Directed by TONY MARSIGLIA
Review by MARTIN BOUCHER
Released by Seduction Cinema
Running Time: 240 minutes
Color format: Color / Black and White
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo English
Region Code: NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Full Color Booklet with Liner Notes by Ed Grant; Disc 1: Commentary with Director Tony Marsiglia and Producer Michael Raso; Commentary with star Misty Mundae and Director Tony Marsiglia; The Making of “Chantal”; “Chantal” Camera Test / Disc 2: Commentary with Director Nick Phillips, his wife, and 42nd Street Pete; Bonus Featurette “These Girls are Fools” (b&w)
Trailer Online: Yes
In this deluxe double disc edition from Seduction cinema, both CHANTAL versions feature a happy-go- lucky starlet who ends up used and abused in the Hollywood Hills. One is played by a nameless actress of the late 60’s; the other stars a sultry and softcore favorite of the new millenium. Which begs the question: who amongst the two fares better in the end? The unidentified contender in black and white or the new and improved sex kitten? It’s no surprise that the latter wins hands down. How could she fail, really, when she’s got underground hitmaker Tony Marsiglia (LUST FOR DRACULA, SINFUL) in the reins?
Once again Marsiglia succeeds in giving Misty Mundae the star treatment with the role of an ingenue who refuses, in spite of many entrapments, to wake up from her dream of making it big in Hollywood. Suffice to say, the girl pays dearly for her drive, whether she’s caught in a lesbo web of seduction or she’s simply being gang-raped in a hotel room. Fortunately, the director chooses the suggestion route for this latter scene but the innuendo is as bitter. In fact, CHANTAL’s overall descent into Hell theme is a hard pill to swallow, yet it is watchable due to the professionalism of all involved. It does tend to cross path with Pia Zadora’s THE LONELY LADY every once in a while, but CHANTAL is a far better handled film than the 1983 Peter Sasdy’s unintentional romp. Indeed, Marsiglia’s modus operandi is bold camera movements and shadow play (thanks to Dang Lenawae). He never stays too long on the automatic pilot mode, and it all pays off in the end with a fresh and daring look at a dated main topic.
Which brings us to the original CHANTAL and its writer director Nick Phillips (nom de plume of Nick Millard). The man may have a library of nudies (considered X-rated then) to his name but his CHANTAL offering is nothing but narrative-driven silliness with a time-period tag attached to its derriere. From the VALLEY OF THE DOLLS Chinese theater movie marquee to the Paramount studio former Bronson gated entrance, Phillips dares showing old Hollywood via shoddily-made tactics which ultimately tarnish whatever appeal the film and its leading lady may have possessed. Oh, you do get your dose of full frontal nudity and girl on girl action but CHANTAL delivery in general is far less appealing than the 2007 remake; and surprisingly far less superior to the 1956 bonus featurette with same subject matter THESE GIRLS ARE FOOLS which shows a lot less but is classier-looking in spite of the damaged reel.
This DVD edition has a hefty content in the extra features department, starting with three audio commentaries for both films (two for the remake, including one with a candid Misty) which are engaging and enlightening in their convivial manner (though Phillips’ CHANTAL is, again, the weakest link with its nipple obsession tidbits and sometimes lack of insightful comments); a fun making of and a quick camera test shot of 2007 CHANTAL; an interview with Nick Phillips who discusses his flick and himself; and last but not least some liner notes by film critic Ed Grant that range from the focus on Misty Mundae (aka Erin Brown) to both movies, with stills and screengrabs (for the 1969 version) to spare. Surely this deluxe baby will please the go-getters of the genre or the purists who finally dare to venture into the kinky world of sexploitation cinema. Either way, enjoy, for this release is definitely worth it—regardless of the night and day style of the duo films.