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Case Number 13739: Small Claims Court

Zodiac Rapist

After Hours Cinema // 1971 // 130 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // May 30th, 2008

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Tom Becker wonders if David Fincher didn't take that whole serial killer thing too seriously.

The Charge

"Too late.
That's fate.
I have to find another date."
—The "Zodiac Rapist" waxing poetic after an intended victim gets "lucky" elsewhere

The Case

If you've seen Boogie Nights, you might remember that Dirk Diggler became a superstar of '70s-era porn by creating the character of a private eye ("Brock Landers") and starring in a series of smut-filled detective adventures. This, of course, was a reference to porn star John Holmes' "Johnny Wadd" character. Well, evidently Wadd was not the only naked detective back in the day.

Zodiac Rapist is a two-disc set featuring the antics of private detective Sam Dobbs. There are two films here: Sam Dobbs and the Guru Gangbang (a.k.a. Sam Dobbs, Private Dick) and The Zodiac Rapist (a.k.a. Sam Dobbs Meets the Zodiac Killer). The actor playing Dobbs is unknown; he's a beefy, frat-boyish looking fellow who delivers the occasional line of dialogue and has sex on cue. For star power, we get Mr. Wadd himself, John Holmes, playing the titular Zodiac guy.

Since these were made in the early '70s, they were shot on film, and had storylines and a few trappings of "real" movies. In The Zodiac Rapist, we often hear the villain's thoughts in voiceover (though Holmes does not do the V.O.) while Dobbs follows a series of clues to catch him. Guru Gangbang ends with an extended hippie-orgy scene and Dobbs being dosed with LSD, at which point, whoever shot this employed a kaleidoscopic lens effect to simulate a "bad trip." Then a meteor hits Earth, and we're all blown up. Really.

As far as hardcore sex films go, these are slightly more ambitious than some that were being made at the time, but since the Dobbs stories predate the "Golden Age" of porn by a year or two, there are no memorable female characters, or adventurous camerawork or editing. It is sort of endearing, though, how the people who put these together try to make them relevant by throwing current events into the mix (the Zodiac killer, hippies, psychedelic drugs, all that).

The Dobbs films were produced (and, I'm guessing, directed) by one John Lamb, who was also responsible for the groundbreaking X-rated documentaries Sexual Freedom in Denmark and Sexual Liberty Now, as well as 3-D porno fav, The Starlets. Trailers for these and other classic and recent sex films comprise the extras, along with four pages of liner notes that do little besides describing the plots of the Dobbs films.

It's too bad After Hours—which is part of the Alternative Cinema family that includes Retro-Seduction and Shock-o-Rama—didn't put more into this release. These are clever, but ultimately not very interesting hardcore porn films. A commentary, some shorts, or a little more background on Lamb or Holmes would have made a big difference.

It's also a little surprising that After Hours decided to go with the grindhouse-appropriate but otherwise consumer-unfriendly "Rapist" tag, not only for the film (which sports a new CGI-ed title) but for the set. The cover art is a drawing of a woman screaming, one gloved hand holding a knife to her throat, another gloved hand tearing at her clothes—far more lurid than what's to be found on the disc. In the film, the "victims" are more than happy about the unexpected intrusion of big John's jimmy-john, and they berate Detective Dobbs for chasing him away.

But, that's porn biz.

If old-school smut is your thing, or if you're a John Holmes completist, this set will make a nice addition to your possibly secret stash.

After Hours is commended for giving new life to yet another "lost" artifact; hopefully, they'll put a bit more care into future releases.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: After Hours Cinema
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Erotic
• Exploitation
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Liner notes
• Trailer


• IMDb: John Holmes
• IMDb: John Lamb

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