Friday, February 11, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Downstairs/Upstairs

Downstairs/Upstairs (1980)

Directed by:
Lisa Barr

Kay Parker
Lisa De Leeuw
Dan Quick
John Boland
Ken Yontz
Luis De Jesus
Luke Gusher
R.J. Reynolds
Tim Not

Downstairs/Upstairs is the story of a new maid, Olive (Sherrisse) being hired on at a cuh-raaaazy household. The movie starts promising enough, with a main theme in the "Three's Company"/"Love Boat" mold, transitioning into a funky guitar groove (underneath a surreal mail slot/gloryhole scene featuring the current maid, Beth - De Leeuw - and the mailman - Tim Not). Olive's first introduction to the rest of the family, is during a pool-side orgy. For some reason.

The rest of the household is made up of the butler (Luke Gusher), matriarch Mrs. Bun (Parker, natch), the hot dog obsessed patriarch Mr. Bun (Dan Quick), daughter Sheila (Seka) and her fiance Douglas (John Boland), the effeminately gay son Robert (Bobby Reed, non-sex), and the chef (Luis De Jesus). (There are also a few characters whose presence I couldn't quite suss out - R.J. Reynolds seems to be Parker's lover under her oblivious husbands nose; Seka has a scene with Ken Yontz - her then-real-life husband a reused loop, perhaps?)

Downstairs/Upstairs problem is that nothing happens. It seems to want to rely on the household being "zany," a tone porn has a hard time with, generally. In D/U's case, zany equals food fights and midgets. Off the top of my head, the only film I can recall doing it moderately well was Ultra Flesh (coincidentally also featuring Seka...and midgets).

I actually had to watch this in two parts, because it got pretty tedious. In fact, I was shocked when I put it on again to jog my memory that it was only 79 minutes. My initial impression was 109, easy.

I'm only familiar with the television series Soap in that it was a parody of daytime soap operas, was about an affluent family, and featured an openly gay son character (played by Billy Crystal). And it ran from 1977 to 1981. While these similarities are tenuous, at best...what the hell, I'll conclude Downstairs/Upstairs was influenced by Soap.

I was inclined to give Downstairs/Upstairs a D+, but after scanning through it again, while pretty half-baked and uneven, I think C- will do.

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