Thursday, August 20, 2009

On Grading

Four reviews, three A minuses and a B plus. You might think I'm a real pushover, but the fact of the matter is so far I've only reviewed films that I've liked. I suppose I could have curved down so I didn't have a glut of films grading out in the same range, but it doesn't really matter. At the end of the first review, I mentioned the inherent ridiculousness of grading these films. Or at least grading them at the time of the review and without the benefit of hindsight - each new film I see will influence the way I see the rest of my catalog, doubtless. In order to come up with a scale, I'd need to have some standards, but the fact of the matter is, if there's a flawless porn, I've yet to see it. (While I'll eventually review a solid A film, I'm reserving the A plus for that mythical flawless film....)

As long as comparing, say, Ultra Flesh and 3 AM is akin to comparing apples and oranges, my grades will probably stay just as arbitrary. That's not to say, though, that the grades will start to spread out a little. In fact, I've got one unholy turd of a movie that I'm going to review eventually just to show a little range.

Pornonomy Reviews: Fascination

Fascination (1980 - Video-X-Pix)

Directed by:
Larry Revene

Arcadia Lake
Candida Royalle
Christie Ford (as Christi Ford)
Patty Boyd (as Josie Jones)
Marlene Willoughby
Merle Michaels
Veronica Hart (as Randee Styles)
Samantha Fox
Sharon Mitchell
Tracy Adams
Adam DeHaven
Eric Edwards
Mike Feline (as Mike Filene)
Ron Hudd
Ron Jeremy
Roy Stuart

In his autobiography, Ron Jeremy said that the wide-eyed, kid in the candy store look his character had amongst the neon of pre-Giuliani Times Square at the beginning of Fascination was easy to achieve – it was exactly the excitement and fervor with which he dove into the New York sex scene of the ‘70s.

In pretty short order, we’re shown that Ernie (Jeremy) is unlucky in love. (Well, sex, anyway.) His “moves” on Sharon Mitchell are interrupted by his parents and sister Victoria (Candida Royalle) coming home, he’s kicked out of an adult theater for trying to force a woman to go down on him (which sounds a lot worse in print than it plays out on screen, honest), and is knocked out and robbed by a tranny hooker. Lucky for him, there’s an add for "The Successful Seducer" in the back of High Society. After the book arrives, Ernie learns that “every man must have a bachelor apartment – or “pad” – in order to score." He’s able to find one from that comes with a nosy landlady with a penchant for peeping and a wisecracking parrot.

You might expect that Ernie’s “conquests” don’t go quite as planned. His first attempt is with a coworker (Arcadia Lake) that is ruined by her husband. His other attempts (including a woman that won’t stop talking – Merle Michaels – and a couple of vicious, sex-crazed lesbians – Samantha Fox and Marlene Willoughby) don’t fare much better. At one point, Ernie’s pad is used by his father to score with his secretary (Mike Feline and Veronica Hart) and his sister and her boyfriend (Ron Hudd) one after the other resulting in a series of “hide in the closet/pantry, someone’s coming” that would make "Three’s Company" proud.

How both the father and sister got into the apartment will be a debate that rages for generations (probably): 1. Ernie’s spare key is hung on his parents’ refrigerator; 2. Under the cover of seeing “what’s for dinner” Victoria sneaks the key replacing it with an impostor; 3. Seconds later, Ernie’s father does the same thing; 4. Ernie’s father and the secretary get to Ernie’s pad before Victoria and her boyfriend. How did Ernie’s father unlock the door with the phony key, I ask you?!? Oh well, I suppose continuity is not a hallmark of pornographic films. (After all, within a minute at one point Veronica calls Ernie her little brother and then Ernie calls Veronica his kid sister….)

It may be strange to call a porno “charming” but that’s the word that comes to mind: Ron Jeremy has a natural charisma, the script was good, the movie well acted and directed. Fascination joins Frat House (and Stiff Competition, which I’ll review eventually) as films I’d screen for people interested in, but inexperienced with, porn from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. A-

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pornonomy Reviews: Natural Lamporn's Frat House

Natural Lamporn's Frat House (1979 - VCX)

Directed by:
Sven Conrad

Hillary Summers (as Aimee Leigh)
Connie Peterson (as Catrina)
Lisa De Leeuw
Maria Tortuga (as Mana La Fantuna)
Tawny Pearl
Lou Denny
Michael Parker
Randy Allen
Turk Lyon

If “Characteristics of Pornos” was a Family Feud category (“Show me: Mustaches!”), surely some of the people surveyed would mention “dirty versions of ‘real’ movies” (think Lord of the Cockrings). So typical is the trope, that you could argue that new Not the Bradys parodies are parodies of the convention itself. (Who knew porn was so post-modern?)

Anyway, you’d expect that a film called Natural Lamporn’s Frat House would be a pretty cut-and-paste porno version of Animal House. If you weren’t privy to the “Natural Lamporn’s” part, though, you’d have no idea that some sort of connection was intended. The similarities basically end at “college,” “sex,” and “frat.” (Although the “frat” in Frat House seems to consist solely of four mid- to late-20s college seniors….)

While you’d expect a college sex comedy to follow a certain protagonist versus antagonist convention (students versus dean, nerds versus jocks), the antagonist in Frat House is not…having…sex? In that regard, I guess Frat House is sort of a 1979 version of American Pie.

The film opens with a “college life” montage with arguably the jauntiest score of any porn ever. Seriously, it’d fit perfectly in a film strip about how mail is delivered. The montage cuts to a jogger approached by a coed in a convertible. Offered a drink (he doesn’t drink), some weed (he doesn’t smoke), and finally a blowjob (well, who doesn’t get blowjobs?) you think “Well, at least he’s not a plumber.” After the deed’s done, though, you’re let in on the premise of the movie: the guys at the house have decided to live out all their fantasies before finals. Because, apparently, you can’t have sexual fantasies after college? And how quaint and old-fashioned does “sex in a car with a stranger” seem as a fantasy? By today’s porn standards it’d have to be something like “ass to mouth, slapping your dick around the girls face in the broom closet of a church” or something.

The idea of fantasy fulfillment is elaborated upon when the guys all meet up. There’s Roger (Mike Parker),the jogger who’s kind of a poor man’s late ‘70s porn edition of Eric Bana without the acting ability), Larry (Lou Denny), the sort of character you’d expect to be a math or engineering major who turns out to be an aspiring writer, “Snake Cock” Sutton (Turk Lyon), a guy who might reconsider his nickname, and Star (Randy Allen), a photography major who has the look and acting chops of a boom mike operator cast in the film at the last minute. Roger informs the guys that the plan relies on two levels of execution “individual activity and group activity.” As an aside, if as a college senior, I’d somehow decided to act out all my sexual fantasies, I doubt that I’d have thought to include my roommates in “group activities.”

Along the way, the guys work their way through fantasies that involve ‘70s porn and college movie staples including sex in a van (well, an RV, but who’s splitting hairs), a panty raid that turns into a pie fight, some of the baddest-ass lights ever to be hung around a bed, a take off on the infamous Mickey Rourke Diner popcorn box maneuver, and an orgy in a hot tub. And more, the guys realize they’re not ready to face the real world. Hey, you got life lessons in my porn!

It would be a disservice to Frat House to not mention Star's commercial parodies shown about three quarters of the way through (for example, the Brim Condoms, lubricated with Vaseline and Novocaine, narrated in a voice that owes more than a little to Aykroyd and Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guys). In fact, they have a craft and humor to them that typifies the rest of the film.

I’ve not been shy with my interest in porn from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s amongst my group of friends. A factor I find myself considering lately is, if I were asked to put on a porn during a party, would I put on the one I’m watching. I can say with certainty that, because of Frat House’s story, production values, acting (hey, it’s all relative), sweet soundtrack, and quality sex scenes, most definitely. A-

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Review Bonanza!

But not today. Or now, anyway. Possibly later.

I was a bit under the weather yesterday, so after having my fill of reading, I settled down onto the couch with a cup of peppermint tea and a stack of porn. As a result, I'm rough drafting reviews of Fascination, Same Time Every Year, and Coming Together.

And, dare I say it...Frat House at long last?