved sex scenes and copious nudity was added, generating an X rating and stretching the running time to one hour forty-three minutes. Either version is fine, but for the type of genre the film is, the Euro version is the one to watch. An alternate opening sequence is included, a booklet with an interview with David Konow, author of Schlock-O-Rama: The Films of Al Adamson, and a trailer gallery of Independent-International films. The trailer gallery is definitely a must see, especially for the movie Mean Mutha. Priceless.
The erotic film genre in particular isn't something I tend to seek out on my own. In reviewing something I really try to remain impartial and look at the movie on its own merits, irregardless of whether I had any inherent interest in it or not. Cinderella 2000 initially was something that I had a preconceived idea of what it would be and really had little enthusiasm going in. Happily it charmed me into liking it based on its nostalgic flavor and sense of humor that knowingly winked at itself and didn't pander to the audience with forced jokes and situations. It has a go for broke mentality, especially with its inclusion of musical numbers, and it has a weird way of becoming easily likeable when you give it a chance. At the very least if you're interested in exploitation trailers of the 70's, check out the trailer gallery – hilariously cheesy. I loved that!