Release Date(s)1977 (February 12, 2021)
Studio(s)Essex Pictures Company (Peek-a-Rama/Vinegar Syndrome)
- Film/Program Grade: N/A
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
[Editor’s Note: Yes, we know… Sex World is a porn title. But relax—The Bits isn’t becoming an adult site. As this is one of the first such titles to appear in 4K UHD, the curiosity value makes it worth a look. We will, however, be reviewing the disc only, not the film. No offensive content is contained in this text. But you might laugh a little.]
Directed and released in 1977 by Anthony Spinelli (aka Sam Weston), Sex World is an adult send-up of Michael Crichton’s Westworld (1973) and its sequel, Richard T. Heffron’s Futureworld (1976). The plot, such as it is, entails a busload of tourists visiting an adults-only resort to live out their secret sexual fantasies with human-like robots. It ain’t exactly rocket science. Adult stars Kay Parker, Annette Haven, John Leslie, and Joey Silvera lead the cast of mostly clothesless forgettables.
Sex World was shot on 35 mm photochemical film using Panavision cameras and lenses for an intended 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Vinegar Syndrome presents the film in native 4K, scanned and restored from the original camera negative with HDR10 high dynamic range. Image quality is actually quite good, which is something of a surprise. Not that we expect anything less from Vinegar Syndrome, but—as this is a porn title—the fact that the original negative still exists in well-preserved quality is remarkable in itself. I mean, it’s not like these are typically stored in the Library of Congress or anything. I guess I’d imagined the negative for a film like this would end up buried in the attic of Jackie Treehorn’s ex-wife’s house in Las Vegas under a box of expired condoms or something. But I digress. Fine detail is excellent… actually, sometimes maybe a little too good. Colors are natural and well saturated, with a bit of a warm push (1970s earth tones have seldom looked so good). The HDR grade does its thing as usual, deepening shadows and boosting the highlights. There’s a light wash of organic grain and some digital clean-up has even been done to reduce nicks, scratches, and other artifacts. Other than a bit of color fading early on, this is a nice 4K image.
Audio is presented in lossless English 2.0 mono in DTS-HD Master Audio format. And it’s every bit the funky-gaspy track you’d expect—nothing to write home about, but then you wouldn’t write home about a film this unless you were a uniquely odd duck. And hey—the disc even has English SDH subtitles! They’re kinda funny too. (upbeat disco music) (moaning) (grunting)
The 4K disc itself includes no special features, but Vinegar Syndrome’s package is a 3-disc set that also includes the 4K-remastered film on Blu-ray, along with a soundtrack CD featuring 16 tracks of bom chicka wah wah. And the Blu-ray offers the following extras:
- Alternate Feature-Length Softcore Version (HD – 78:47 – the X-rated version runs 90:42)
- The Birth of a Legend: An Interview with Actress Kay Parker (SD – 16:14)
- The Funny Man: An Interview with Actor Joey Silvera (SD – 6:48)
- A Visual Person: An Interview with Photographer Joel Sussman (SD – 4:42)
- Original Theatrical Trailer (HD – 4:14)
- Original Theatrical Teaser (HD – 1:04)
The content is straightforward, exactly what it claims to be. It should be noted however that the interview featurettes are technically in SD, but they’re so highly compressed as to be nearly unwatchable. Also, while this is a 4K release, it ships in a regular clear plastic Blu-ray case with reversible cover art.
Watching Vinegar Syndrome’s Sex World in 4K UHD certainly recaptures the experience of sitting in a seedy adult theater on Hollywood Boulevard in the 1970s, just without all the smoke and smells and sticky seating. Or so I image. It ain’t my bag of chips, but... if it’s yours... I daresay you’ll find that the 4K puts a little extra ‘X’ in the XXX. Enough said.
- Bill Hunt