Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Quickies...

NB: You will not be receiving an hour of free $30 games.

I'm back folks, after a little whiles away. School started, and it's royally kicking my ass, but I soldier on and watch as much XXX as I can fit in. This in turn means I stay up late a lot, am tired all day, and rarely have the gumption to settle down and write a coherent and cohesive article about some film or other. As a way of pacifying y'all until I review Wicked's 2040 (which the viewing of which will take a good 3 hours I believe), here is a meager handful of quickie reviews. It's barely even a handful, in fact...more like crumbs. Sorry.

Every Woman Has a Fantasy (Dir. Edwin Brown, 1984)
Over the last couple of months I've taken to going around saying "1984 is the greatest year in porn" mainly because I think it sounds ironic and pretentiously funny, but also because it seems to be true. Here is another film from 1984 that is bags of fun. John Leslie, in a typical dirty talking role, thrives on his wife's (lovely Rachel Ashley) stories retold from her women's group. Apparently these lady friends sit around and talk about recipes, sewing, and sexual fantasies. After getting off on the mere stories, John decides to hide out in a closet and listen for himself, and then when that still doesn't satiate him, he dresses like a woman and infiltrates the women's group. Yes, you're correct, it's like Tootsie, but John Leslie is much more attractive and convincing as a woman. I was quite impressed. And then very disappointed that he didn't fuck in drag.

Outlaw Ladies (Dir. Henri Pachard, 1981)
Pachard seems to specialize in scattered, character-filled romps, and Outlaw Ladies is no exception. Not quite as cohesive as She's So Fine but still a damn good time. It's basically a series of vignette-style segments, each demonstrating a woman's "outlaw" status - as in, she's tough, knows what she wants, and doesn't follow gendered societal expectations. You go girls! Oh, and you just can't beat that poster.
NB. This is not a Western (as I discovered, somewhat disappointedly).

Dark Angels (Dir. Nic Andrews, 1999)
This was a pleasant surprise, even after trusted and justifiably snobby porn colleagues of mine recommended it to me. I thought, "Oh, it'll be good... for a new movie..." Well, it is good for a new movie, but it's also just good. As a horror fan and a porn fan, I found both of my nerd-needs met through a heady combination of well-filmed/performed sex, tight narrative, dialogue, and acting, and a healthy dose of blood, gore, and...a fucking monster! Yes, this film has a super cool monstrous creature in it for about 30 seconds. It looked better than most Hollywood efforts, and I was struck by how much better it looked than a recent film I saw, Pandorum. Only downside is the beast does not perform sexually. Oh, and if ever there was a human being destined to play a boss vampire, it's Sydnee Steele. She rocks.

That's it. I warned you you'd just be getting crumbs. I'm watching Dark Angels 2 tonight, which I'm told is better than the first one; then on to 2040.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sport/Fucking: Stiff Competition (1984)

I came across Stiff Competition (Dir. Paul Vatelli) thanks to Mr. Feelbert's review over at Pornonomy - many thanks to ya! - but also read up on it in Robert H. Rimmer's The X-Rated Videotape Guide (1993) in which, amongst other things, he has this to say: "Most women will absolutely detest this degradation of the female." I was quite puzzled by this comment, and suddenly apprehensive about the film; after finishing the film, Rimmer's comment really irritated me.

Stiff Competition basically puts sucking cock up there with boxing, wrestling, and other tournament-style sports, with women at the center of the attention rather than men. Tammy the Tongue (Gina Carrera) is a talented new-comer to the sport, much to the disconcertion of the veterans - in particular, retired champion Cynthia Silkthroat (Cindee Summers), Patti Cakes (Patti Wright), and Linda Lonestar (Bridgette Monet). The film plays out a little like Bloodsport or Kickboxer, with the characters being established in the first half, leading up to a climactic series of battles, via a few double-crosses and twists & turns along the way. These films are, of course, similar in another way: utilization (and exploitation?) of gendered bodies for sport.

I sensed immediately that the film was not going to disgust me, simply through the great script, production values, and attention to character - particularly the female characters. While each competitor has a male trainer, it's clear from the scene between Cynthia Silkthroat and her manager, Jake the Snake (John Leslie), that Cynthia calls the shots. They're getting down and dirty when the phone rings - Cynthia breaks off their love making to answer an important call from fellow competitor The Mouth (Susan Hart) (above). Apparently there's a new kid on the block, Tammy, and she's pretty darn good. The network between these women is therefore privileged over male sexual pleasure, and the conversation that ensues between Jake and Cynthia confirms that Cynthia will decide whether to compete or not, regardless of Jake's desires. The sex scene that follows is egalitarian and communicative, not to mention passionate and sweet.

Tammy's sexual pleasure is also privileged by the film, with a scene between Tammy and Kitten (Kitten Natividad of Russ Meyer fame). Kitten is a reporter who comes to interview the, by now, very famous Tammy, and literally cannot contain herself. A prolonged bout of oral loving ensues, with Tammy's pleasure positioned front and center. Considering this doesn't happen very often in porn, it's pretty remarkable that it happens in a movie about a Superbowl Suck-Off, and further demonstrates the way this film navigates sexuality.

While female pleasure gets some acknowledgment, the Rimmer comment might lead you to believe that the rest of the film is occupied with male sexual pleasure via the theme of competitive blow-jobs, but in reality it doesn't feel this way. The dicks being sucked are those of nameless, practically faceless stunt-dicks, with the women doing the work taking up the majority of screen space. Any anticipated male sexual pleasure is subordinated in the competitive scenes to the athleticism and glory of the women, with the competitors often paying more attention to each other than the person they're pleasuring. This kind of woman-to-woman communication, as seen above, strikes me as a form of homosociality - a social trend typically associated with men who bond and communicate with other men via the bodies of women (e.g. fucking someone's girlfriend as a way of getting back at them, or more simply frat boys hanging out watching porn). It's interesting, then, that Rimmer fails to mention the stunt-dicks as being objectified or degraded, even though they are reduced to sexual body parts (to paraphrase anti-porn rhetoric) and are peripheral to the main event.

Ultimately, Rimmer's conviction that women will be disgusted with such "degradation," to my mind, would necessarily mean Rimmer also believes men will be disgusted by the degradation of male bodies in all manner of sports films in which lingering, slo-mo shots of brutal violence and flowing blood are de rigeur. I think the perceived "degradation of the female" is rooted in deep-held cultural attitudes toward women and sexuality and men and physicality/violence, one of which is a source of shame, and the other of which is a source of glory and pride. Likewise, men participating in sexual acts are not often seen as "degraded." To me, Stiff Competition elevates a female equivalent of such gendered physicality/sexuality to the same height as masculine pursuits, with captivating, funny and thought-provoking results. I was genuinely excited by the final showdown, rooting for Tammy and getting totally caught up in the event as though it were a "real" sporting match. This doesn't mean that we should conclude that creating a Superbowl Suck-Off is some kind of feminist act, but rather that we should ask questions about the different ways we treat men and women with regard to physicality, sexuality, and violence.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

R.I.P. Juliet Anderson (1938-2010)

Juliet Anderson, also affectionately known as Aunt Peg due to her role in the film of the same name, has died at age 71. I adore this woman, and everything she brought to adult film. A terrible loss.

For me, she will always represent a kind of woman that is rarely seen in media. Not a cliche "cougar" or "MILF," but an autonomous sexual screen presence who always owned it. The first time I ever saw Anderson in a film was in 1980's Taboo, and then soon after in 1982's Taboo 2 -- I literally was like, "Who is that??" She was so charismatic and magnetic, and yet it didn't seem to make sense. The butch hair, her age (she entered adult film age 39) -- it all shouldn't have existed according to the porn stereotype. Well, Anderson wasn't a stereotype, she was a trailblazer and an artist, and she lit up the screen.

Love that woman. I'll be paying my respects with many joyful viewings of her magnificent performances for many years to come. Total respect.

More Awards!

Hey folks! I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Mr. X-Ray over at XXX Marks the Plot for bestowing my humble blog with the Fibonacci Award, and another thank you to Geof at Enter the Man-Cave for kindly awarding me (and other deserving folks) the One Lovely Blogger Award.

Thank you both! I will endeavor to live up to your praise.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Some Quickie Reviews: Part 2

Hi folks, I'm back with some more lightning fast reviews of the many movies I watched over Christmas. First, though, I would like to thank Matt over at Chuck Norris Ate My Baby for picking my humble blog (amongst others) for the Zombie Chicken award. It's nice to know there are people out there who would risk their life to read about cum shots, amputees, and pegging -- Matt's an OK guy in my book.
Ok, on with the mini-reviews. Next up...#6.

6. Pandora's Mirror (Dir. Shaun Costello, 1981)

Sigh. I love Veronica Hart. She's outstanding in this film, which is outstanding in so many other ways. I've seen Pandora's Mirror described as Twilight Zone-esque, and that's pretty much accurate. Hart plays Pandora, a regular-seeming young woman who discovers a mirror in an antique shop. When she looks into it, she finds herself experiencing sexual lust, indulging in fantasies, and discovering the mirror's history (which involves a lot of people becoming obsessed with the mirror and its lustful influence, much like Pandora winds up being hooked on her visits to the store). The film is lighter in tone than most Costello films I've seen, but it still goes to very dark places. Fantastic film.

7. She's So Fine (Dir. Henri Pachard, 1985)

A chaotic, fun, and hot film about a family (and their neighbors) waiting for the arrival of Taija Rae's fiance on the day of their wedding. All manner of characters and weirdos show up to the house for one reason or another (including Joey Silvera as a brain-dead stoner ex-boyfriend and Sharon Mitchell as an aggressive, leathered up groupie who shows Jerry Butler a thing or two) and the family start exploring their sexuality with all of these exciting newcomers. Paul Thomas is fantastic as a New Romantic-style musician, complete with wig and make-up, who seduces Gloria Leonard, the mother of the family. Their scenes together are dynamite. Highly recommended.

8. Sometime Sweet Susan (Dir. Fred Donaldson, 1975)

It's difficult to really rave about this film because the sex scenes were so darkly lit, it was hard to judge half the film. Nevertheless, this is a well-intentioned film in terms of artistic merit, characterization, and script. Harry Reems (buff, charismatic, and generally awesome) stars as a doctor working in a psychiatric hospital where Susan is a new patient. She was found alone in a house, mute and near catatonic, and now she is working through her memories with the good Doctor, trying to uncover the trauma that caused all of her problems. Turns out, sweet Susan, who the Doc has taken quite a shine to, has a sexually predatory and foul-mouthed alter-ego. What happened to Susan? Can she and the Doctor be together? Who is the "real" Susan? You get the picture. Cool enough, but not stellar. Also including some the most inappropriate doctor-patient verbal interaction I've ever seen.

9. A Married Man (Dir. Steve Scott, 1978)

Jack Wrangler is his usual awesome, sexy self in this classic - it's a shame, then, that Channel 1/Catalina Video decided to replace the original soundtrack to the sex scenes with lame contemporary music. One of the most wonderful things about old porn is the soundtrack (minus the dubbed slurping sounds). Even if there is no music, I would rather hear the isolated grunts and moans of Jack Wrangler than some kind of electro-jazz easy listening. It really killed the mood. I ended up turning the movie off for this reason, so I can only comment on the first scene with Jack Wrangler and some dude fucking in a greenhouse. Aside from the music, it was great. Blurry and muffled, but great.

10. TMSleaze (Dir. Brian Bangs, Spock Buckton, Quasarman, 2009)

I pretty much gave up on the new rash of porn parodies (I will still watch the Brady Bunch series, and generally anything Will Ryder does) but this subject piqued my interest due to its sleazy roots. TMZ is pretty sleazy, so I figured a porn parody would expose some hypocrisy, and poke fun at the trash we consume out in the open. The first scene, featuring characters based on American Idol, was pretty impressive, and the "meeting room" that TMZ viewers will be familiar with is pretty hilariously accurate. Haven't finished this one, so I guess I'll get back to y'all if/when I have something more to say about it.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis of a film I saw recently that rocked my world.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year! Some Quickie Reviews:Part 1

Hey folks, it's been a while. I've been indulging in a Christmas break lifestyle, which seamlessly merged into a New Year's Eve lifestyle, and then a New Year...well, you get the idea. I've been a lazy bum. However, I have been dutifully watching large quantities of pornographic film, as well as reading about porn, so as I reluctantly emerge from my domestic wasteland, please enjoy these quickie reviews of what I have been watching over the last two weeks.

Oh, and please let me know what y'all got for Christmas! I got a Rocky IV robe, the Midnight Blue boxset, a few awesome books, a really nice camera, and a t-shirt of my blog banner! Pretty sweet.

1. Angel on Fire (Dir. Roberta Findlay, 1974)

I had pretty high expectations going into this: written/directed by a woman; co-starring Jamie Gillis; a story about a woman-hater forced to return to Earth as a woman. Well, it partially lived up to my hopes (Jamie definitely did), but I had a hard time getting over the essentialist message about men and women. Apparently, "femininity" is some kind of intoxicating vapor that makes you loving...and really, really needy. It drives you to pursue asshole men (who are presumably also under the influence of the masculinity vapor...) and act like a braindead idiot who doesn't understand a guy doesn't like you when he calls you a cunt and a bitch. Naturally, the way to secure your man is to stop taking the pill, get pregnant, and then burst in on him while he's getting his dick sucked by another woman. Moderately offensive to my feminist sensibilities, but still a fun movie, and Jamie stole the show as expected with his perfect interpretation of a complete scumbag.

2. Babyface (Dir. Alex DeRenzy, 1977)

This film was a joy. A giant construction worker (seriously, he has to duck to go through doors) sleeps with an underage girl (she pursues him, don't worry) and hides out in a male brothel to elude the cops and the girl's mother. The brothel workers are a fine bunch, including Joey Silvera and Paul Thomas (perfect as a jealous and bitchy whore), and the film really milks its premise for laughs, twists, and turns. The female clientele are great, also, embodying different sexual characteristics that the guys gossip about. I love movies about sex workers, and this one stands out as particularly unique and clever. Great film.

3. Cafe Flesh (Dir. Rinse Dream, 1982)

Wow, this film is incredible. Set in a post-apocalyptic urban future, nuclear war has separated humans into two types: 99% are Sex Negatives, who cannot engage in sexual contact without feeling sick to their stomach, and 1% are Sex Positives, who are required by law to perform sex acts for the "pleasure" of the Sex Negatives. It's not really pleasure though... Cafe Flesh is the most notorious club catering to Sex Negatives, with stage shows that are simultaneously depressing, mechanical, erotic, and terrifying, complete with a host who berates his audience which seems to be an important part of them getting their jollies. The camerawork, set design, acting, direction, and dialogue in this film are outstanding, and it kept me engaged mentally and visually throughout. Fantastique!

4. Dirty Minds (Dir. Stormy Daniels, 2009)

It's pretty jarring to go back to a feature from 2009 after wallowing in the delights of the 70s and 80s, but this film was pretty good. One of Stormy's most recent (though she didn't write it), Dirty Minds stars Kirsten Price and the woefully underrated Eric Masterson as a modern couple struggling with their different lifestyles and goals. Eric is all about pot smoking and porn, of course, while Kirsten wants more out of life, leading to Eric reevaluating his priorities, and...well, you know, kinda like most of the comedies coming out of Hollywood right now. This film had the expected pot-fueled conversations amongst the guys, which were pretty funny, and the requisite sex scenes sandwiched into the plot. This sandwiching technique is my biggest complaint about recent features, but beggars can't be choosers.

4. Jack 'n' Jill (Dir. Chuck Vincent, 1979)

The combination of Jack Wrangler, Chuck Vincent, and Samantha Fox pretty much guarantees this film being dynamite, and it did not disappoint. Jack Wrangler is hot as can be, ably assisted by Samantha Fox, as a married couple who like to explore their sexuality together. The opening scene is fucking incredible -- worth the price of the DVD alone -- but the film as a whole is great too, with outstanding acting across the board, witty dialogue, and the usual zany directing that Chuck Vincent has been lauded for before. His films always take risks, a quality that is hard to come by, and Vincent seems able to pull off cinematic moves that in a less talented director's hands would simply fail. Highly recommended!

Ok, there are my first five...about ten more to come. Stay tuned!


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