Cast: Nina Hartley, Richard Pacheco, Siobhan Hunter, Steve Lockwood
Non-sex roles by: Candida Royalle, Per Sjostedt, Veronica Hart, Jamie Windo, Michele Capozzi, Dorey Benninger, Sean Morrisey, Jo Gordon, Will Jarvis, Annie Sprinkle, Melissa Brushell, Joe Billera
Length: 66.5 minutes
Date of Production: 1988
Extra's: The best extra for me was the 10 minute long photogallery with an audio commentary discussing the film shorts. I'd have preferred a full audio commentary but this was way better than the usual photogallery (I wish others would take note of it). There was also the usual set of trailers, a message from Candida Royalle, her biography, and a commercial for Candida's Natural Contours vibrator line.
Audio/Video Quality: Sensual Escape was presented in the usual 1.33:1 ratio full frame color that it was shot in back in 1988. Interestingly enough, it looked very crisp and clear except where the smoky effects intended it to look otherwise. The colors were accurate, the fleshtones solid, and there were no compression artifacts or video noise that I saw. The audio was far more interesting than usual for a porno (although Candida would probably chastise me and say it wasn't porn but "erotica"; and she'd be right). It was a stereo English presentation with a nice array of music to compliment the vocals and if you watch this, you'll understand where modern porn begins when cutting corners to satisfy greedy companies.
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Body of Review: While it's hard to believe for some, I've long been a fan of Candida Royalle's works. From the time she actually performed in movies until her more recent directorial efforts, I've found her to be a breath of fresh air in an industry very much in need of change. Candida's porn has been referred to as "porn on training wheels" by famed performer Nina Hartley and there are a sizable number of people that believe she practically invented the couples market. As the so called mainstream porn market continues to promote rougher and more outlandish forms of sex (commonly referred to as "circus act sex"), Femme Productions slowly releases a back catalog of material that isn't quite the porn I'm used to but it's certainly more hardcore than anything you've seen on pay cable. In a distribution deal with Adam & Eve, Ms. Royalle has released such hits as Femme, Urban Heat, Three Daughters, Stud Hunters, A Taste Of Ambrosia, Eyes of Desire, and One Size Fits All to a receptive, often female, audience. The latest of her re-releases is Candida Royalle's Sensual Escape, the third and final volume of her Star Directors Series where she had other female directors come in and shoot a scene or two. I'm told she's looking at either revisiting this concept or at taking other promising female directors under her wing so maybe she'll start something new in the near future (she has always followed her own drummer). The movie was actual two short films put together that look at sex as something a bit more than simply busting a nut as porn tends to show. Here's a look at the two stories on this release, noting that both were tame in terms of graphic hardcore sex but very nice to watch with someone you care about:
Fortune Smiles: This film short by director Gloria Leonard was a story about a couple that were romantically involved as they dealt with the usual pressures of life. Nina was a high powered lawyer and Richard had his own career going on with the two of them trying to find time to get sexually involved but not wanting to get burned. The role playing of the scenario is something that a lot of people can understand and the two started off by getting very frisky in a fancy restaurant. Unlike most current porn, they didn't break into a sweaty tryst on the table with the waiters joining in for some circus act sex. Instead, they went back to her place and enjoyed some Chinese food before making out on a couch. Considering the credentials these two have in terms of acting (not just performing), I expected a solid scene and wasn't surprised when I got it. He was best remembered as John Leslie's sidekick in a few of the Talk Dirty To Me movies both were held in acclaim for. She was known mostly for her Little Anal Annie line that proved to break a lot of ground for those of you enamored with anal sex these days.
The scene itself was far more complete in terms of human sexuality, including their thoughts of what was taking place with all the insecurities many folks have, than you will currently find on the market. From the foreplay and real life mating rituals to the afterglow shared as they cuddled together, the oral and straight sex was a lot of fun to watch. It reminded me of how much I take for granted when watching porn as well as how much I've forgotten takes place before, during and after real sex. Before I get too gushy though, I feel obligated to point out that Nina's ass was magnificent (and it still is of course, just a bit more experienced). In all, it was a fun scene for couples to enjoy.
The Tunnel: Candida stepped up to the plate for the next scene and directed the beautiful Siobhan as she learned to fully enjoy herself at the hands of a stranger, Steve, in a dark subterranean tunnel that appeared to be part of New York City's subway system. This one was more in line with Candida's earlier works that fused music videos with the sexual expression she wanted to get across to her audience. While a product of its times, the short still managed to keep me interested and if you've seen some of the movies I've reviewed of late, you can figure out on your own that this invoked a powerful response in terms of how the tease and build up worked on me. From Siobhan's initial dreams to her fulfilling her fantasy with Steve (an unknown male figure that she was painting from her recollection), it seemed to grasp a sensual way of thought that was on a higher plane than "porn". If you'd rather watch a couple of people bumping uglies, you'll be out of luck here but I did appreciate the raw sexuality at work here. Like Candida's other scenes, she took her time to fully develop the action, not worrying about what other directors were doing at the time. For that reason alone, it was something I'd feel comfortable watching with someone new to porn.
Summary: Sensual Escape was very interesting to watch and it worked for me alone so I'm sure many others will find it a great choice to share with a significant other. It didn't have the hardcore sex most porn does but for those who are new to porn or want something to spice up their own sex lives without feeling the need to compete in the sexual Olympics, this might be just what they're looking for. I'm going to give it a rating of Recommended for all the fine qualities discussed above but I would have rated it even higher if there had been a third scene (just a bit over an hour is kind of weak in terms of quantity) or better extras. Candida has long marched to the beat of a different drummer and I think a lot of you out there might enjoy this one if your sex life is somehow lacking.
---- 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