Is That a Lightsaber in Your Pocket? Star Virgin (1979)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Dave mulls over a hand solo…

The name Linus Gator needs little research as to its pseudonym-orientated origins, although a peek behind the façade reveals a pivotal character in the Golden Age of Pornography – one Howard Ziehm.

Indeed, Ziehm has been widely credited as the megaphone holder for Mona: The Virgin Nymph (1970), the first pornographic film depicting explicit sex to receive a wide theatrical release in the United States. Paving the way for a dizzying plethora of erotica, his debut feature was also noted for its influence on key features that followed, with the insightful tome Sex in Cinema writing how “The storyline [of Mona] was borrowed, to some degree, by Gerard Damiano’s Deep Throat”.

Ziehm, who had his biggest success with the acclaimed Flesh Gordon (1974), fits into that frequently used bracket of adult movie auteurs whose off-screen antics were often more compelling than what they tended to put on screen. If you spend a some time listening to a ninety minute Rialto Report special on the director, you discover the story of a man who originally intended on being a theoretical physicist, who worked as a nude male model, and who orchestrated a drug running scheme importing marijuana across the US / Mexico border.

He also made STAR VIRGIN.

The appearance and subsequent success of Star Wars in 1977 was certainly noted within the porn industry. Even today, as viewers of Anal Lightsaber can attest, themed parodies of George Lucas’ sci-fi behemoth are relentless enough to warrant even the insertion of an expected Han Solo pun. Thankfully, as the seventies drew to a close, most adult-themed fare that tipped its hat to Death Star hijinks did so with decidedly more subtlety than today.

With Star Virgin, the space-set shenanigans are merely used as a way to tie together a completely unhinged and unrelated foursome of shorts. We discover that the titular character (former Hustler centrefold, Kari Klark) is the last remaining member of the human race, living out her life alongside her British (“cor blimey guv’nor!”) robot companion, Mentor (Kevin Thompson dressed as R2D2 done for a kids fancy dress party), who she pesters into teaching her about the origins of life and sex. As Mentor reluctantly begins to oil his extendable shaft before sharing stories of lust and sensuality, Star Virgin becomes increasingly unable to control her desires!

It’s a distinctly uneven, yet highly ambitious tetrad of tales. Beginning with a bizarre ’50s riff on Adam and Eve, we follow two nubile cuties (Tracy Walton and Bud Wise) into the Garden of Eden who soon engage in a little peach-orientated decadence, wherein The Man from Del Monte would undoubtedly say, “Yes”. A high school football match is the backdrop for a later tale, while another is hosted in a strip joint that prides itself on the talents of a unique flame-extinguishing vagina.

For me, the undoubted highlight is the second vignette: shot in black and white with a Transylvanian lilt, it features two very Brad and Janet-esque characters (Chris Anderson and Chris Bloom) who find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere. A nearby castle offers temporary refuge complete with a frosty welcome from a silent bellboy (Charles Dierkop – Santa in Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) – adorned in a Richard Nixon mask), and the naïve twosome are escorted into this menacing abode to engage in salacious acts of depravity at the hands of Count Dracula (Johnny Harden).

This is as deranged as they come, but with its monochrome look and medieval setting, it’s a berserk and joyously insane piece of filmmaking. The sight of a chiselled Prince of Darkness, complete with magnificent penis having sex with a barely conscious woman, while his Tricky Dicky clad assistant – in a somewhat homoerotic manoeuvre – straddles her face, is something I’ll never unsee.

I’m quite cool with that though.

USA ● 1979 ● Adult, Sci-Fi ● 78mins

Kari Klark, Kevin Thompson, Tracy Walton ● Dir. Howard Ziehm (as Linus Gator) ● Wri. Humphry Knipe



Follow Dave on Twitter @thedavewain

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