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Passion in Venice

Studio: Other » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 11/23/04

XCritic's Advice: Skip It

Passion in Venice

Adam & Eve/Ultimate Pictures

Genre: Feature, Foreign

Directors: Cameron Grant and Joe D'Amato

Cast: Juli Ashton, Mark Davis, Deborah Wells, Frank Mallone, Anita Blond, Sean Micheals, Backey Jakie/Jackic, Valentino, Kelly Trump, Valentina, Attila, Bernadette

Length: 110 minutes

Date of Production: 6/15/95

Extra's: The extras included a single trailer, a short photogallery and 3 short biographies. What a bargain!

Condoms: None

Audio/Video Quality: The entire thing looked and sounded bad, really bad. The music was mostly made up of a single tune that was okay for the first few times I heard it but it then grew annoying. The stereo audio sounded like someone hired a relative with no training and was not, as the DVD case advertised, enhanced unless by "enhanced" you mean it was even worse beforehand. The video was presented in the usual 1.33:1 ratio full frame color it was shot in but certainly not something as good as the advertised "digital clarity". The video looked like a low budget porn loop shot in the 1960's. The colors were too saturated, the transfer was lame, there were digital artifacts, and it looked like it was shot through a large burlap bag. It detracted from every scene and performer; doing exactly the opposite of what the technical aspects are supposed to do (enhance the sex and look of the cast).

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Body of Review: Way back in the mid 1990's porn was going through a bit of a renaissance with a few companies trying to instill a romantic flair thought long lost in the genre by trying new things and using bigger budgets to capture an audience of couples usually turned off by porn. Adam & Eve, long an industry leader in this regard, commissioned a movie by the name of Passion In Venice to break back into the kind of movies that had been the mainstay back in the late 70's. The movie was supposed to center around a woman who found romance on a business trip to Venice along with all the sexual ecstasy she could handle. It had straight, anal, DP, lesbian, fingering, oral, threesomes, and supposedly an orgy at the end so you know it wasn't run of the mill, even by today's standards. I had heard good things about this movie before I watched it. I was told about the beautiful photography by Cameron, the huge budget, the hot cast, and a number of other positive things. The reality of the actual DVD was that it has none of those things showing on the screen. I looked for a tape copy just to see if the video quality was solely the fault of the DVD transfer. I was told the movie was "a little dark" on tape too but could never find one to compare. The movie had the right elements for a good porn movie. It had a great location; Venice, Italy, a swell cast of normally good looking people, and it even had two directors (I suspected that Cameron did the sex scenes and Joe did the rest of it), so how could it go wrong?. The movie had a Jekyll and Hyde look to it which supported my theory about porn on film (in modern days). It was shot on film so they ran the usual risk of film (and lost) but also that the two directors must've had completely different visions for what the movie was supposed to look like. That said, here's a brief look at the scenes for the movie, noting that the limitations far outweighed the positive aspects of what could've been a contender:

Scene One: The movie started out with bitchy Deborah on the phone. She was getting head from some slob during the call. The scene progressed as you would expect with no surprises but it amounted to basically boring sex with terrible production values.

Scene Two: The next scene had Juli as a junior executive engage in a threesome (of sorts) with Mark and Anita. This scene was shot outdoors and wasn't bad although she has looked far superior in the multitude of movies made for VCA over the years. I'm a fan of hers so you know that I'm being easy on her but in fairness, the scene was pretty good (especially compared to the others).

Scene Three: The movie then jumped to Kelly's big DP scene which, to be frank, was about as exciting as the talking parts of the movie. Perhaps the size of the alleged production crew was too big to get good angles in the room used; I can't say for sure but I can say that you won't watch it twice.

Scene Four: The next scene was Deborah and Juli's lesbian scene. I like these things as much as any guy alive does and the potential was there for heat, I just never saw any from the two gals. The video continued to be a factor in the lack of enjoyment for me at this point.

Scene Five: Bernadette was the center of the next scene and it was perhaps the weakest of the entire movie. I'll bet neither director would take credit for this one since she looked good but was woefully under utilized.

Scene Six: Juli and Mark romped around in the next scene. They looked good together but it didn't seem to work with the way the scene was shot. The oral looked good for the limitations imposed but there was no chemistry between them that showed on the final product.

Scene Seven: Valentina turned on the heat as a thief in this one. She was about as good as anyone else here but that doesn't say much.

Scene Eight: The last scene was billed as "huge European all-cast orgy". If this is what passes for an orgy in Europe; stay with home grown material. The minor slices of action that appeared to look good were quickly zoomed away from in order to go to a weaker shot more often than not. The oral, straight, and even anal antics were less than satisfying so don't even bother trying to understand what took place to this point.

Summary: It's a shame when production values interfere with what might've been an average movie. Cameron's style lends itself to those barely connected vignettes and not full scale productions at this point in his career. Even if the movie had been technically perfect, it still wouldn't have been worth the effort since the entire thing seems a monument to hype and not what you want from a porn movie. Meat and potatoes make a good film; not garnish! For all its flaws, I had to rate it as a Skip It but completists and fans of Juli Ashton might make an exception and pick up a copy just to see more of this star from yesteryear.

This Don Houston "retro-review" was written long ago before the so-called Professor of Porn had much experience writing reviews. Since that time, he has found Adam & Eve to have a lot of good releases and seen more porn that almost anyone reviewing on the internet. Keep in mind that his comments accurately reflected his fresh viewpoint of the time he first saw the movie.

Note: You can see recent candid shots of more recent performers by visiting: My Photo's and read about their antics at 2004 AEE Show.

You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon

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