Friday, February 5, 2016

Alan Colberg - Tapestry of Passion (1976)


Veteran director Bob Chinn gets credit, albeit likely more for his role as creator of the Johnny Wadd character and series than any actual input to the film in question. With the always stunning Leslie Bovee given a run for her money by the equally gorgeous Annette Haven, pretty Desiree West and even Thorpe’s Halloween dress-up domme providing sufficient aesthetic focus, the film is possessed of a more appropriate streetwise feel than the fairly iffy lead feature. Suffused with mood lighting and 70’s cop show trope and feel, Colberg graduates from the more static VFW Hall and hotel room filming of All Night Long to a far more location heavy, clearly cinematographic and more highly budgeted affair playing into and lending sufficient weight to Wadd’s tracking down of “sex ritual murderer” the “Black Widow”.
With similar elements to other Wadd pictures such as the Jade Pussycat or the Danish Connection, Colberg directs the film in a nearly unrecognizably different fashion from the goofy (if peopled with numerous fairly attractive ladies) All Night Long. Unlike the earlier feature, this is primo porno chic, with lush, aesthetic locales and elegant decor – marble fireplaces, oriental rugs, beveled glass, ornately carved doorways, oak flooring, hanging plants and tapestries and a whole lot of plot to keep the audience going between the more prurient sequences.
Jean Osborne (Leslie Bovee) employs John Holmes‘ doofy Wadd to bring to justice the murderer of kinky brother Tom (John Leslie). Complicating matters is Leslie’s even more attractive (and quite fashionable) wife Pat (Annette Haven), who wants the matter dropped, and the wife of another victim, Cindy Benton (Desiree West again, looking even more appealing this time around) who wants no part of the investigation. And then there’s the matter of the kinky murderess herself… But when Wadd’s on the case, all the ladies must submit, and he always manages to (ahem) come out on top, in the end (cough). As with other Wadd films, there’s a strong focus on location footage and ostensible detective work, with only a complete absence of car chases and fistfights (and the obvious presence of hardcore elements) separating Holmes’ efforts from those of more mainstream private eye epics of the time. It’s damn good, and even holds up to some extent on a detective show level (well, so long as you retain tongue firmly in cheek, that is).

Tapestry Of Passion is actually a Johnny Wadd film, but it wasn’t directed by series creator Bob Chinn. In the film Holmes once again plays the infamous private eye and this time around he’s hired by a woman named Jean Osborne (Leslie Bovee) to find out who murdered her brother Tom (John Leslie). It seems he was one of multiple people involved in some kinky shenanigans to have been killed by the same murderer, or so says his foxy wife, Pat (Annette Haven). She swears that there’s a connection and wants John to just drop it despite Jean’s insistence. John, however, makes her change her mind when he drops her pants and convinces her that he’s the man.
So Wadd hits the streets to find Tom’s killer, prowling around various dens of iniquity like nudie bars and smut shops, trying to find any leads that might point him in the right direction. Eventually he winds up at a joint called The Black Widow's Nest where he meets Wytch Adder (Sharon Thorpe), a foxy woman who poisons clients in much the same way as her establishment’s namesake. She and her man servant Carl (Mick Jones) are definitely up to no good. Wadd connects the dots and tracks down the widow (Patricia Lee) of one of Adder’s recent conquests and investigates her in his own special way. Now sure of the connection, John gets closer to cracking the case…
This isn’t the most compelling Wadd film ever made but it’s a decent and well-paced Entry. Holmes is in good shape here, looking into it and actually delivering a solid performance (particularly when compared to his later years) and the ladies in the cast, Haven and Bovee, while not really challenged from an acting perspective, are consistently gorgeous. Sharon Thorpe steals the show here, however. She’s got the most interesting female character to play in the film and she gives it her all, not just in terms of her sexuality but her delivery and her screen presence. As such, she’s a lot of fun to watch.
Story wise, the mystery does seem to take a back seat to the sex scenes but there’s enough here outside of the bumping and grinding to hold our attention. The movie is nicely shot and does contain some decent atmosphere and nice location shooting too. John Leslie is more or less wasted in a supporting role here but he’s fun to watch when he is on camera. All in all, this isn’t the best of the Wadd films but it’s a fun watch with decent production values and a very solid cast. Written and directed by Alan Colberg and shot in 35mm in the mid-1970s, this film has been expertly transferred to DVD by Vinegar Syndrome and provides a great opportunity to view a number of leading male and female adult film stars of the period, including the "legendary" John Holmes, the real-life inspiration for the Dirk Diggler character played by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. Tapestry of Passion is nicely shot with lovely, natural actresses and is infused with a nice campy outlook.