Monday, October 24, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Bubble Gum

Bubble Gum (1983)
aka The Siblings

Directed by:
Damon Christian

Starring:
Candy Cummings
Honey Wilder
Kelly Grant
Laurien Wilde
Blair Harris
Eric Edwards
Marc Wallice
Ray Wells

Bubble Gum clocks in at just over 60 minutes. I'm guessing the total production time - writing, filming, editing, and scoring - was about 75 minutes.

The story: Carla (Wilder) has been having a long term affair with Sid (Wells). Her husband, John (Edwards), hires a private investigator (Harris) who alerts him to the long-term affair. When their daughter Paula (Wilde) comes home with to tell her parents she's marrying Sid's son Sammy (Wallice), John decides to seduce Paula's friend Bubble Gum (Cummings) to get back at Carla.

Now, as you might have guessed from the "aka" up there, Sid is Paula's real father, meaning she's engaged to her half-brother. You'd think that this would be a shocking revelation at the climax of the film, but Carla actually tries to tell Sid that he's Paula's father in the film's second scene, but, unfortunately, since he already came, he's fallen asleep. ("Men!") Hilariously, not only does she not bother to wake him up, but she doesn't see fit to break the news to Paula after she announces that she and Sammy are engaged.

Oh, and also the maid, Darcy (Grant) - who is apparently dating the PI - knows but doesn't bother telling anyone. And then, the PI, after rushing to the house when he discovers that John isn't Paula's real father, decides that it's more important to have sex with the maid in the kitchen. Bear in mind everyone is home, so either the household is pretty fast and loose with the rules, or the maid isn't particularly concerned about keeping her job.

So finally John breaks the news to Paula at the dining room table, devastating her so she naturally runs upstairs to take a bubble bath.

Then DEUS EX MACHINA! Apparently Sid ISN'T Sammy's father (it may actually be John!) so...the wedding is back on. Or at least Sammy and Paula have (simulated) bubble bath sex set to a jaunty tune that would've been great for The Apple Dumpling Gang before abruptly cutting to a mournful piano tune playing under the rolling credits.

It's been awhile since I've hypothesized that a porn was fueled largely by cocaine, but I've got to wonder about this one. Interestingly here, though, it's the editor I suspect of being totally lit.

Editing aside, Bubble Gum didn't really do anything wrong, but it's one of those movies that, in retrospect, if I'd never seen it, I wouldn't have missed out on anything. C

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Titillation

Titillation (1982)

Directed by:
Damon Christian

Starring:
Gina Gianetti
Heaven St. John
Kitten Natividad (Non-sex)
Eric Edwards
Mike Horner
Randy West
Mike Zempter (Non-sex)

Titillation starts promising enough. A send-up of pulpy detective stories, a PI named Spado Zappo (Edwards) is contacted by millionaire Felix Fitzwilly's secretary, Brenda (St. John, an actress I was unfamiliar with, but who was such a solid actress that I - wrongly - assumed hers would be a non-sex role), to find the man's "Cinderella": a mysterious busty lass that fit a into a brozne bra he had in his possession.

In retrospect, I'm pretty sure my mind was wandering like crazy during the film, so while I can recall specific scenes, I can't really suss out how they all fit together. Here's the plot synopsis form Anonymous at IMDB:

"Brenda Weeks works for Felix Fitswilly, an old businessman who owns a large brass bra. Felix has already hired countless detectives to locate the woman he believes is finally buxom enough to fit into that bra. Brenda's husband "Rooster" cheats on her with his new neighbor while Brenda has to try hiring top private detectives Spado Zappo and Pigeon Johnson. Brenda offers her own buxom figure to Spado Zappo to accomplish that goal. Meanwhile, the searched woman turns out to be Jerri, a woman who turns down her chauffeur, prompting him to spike her drink and rape her. But when he plans to continue from behind even when she falls asleep, Pigeon Johnson who watches from outside decides to enter and chase him away. Brenda Weeks heads off home where she and "Rooster" prove they have an open marriage by seducing their other new and buxom neighbor into a threesome. Suspecting a scheme, the detectives break into Felix' office alongside a woman called Amanda. Spado Zappo leaves them waiting, in which time Amanda seduces Pigeon Johnson. In the end, each and every character turns out to be involved in their own scheme to get the money for finding the woman. Spado Zappo has everyone by gunpoint and tells Jerri to take her top off. The brass bra fits and she immediately agrees to become rich Felix' younger lover."

Reading that over kind of rings a bell, but it neglects to mention that "Rooster" and Brenda are also involved in managing a quasi-swingers apartment complex owned by Fitzwilly, and both are concerned about what will become of their roles there if the mystery tits are found. And [SPOILER], while Jerri does agree to go off with Fitzwilly, he not only denies the $50,000 reward to all of the people that are scheming to get the money, he actually offers $100,000 to anyone that can find him and Jerri after they skip the country. Other than leaving the film open to a sequel that (to my knowledge) was never made, there's no rational reason that, having the girl on his arm, he'd encourage this group of back-stabbers to try to hunt him down....

It's really too bad that a relatively interesting premise was allowed to go off the rails. It had elements of more successful detective parody/homage porns I've seen recently: the clever tongue-in-cheek voiceovers of Trashi; the whodunnit false starts of Lust on the Orient Express; the over-the-top double-crossing final scene of The Jade Falcon; but wasn't able to tie those elements into a particularly enjoyable narrative.

For some time now, I've had an idea percolating for a porn script. If I ever happen to write it, my follow up may well be a sequel to Titillation, because hopefully knowing what went wrong, I could write it right....

Since I'm feeling generous, I'll focus on what was good (the performances were all pretty solid, and the hardcore scenes were good to really good) instead of what wasn't, and give it a B-.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Whoa...math.

It has been - shockingly - 50 days since my last review. Perhaps more shockingly, it's been at least 50 days since I last watched a hardcore feature. And perhaps most shocking of all is that, despite all of that, it's still possible (however unlikely) for me to reach my goal of 100 reviews in 2011.

From here on out, I'd have to review 5.2 films per week. Crazy.

Regardless of whether I can keep that pace (note: probably not), I do anticipate getting a few done tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: The Devil in Miss Jones 2

The Devil in Miss Jones 2 (1982)

Directed by:
Henri Pachard

Starring:
Anna Ventura
Dena Ferrara
Georgina Spelvin
Jacqueline Lorians
Joanna Storm
Sharon Kane
Sharon Mitchell
Alan Adrian
Ashley Moore
Bobby Astyr
George Payne
Jack Wrangler
Joe Santini
Joey Silvera
Michael Bruce
R. Bolla
Ron Jeremy

Before I get into particulars, I feel I should mention that I really enjoyed DMJ 2. That being said, I really, really wish it had been a stand-alone film and not a "sequel" to the The Devil in Miss Jones. The original is one of the freshest, darkest, most surreal adult films I've ever seen. With the exception of the titular character, DMJ 2 has nothing in common with its predecessor.

In defiance of Hell's "no orgasm" policy, Justine Jones (Spelvin) proves too much for Lucifer (Wrangler) - or "Lucy" - to handle. After giving him his first fiery orgasm in thousands of years, she makes him send her back to Earth to live a life filled with lust. Her first "home" is the body of Roxanne, a call girl (Lorains). Though he's loathe to admit it, the Devil has feelings for Miss Jones, and can't bear to see her in ecstasy, so he transfers her to another body, a female soldier (Storm). After she defies rank and enters the mens' showers, she's sent to her superiors for punishment. Naturally, she ends up seducing the Captain, which further irritates the Devil. Hoping to stop her sexy fun times, the Devil transfers her into the body of a dull Tupperware saleslady (Ventura) - as a side note, regardless of how unsexy of a profession he chooses for Miss Jones's host, he probably would have been better off not sending her into the body of a super attractive woman...just saying.

The Devil's Advocate (Bolla) seems to be conspiring against him*, though, because he works with one of Hell's minions (Jeremy) to have the Tupperware lady's wares changed from kitchen utensils to blow up dolls and vibrators. Of course, after she ditches salad bowls for vibrating prostate probers, her first attempted sale ends up with her in the throes of passion with the first man she came across. Further frustrated, the Devil throws the Tupperware lady/Miss Jones down an elevator shaft.

While she's in the hospital, the Devil moves Miss Jones into the body of a nun (Samantha Fox, non-sex). The "man upstairs" is none too pleased with the fact that the Devil used one of "his" people as a vessel, so he shorts out the Devil's system and has St. Peter call "downstairs". Lucy's commanded to pop Miss Jones back into Roxanne, the thought of which really breaks the Devil up. With his back against the wall [SPOILER ALERT] Lucifer abdicates his throne so he can be with her.

Like I said, I really did like the film. The costuming and sets were very impressive, and the film was loaded with pretty amusing visual gags and puns. But it's this lightness that sets it completely at odds with the original. If it was called, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Out of the Underworld, or something, I'd have probably given it a straight A. Since it used the DMJ name, though, I'm going to have to mark it A-.

* It's also possible I misread the story and that the DA wasn't aware that his boss was intentionally trying to keep Jones from getting laid....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Sweet Surrender

Sweet Surrender (1980)

Directed by:
Dick Milford

Starring:
Merle Michaels
Heather Young
Georgette Saunders
Pamela Presley
Samantha Fox
Tricia Ascot
Veri Knotty
Alan Adrian
Roger Caine
David Ruby
David Morris
Marc Valentine
Michael Gaunt

I'm going to hazard a guess that Mystery (that ridiculous "pickup artist" douche) saw this movie when he was young and it served to shape his entire life and career. Granted, "peacocking" isn't mentioned anywhere in the film, but the story is that an author (Caine) is shopping a book of time-tested techniques for seducing women to a publisher (Ascot). Predictably, the book's chapters are the film's hardcore scenes. (The structure of the film lends itself to being a clip recylcer, but that doesn't seem to be the case.)

The author claims the "moves" are all legal, but a few - a man (Valentine) pretends to be a doctor interviewing a new secretary (Michaels); another man (Ruby) pretends to be the manager of the Rolling Stones, convincing a fan (Fox) to have sex with him in order to meet Mick Jagger* - are ethically dubious.

The best part of the film is the expository dialogue between the author and publisher. The script is obviously "first draft" material (I guess since I hardly ever draft or revise my reviews, I shouldn't cast aspersions; glass houses, stones, all that mess) and the performances are earnest, but not...good. Plus, the music that scores the office scenes seems to be straight out of Assault on Precinct 13 (the good one...).

Oddly, I ended up watching two 64-minute movies in a row. For all its shortcomings, Pleasure Spot seemed shorter than Sweet Surrender. However, on the whole, Sweet Surrender had more interesting hardcore scenes (and a moderately entertaining/surprising twist at the end), so it gets a half letter grade bump. C

* With a complete disregard for copyright law, there are two Stones songs (Some Girls and Miss You) that play during the scene. For some reason, stuff like that cracks me up. I can't imagine the band being too upset about their music in a porn, but their lawyers might have a different take....

Pornonomy Reviews: Pleasure Spot

Pleasure Spot (1986)

Directed by:
Jack Remy

Starring:
Bunnie Blake
Bunny Bleu
Gina Carrera
Patti Petite
Billy Dee
Greg Derek
Hershel Savage
Kevin James

You get a pretty good impression what you're in for during the opening credits. Pleasure Spot is shot on video and has a quasi-New Wave theme. In fairness, judged against other porn videos of the era, it's actually not too bad.

The cast is comprised of capable actors and the story is moderately interesting: Melissa (Carrera) is unable to have an orgasm. At the urging of her boyfriend (James) she sees a doctor (Savage) who finds that she doesn't have a clitoris. Conveniently, another patient of his has two. After the world's first clit transplant, Melissa finds a whole new world of sexual pleasure. The movie definitely owes a debt of gratitude to Deep Throat, even if the idea isn't as...high-minded? (Seems weird to describe Throat like that....)

Eight hardcore scenes in a 64-minute movie doesn't leave a lot of room for plot development. The meager amount of story and the hardcorse scenes are fine, but nothing particularly noteworthy. The camera work and editing - though on video - has the feel of feature films, so that's something.

At the end of the day, with the Carrera/James connection, Pleasure Spot had me wishing I'd just watched Stiff Competition again. C-

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Destricted

Descripted (2006)

Directed by:
Marina Abramovic
Matthew Barney
Marco Brambilla
Larry Clark
Gaspar Noe
Richard Prince
Sam Taylor-Wood

Starring:
Too many people to list

I'm of two minds concerning the use of hardcore by non-pornographers. On the one hand, hardcore scenes in otherwise non-pornographic films (Shortbus, 9 Songs, Antichrist) further the debate of the absurdity of the MPAA's tolerance of violence and intolerance of sex (definitely check out This Film is Not Yet Rated, if you haven't seen it). On the other hand, the idea that "straight" (as in non-hardcore) directors somehow have legitimize hardcore serves to reinforce the idea that porn is "less than 'real' film," despite the quality of great directors (like Gerard Damiano and Robert McCallum and Chuck Vincent and probably some that work today, but who I obviously don't follow). When you add another layer of constructing and deconstructing the idea of hardcore by putting it in the hands of artists, you could end up with a Grade A Clusterfuck.

When I was in college, as an art student, I saw - voluntarily and otherwise - my fair share of art films. I generally feel about art films the way I do about slam poetry: when it's great, it's really great; when it's anything less than great, it's fucking unbearable. Surprisingly, of the seven films here, I'd say two were really great, but the other five weren't without their interesting qualities.

Balkan Erotic Epic (Abromovic)
I don't know anything about Balkan folklore, so I'll have to take Abromovic's word for the way sexuality and genitalia are fetishized "een Balkan." Whether it's a groom-to-be penetrating holes he drilled in a bridge on his wedding day to ward off wedding night impotence or a woman suffocating a fish in her vagina overnight in order to make a coffee-lacing powder that will act as a sort of love potion, Abromovic's brief intros are illustrated - with varying degrees of literalness - by animation or live action. Overall, it's the sort of film that you expect to see in a museum or gallery. One which there's a more-likely-than-not chance of watching for a minute or two before moving on after "getting the idea."

Hoist (Barney)
Matthew Barney is probably most famous for being a former model and Bjork's partner, but people seem to be familiar with his Cremaster Cycle. I haven't seen any of the films, but the fascinatingly creepy production design is pretty well-known. Dude has definitely found the area in the Venn diagram where beautiful or horrifying overlap. Hoist is split into three - or maybe two and a half - parts. The first is what I'd describe as a Microcosmos in Hell. A close up of what might be a creepy slug in mossy cave is revealed to be a slowly engorging uncut dick against the dirty thighs and belly of some dude. (As an aside, after it was apparent what was going on, I couldn't help but be reminded of once - in a life drawing class - the male model got a boner; there was an audible silence in the room as it rose and fell....)

The perspective shifts to a video - shot at night - of a construction crew around some heavy machinery. With the low quality of the video and the fact that the crew's faces and company name are blurred out (let alone that it's shot at night) gives the impression that the guys aren't necessarily aware of what they're a part of. They seem to be working on raising an uprooted tree with a large piece of machinery, which is in turn hooked up to a crane and is raised off the ground.

Then, the perspective is back to the "cave" which is further revealed to be inside - or, underneath, I guess - the heavy machine which was raised off the ground. The machines spinning axle becomes a masturbatory aid for the "nature man's creepy slug dick." There's more than a little uneasiness - that'll probably be more visceral for men - while he's got his dong pressed against the spinning cylinder. Regardless of how you react to it, you can't argue that Barney's got a style and is pretty good at it.

Sync (Brambilla)
The film that I liked the most (and probably not coincidentally the shortest at a mere 135 seconds), Sync is a supercut of sex scenes from many different movies that stitch together into one, set to a drum solo. (Kinda Marclay Telephones-esque.) This is the film that, if you came across it in a gallery, you'd watch a couple of times and tell your friends about later.

In fact, fuck it, it's short enough:


Copyright violations be damned!

Impaled (Clark)
Larry Clark, the photographer and filmmaker most famous/notorious for Kids (1995), often - and not entirely undeservedly - faces criticism for seeming creepily obsessed with teenagers' sexuality. Of the films, Impaled is the most porn-like. Essentially, a "pro-am/gonzo/casting couch" film, Clark interviews a series of young men who answered a porn casting ad about their personal histories with porn and sex. After having the men disrobe - noteworthy both because of the non-porn-normative focus on flaccid penises AND a prime example of the voyeuristic tendencies that have informed Clark's career - he settles on one who'll be the male "star" of the show. The skinny emo kid - who seems likable enough, if not understandably nervous - is introduced to a series of actual "porn girls" (Clark always refers to them as "porn girls" instead of "stars" or "actresses"), before settling on his co-star (Nancy Vee, who, despite the kid's aforementioned interest in being with a woman significantly older than him, would probably seem to be the woman least-likely to be picked by an average dude).

With the casting set, Clark directs - or, at the very least, films - a scene between the two. Presented relatively un-edited, from a technical perspective, it's pretty interesting because the camera rolls during parts that would normally be edited out (Vee re-lubing; stopping an anal scene because things got a little messy). Anyone with a passing knowledge of the potential pitfalls of - and the oft-cited reasons for there being relatively few - male pornstars will be impressed by the kid's ability to get and maintain an erection (even through having his co-star wipe him down after the aborted anal scene, which he describes as "kind of sick" in the post-scene interview) and hold off his pop shot. The film ends with the camera holding for an uncomfortably long time on the kid's face. There seem to be about eight different emotions painted there simultaneously, and you can't help but expect him to start crying.

We Fuck Alone (Noe)
While Impaled would provide porn scholars with the most to write about, We Fuck Alone is neck-and-neck with Hoist for the film that would provide an art student with enough bullshitty fodder to stretch into an extended essay. From the title ("To 'fuck' implies a partner, whereas being 'alone' would imply masturbation. Perhaps beholden to our egos, regardless of our assertion that pleasing our partners is important, all 'fucking' is really 'masturbation.' The film uses pornographic scenes, and indeed the idea of pornography, to blahblahblahblahblah....) to the specific scenes (the couple fucking in a sparse concrete room; the male masturbating with a sex doll; the female on her stuffed-animal populated bed) to the ham-fisted imagery ("The man is sticking his dick in the sex doll's mouth, and now it's a handgun, and now it's his dick again!"; "The 'girl' is masturbating next to her over-sized teddy bear...porn fetishizes pre-adolescent girls!!!") to the strobe effect given to the ENTIRE 23 minutes, making it easily the hardest film to watch ("By only giving us partial view of what's occurring, the strobe effect underscores the artificial nature of pornography.") All told, We Fuck Alone seems like less of an art film and more like the sort of edgy avant-porn that seemed to be the toast of the internet for awhile around the time Stuntgirl was made. I guess that slightly contradicts my prior assertion that Impaled was the most porn-like. I guess just list them 1a and 1b. But, anyway, definitely avoid this if you have a history of epilepsy.

House Call (Prince)
The film I enjoyed most after Sync, House Call appears to be a vintage loop that was converted to video, which was then filmed being played back on a monitor. A busty woman (credited as Kora Reed) seems be under the weather while oiling herself up (for some reason), so she calls up her doctor (credited as John St. John) for some treatment. What appears visually is juxtaposed with a sort of art-film-audio-by-numbers soundtrack. It's like if you fed a composer a steady diet of found audio, Brian Eno, drone rock, and circus music and asked them to come up with something. At one point, the music cuts out for a minute and there's only the sound of a film projector, giving the sense of being in a theater - or perhaps more accurately a wood-paneled den or garage. Perhaps it becomes a sort of porn version of John Cage's 4'33", a "silent" song in which the ambient noises (people clearing their throats or shifting in the seats) become the music. Hear though, I guess it'd be the ruffle of a rain coat, or the nervous swallows of awkward viewers. (How's that for a little bullshitty art student analysis?!?)

The most compelling part of the film is whether the hardcore was found/classic footage or an incredibly well-done original-in-the-style-of. If it's the latter, Richard Prince absolutely killed it. I suppose it'd be possible to find out if I was willing to do any research whatsoever, but I like the ambiguity. One thing's certain, I didn't recognize either of the actors, and their credited names are almost certainly made up.

Death Valley (Taylor-Wood)
The camera pans across a desert landscape. A man shuffles into frame, drops to his knees and jerks it. That's about it. The best part was the score, credited to Matmos and Andrew Hale.

----

Phew, that's probably the most I wrote for a single post. Since this is so long, even though I'm not grading either the whole project or the individual films, and because I'm so impossibly behind my 100 reviews in 2011 scedule, I'm counting this as seven reviews.

So there.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: The Story of Joanna

The Story of Joanna (1975)

Directed by:
Gerard Damiano

Starring:
Juliet Graham
Terri Hall
Jamie Gillis
John Bush
John Koven
Roy Carlton
Zebedy Colt

Boy, oh boy, The Story of Joanna is a piece of work. Whether or not it was a conscious decision on Gerard Damiano's part, the film feels like a purposeful attempt to subvert the conventions of pornographic film. In the first 35 minutes, there is only one brief hardcore scene (Gillis, Graham), the last hardcore scene is a solid 15 minutes before the end of the movie, and that's a scene between two men (Gillis, Colt)! Along the way, there's an extended (surprisingly well-done) ballet/modern dance scene, and (more surprisingly) throughout the handful of hardcore scenes, a total lack of traditional "money shots."

Anyone with a passing knowledge of The Story of O will - correctly - assume that The Story of Joanna is about the sexual enlightening/discover of a woman by the guidance of a mysterious man. In this case Jamie Gillis chooses Teri Hall in a restaurant, brings her to his estate, and sets her on the path of physical discovery. Both Graham and Gillis excel in their roles, but knowing Gillis's ability to straddle the line between charming and disgusting, it's too bad that he wasn't pushed harder in his role.

Technically, the film looked great - in particular, the scene between Graham and Colt would have to rank as one of the best shot hardcore scenes I can remember - but suffers from uneven pacing. It's dark in tone, but not as arresting as, say, 3 AM or Damiano's Devil in Miss Jones. I'm glad I saw it, but there's little chance I'll ever revisit (except, maybe, to check out that Graham/Colt scene...). B-

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Satisfactions

Satisfactions (1982)

Directed by:
Robert McCallum

Starring:
Cara Lott
Carmel
Chrissie Beauchamp
Honey Wilder
Kay Parker
Laura Lazare
Rhonda Jo Petty
Danny Weirdman
Eric Edwards
Hershel Savage
John Leslie
Jon Martin
R. Bolla
Ron Jeremy

I'd imagine that in the world of film analysis and criticism, there exists a word or phrase for following one character into a scene, and then another character into the next, and so on (the way Linklater did in Slacker). Whatever that term is, Satisfactions is built around it.

While the scenes are tied together formally through the Slacker technique, narratively, the individual scenes follow a pattern: one (or more) characters express some sort of dissatisfaction (tepid sex life, boredom with life in general, dating "boys" instead of "men," etc.), which is then countered through sex with one or more other characters, "curing" the dissatisfaction, at least temporarily.

While none of the scenes stand out as atypically excellent, none of the scenes stand out as atypically poor, either. The individual performances are, pretty much across the board, adequate or better. B

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Memphis Cathouse Blues

Memphis Cathouse Blues (1982)

Directed by:
Louis Lewis

Starring:
Annette Haven
Danielle
Dorothy Lemay
K.C. Valentine
Kay Parker
Lisa De Leeuw
Rhonda Jo Petty
Billy Dee
Eric Stein
Hershel Savage
Joey Silvera
Jon Martin
Michael Morrison
Mike Horner

The Feline Farm, Memphis's oldest whorehouse, is in jeopardy of being shutdown by a fiery reverend. Madame Mavis (Haven) is racing against the clock to find a way to save her house.

In theory, there's room for a great deal of dramatic tension. In practice, the story is just a flimsy pretext to support a series of solid sex scenes, a third of which are flashbacks. Without exception, the scenes are well shot and well acted (the scene between Lemay, Valentine, Parker, Savage, and Martin, in particular, is an example of keeping in character throughout). It helps that the cast is great and everyone is at the top of their game.

A greater focus on the actual story would have bumped the final rating up by a half letter, but as it stands, Memphis Cathouse Blues is a solid B+.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Beauty

Beauty (1983)

Directed by:
Warren Evans

Starring:
Nicole Black
Kathy Harcourt
Laurien Dominique
Loni Sanders
Mai Lin
Patty Boyd
Vanessa del Rio
Veronica Hart
Bill McKean
Blair Harris
George Payne
Hershel Savage
Jamie Gillis
Michael Morrison
Paul Thomas
Ron Hudd

Beauty is a fairy tale-by-way-of-soap opera type porn. Beauty (Sanders) is the kindest of three sisters - the other two, Hope and Faith (Black and Dominique) seem to live only to indulge in carnal pleasures, including, but not limited to, having their man-toy (Savage) at their beck and call. After the girls' gambling addict father's debts make him face the prospect of losing his business to Martin Gross (Gillis in a prototypically awesome Gillis-esque role) - the sort of charming dirtbag that would be the result of putting Bob Guccione in a Grand Theft Auto game - Beauty volunteers to live with Gross for a year (a solution offered by Gross after seeing a picture of the girl in her father's briefcase). Gross attempts to shock Beauty with his exploits but, as the narrator mentions numerous times, Gross's lifestyle just causes Beauty to pity him.

The sex scenes present an interesting dilemma to reviewing the film. On the one hand, while the characters are in character, the scenes don't seem particularly tied to the narrative. On the other hand, they're spectacularly well shot - the cinematography of the entire film is excellent - and the soundtrack rules. Seriously, the music may be the star of the show. While the film is set to a score that you'd expect from a mid-'50s Disney film, the sex scenes are all highlighted by a new wave/psych rock/drone soundtrack that could easily be sampled by a chillwave band now. In fact, pretend you didn't read that, so I can sample that shit! Another plus is that Evans eschewed the idea of sex sound effects or (shudder) overdubs by having the only audio during the hardcore scenes the music. (An approach I mostly associate with much, much later films; The Story of J or Teagan: All-American Girl, for instance.)

While the sex scenes could have been better integrated, the fact that the craft with which they're treated is so high (more than any other film I've seen recently, the scenes here could be pulled from the narrative and offered as just straight up hot fucking) more than makes up for it. I was really, pleasantly surprised by Beauty. A-

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: All the Way In

All the Way In (1984)

Directed by:
Bob Chinn

Starring:
Annette Linder
Candy Samples
Mai Lin
Martina
Shanna McCullough
Tanya Lawson
David Morris
Eric Edwards
Francois
Mike Horner
Pat Romano
Ron Jeremy

There is a surprising amount going on in this film for how boring it is. Well, I suppose one's interest in the film is directly tied to how intrigued you are by Candy Samples, which for me is "little to none."

The main story is that Ultra Flesh magazine has just been sold to P.J. Corona, a man with a reputation of cleaning house after buying magazines. Justifiably, Ultra Flesh's staff is concerned for their jobs. The card up their sleeves is sex advice columnist Candy Keen (Samples), but unfortunately she'd been down in the dumps since falling in love with a man while on a burlesque club tour and just didn't have it in her to try to charm the new owner.

The sex scenes are pretty well-integrated. One in particular is impressive in its editing. Magazine head Mr. Dicker (Edwards) reads one of the fantasy letter's Candy received to her over the office intercom. While he's reading the fantasy - a story about a dom man with a sub "Oriental mistress" who is, in turn, dominated by Candy Keen herself - the film cuts between the fantasy (in which Edwards and Mai Lin are in the roles), Mr. Dicker and Chrissy, the magazine's adult film reviewer (Lin), in his office, and Candy masturbating in her office while listening to the letter being read. While all of the sex scenes are handled with Chinn's normal craft, none are all that noteworthy for their sexual "heat." Although maybe it's just the fact that I couldn't get into Samples, who is a participant in half the film's sex scenes.

It's too bad that the film focuses so much on love - both Keen's seeming star-crossedness and managing editor Martina's (Martina) longing for art director Jeff (Morris) - because the film could have been a magazine-based successor to Chinn's superior The Young Like it Hot. In fact, the film opens in a manner that seems like it's going to be quite a bit of fun. The opening credits are set over a montage following the magazine from the printer, to a newsstand, to the hands of a man (Horner) on an airplane. A woman (McCullough) sitting near him notices that a woman on the plane bears a striking resemblance to the picture in his magazine. The man explaining who Candy Keen is is a pretty clever way of introducing the viewer to the character. Add a cameo by Russ Meyer (a nod to Samples' earlier career) and a silly gag in which Samples' and Lisa De Leeuw's busts prevent them passing one another in the plane's aisle, and the first eight minutes make it seem like All the Way In will be quite a lark. After the story starts, though, it becomes kind of a drag.

I realize I'm probably being extra critical of this film because it's a Chinn, and I know how much better it could/should have been. All the Way In just didn't do it for me. C-

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: All-American Girls

All-American Girls (1982)

Directed by:
Bill Eagle

Starring:
Brandy O'Shea
Copper Penny
Gina Gianetti
Jacqueline Lorians
Jade Leneer
Julienne Nichols
Joanna Storm
K.C. Valentine
Laura Lazare
Starr Wood
Lynx Canon
Alan Adrian
Billy Dee
Carl Lincoln
Charlie Hanover
George White
Jeff Conrad
Starbuck
Rock Steadie
Steve Douglas
Ferris Weal

I ask you, what film is better titled for a review on the Fawth of JOO-ly than All-American Girls? (Okay, that was a rhetorical question...moving along.)

The film is - if not the first, at least an early example of - the tried and true porn formula of a reunion of sorority sisters sharing stories of their erotic exploits. In this case, though, rather than allow things to flow more or less organically (you know, catching up...wine...), the intent is put on front street: Caroline (Gianetti) is hyper-wealthy and flies the rest of her "sisters" to England for her birthday. The only gift she asks is for each of the girls to share the "nastiest" thing they've done since graduation.

None of the tales are particularly noteworthy - with the possible exception of Caroline's, which was a tryst with a professor, technically occurring before graduation, thus breaking her own "post-graduation rule" - but they were all well enough considered and presented: Danielle (Nichols) has a literal roll in the hay with two Frenchmen (Lincoln and Hanover) while studying abroad; Maria (O'Shea), as a "kept woman," is the wager in a high stakes roulette game; Rebecca and Shannon (Penny and Valentine) seduce a violinist's apprentice (White) at a high class function. The only woman without a story to tell is Denna (Lorians) who (we're assured is not a virgin) just doesn't have an experience on par with her sorority sisters. That is, until she has sex with Caroline's weirdo musician brother Charles (Douglas), sporting a pencil mustache somehow creepier than John Waters's.

There are two things definitely worth noting about the film. The first, technically, was the rather clever use of establishing shots in and around San Francisco to give the feeling of foreign locales. The second, narrative in nature, is the odd disconnect between the overall tone of the film - sorority sisters gettin' sexxxy - and the final scene, between Denna and Charles. Their initial meeting - him strumming out some bullshitty singer/songwriter tune on an acoustic guitar, her telling him she was a music major (harp and piano!) at Berkley - sort of sets the tone for the end, but the viewer is never really given and indication that they have any other interactions. So when he stumbles upon her crying because she hasn't been railed by two French guys or offered up on a felt table in Vegas, and then they end up screwing - scored by super romantic music - and he's like, "I love you and want you to stay with me forever," it seems less "how romantic!" and more, "THAT DUDE WILL TAXIDERMY YOU TOMORROW!" It ends up feeling like a filmmaker decided to try to incorporate a nice, romantic undertone to an otherwise fairly juvenile idea (while I'll wager that so-called "girl talk" is as or more "blue" than the average man assumes, the idea that a woman would decide that all she wants for her birthday is her friends' dirty stories is pretty absurd), and ended up making a huge miscalculation.

That rant aside, overall the production values were really solid, the performances above average (with a shout out to Billy Dee, who impresses me more with each film I see him in), and the film moved along pretty well. On a side note, Starr Wood had this sort of Carrie Brownstein thing going on - which was awesome - and Joanna Storm looked unnervingly like Loni Sanders (I think it was the darker hair). B

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: 1001 Erotic Nights

1001 Erotic Nights (1982)

Directed by:
Edwin Durrell

Starring:
Annette Haven
Heather Fields
Jade Wong
Laura Lazare
Lisa De Leeuw
Lysa Thatcher
Mai Lin
Nicole Black
Tigr
Phaery I. Burd
Hershel Savage
Joey Silvera
John Leslie
Jon Martin
Paul Thomas

Anyone with a passing familiarity with the Middle Eastern/South Asian folktales-within-folktales "One Thousand and One Nights" will have a pretty good idea how this film is constructed. There are some artistic licenses taken, so here's a brief overview:

After discovering that he's being cuckolded by his wife (DeLeeuw) and his trusted advisors (Savage and Silvera), Sultan Chaka Khan* (Leslie) sours on women and, to avoid being duped again, decides to pick a woman from his harem at random to bed down with, having her strangled in the morning. Eventually, he ends up picking Scheherazade (Haven), who, in an effort to not get a morning strangling, spins a series of sexy stories, keeping the Sultan on the edge of his seat.

The idea of using "One Thousand and One Nights" as the framework for a porn is really smart. The commitment to the theme and the production values are top flight. Oddly, the film eschews using well-known stories (Aladdin, Ali Baba) for vignettes that are either "deep cuts" or tales created for the flick. Unfortunately, that's the (relatively minor) shortcoming of the film; while everything around the sex is really solid, the hardcore scenes are kind of underwhelming.

By and large, 1001 Erotic Nights' strengths outweigh the sorta boring sex scenes, and - as opposed to 69 Park Avenue - is the type of film that makes it seem like a review every two and a half days is an achievable goal after all. B

* One oddity is that there are a few touches ("You are here" on the map at the beginning, the Sultan's name, Paul Thomas's "Oh, shit!"s...) that seem like the film may have been intended as a tongue-in-cheek Mel Brooks-like parody. Instead, though, everything is played pretty straight.

Pornonomy Reviews: 69 Park Avenue

69 Park Avenue (1985)

Directed by:
Mike Handley

Starring:
Colleen Brennan
Cherri Roberts
Erica Boyer
Little Oral Annie
Patti Petite
Tiffany Duponte
Chris Chase
Dan T. Mann
Mike Horner
Rocky Balboa
Tom Byron


The only thing worse than a film that is a lazy clip compilation is one that isn't but should be.

69 Park Avenue has a flimsy narrative pretext (Tom Byron is a reporter on his first assignment, interviewing Colleen Brennan, a San Francisco madame) framing a series of unrelated sex scenes without any stylistic consistency. While everything about them seems like they were from different movies, they appear to be filmed for this one.

The only parts barely worth noting: the first sex scene (Duponte and Horner) offers proof that "pearl necklace" was in the vernacular since at least 1985; a few of the scenes are virtual "how not to do vocal overdub" clinics; one of the scenes is underscored by a song that has a proto X-Files theme; Brennan and Byron - actors that seem to be two of the biggest nerds in the history of porn - have a pretty fun charisma together.

69 Park Avenue is the sort of film that seriously jeopardizes my ambition to hit the 100 review mark. On the flip side, it's also the sort of film that makes me grateful that I've got a system that can play back faster than actual speed. (I can generally guage the quality of a film by the playback speed I employ: a great one is 1.00x, an awful one 1.50 to 2.00x; this one, was, for the most part, set at 1.40....) D

Thursday, June 30, 2011

100 Reviews in 2011....

Okay, I've obviously been slackin' on my pimpin' when it comes to reviewing porn.

In order to meet my goal of 100 reviews in 2011, I'll have to do one review every 2.421052 days from now until New Year's Eve.


See you soon!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Foxtrot

Foxtrot (1982)

Directed by:
Cecil Howard

Starring:
Linda Vale
Marilyn Gee
Marlene Willoughby
Merle Michaels
Samantha Fox
Sandra Hillman
Sharon Mitchell
Tiffany Clark
Vanessa del Rio
Veronica Hart
Alan Adrian
Bobby Astyr
David Morris
Jack Silver
Jack Teague
R. Bolla
Ron Jeremy

It's New Year's Eve day, and a lot of people are having sex.

Similar to Babylon Pink, Foxtrot has an Altman-esque "six degrees of separation" feel. Unlike Babylon Pink, there wasn't a familiar thread running through the scenes (BP's being - mostly - a series of fantasies). And the film doesn't quite stitch all of the characters together.

About 62 of the 77 minutes are fairly strong, moving between the various characters and slowly showing how they fit together. Jack Teague is throwing a New Year's Eve party that will be staffed by his maid (Tiffany Clark) and catered by Vanessa del Rio, who's musician boyfriend (Morris) will be playing a club that's also headlined by a showgirl/dancer (Fox), who is able to go work after her babysitter (Hillman) arrives, after she makes arrangements to have her boyfriend (Silver) come over later.

On the other side of town, Veronica Hart and R. Bolla seem to be in a loveless marriage. She seems to be having an affair, while he fantasizes about the sex-crazed woman across the street (Willoughby) whom he peeps on with his field glasses. After a fight, Hart seduces a sailor (Jeremy) who has just stumbled upon his girlfriend (Michaels) in bed with another woman (Mitchell). Unless I'm missing something, the two groups don't have a common character, although I suppose in theory Hart could have been having an affair with Jack Teague....

With the exception of the ultimate scene stock footage of the NYE ball drop and the penultimate scene at the party Teague is throwing, other than the characters mentioning it every five minutes, it doesn't seem all that important what day of the year the film took place on.

So about those last 15 minutes. Whereas the lead up was competent - if not great - the end, the party, sort of fell off the rails. In a tonal shift from the rest of the film, things got a lot looser and seemed to hint at getting a lot more mad cap (for example, a woman at the party announces that she feels like taking her clothes off), which would have been fine if it had actually followed through with going crazy. Instead, there was a brief non sequitur scene that was a not-so-thinly-veiled crack at Roman Polanski (Astyr as a film director who spends most of his time in Europe as certain jailbait proclivities have gotten him in hot water). Then...well, that's it.

I have to admit that I'm generally pretty lukewarm on the film. Perhaps I'm judging it overly harshly consider the only other Howard film I've seen is Neon Nights, which is an all-timer, in my opinion. But, I guess the positives outweigh the negatives soooooo...B-

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: The Jade Pussycat and China Cat

The Jade Pussycat (1977)

Directed by:
Bob Chinn

Starring:
Bonnie Holiday
Paula Wain
Georgina Spelvin
Jessica Temple-Smith
Linda Wong
Yvonne Green
Jimi Lee
John Holmes
Jon Martin

China Cat (1978)

Directed by:
Bob Chinn

Starring:
Paula Wain
Desiree Cousteau
Eileen Wells
Jennifer Richards
Kyoto Sun
Cris Cassidy
John Holmes
John Seeman

The Jade Pussycat and its sequel, China Cat, find private investigator Johnny Wadd drawn into the world of illicit artifact trade by way of the mysterious and valuable Jade Pussycat. The statue is of great value as it was made of a piece of jade imbued with power...or something. In the first film, the statue is coveted by a German collector, in the second, by a Japanese man who was in possession of the statue until it was stolen from him during World War II. In order to recover the statue, the man enlists the aid of a group of beautiful women (the Devils) instructed by a faceless man named Charlie. (So, "Charlie's Devils" for those not particularly quick on the uptake.)

The interesting thing about watching the Wadd films more or less in order is seeing the artistic development of Bob Chinn. The progress between Tropic of Passion and Tell Them Johnny Wadd is Here is nothing compared to the technical leap between TTJWiH and The Jade Pussycat (which, in turn, is surpassed by the skill of China Cat; in full disclosure, I haven't yet seen Liquid Lips, the bridge between Tell Them and Jade, although with LL apparently made immediately after Tell Them, I'd imagine they are pretty similar, formally).

Voiceovers are a staple of the Wadd series, but while in earlier films the exist largely as expository development between scenes, in China Cat, they're placed within the scenes and flesh out the story in a much more organic fashion. Additionally, China Cat featured a sex scene that was cut against the scheming Devils lending the hardcore scenes a degree of integration far beyond those earlier in the series.

The Jade Pussycat successfully created the feel of the seedy "Oriental" underbelly of San Francisco - in my opinion, a better use of location shooting than Tropic of Passion's Hawaii or Tell Them's Mexico - and utilized the crossing and double-crossing you'd expect from a genre picture of its era. China Cat built on the cliffhanger nature of its predecessor's ending, foregoing the sense of place and balancing a simpler narrative (Wadd vs. the Devils) with a higher degree of technical craftsmanship.

The grading of the films brings up an interesting challenge. Viewed together, I'd give the first a B+, the second an A-, however the second's grade is largely based on having had the first as a narrative lead in, so.... Ah, fuck it, B+ and A-.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Tell Them Johnny Wadd Is Here

Tell Them Johnny Wadd Is Here (1976)

Directed by:
Bob Chinn

Starring:
Annette Haven
Felecia Sanda
Joan Devlon
Veronica Taylor
John Holmes
Tyler Reynolds

The Wadd film following Tropic of Passion (although apparently released after Liquid Lips, which was shot after TTJWIH), Tell Them is light years better, technically. It opens with a shot of a man (later revealed to be Wadd's buddy, a cop named Sam Kelly - Damon Christian, non-sex) getting an oyster ceviche from a Mexican street vendor. The scene could have been edited down by half, but it was still an interesting open and was the spiritual kin of Harry Callahan getting his hot dog or Frank Bullitt grocery shopping. Kelly puts in a call to Wadd hoping to get his help down ol' Mexico way in finding and rescuing his (Kelly's) junkie ex-wife, Doreen.

Following a typical "baby, please don't go" seen between Wadd and his girl (Annette Haven), Wadd heads down to Mexico to help Kelly. Along the way, with the help of the local police captain (Carlos Tobalina), the track the drug operation up the ladder from a gangster named Ringo to American kingpin Travis Elliot (Reynolds), who has Doreen under his control.

The film has an authentically gritty feel and puts the location shooting to much better use than Tropic's Hawaii locales. The story is more involved that Tropic (though considerably less intricate/muddled than Blonde Fire). The part of the film that really lingers, though, is the unavoidably ironic final scene: a lonesome on-the-beach number with a voiceover bemoaning people's dependence on hard drugs narrated by user and abuser Holmes. Possibly just hindsight and projection, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the script was tailored as an indirect plea from Chinn to Holmes....

The final final shot, post credits, is a "But Johnny Wadd will return in..." that is a nice nod to the Bond series. You know, as a point of interest. B

Pornonomy Reviews: Tropic of Passion

Tropic of Passion (1973)

Directed by:
Bob Chinn

Starring:
Chlorine Stillwater
Patti Snyder
Sandi Carey
Sandy Dempsey
John Holmes
Mike Haven

"I couldn't wait to get my hands on that slippery Oriental."

Uttered by Johnny Wadd (Holmes...duh), those words precede what could be the best scene in Tropic of Passion, the second of two gloriously amateurish fight scenes. Both see private detective Wadd, hired to retrieve the sex tape of heiress-to-be Ruth Miller (Snyder), facing the "Oriental" gangster Fuk Yu (Chinn), the presumed mastermind behind the blackmail. Both are shot from what seems like 200 yards away and both primarily involve Wadd getting his ass kicked. In the second, though, after a series of Karate 101 arm tosses, Wadd gets the upper hand only to find out that Yu doesn't actually have the film. It's actually in the hands of Ruth's attorney Alex Royal (Haven). What a twist!

Anyway, Tropic of Passion is a pretty early Chinn film - Wadd Series or otherwise - and it shows. The plot largely unfolds by way of expository voice overs between sex scenes that are formulaic and boring and much more of the loop ilk than the "feature" scenes that would prevail later in the decade. The cast is small and unremarkable. Haven's lack of charisma and sexual prowess actually makes his three credit bio seem at least two credits too long.

Taken as a whole, the film would be lucky to merit a D. However, the ability to fast forward through the sex scenes to get to the entertaining non-sex parts (in fact, a 12 minute Youtube edit would be the best way to watch this movie), the half impressive half unnecessary Hawaii location shooting, and the liberal use of Ennio Morricone's "Ecstasy of Gold" push it up to a C-.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Sex Star

Sex Star (1983)

Directed by:
Paul G. Vatelli

Starring:
Amy Copeland
Danica Rhea
Lisa Lake
Kimberly Carson
Lynnz
Craig Roberts
Hershel Savage
David Sanders

Danica (Rhea) is a porn star who's lost her groove. Initially, she cites her inability to get into girl/girl, but it seems like she's struggling with sex generally.

At the insistence of her assistant (Lynnz), she takes a break and spends time with friends, Jannette and Richard (Carson and Savage) in order to clear her head. They attempt to set her up with their friend, Michael (Sanders), but she plays the cold fish. However, after spying on Jannette and Richard in bed, a spark seems to be ignited in her. Spurning Michael's advances yet again, she ends up being seduced by Richard. Luckily for Michael, Janette and Richard have an open relationship, so he and Janette have a roll while Danica and Rich are at it.

That time away seems to have righted anything that was wrong, because the closing scene, on the set of the film that went off the rails in the film's cold open, comes off without a hitch.

The film was capably directed and had a story with a lot of promise, but it just never really came together. It may have been that, at only 76 minutes, there wasn't enough time to adequately portray the troubles Danica was having with her career, or maybe it was that Danica Ray's range didn't lend itself to expressing the actual dilemma her character was having, but I found myself pretty bored with the film overall. In fact, the most entertaining part was the bit of the film-within-the-film showed at the beginning and end. And then, it was mostly due to the fantastically bombastic overdub that Craig Roberts's character was supposedly saying to the ladies under his command (Rhea, Lake, Copeland). It was like hearing Mumra, or the narrator at the beginning of The Dark Crystal, telling three chicks to blow him....

I've been on a bit of a Vatelli run lately, and while none have been particularly bad, this is the first I've seen that I don't feel like I'd have missed anything by skipping. C+

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Trashi

Trashi (1981)

Directed by:
Louis Lewis

Starring:
Copper Penny
Dorothy Lemay
Lisa DeLeeuw
Loni Sanders
Lysa Thatcher
Nicole Black
Serena
Sharon Mitchell
Tigr
David Morris
Joey Silvera
Jon Martin
Kevin James
Michael Morrison
Paul Thomas

Sci-fi, detective noir, comedy? Yes, please!

With the help of his "Igor", Boris (James), Dr. Schtup (Morrison), is in the business of creating love drones to staff his brothel (at least that's an educated guess; it's never addressed directly as far as I recall), and he has just produced his masterpiece, Trashi (DeLeeuw*). His odd laboratory has aroused the interest of the police, specifically Inspector Crotch (Silvera). A cursory questioning doesn't yield information, so Crotch enlists the aid of PI Bic Boner (Thomas) - who also acts as the narrator.

Bic gains entrance to the house by disguising himself as an exterminator. While snooping around in the basement, he's beset by the fembots, CP3X(Thatcher), Vibrata (Tigr), and finally R69D69 (Lemay), before being discovered by Boris. Tied to a bed, things look bleak for Boner before being literally saved by an orgy.

In the end, Schtup's nefarious plans are thwarted and Bic gets the...girl?...girl robot, anyway.

At a brisk 74-minutes, there's a lot to love about this film. The scenes are shot terrifically, the sound design touch of placing reverb on the robots' voices is great, the tongue-in-cheek tone of the film is perfect for Silvera and Thomas (who is always great in roles that require "charmingly aloof, with a wink"), DeLeeuw looks amazing (although it'd be nice if she'd have been able to act a little more, which she always did capably), and it includes one of the best examples of an integrated sex scene I can recall:

Bic Boner's introduction comes while he's in the throws with his secretary (Sanders). Both are in character the entire time, but there's also an admirably funny exchange in dialogue.

Secretary: Bic, you're dick's so fuckin' slick. Do your trick, Bic.

Boner: Would you like me to flick my Bic?

Secretary: Yeah, flick my Bic!

Boner: I love it when you talk to me!

Secretary: Yeah, there's so many words that rhyme with "Bic" it's great!

The delivery of the punchline is so good, it threatened to make me reassess my opinion of Sanders's acting abilities. (The few times I've seen her, she's come off as pretty wooden.)

Trashi also features a few hilariously awful accents. In his autobiography, Ron Jeremy mentioned he always strove for comedy over authenticity in accents, citing specifically his "Southern" accent in Sizzle. If you've seen the film, "comedy" would be the only explanation for his bizarre "New York Jew meets rural South Carolinian" twang. Here, Morrison and James attempt some sort of German/Austrian deal, but Morrison's sounds like some sort of German/Swedish/Indian mess, and James's waffles between the intended and an awful British accent. As the maid, Mitchell attempts a French accent initially, but by the end, it's sort of a generic "Aristocrat" accent with hints of Dracula. Of course, it's ludicrous to nitpick adult actors' abilities (or lack thereof) attempting accents - as long as they're not detrimentally distracting - so the grade won't suffer as a result.

If there is a knock against the film, it's that neither Schtup's grand scheme nor Inspector Crotch's suspicions in that scheme are ever adequately addressed. Honestly, a little more care given to the story here, in my opinion, would have made Trashi an All-Timer. As it stands, it was a lot of fun, and really well put together. A-

* Before the film starts, there's a First Amendment PSA narrated by Lisa DeLeeuw. Now, I'd assume her name is pronounced "Da-Loo", but she actually says "De-LAY-oh". After nearly twenty years of saying it one way, though, it's unlikely I'll change....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Talk Dirty To Me

Talk Dirty To Me (1979)

Directed by:
Anthony Spinelli

Starring:
Cris Cassidy
Jesie St. James
Juliet Anderson
Sharon Kane
Aaron Stuart
John Leslie
Richard Pacheco

I've seen about two thirds of Nothing To Hide spread out over four parts. The reason I could never quite get through it is while "you got chocolate in my peanut butter!" is a good thing, "you got Of Mice and Men in my porno!" decidedly is not.

I found out later that NTH is a sequel to Talk Dirty To Me, which until today, I hadn't seen. I was surprised, though, because I had seen Talk Dirty To Me 3 (New) - so, not the Traci Lords version, for obvious reasons. Talk Dirty To Me 3 was about a mermaid, so I assumed that the first and second film would have similarly whimsical tones, light years from the "reality" of Nothing To Hide.

Within fifteen seconds of the start of Talk Dirty To Me, it was apparent that my assumption was incorrect. As in Nothing To Hide, Lenny (Pacheco) is ladies man Jack's (Leslie) slow best friend. (So Lenny is Lennie to Jack's George.) Now, I'm going to go on record that I think the developmentally disabled finding emotional and physical love is great. And I don't have a problem with it in pornography. In theory. The thing is, such a performance would require a nuance that, for the most part, is beyond the acting skills of most X actors. Pacheco plays Lenny with a sort of manic simpleton-ness that would be like filling Nick Kroll's "advanced aging disease-having six year old" from Children's Hospital full of Mello Yello: not bad if it's an over the top comedy, I guess, but cringe-inducing when played straight. Nothing To Hide didn't sit well because the film primarily revolved around Lenny. Mercifully, with the exception of the first ten or fifteen (non-hardcore) minutes, Lenny's pretty well relegated to the background.

Instead, the story focuses on Jack's attempt to bed "Marlene" (St. James), a married woman whose husband (Stuart) is away on business. While we were shown that she and her husband have sex, it's also demonstrated that his unwillingness to talk dirty leaves her unsatisfied. Fortuitously, talking dirty is sort of Jack's forte, evidenced early on by his ability to seduce a doctor (Cassidy) by saying how much he'd like to suck her nipples (an approach with a pretty dubious real-life efficacy...).

After crafting a solid game to get close to Marlene using their shared love for classic cinema and "happening" upon her house while looking for work, Jack has trysts with a met-his-match sexually aggressive realtor (Anderson) and a 'round-the-way girl, Rose (Kane). Rose tells her friend Jill (LeMay, in a surprisingly non-sex role considering she and Kane were given a stereotypically hilarious girl-girl set up when Pacheco and Leslie left the "party" to get beer...) that she's into Jack because he's such a freak. Jack really ratchets up the freakiness by taking Rose into a sleeping Marlene's bedroom, taking her from behind on the floor, just feet from the bed. I typically shy away from the sort of "red hot fucking" prose that crops up in most reviews, but I'm compelled to point out that - owing no small part to Kane and Leslie's talents and chemistry - the scene is some red hot fucking.

Finally, Jack accomplishes his mission, bedding Marlene. The scene is cut against Rose instructing Lenny in the art of physical love. The only scene featuring Lenny, it actually sheds an interesting light on the relationship between Jack and Lenny. Answering Rose, Lenny says that Jack will set him up with women (after he's had them), but it doesn't go super well, because he does his best to emulate the way Jack is with women. Of course, Jack has a certain "I don't know quois" that allows him to be successful with his approach. Lenny does not.

Ending after these scenes, it's worth noting that the film doesn't include any repercussions for Marlene's infidelity: her husband doesn't bust in, she doesn't profess her love for Jack, only to be scorned, her house doesn't explode.... Now, it's possible that pornography doesn't tend to punish women's sexuality the way mainstream films often do (I haven't really paid that much attention, to be honest), but it's something that struck me, anyway.

After Talk Dirty To Me, I'm inclined to finally finish Nothing To Hide, but it's gonna be pretty tough to try to watch it through fresh eyes. Additionally, I'll have to check out Talk Dirty To Me 2, in order to see to what extent the film seems like a series reboot. Anyway, the first installment is well constructed, well paced, and well acted (look, I'll concede that Pacheco does the best he probably could have). B

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pornonomy Revies: Sex Games

Sex Games (1983)

Directed by:
Paul G. Vatelli

Starring:
Becky Savage
Betty Jane
Cody Nicole
Julia Parton
Melanie Scott
Nicole Black
Shauna Grant
Kevin James
Ron Jeremy

You might expect a film that deals with hacking into computers in the early '80s with the a name like Sex Games to deal with the sexy consequences of the threat of nuclear war. In fact, though, it seems like the film was originally titled Electric Love (considering the end credits), so the re-title was probably just an attempt to cash in on the popularity of War Games.

After seeing a special on the exciting new world of home computers, Peter (James) becomes fascinated by the idea of computer dating. After his roommate, Howie (Jeremy), tells him about a special he saw about "computer bandits" that break into other computers through the telephone, Peter hatches a plan to access the records of women at the local computer dating service in order to have the inside scoop on their fantasies. (What isn't explained is why he chooses this route over staying in his current - and by all indications from the opening scene - sexually satisfying relationship. I guess sex with many women trumps sex with one woman.)

After registering with the computer dating service and tricking employee Linda (Nicole) into giving him her access code, Peter accesses the profiles of Colleen (Grant), Chris (Savage), and "Artist" (Scott), finding out that they're looking for a classy man, a rugged biker, and an artist, respectively. Of course, armed with this information and the can't-miss alias "John Smith," Peter takes the women to, I don't know, new sexual heights.

Even though the women call the dating service with rave reviews of "John Smith," the fact that someone's been hacking (or, bandit-ing?) the system causes consternation in the office. Linda decides to set a trap for the elusive Smith. Upon getting caught up, Peter is given the option of prison or "doing whatever" Linda says. So, obviously, he chooses prison. No, wait, that's not right. [SPOILER ALERT] He chooses to have sex with Linda.

For an 84 minute film, it's sort of surprising that there are only six sex scenes. And with the exception of a semi-unnecessary scene between Howie and his girlfriend Tangerine (Jane), they're all James plus woman (or women, in one scene). There is also a surprising amount of time between some sex scenes, but that time is well spent documenting some great vintage computer use...as well as a (presumed unintentionally) hilarious candle light dinner seduction scene and an awful Marlon Brando impression.

For that great footage, James' typical goofy charm, and the fact that, although I've probably seen her before, Sex Games brought Becky Savage to my attention, I'll give it a B.

Pornonomy Reviews: Getting Lucky

Getting Lucky (1984)

Directed by:
Paul G. Vatelli

Starring:
Angel West
Barbara Alton
Shana Evans
Duschca
Janey Robbins
Renee Summers
Mary Ann Richards
Misty Dawn
Rosemarie
Cynthia Brooks
Eric Edwards
Craig Roberts
Marc Wallice
Todd Keller

Another day, another Vatelli flick. This one's a blast from the past, though. Like Dangerous Desires, this is a film I saw nearly twenty years ago, but couldn't remember the title. As soon as it started, though, I knew immediately that Getting Lucky was the film I was thinking of.

Honoring the teen flick staple of taking place in a single day (seen from American Graffiti to Adventures In Babysitting to Superbad - which, okay, probably takes place in, like 30 hours, but who's counting?), Getting Lucky starts at a high school graduation party and ends the following morning. In between, it follows three friends, recent grads played by Todd Keller and Craig Roberts, and "slightly older guy who hangs out with high schoolers that doesn't seem too weird at the time but is pretty creepy when you get older and think about it" Eric Edwards. Intending to head out to a club, the group gets broken up when, stopping at a liquor store to get beer en route, Roberts (who's character "Moon" was probably intended as a sort of scene-stealing slob - Booger, for instance - but just doesn't pan out) is "abducted" by three horny chicks in a van who've made a bet amongst themselves, while cruising around drinking beer, that they can make a guy come ten times in a single night.

Next, after Keller and Edwards get to the bar, Edwards is propositioned by a couple of hustlers (Robbins and Evans). After explaining that normally he's the one paid for sex, they decide that "whoever enjoys it more will pay." Which, yeah, will totally work out....

Left alone, and feeling low because he wasn't able to score with his girlfriend before leaving the party, Keller shuffles out into the street, nearly being run over by a limo. Lucky for him, the rich passenger (Duscha, who's "introduced" by this film, and after the introduction...yeah, I guess I wouldn't have been too torn up if we'd never "met"), offers him a ride (if you catch my drift, wocka wocka).

It's unfortunate, really, that for starting as strongly as it did - there was a really great "they're not really talking about what you think they're talking about" moment to open the movie, and the handwritten "Fuckin'" on the "Happy Graduation" banner is a nice touch - Getting Lucky loses a lot of steam after it gets into what should be the meat of the action. Still, Getting Lucky is a solid reflection of its era, one that arguably defined the teen sex comedy, and is probably better than most of the American Pie knock-offs from the past decade. B-

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Bodies In Heat

Bodies In Heat (1983)

Directed by:
Paul G. Vatelli

Starring:
Annette Haven
Christie Kaye
Crystal Fire
Janey Robbins
Kimberly Carson
Laura Sands
Raysheena Mercado
Anthony Spinoza
Billy Dee
Eric Edwards
Gilberto Ciro
Hershel Savage
Jerry Davis
Jerry Gullo

Basically since rediscovering Stiff Competition, I've been on the lookout for a film that will give it a run for it's money. As a starting point, I've checked out a few Vatelli films from the same period, and while Lips was a disappointment, and The Girl From S.E.X. showed promise, Bodies in Heat has come closest.

Initially, I was going to comment that Bodies In Heat, like Lips, was a name that had little to do with the movie until I remembered, duh, Body Heat. While In Heat doesn't push the noir feel as far as Heat, the tone is undeniable.

Harry Green (Savage) is a playboy detective who is called in to investigate a robbery at the home of a high-powered lawyer Lawrence DeSalvo. He's met at the house by Laura DeSalvo (Haven), the lawyer's cool, beautiful wife. Green is seduced by Laura, and is further intrigued by her and her situation after a little digging shows her husband's clients are exclusively big time criminals.

Later, when Laura tells Green that she's afraid her husband is going kill her, Green concocts a scheme which ends up with an outcome that is only surprising if (1) you're delightfully naive or (2) are completely unfamiliar with the idea of a femme fatale. While the action/consequence is predictable, the veeery final moment was a twist that actual did surprise me. (Who knows, maybe I'm a little "delightfully naive"....)

With the exception of a pool party/orgy, the sex scenes don't feel too tacked on, which is always nice. Savage and Haven both do great jobs in their roles. The male lead, here, could have been more-than-capably handled by John Leslie, but it's actually nice to see Savage - who often seems relegated to second banana (no pun intended) roles. And Haven's reputed icy and professional demeanor fits the character to a tee. There's a pretty substantial cast list, but with the exception of Lisa DeLeeuw (unfortunately in a non-sex role) as Green's partner, and Kimberly Carson as the station dispatcher who's emotionally and sexually toyed with by Green, there aren't any identifiable characters. At least everybody else is competent, so there aren't any super distracting performances. (Unless you count Janey Robbins's wig in the first scene....)

Do I think there's a film that can unseat Stiff Competition from it's top spot? I hope so. Well, Bodies In Heat isn't it.... But it's not too shabby. B

Friday, February 25, 2011

A brief departure

There's a pretty amusing Reddit thread regarding embarrassing "Dad's porn" moments.

It's funny to me that situations like these are near-universal, but also seeing the generational differences for how they're played out: stag films/VHS tapes/internet/...holograms?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Kate & the Indians

Kate & the Indians (1979)

Directed by:
Allen Swift

Starring:
Kandi Barbour
Kay Parker
Holly Joy
Jennifer West
Bobby Dee
Luke Gusher
Jack Shute
R.J. Reynolds
Luis De Jesus
Mike Ranger
Lawrence Washington

Perhaps the most midnight movie-est porn I've ever seen, while not as technically or narratively solid as Neon Nights, Kate & the Indians is at least as surreal.

The film opens with Kate (Kandi Barbour) and her friend Lisa (Holly Joy) entering the home of anthropology professor Dr. Kurt Von Martin's home. They're there to show the professor a medallion that Kate and her boyfriend Bill came across in the desert. Kurt is interested in the medallion and asks Kate if, in the morning, she'll take him to the place she found it. Before they can make any definite plans, Kurt's wife, Mira (Kay Parker), enters with their...butler, maybe?...Bane (Luke Gusher), who presents Kate and Lisa with glasses of what turns out to be a potion passed down by Mira's ancestors, which is said to "make you enjoy love more." Lisa's hit hard and early by the potion, so Mira whisks her off to the bedroom. And then sits on Lisa's doped up face. When Kate goes to check on Lisa, she's shocked at the scene, but is soon overtaken by the potion herself. At this point, Mira commands Bane to have sex with (or, more accurately, rape) Kate.

Abruptly, the scene shifts to the desert, where Kate and Kurt are tooling around in a jeep. The jeep breaks down, then some weird shit happens, then they come across a man in the desert they hope can help them. Bill (Mike Ranger) takes them back to his house. (Remember, Kate's boyfriend's name is Bill; quite a coincidence. OR IS IT?!?) Kurt notices a medallion around Bill's neck that is the same as the one Kate brought to his house. Bill says that he got it from "the Indians", and ultimately agrees to take Kate and Kurt to see them.

"The Indians" are what appears to be a hippie sex cult with a veneer of Native American stereotypes led by a High Priestess (also Kay Parker). Bill is familiar with the Priestess's husband, Studduck (Bobby Dee), and while the group is getting sauced in his teepee on an elixir whipped up by 'duck's "Number One Son" the Medicine Man, Studduck reminices about an orgy and a time that 'duck and Bill watched Medicine Man and some other guy get blown by two Indian girls. (Both of these instances are shown in flashback scenes, of course.)

The High Priestess, tipped off by a midget in a Nazi helmet (Luis De Jesus), busts into the teepee just after Kate starts blowing 'duck. Furious, she condemns Bill, Kate, and Kurt to death. The three attempt to escape and a sped-up chase scene, set to the final movement of the William Tell Overture, ensues. Ultimately, they're caught and, along with Studduck (who's punished to having his wiener cut off), bound. Bill and Kurt are fellated by Indian girls and Kate is gone down upon by the Priestess herself. Studduck realizes that the Priestess actually just wanted Kate to herself, which is apparently against the rules, so he commands the rest of the Indians to attack her...the Priestess, that is.

At this point, there's a twist that I won't spoil, but is one that you should probably be able to figure out.

Watching this flick, it's virtually impossible not to imagine that it was either conceived, produced, or both, by people with their heads full of hallucinogens. With the exception of a couple of minutes that could have easily been cut out of both the orgy flashback and the pre-sacrifice oral sex festival at the end of the movie, Kate & the Indians is really well-paced over its 83 minutes.

Kate & the Indians is so weird and silly, that if I were tasked with picking a movie for a group of people to watch while getting drunk, it would be waaaay up on that list. A-