Saturday, June 20, 2009

Predator 3: The Final Chapter

If you're not familiar with this series, directed by and starring the wonderful Stormy Daniels, it follows the Predator: a sexually deviant woman who prowls the streets for hot girls, in a manner much like a serial killer, kidnaps them, and effectively rapes them. The fact that I just used the phrase "effectively rapes them" indicates that we read sexual assault differently when it's perpetrated by women, and certainly watching the Predator series is nowhere near as uncomfortable or disturbing as it would be if the Predator was a man. Throw in some humor, and some horror-stylized sets and costume, and you have a rather fun experience in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the subject matter...more on that in a moment...

I'm a big fan of Stormy Daniels, and while I always buy her movies I'm not necessarily buying them for hotness factor. In fact, if the movie is hot, it's usually an added bonus. The real reason I watch her movies is because they're well-made, thoughtful, and generally provide something to think about (not to mention reassuring me that there is still porn being made that has heart, soul, and art invested in it). With all that said, the Predator series stands out for showcasing Stormy at her hottest. She really looks beautiful in these films, and the third entry is no different. Added to that is a devilish wit, and scenes that really shake off Stormy's good-girl-next-door image. I guess these movies feel like an effort on Stormy's part to explore her dark side, and this third (and final) installment is probably the darkest of the bunch, mostly thanks to a pretty rough final scene with porn veteran Kylie Ireland.

In fact, this final scene with Kylie is really what sews up the series nicely as it turns the subject matter on its head. The end of the film sees the Predator sent to jail, where she winds up sharing a cell with a tattooed, mohawk-sporting dyke (Kylie), a situation neither of them seem too unhappy about. After the Predator's crime spree involving her sexual domination of young women, she finally meets her match in Kylie Ireland, and a pretty rough scene ensues, reminiscent of the Jesse Jane/Belladonna face-off in Pirates 2. And, much like the Pirates 2 scene, the Stormy/Kylie scene was more kick ass than sexy. That said, though, there are some pretty hot scenes in this movie, particularly the one featuring India Summer, and they have a certain edge about them that you don't see that often in a Wicked production.

Ok, so that rape thing... Any time I see rape in any porn movie I pause for a moment to think. I'm not necessarily against rape scenes in porn (see my post on Forced Entry), but like any genre of film a rape can mean very different things according to context, perceived intention, and genre. It seems as though nowadays porn is regarded as fulfilling one purpose only: sexual arousal. Therefore, according to this logic, rape in porn must be there to arouse the viewer, but in my experience this is not always the case. As with some older movies, and even with some new ones (Cry Wolf, for example), rape can be used in the narrative to express "bad sex" or some other message. The same can be said for any scenario where the sex is not pleasant - think, for example, of the disgusting incest scene at the beginning of The Resurrection of Eve. Granted, the older movies did it more frequently, but I actually think it's more interesting and complex for porn movies to include scenes that jar with the "pornotopia" concept. Not necessarily a turn on, but more interesting and complex.

With all that said, there are ways in which rape, or a connotation of rape, figure in porn while simultaneously displacing the disturbing realities of sexual violence. One way of doing this is to show the woman being forced or coerced, and then to shift into a standard porno scene where the woman is enjoying it, and you kind of forget that she ever resisted. Similar to that is the classic scenario where the woman eventually enjoys it (see my post on Behind the Green Door). A third way is to swap the man for a woman - a tactic that retains the thrill that resides in rape/coercion fantasies, but avoids the complications inherent in having a man rape a woman. I'm not really taking a stand on this subject, as I can argue a case for this being damaging and reprehensible (i.e. all forms of rape are wrong, and it should not be glossed over), just as I could argue that power-play is a natural, and safe (if consensual and controlled, obviously), way of working through real-life gendered power imbalances. This is an issue that has been argued over in some feminist and queer circles for years. With all this in mind, I think the Predator series, which employs tactics #1 & 3, can be seen as a gentler exploration of such power play, and leaves me with the question of whether such gentle/subtle/evasive treatment of sexual violence is more disturbing or damaging than films that treat the subject in a more violent and direct way. 

All of these thoughts aside (or rather, with these thoughts in mind), I enjoyed the Predator series, in spite of some shortcomings (lighting problems at times, patchy sex scenes), and certainly this third installment is a worthy finale. Considering the horror elements in these movies, I look forward to Stormy's future mainstream horror project with anticipation - I really think she has what it takes to cross over, and I have a feeling that when she does, she will maintain one foot in the porn world that she has contributed so much to.









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