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Blu-Ray : Worth a Look
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Release Date: April 25th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1997

Guilty Pleasures

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Bruce Douglas
Guilty Pleasures is an ambitious SOV thriller in which two stories of psychological terror mingle with sexploitation and giallo homages to minimal success. Leaning hard into style over substance, these mid-90s SOV productions are perfect for a curious late-night crowd. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution provides a solid A/V package and many extras. Worth a Look

Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
English SDH
Special Features:
Audio Commentary from Joe Zaso, Interview with Joe Zaso (15mins), Interview with Carl Manchese (4mins), Still Gallery, Original Trailer (1min), Saturn's Core Trailers (8mins)
Release Date:
April 25th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


“Come, Sylvia. Come and admire my beautiful body.”

Co-directed by Joe Zaso and Joseph F. Parda, Guilty Pleasures is an anthology film with two stories titled “Nocturnal Emissions” and “Method to the Madness” making up the feature. Both stories are about women who live in the same apartment building, which gives us an anchor for this double feature of tragic tales. Zaso and Pardo use every opportunity to lean into stylish Giallo touches and sleazy exploitation. Filled with zero-budget production value and cast with theater actors, the film never elevates beyond its SOV roots. However, there is never a lack of bizarre moments or grimy weirdness. 

In Nocturnal Emissions, we meet Sylvia (Alexandra Paulhiac), a statuesque beauty who breaks up with her abusive boyfriend Jerome (Eraldo Maglara, Rome ‘98). Soon, she’s getting obscene phone calls from a deranged pervert, adding to her paranoia. When her fetish model friend Kim (Ruby Honeycat, Nude Strangle) gets murdered, the cops eventually question Sylvia. High-strung Officer Phil (Joe Zaso, The Bloody Ape) manipulates Sylvia into a physical relationship after a sexually charged dinner date. Tension reaches a breaking point when the phone calls resume, and Phil spirals out of control.    

Method to the Madness sees aspiring actress Rosemarie (Sasha Graham, Psycho Sisters) juggle her life between a boring day job and hunting for acting gigs. Her roommate suggests she join a rigorous method acting school run by the overbearing Claude DeCarlo (Joe Marzano, Venus in Furs), whose reputation for questionable techniques precedes him. While subjected to DeCarlo’s torturous methodology, Rosemarie begins having visions and nightmares about an old friend, Monica, whose dark secrets drive the aspiring actress mad.  

On the surface, Guilty Pleasures works as a late-night sexy thrill ride, cashing in on steamy visuals, sleazy setups, and good old fashioned psychological trauma. Zaso and Parda use every opportunity to pay homage to their favorite giallos and Eurohorror classics. The Perfume of the Lady in Black, The Stendhal Syndrome, and Valley of the Dolls are just a few of the titles referenced. Both directors have numerous low-budget videos under their belt, with Parda more interested in the dark sexual reaches of the mind. At the same time, Zaso leans into a more theatrically inspired take on gothic horror tropes. 

In Nocturnal Emissions, Parda gives us a black-gloved killer offing beautiful women at every turn, combined with the perverted ramblings of a prank caller. Once Zaso’s Officer Phil takes off his shirt and has literal phone sex with Sylvia, a bizarre love triangle forms with seemingly no way out. As a sleazy SOV thriller, it's surprisingly effective, with campy performances and a grimy atmosphere filling every frame. 

Method to the Madness picks up with Sylvia’s neighbor Rosemarie, whose method acting coach unleashes her inner demons in Zaso’s SOV homage to Two Evil Eyes. Inspired by a real-life stalker and the reputations of method acting coaches in NYC, Zaso drew on his experiences to shape this gothic-inspired tale. Sasha Graham steals the show as she takes her character Rosemarie from a hungry acting student to an unhinged psychopath. Unfortunately, the story runs a bit long, hammering home the subtext and leaving the twist ending out to dry. 

Guilty Pleasures isn't innovative or groundbreaking for its time. Its visual effects are laughable, and sets are borrowed spaces covered in trash bags. However, where it succeeds is in riding the wave of cheap mid-90s thrillers filling video store shelves and cable channels. Favoring style and homage over depth and story, this anthology is a bizarre mix of ideas that won’t win over new audiences but may sit well with SOV devotees looking for the next midnight movie. 2.5/5


Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Guilty Pleasures arrives on Region Free Blu-ray thanks to Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution. The BD-25 disc is housed in a transparent keep case with a reversible artwork sleeve. It loads the Saturn’s Core logo before landing on the Main Menu screen, where scenes from the film play against typical navigation options. 

Video Review


The AVC-encoded 1080i HD image for Guilty Pleasures is in the film’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Primaries are discernible, though they appear washed out, detail is non-existent, and outdoor shots are overexposed. Black levels are surprisingly deep, given that most scenes are filmed in dark apartments and basements. However, scene particulars disappear in darker settings, especially when the camcorder is in motion. For a mid-90s SOV feature this HD image is on par with others of the time. 2.5/5

Audio Review


Guilty Pleasures arrives on Blu-ray with a single 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 mix. English subtitles are available and necessary at times. Dialogue is appreciable but lacks clarity when characters are moving about the scene. Effects are sharp and mostly recorded in-camera, which can sometimes be jarring. Music overpowers the mix when building tension, which can muddy the texture. Overall a satisfactory audio mix given the production limitations.  2.5/5

Special Features


Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution provide new and archival material for the bonus features. I’d recommend starting with the newly recorded interviews before checking out Zaso’s casual commentary track. 

  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer / Co-Director / Actor Joe Zaso Recorded in 2007, Zaso recounts fondly the production of the shorts with amusing anecdotes and jokes. There are some sustained stretches of silence, but this is an entertaining audio commentary from Zaso. 
  • A Dangerous Method (HD 15:09): This Interview with Joe Zaso and Sasha Marie outlines their early days in low-budget cinema up to working on Guilty Pleasures. Both detail their experiences with candid humor and excitement. 
  • Duly Impressed (HD 4:10) In this Interview, Carl Marchese, who played Bill Randazzo in Method to the Madness, shares some fond memories of the production, including an evening spent serving tequila to the cast. 
  • Still Gallery (HD 3:07) Still photos from the production autoplay with eerie synth scoring accompaniment. 
  • Trailers:
    • Original Guilty Pleasures Trailer (HD 1:32)
    • Other Saturn’s Core Releases Trailer (HD 8:32)

Final Thoughts

The ambitious Guilty Pleasures starts off strong with the first feature, Nocturnal Emissions, but sadly, it slows down to a crawl with Method to the Madness. As a fan of sleazy sexploitation and Giallo, I found this an entertaining mix of themes and homages, but it didn’t gel for me beyond a collection of inspired moments. However, there’s plenty to love if you’re an SOV devotee! The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution presents the film with a satisfying A/V package and many bonus features for fans of the film. - 2.5/5 Worth a Look

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