Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pornonomy Reviews: Between the Sheets

Between the Sheets (1981 - Caballero Home Video)

Directed by:
Anthony Spinelli

Annette Haven
Arcadia Lake
Tigr (as Chelsea McClane)
Vanessa del Rio
Veronica Hart
Eric Edwards
Joey Silvera (as Joey Sivera)
John Leslie
R.J. Reynolds
Randy West
Richard Pacheco

The premise of this flick is that a talking bed receives a new talking mattress. While the bed is trying to seduce the mattress, he relates a series of sexual Trysts Throughout History that have taken place on him.

Straight away, it's a pretty ludicrous construct (which, generally speaking, gets bonus points from me right off the bat). When you encounter a film that has a series of unrelated sex scenes tied together with bits of narration, you have to wonder if it's an actual movie or convenient vehicle to recycle clips or Swedish Erotica-type loops. In this case, though, it's apparent from watching the sex scenes that they were all filmed for this movie.

The first scene takes place in colonial America. R.J. Reynolds plays a British lord that barters tea for sex with Annette Haven's colonial lady. Right off the bat this scene establishes the trait that marks all of them as scenes filmed for the movie and not culled from other films: the tendency for the pre-"action" back-and-forth dialogue to amble (as though there was no post-production editing whatsoever).

Next up is a "contemporary" scene between Richard Pacheco and Veronica Hart. This one's interesting in that it doesn't spell out exactly what's going on between the two of them and relies instead upon the actors' ability to convey a back story through the dialogue and the viewers' ability to put the pieces together. Pacheco's character was up for some sort of advertising contract with a business that Hart's character is involved with. The job ended up going to another firm, which Hart reluctantly tells Pacheco. In the immediate aftermath, Pacheco's pissed. In the shortly-thereafter-aftermath, he's pissed/horny enough to fuck her while pointing out the irony that she's just told him he didn't get the job and still expects him to fuck her. Overall, I was impressed with this scene because it didn't turn into an exploitative "hate fuck" like it easily could have. (On the other hand, my wife pointed out that Veronica Hart laughs a lot through this scene; something I'd probably attribute to her wanting to keep the tone playful.) Additionally, as the second scene, Spinelli's formula for sex is put into place: dialogue, cunnilingus, intercourse. While "talking/oral/fucking" isn't the cure for cancer, Spinelli's focus on male-on-female oral over female-on-male oral is interesting. Oh yeah, and at one point, Veronica Hart says, "I want you to fuck me like a dog," and then, while she gets on all fours, she barks. So there's that.

Overall, the preceding scene and this one are neck and neck for Best of Show. Here, Joey Silvera and Tigr play San Francisco hippies. Basically, Tigr fucks Silvera out of a bad trip on the premise that doing so makes great karma. Honestly, when you're dealing with rapid-fire dialogue that goes: "My dick is melting.... It's huge.... It's two inches," you know you've struck gold! Factor in a rocking soundtrack and, forget gold, that shit's platinum!

The next scene comes in without a bed/mattress narration buffer which bucks the trend of the film. On the one hand, it's a bit disruptive. On the other, it's not so bad because it features Eric Edwards (one of the era's best actors) and Arcadia Lake who's awfully hot and holy cow is she tiny (she acts big, I guess). At any rate, this scene's noteworthy for three reasons: first, it's the only one with a semi-unwilling (initial) participant (the Southern Belle) - the "even if she says otherwise, she really wants it" thing is a theme in both porn and mainstream films as well (see: Harrison Ford and Sean Young in Blade Runner, for instance) and skeezes me the hell out - second, it features the only "crotchless bloomer" scene I've ever seen in my life, and third, it exposes a fundamental misconception of the Civil War on either Edwards', Spinelli's, or Edwards and Spinellis' part: Edwards' Union soldier character ends his tryst with Lake's Confederate lady character with a sound "Long live the Revolution" statement. Just stop and consider that for a second....

If the first scene (Haven/Reynolds) established the film's prime characteristic - the seeming attempt to edit in-camera instead of, you know, in an editing station - this scene writes that prime characteristic in permanent ink. John Leslie stars as "Ricco" a Capone-era Chicago gangster facing the G-Men with his platinum haired dame played by Seka. For a pairing of male and female superstars like Leslie and Seka you'd be right to hope for something more than what's put down. Don't get me wrong, the action they produce is fine, it just takes an e-fucking-ternity to get there. It's almost like Spinelli gave his two superstars waaaaay too much time out of respect for their contributions to the craft. So, it's like the porn equivalent of Righteous Kill. (ZING!) This marked the first time I'd ever seen Seka with bleached pubic hair. Trust me, it's weird.

Another bizarre bed/mattress bumper intros the last scene. While the Leslie/Seka scene dragged on for awhile, the fact that there were at least a few peripheral characters cycling into and out of the scene took a bit of the edge off. This one, with Randy West and Vanessa del Rio as '50s Philadelphia greasers really pushes it. You start to get the sense that every line was read at least six times. And if you created a drinking game that had you take a shot every time del Rio said, "Shelden, I sweah to Gawd...," you would black out well before the action started. Eventually, they get down to it, though.

Finally, there's one last shot of the bed and mattress. In which I guess that works somehow. Anyway, now's as good of a time as any to mention that whoever voices the bed sounds similar to the narrator in A Christmas Story, which adds an additional bizarre level to this flick.

It seems kind of pointless to try to give starts or a grade or, I don't know, hard-ons to an adult film. That being said, I'll give Between the Sheets a B+.