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Dark Angels: Special Collector's Edition

Studio: New Sensations » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 11/30/05

XCritic's Advice: Highly Recommended

Dark Angels: Special Collector's Edition

Digital Sin

Genre: Feature

Director: Nic Andrews

Cast: Ginger Paige, Voodoo, Sydnee Steele, Mike Horner, Jewel De'Nyle, Mickey G., McKayla, April, Erik Everhard, Phylisha Ryder, Dillion Day
Non-sex roles: Evan Stone, Sean Holland, Red Velvet, Big Lloyd, Delaney Daniels, Justine Ramone, Miko Lee, Kelsey Heart, Michael Lynn, Steve Newburn, Abel Lopez, Nancy Vee, Paige Sinclaire, George Kaplan, Andre Madness, Mike Del Rossa, Steve Carpenter, Reo D'Genero, Scott Michaels, Angelia Loftus, Mihn Lee, Robby D., Kiri, Bailey, Samantha Way, Bob Nolegs, Beau Holland, Dani Dmytryk, others uncredited

Length: 118 minutes
Note: The sex scenes totaled up to be about 48 minutes long by themselves.

Date of Production: 9/10/2000

Extra's: When this was originally released, the extras were probably the best of any porn DVD; setting the standard for the industry. On the first DVD, there were two audio commentaries; one starring Director Nic Andrews, Sydnee Steele, Dillion Day, Kelsey Heart and Erik Everhard. On the second commentary, called the crew commentary, there was Nic Andrews, his assistant director Sean Holland, set designer Michael Lynn, assistant cameraman Andre Madness, Evan Stone, special make up FX Mike Del Rossa, and Kylie Ireland (who had nothing to do with the movie but served as a great independent voice of reason. The cast commentary had an option where you could watch them as they watched the movie, though they kept their clothes on and simply hung out as they added in anecdotes about the shoot and personal observations, in a small box in the lower right hand corner. For what it's worth, I thought each commentary was pretty interesting, as much due to time capsule impact of listening years later (and knowing how Jewel De' Nyle had built up a grudge against Nic which was why she wasn't participating on the commentary tracks though he made a ton a snippy comments about her in them). There was also an isolated score by Derik Andrews and Inversion 89; something you don't hear every day in a porn extras section, mainly because music is so poorly handled most of the time. Lastly, there was a script with a direct to scene feature that allowed true fans to read the dialogue and see how they turned out.

The second disc had more of the general extras we associate with porn releases, including a Behind the Scenes feature broken up into four smaller titles including; The Making of a Nightmare (13:40), Building the Perfect Beast (16:31), Raising the Stakes (12:53), and Evan Stone's Loop Session (3:52). Together, they added some real value and understanding to the movie, much like similar features on mainstream movies. There was then a blooper's reel lasting 7:43 that showed how much everyone was screwing up, especially some of the later material that wore on the cast (like Jewel). There were three photogalleries, a number of trailers, movie magazine layouts detailing the various aspects of the movie, a couple of movie reviews (one from AVN and the other from Adam Film World), a few adult magazine articles, and a list of AVN nominations and awards won (as well as a VSDA win for best title of the year). In all, it may not be as large a selection of extras as you'd find on a title like Camp Cuddly Pines but five years ago, this was nothing short of amazing (and it would still rank on a very short list compared to modern porn releases).

-- sponsored by --

Condoms: None

Audio/Video Quality: Dark Angels was presented in a letterboxed (non-anamorphic) 1.85:1 ratio unlike most scenes at the time (or now for that matter) as directed by Nic Andrews for Digital Sin. The movie was shot on video but made to look like film with the use of various special effects (that largely worked by the way). There was very little grain compared to similar movies shot on film but there was some video noise relating to the type of movie it was. The fleshtones were accurate, the composition of the scenes designed to enhance the ladies, and the overall quality of the picture still holds up over five years later as being well done. The audio was presented in a 2.0 Dolby Digital English track with a bit of separation between the channels and some decent dynamic range. The vocals were clear, the special effects (both visual and auditory) well done, and the music was above average even for today.

Body of Review: As the latest AVN awards draw closer, a number of really well made movies are coming up as potential candidates for best movie of the year. One of the titles is, of course, Dark Angels 2, a sequel to an award winning title from five years ago Dark Angels: Special Collector's Edition. The original movie is the subject of today's review and is a good way to prepare for the sequel that is heading my way as I type this retro-review. Shot on video by director Nic Andrews, Dark Angels was a movie about vampires and sex, made with the kind of budget rarely seen in porn as it was shot piece by piece over a three month period. Starring then superstar performer Jewel De'Nyle, the movie detailed a group of deadly vampires led by a queen (played by Sydnee Steele) and their interaction with a police detective (Dillion Day) who tried to protect Jewel from the coven of creepy critters. The movie was notable as an early attempt at crossing over between porn and mainstream, sporting a variety of special effects that were on par with many shot for television and cable productions of the time. It was also one of the movies that landed Digital Sin on the map as a leader in DVD technology as well as the alleged movie that landed Nic his contract at Digital Playground (he has since moved back to Digital Sin). The movie elements were as good as you'd find back when it came out and it won numerous AVN awards such as best video feature, best director, and best DVD extras for good reason; it was a well crafted movie in a field where churning them out on a daily basis is considered a higher priority. Here's a quick glimpse into the original with hopes it serves as a reminder for the quality of the sequel, noting that condoms weren't used but the sex took second place to the story aspects of the movie:

Scene One: Ginger Paige, dressed up to look something akin to the Traci Lords character in the first Blade movie, took Voodoo, (then under the name Voodoo Child) into a bathroom stall to have an oral and vaginal scene together. The couple had some chemistry together and displayed a lot of energy with her riding him very passionately before the pop shot. It was nominated for an award but it was too short by current standards.

Scene Two: Sydnee Steele, long before she was a Wicked Pictures contract gal, was dressed in fetish attire as she got into a car at night with Mike Horner. Initially it was a blowjob scene but she used her hand to increase the friction and he returned the oral pleasure on her before they screwed vaginally in a couple of positions. The scene was as cramped looking as the last one due to the location of the sex but it came off as something more realistic because of it. Sydnee looked great here and showed more energy then she's displayed in a long time.

Scene Three: Jewel De'Nyle, the cute lead of the movie shown on the lower left hand corner of the front DVD cover, was up next in a lesbian scene with sultry Sydnee Steele in a bed at night. Sydnee still had her PVC gloves and other fetish garb on and the two fingered one another as well as went down on each other. There was some lesbian anal with a couple of fingers plunging into the puckered backside of the two starlets. In all, it was a decent scene and holds up even today.

Scene Four: Jewel De'Nyle, now a corpse at the morgue, had sex with one of the only guys in porn that I'd realistically believe would engage in necrophilia, Mickey G. She came to life and showed him that live (or is that the "undead") women are pretty good too and after some minor kissing, he went down on her lovely labia. This led to her showing what a great blowjob she could give in return and then he rode her pussy in a few positions before he blew his load like most guys would've done much earlier.

Scene Five: Jewel De'Nyle, undeniably at her peak when this was shot, had a short masturbation sequence in the bed. I didn't like that it was at night and so poorly lit but it furthered the all important story. That said; let's face it; if given a chance to watch a hotty like Jewel jill herself silly, would you pass it up? I know I'd be there like Johnnie Bench stooped over to catch every bit of the action I could see.

Scene Six: McKayla and Ginger Paige, a couple of attractive gals from yesteryear, were up next in a lesbian scene while April and Erik Everhard screwed with abandon. This had been filmed in December and the gals were freezing so their erect nipples might've been due more to the temperature than the sexual excitement they showed. Erik hammered away as he was (and still is) known for and the ladies all seemed enthusiastic when giving and getting oral. Sadly, the two couples didn't join into one big orgy but fans of bloody sex (the gals were covered in the stuff) will find it appealing. It was actually one of the better scenes of the movie too.

Scene Seven: Phylicia Ryder, looking as Gothic as any of the other gals in the movie (if not more so), wore some appealing lingerie as she blew studly Dillion Day in a darkened alley at night. The scene used a lot of MTV style editing and it looked better than most dark scenes made even today. The couple moved on to offer some vaginal sex but it was not as dynamic as the previous scene, even if it was handled well for the movie. There was a pop shot to her face but the phrase "back off bitch" had me howling in laughter, much like the crew when they were commenting on it.

Summary: Dark Angels was one of the classic pornos on DVD from the earlier years of the format and it helped drive the competition that still causes companies to try and outdo themselves each year in an effort to win awards and show fans what porn is capable of when someone tries really hard to offer quality entertainment. When it came out, it was one of the top titles of the time and would've earned a collector's rating but even now, nearly three generations in "porn time" later, it's worth a very respectable Highly Recommended. From what I hear, the sequel is even better so I'll look forward to checking it out soon, perhaps in time to win an award or two from DVD Talk's upcoming Top Porn of the Year if it pans out. The biggest weakness some of you will have with the movie is how short the sex scenes were but given the nature of the entertainment, it was light years ahead of the pack and deserves to be evaluated as such, especially in light of the decline of several companies that used to offer some of the best porn made before the budget cuts took precedence over quality. Jewel De'Nyle, Sydnee Steele, Dillion Day and even campy Evan Stone all were great in their roles but a tremendous amount of credit has to go to the guy that made it all happen; Nic Andrews. I only wish he'd be given more opportunities to shoot such features, regardless of whom he's working for. Good job Nic!

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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