GENRE: Straight Scene Compilation
DIRECTOR: James Avalon
STARS: Jassie, Alaura Bond, Malorie Marx, Bobbi Eden, Keiko, Ava Vincent, Kurt Lockwood, Eric Masterson, Jack Lawrence, Andrew Rivera, Jake Spade, Steven French, Matt Bixel
DATES OF PRODUCTION: 2004
LENGTH: 140 mins with bonus material
There are two constants in most pornography, ideas that seem to rear their pug fugly heads every time inspiration appears at a minimum. One of these warhorse concepts is the Penthouse Forum-style advice column conceit. You know the one, where an actress or actor reads "letters" from "readers" with each correspondence offering up more detailed double barreled balling than any human could ever truly survive. Supposedly sold as an "it could happen to you' or 'everybody does it' facet of fantasy, what we get instead is bragging of the most boring variety. Since we know its all artifice and far too vivid imaginations, there is nothing to hang our heffalump on.
The other artifact dragged out like a collection of Oui magazines from your Uncle's attic is the mindless musical accompaniment. Back in the day, porn was played on top of a weird wall of sound that was part funk, a smidgen of soul and a lot of pointless wa-wa pedaling, all offered in an effort to bring some life to the friction follies. Today, most XXX entertainment avoids the noise to allow the natural nuances of the performers' palaver to fill the Dolby Digital speakers. But every once in a while, a title will get desperate. Realizing that it's randiness is routine, not risqu้, and throwing on the melody making as a way of covering up the complete lack of heat, this sexual Stars on 45 mentality guarantees a non-stop barrage of baseless sonic sludge instead of holy hardcore hemlocking.
You have to give Erotic Stories some credit not much however, since this is a very dull, monotonous collection of couplings that violates each of the parameters presented above. Our narrator, an antithesis to thespianism named Mackenzie Mack (apparently her sister, Miss Mary, was busy) walks us through five stupid stories ripped right out of an awkward adolescent's fan fiction fables. Each tale is as tired as the talent is tepid. But that's not all. In a mad dash to support the lack of sizzle, there are at least four to five different pieces of music, covering all styles and genres, ladled onto each SCENE!. That's right, over the course of two-plus hours and five flat flesh fiestas, we hear nearly thirty different tunes. If this doesn't tell you about the level of lewdness in Erotic Stories: Lovers and Cheaters II, nothing else will except, of course, the rest of this review.
James Avalon obviously has some big ideas when it comes to porn. He thinks in terms of epic eroticism, not simple shark and bait. His settings are opulent to a fault, and his performers all reek of success and savoir-faire. Everything glitters and the overall atmosphere is one of tranquility and tameness. Nothing remotely gonzo would ever go on in his ramrod reality, and this means that it's another trip into PPP for most of his audience (Pretty, Passive Porn for those not hip to the Dirge's abbreviated lingo). Too bad then that Erotic Stories: Lovers and Cheaters II (or is it Erotic Stories 2: Lovers and Cheaters? Oh well...) is so serene as to be inert. Unless you find sleeping sensual or paralysis particularly pleasing, you won't work up a single ounce of self-stimulation over these tedious tales. Mackenzie Mack does very little except pose and pout, massacring her line readings like so many baby seals, and she never once instills a sense of authority or eros in her saga spinning. She's just window dressing, a crappy clothesline to hang the equally hackneyed vignettes on. While she may be a potent pole panderer we don't know because she does not interact with any man member during the film she sure is one vacant voice-over.
Not that the scenes themselves are much to write home about. It's sad when the manner in which the action is edited to the beat of the backing track draws more attention than the tool time in a XXX feature. Avalon has a very strange, very surreal habit. He matches the rhythm in a scene to the throb of the drums of his accompaniment. This means that when Kurt Lockwood lunges into Ava Vincent, his thrusts are timed to the ersatz salsa playing in the background. This metronome monotony is present all throughout Erotic Stories. A guy grinds into a gal on a staircase and you can be sure the bush pushing coincides with the gritty country ditty on the soundtrack. Slow jamming means equally languid cock cramming and an upbeat bop turns the hardcore into a bunny hop.
Instead of focusing on the fornication, or droning on about each and every position plundered, let's look at what this pentalogy of skin sketches has to offer. Their success or failure will determine, finally, whether Erotic Stories is worth your time. We begin with:
Scene 1: "Don't Look Now" Jassie, Matt Bixel
Written by: S. Taylor and James Avalon
Plot: As an unsuspecting young woman takes a shower, a burglar breaks in. Startling the zestfully clean gal, our criminal demands more than just the family jewels.
Acts Performed: Shower Cabaret, Wet Soaping, Baby Bondage, Ice Teasing, Candle Concern, Strawberry Fu, Dildo Drama, Blowjob, Reverse Cowgirl, Mish, Doggy, $hot on Face, Slow Motion Replay of Pop
-- sponsored by --
If 91/2 Weeks hadn't already explored the nature of food in fucking, as well as the temperature differential between fire and ice and its effect on fornication, this opening sex salvo would have been inventive and interesting. As it stands, it's about as engaging as Mickey Rourke's current career. The twist ending, which oddly enough comes halfway through the scene, does very little to stimulate our interest, and it's only the last half hardcore that saves the sequence. Jassie's shower has some sexy moments and she matches well with Matt. But this bungled beginning does not bode well for the rest of the set. Score: 3 out of 10.
Scene 2: "Dinner for Two" Alaura Bond, Jake Spade, Steven French
Written by: James Avalon
Plot: Hoping to spice up his hampered home life, a neglectful hubby brings his frustrated wife a present: a decidedly Euro-trash stripper. But she's got more in mind that celebrating his Chippendales.
Acts Performed: Bad Disco Dancing, Male Stripping, Blowjob, Dueling Head, Mish, Face Fucking, Anal Doggy, Double Penetration in the Cowgirl Position, Double $hot in Face and Mouth, Obvious Load Disapproval
It's the battle of the baffling accents as Alaura's British brogue clashes with Steven French flippancy to turn our pork product irritatingly international. Featuring some of the most embarrassing, half-assed dancing this side of a Super Bowl victory celebration, our trio of footloose fools barely cut a fart, let alone a rug, as they bump and grind to the continuous loop of surf spoo on the soundtrack. By the time the m้nage gets into the triple tantric format, we've completely lost interest. Aside from the fact that Alaura looks like she'll puke when our men money her face and mouth, there is nothing unusual or especially erotic about this scenes. It's just a collection of positions with a less than appetizing payoff at the end. Score: 2 out of 10
Scene 3: "911" Malorie Marx, Jack Lawrence, Andrew Rivera
Written by: S. Taylor and James Avalon
Plot: Thinking she hears a burglar, a young lady calls the cops. When two uniformed hunks respond, she naturally thinks they are Joe and John Law. But they may just be the mashers making a beeline for her boudoir.
Acts Performed: Gratuitous Cop Jokes, Donut Fu, Massages, Tit Sucking, Salad Tossing, Cunnilingus, Blowjob, Doggy, Dueling Head, Pound Puppy Pile Driver, Reverse Cowgirl, Double Penetration in the Cowgirl Position, $hot of Face and Stomach
By far the best scene on this set, our cops to clit conniption features the best fleecing in the entire enterprise. Malorie looks amazing as she massages her men, and the combination of black and white with color gives us a naughty noir kind of concept. There are definitely downsides to this display, however. Director Avalon wants to show us every facet of the food preparation, so we see Ms. Marx fill not one, but two cups of coffee and load up a tray - in painstaking detail - with donuts and pastries. Still, the sex saves this otherwise meandering muddle. The storyline goes out the window as the hot, horny hardcore lights up the screen. Andrew is no match for Jack, as Master Lawrence controls Malorie throughout. Even the DP seems better than usual. While by no means a masterpiece, this is the best of an otherwise bad situation for this DVD. Score: 4 out of 10
Scene 4: "Double Entendre" Bobbi Eden, Keiko, Eric Masterson
Written by: James Avalon
Plot: An old high school flame pays a mindless macho mook a visit at his homestead, much to his wife's chagrin. She begs off the paramour's return by engaging in that ultimate act of hospitality lesbianism. Dude joins in.
Acts Performed: Kissing, Clit Licking, Fingering, Tit Play, Double Dick Sucking, Reverse Cowgirl, Cowgirl, Mish, Doggy, $hot on Both Faces
Now this is just plain awful. Filled with inadvertent lesbianism (the best kind, right?) and more than enough befuddled looks by Masterson (who is usually a better actor than he is here) we just can't wait for this ridiculous reunion to end. The ladies lunch on each other like they're required to by court order, and Eric seems happy to be getting closer to the money moment, and by design, the end of the scene. Nothing remotely memorable happens in this incredibly talky sequence (of the 20 minutes plus in run time, this trio yaks for at least 9) and when it's all over, we wonder just what the fucking point was. The answer is, sadly, not very much. Score: 2 out of 10.
Scene 5: "Masquerade" Ava Vincent, Kurt Lockwood
Written by: S. Taylor and James Avalon
Plot: It's Eyes Wide Shut without the stellar cast or crazy genius director. A girl is invited to a mysterious masked ball by her husband. There she meets another anonymous man and they fuck like freaks.
Acts Performed: Foreplay, Gratuitous Blindfolding, Blowjob, Doggy, Reverse Cowgirl, Cunnilingus, Mish, $hot All Over Body
Again, Kubrick did it better or if at least not better, more menacingly, in his last film. Avalon swipes so many scenes directly from the famous recluse's final flop that one shouldn't be surprised if HAL shows up and strands the director outside the Discovery's pod bay doors. Ava looks especially fetching here, and Kurt is a perfect companion for the copulation. So why doesn't this scene rate a higher grade? The answer is in the actual time in twat. Again, Avalon wastes at least half of his hump in pointless plotting, awkward atmospherics and a general wandering around. From a purely porn standpoint, there is more ancillary action than bedchamber booby hatchery in this scene. With more of Lockwood's tattooed talent and Ms. Vincent's vaginal skills, this scene would have sizzled. As it stands, it's much ado about nothing not even stuffing. Score: 3 out of 10.
Maybe with the right material and a different scene collection concept, James Avalon could create something both stylistic and sensual, a work of weird wantonness in the Michael Ninn/ Halle Vanderhyden format. But when dropped in the middle of Erotic Stories, all the strange editing cues, post-production twiddling (speeding up scenes, slowing down shots) and under-developed narratives means that we are stuck with a lot of indolent indecency here. All the performers are attractive, and the settings aren't any stupider than other XXX experiences, so one has to wonder why this adult title fails.
One reason could be the concentration on second-rate writing. As odd as it is to say this about a hardcore happening, Erotic Stories is horribly over-scripted, and not in a good way. Individual sequences trail along for far too long as dialogue drags out even the most obvious points. Avalon is clearly in love with his plot premises since he spends inordinate amounts of screen time making sure we understand the set-ups. The payoffs are pathetic and the conversations reek of community college acting classes. Combined with a directorial style that is alarmingly busy (especially for how little is going on in the scenes) and you've got fuck and suck that just sucks. Amazingly, Erotic Stories does not suffer from PPP paltriness. Instead, it has all its heat in the right places. It's the filmmaker who keeps putting out the flames.
As an optical presentation, Erotic Stories must be on the rag, since there hasn't been this much bleeding this side of a junior high school girl's gym class. The overly soft video is offered in a varying combination of aspect ratios (mostly it's 1.33:1 full screen, but there is a sequence or two offered in non-anamorphic 1.85:1 to screw up the visuals) and lacks any real definition. As the whites solarize and the background colors weep and seep into everything, we wonder why so many gonzo guys can give us a crisp, clean albeit totally depraved image, and yet something as supposedly special as Erotic Stories looks so shitty. Perhaps it's just part of the overall luxuriant design of the title. Or maybe the photography is flawed. Whatever it is, this is a very mediocre DVD presentation.
Without a doubt, the most mind-blowing facet of this film is the jukebox bravado of the score. Avalon as music "supervisor" - whatever that means - creates his own universe of unusual auditory sensations as tunes cruise from the 50s to the 90s in a sort of sonic soundtrack tour de force. You'll find your ribs being tickled far more readily than your loins as a mishmash of moods surround each scene. A couple could be fucking to a full blown rocker one moment, a slice of rockabilly skank the next and end up with a ballad during the brothing. Country collides with world and hip-hop hobbles along side bubblegum as every genre is explored to its insaneness. The Dolby Digital Stereo buries the butt buttering in waves of AM airpower and the result is something more melodic than erotic. All kidding aside, the original score here is one of the reasons to rejoice, and to ridicule, this bizarre ball and socket set.
Beginning with the added features, Erotic Stories provides some pitiful extras. The trailers are typical, the gallery unnecessary and the various weblinks and company info just more feeble filler. Thankfully, we are treated to a scene from the original Erotic Stories, keeping the bonuses from being a total washout.
Bonus Scene: "2 for 1" Dani, Barrett Blade, Kurt Lockwood
From: Erotic Stories: Lovers and Cheaters
Written by: S. Taylor and James Avalon
Plot: When her husband comes home unexpectedly, our adulteress decides to service both boys.
Acts Performed: Foreplay x 2, Mish, Blowjob, Tit Fucking, Doggy, V to M, $hot on Face, Regrouping, Cowgirl, Reverse Cowgirl, $hot on Stomach and Chest, Oral Clean Up.
Here's another example of a stilted scene that suffers from its clich้ formulaic foundation. French farce was featuring paramours trading partners long before Mr. Avalon was zooming along the zygote trail, so the idea of Dani divining between her mates is mediocre at best. Barrett and Kurt really try to sell the stiffening, and Dani is a true twat trooper. But once again, Avalon's arcane camera skills (all hand held and over the shoulder) deadens the debauchery. While better than most of the broasting in the sequel, this sequence from the original is nothing very special. Score: 3 out of 10.
Ever-changing songs and contrived storytelling definitely not the most sensational of selling points for a porno. Combine it with hardscrabble sharking and even more derivative dramatics and you've got something to skip, not to savor. Still, there may be individuals in the market for some safe, lightly scented near softcore adult entertainment, and Erotic Stories foots that fanciful bill. But fans of healthy hardcore histrionics will find this title wanting in several salient ways. On the Disco Dirge Peter Meter, this drivel gets a 3 out of 10 and deserves only a borderline lease-only look. Couples, however, will howl with delight at how delicate and decorative this sex film really is. Therefore, all pale pandering aside, a Cohabitation Certification is awarded. They say that life's a movie and everyone has their own personal soundtrack. In the world of a James Avalon hardcore, the tunes just don't modify for the moment; they reflect something different every minute or two. Erotic Stories is the definitive bedtime repast not for how randy it will get you, but for how well it will cure your insomnia.