The Ribald Tales of Canterbury (1985)

On their way to Canterbury, a group of noblemen and women play a game to see who can tell the best erotic story

The Ribald Tales Of Canterbury arrives on DVD in a new 2k scan that has been restored from the original 35mm negative and it looks very good. There are some shots that are softer looking than others, no doubt due to how the movie was shot, but for the most part the image is crisp, clean, nicely detailed and very colorful. There are no obvious compression artifacts nor are there any problems with noise reduction. Fans of the film should be quite pleased with how nice this presentation is. Audio chores are handled by way of an English language Dolby Digital Mono track, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. Clarity and balance are find throughout and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. The opening theme song, the one that will get stuck in your head and never, ever leave – it sounds quite nice here too.

Director: Bud Lee
Writers: Hyapatia Lee, Geoffrey Chaucer

Indeed, if there’s a more fun look back at old school adult cinema out there at the moment, it would be difficult to find, as this film runs with a fast ‘n loose sense of humor which makes it light and breezy watches, easy to enjoy both as a film buff or adult cinema expert. The Ribald Tales of Canterbury is a period piece based upon the literary works of Geoffrey Chaucer, and takes the more sexualized stories of the Middle Ages and adds a triple X twist to the proceedings.
The cast features among the very best actors from both sexes, including Mike Horner and Colleen Brennan, the latter of which had already proven herself as one of the most capable actress from the 70s sexploitation scene. Hyapatia Lee herself also turns in an excellent performances as “The Hostess,” who hosts a storytelling contest with the cast as they make their way on horseback on a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury. Each story is acted out with varying degrees of success and eroticism, with the average being quite high, as most of the cast manage to keep their performances reined in their respective characters. It’s a hugely fun and enjoyable romp, particularly when taking into account that the video age was already hitting the adult scene with a vengeance.
The beautiful Hyapatia Lee got into the adult film business when she learned that actresses were making a whole lot more on the strip club circuit than she was despite the fact that they typically delivered lousy performances on stage. When she decided to go this route, she and husband Bud Lee debuted in a 1983 film called The Young Like It Hot, directed by Bob Chinn for Caribbean Films. This relationship proved fruitful and as the years went on, the Lee’s would wind up making a fairly ambitious film for Caribbean called The Ribald Tales Of Canterbury. As the title suggests, it’s a triple X take on Chaucer’s writing with Bud getting directorial credit and Hyapatia top billing. Set in medieval times (and shot on a studio lot with costumes previously used by MGM for Excalibur), the story begins with a scene in a tavern where an insanely catchy, goofy theme song plays. Here a female hostess (Hyapatia Lee) talks to those in her party and sets up a little bet. Whoever can tell the best story on the journey they’re about to embark on together will win the prize.
So as the movie plays out, everyone in the party gets the chance to tell a story. Along for the ride are a handsome knight (Mike Horner), a rugged carpenter (Jesse Eastern), a goofy flour mill operator (Dennis Duggan), a rather unorthodox monk (Elmo Lavino), and the beautiful Lady Of Bath (Colleen Brennan/Sharon Kelly). As the stories are told we see them play out by way of some flashbacks. The knight recalls tells how he escorted an abbot on a journey to visit the pope only to learn that the abbot was not an abbot at all but secretly a hot chick (Debra Lynn). The carpenter talks about how a cheating miller attempted to con two young men (Peter North and Jon Martin) but how his con backfired when his wife (Stevie Taylor) and daughter (Buffy Davis) decided to have an orgy with them. The Lady Of Bath tells of how her father was cheated out of some land by an evil Lord (Bud Lee) and how she used her feminine wiles to win it back by messing around with him and his wife (Cheri Janvier). It goes on from there with a few more stories told before the winner is chosen.
Highlight by a pretty great scene in which Sharon Kelly does the deed with Hypapatia, this is a nice mix of steamy sex, goofy comedy and reasonably posh production values. It’s obvious that the filmmakers behind this one cared about putting out a good product as the move is nicely lit, the costumes look good and the cast all deliver better than average performances both in and out of the sack. The movie is also well edited and briskly paced, balancing out the hardcore action and the comedic vignettes in between in equal measure and with a good amount of success. Those looking for a serious or literal adaption of Chaucer may walk away disappointed, but really, who’d be doing that in the first place? Those looking for depth need not apply but anyone who enjoys breezy hardcore action mixed with some comedic moments ought to get a kick out of this one.

  • Scene 1. Beverly Bliss, Jesse Eastern
  • Scene 2. Debra Lynn, Mike Horner
  • Scene 3. Buffy Davis, Stevie Taylor, Jon Martin, Peter North
  • Scene 4. Colleen Brennan, Hyapatia Lee
  • Scene 5. Josephine Carrington, Bud Lee
  • Scene 6. Cheri Janvier, F.M. Bradley
  • Scene 7. Hyapatia Lee, Marc Wallice, Tony Martino
  • Scene 8. Colleen Brennan, Jesse Eastern
  • Scene 9. Hyapatia Lee, Mike Horner
  • Scene 10. Patti Petite, Elmo Lavino