Any thought that this double-feature from the wacky folks at Something Weird Video is about women in prisons because the first title is "Chained Girls" is dispelled by the second being "Daughters of Lesbos," because this DVD is all about lesbian sexploitation films. "Chained Girls" (1965) is presented by director Joseph P. Mawra as a documentary, narrated by Joel Holt, educating its audience about the secret and mysterious life of the lesbian, their secret haunts, how they have fun, so on and so forth. We learn that lesbians have a secret language, an inherent sense of insecurity, are usually suicidal, and that every dyke is out only for herself. Statistics pop up from time to time on title cards, while in between we see jealous dykes in a battle to the death over a fem (do not worry: you will learn about the different types of lesbians). At the end we are told that lesbianism is caused by such conditions as a neurotic fear of marriage, fear of bearing children in marriage, an unfounded hatred of all men, or hatred for an aggressive dominating mother. It turns out the point of this film is not to show women in their underwear, but rather to inform the audience, because "Only through understanding the facts, can we keep Lesbianism from becoming a serious social problem." I wonder if these women were being told that they were playing lesbians because in some of these scenes except for the narration there is nothing to indicate sexual preference. This is a classic example of an exploitation film, using the trappings of science and education to justifying watching scantily dressed women.
"Daughters of Lesbos" (1968) from director Peter Woodcock is ostensibly a series of vignettes reflecting the weekly meeting of a group of lesbians. Their leader (Linda Boyce), likes to go to bars and tease men before she leaves them high and dry, except this time the guy drugs here, adding insult to injury by adding Spanish Fly to the mix. Helga (Jo Sweet) wants more out of her sex life than her vibrator can provide and meets an accommodating counselor at camp. Maxine (Jackie Richards), "a female stud," is a seducer whose mind functions like a man, and who picks up a flower power hitchhiker (Sue Akers); the two show how much you can accomplish in the front seat of a car. Dominique (Geri Miller) cannot go to sleep until she has had an orgasm, so she thinks back to happy memories of a shower partner, not knowing that she is being watched by this guy who not only looks through the window but puts his head through the window AND the blinds. Of course, he only gets to watch her writhe on her bed while we get to see what she is imagining. The guy ends up attacking her and the Daughters of Lesbos anticipate "I Spit On Your Grave" in their response. This film is also shot in black & white, with the emphasis on black since lighting is always lacking in these types of films. The music is white-hot jazz and you can decide if the trumpet or the saxophone is your preferred brass instrument for accompanying sex. Obviously this is a much more erotic film than the other feature on this DVD, but "Daughters of Lesbos" has some moments in that department, especially compared to the usual SWV offerings.
In addition to the two movies the extras pop up in "The Lair of the Lesbian," starting with a series of "Sappho Shorts": the silent "Lash of the Lesbian"; "Lesbian Apartment Party," where the butches and the fems are painfully obvious and there is a whole lot of cuddling going on before they get down to dancing; "Lesbian Neighbors" get together to drink in their underwear before getting down to it (more dancing); "She-Man Surprise" involves more dancing (in color) and a title that gives away the punch-line; "Lesbian Bikers" has sound and is the obligatory dykes on bikes bit, although they have to get off the bikes to prove the lesbian part; "Lesbian Coffin Sex" is not just about about lesbian coffin sex, but two lesbians having sex in a coffin floating in a pool, complete with an interview with the weird guy who hired the girls so he can watch; "Let's Make Mary Moan" reinforces my working hypothesis that lesbians are not into spanking but that if a woman is spanking another woman it is not really S&M; teh goal of "Outdoor Lesbian Love"(also in color) is not so much to make love but to make sure that view of the camera is unobstructed. This is by far the most graphic bit on the DVD. Be forewarned; a lot of these shorts just suddenly end (which will not matter, because sometime before that point you usually stop really paying attention). A lot of these shorts are accompanied by polka music ("Roll Out the Barrel" is popular), and sometimes there are competing music tracks at the same time, but the obvious conclusion is that the sound of a Wurlizter organ makes everything seem campy.
The other special features are the "Titillating Trailers," for "Chained Girls," "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes" (with girls who have tried everything twice), "The Cats" (with familiar SWV music), "The King" (accompanied by beat poetry), "Make Me a Woman" (a Greek film, which makes sense given Sappho wrote poetry in Greek), "Sappho Darling" (self-professed to be "almost too adult for men," which a screenplay by Academy Award Winner Albert Zugsmith, although I cannot even find an Oscar nomination for the fellow), "That Tender Touch," and "The Wild Roots of Love." Just do not look for too many of these films out there because if SWC does not bring them to DVD, then it just is not going to happen. As is usually the case, the 5-star rating here is for the complete Something Weird Video package. "Chained Girls" is a historical curiosity, that can evoke gales of laughter because of its judgmental proclamations, while "Daughters of Lesbos" betrays its true audience by introducing men into half of the vignettes (and the tacky narration constitutes a clue as well). They sure do not make movies like this anymore, and if it were not for the gang at SWV we would never be introduced to the seamier side of cinema.