Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: 1001 Erotic Nights

1001 Erotic Nights (1982)

Directed by:
Edwin Durrell

Annette Haven
Heather Fields
Jade Wong
Laura Lazare
Lisa De Leeuw
Lysa Thatcher
Mai Lin
Nicole Black
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.

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