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Advice: Rent It
Jessica Drake and Justin Magnum.
Director: Brad Armstrong
Cast: Jessica Drake, Justin Magnum, Brooke Haven, Kayla Carrera, Kimberly Kole, Randy Spears, Chelsie Rae, Tyler Knight, Mikayla, Tommy Gunn, Chris Cannon, Marcus London, Joey Ray
Length: 81:14 minutes
The Harlots of Hamlin (sounds like a rock group).
Date of Production: 6/6/2007
Extras: For many, the best extras will be the bonus scenes from Fuck and Eternity. I described them below in detail for those who care but they were decent extras, if unrelated to this actual production. There was also a lengthy 33:11 minute long Behind the Scenes feature by Jax and Mark Stone that offered up some extra sex, a few flubbed lines, general goofing off, and some background detail by Brad, Jessica, and some of the others involved in the making of the movie. There was even a scene that simply didn’t make the cut called Cinderella’s Nightmare where Brad discussed how sometimes things don’t work out but since they spent the money, didn’t want to toss the scene completely. Brad spoke for 3:14 minutes but the scene itself lasted 12:52 minutes and told the tale of Cinderella with Jessica and Brad in the leading roles. If the other scenes looked rough, this one was terrible (the camera was set up wrong, the lighting bad, and a host of described problems later; the couple did oral, vaginal, and anal as best I could tell; kidding…well sort of) but it was a nice extra all the same. There were seven photogalleries, four star stats, the popshot compilation from the scenes, spam, the usual promotional reel for the company, some DVD ROM features, a slipcase cover in book form and a fold out DVD case inside with a booklet attached. Oh yeah, there were also 6 trailers to shows like Operation: Desert Stormy, Coming Home, Black Widow, Melt, Delilah, Just Between Us, and for the movie itself The Craving.
More Harlots of Hamlin.
Audio/Video Quality: The Craving was presented in an appealing 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color as shot by director Brad Armstrong for Wicked Pictures on film. While filmed in high definition, it was down converted to a regular DVD (in the future, the HD version should look better), so there was some major grain in the scenes where lighting was minimized. The bad news is that even in the day scenes, the visual elements were well handled but full of grain and film stock problems, greatly impacting my appreciation of the movie. The video noise was heavy but the composition of the scenes was extremely well taken care of, enhancing the look of the ladies to an extent but only doing as much as Francois Clousot could under the circumstances. That the movie was shot on film has long been something I think is a huge mistake by any of the companies; even the best releases coming off as artistic and cheap; a poor combination. The audio was presented with two choices this time, a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround English track (in 384 Kbps) that balanced the vocals and music nicely, or a 2.0 Dolby Digital Spanish dub in 192 Kbps. The audio seemed to be another step in the right direction for Wicked Pictures, even though the vocals were almost certainly recorded in monaural or dubbed in later (not to mention limited in scope). Still, the music was well done and the overall quality of the audio was slightly better than average as well.
Chelsie Rae and Tyler Knight.
Body of Review: Brad Armstrong is currently the lead director for Wicked Pictures and as much as some of his peers make interesting movies, few of them approach his level of skill for the entire process. With the critical success of Coming Home, anything of his that comes out for the next few months will be held to an unfair standard so I go in as fresh as possible on his titles to prevent myself from being too critical. That said, his latest movie to come out is The Craving; a flick shot on film with a smaller budget that takes a decidedly adult look at childhood fairy tales of old using the lovely Jessica Drake as narrator and spotlight contract gal in many of the scenes. As soon as I found out it was shot on film, I winced, sight unseen at that, due to the way such projects have difficulty porting over to DVD these days. My initial concerns were immediately found to be too accurate but I knew that given the cast and sweet extras present, I could still have some fun here. That said, here is a quick look at the scenes, noting that condoms were used and the grain was radioactively bad in most cases:
Mikayla looked better in the BTS (as did they all).
Scene One: Sleeping Beauty: Jessica Drake, the hotty on the front cover, was up first in a snow covered setting in this retelling of the curse of Sleeping Beauty with Justin Magnum, as the prince that awakened her. The grain was rough and I was happy to see the colors kick in when the scene went indoors, the two trying to get free of their restrictive clothing for some modern day sex. The upbeat music was not really fitting, nor was the condom, but the scene was far from the worst looking on the DVD and that helped sell it for me a little more. It was oral and vaginal only with a few positions covered and Jessica’s huge wig looking kind of weird on her head. She was an active rider and despite the visual flaws, I did find the scene enjoyable but I’m a fan of hers so your mileage may vary considerably. It ended when he rubbed out the semen to her face, providing an okay tale but not up to Brad’s usual standards.
Jessica kissed a lot of frogs to find her prince.
Scene Two: Pied Piper of Hamlin: Brooke Haven, Kayla Carrera, Kimberly Kole, Jessica Drake, and other ladies were the ones the womenfolk of the medieval town hired the infamous flute player played by Randy Spears, to rid the town of. Yes, the story about rats was said to be originally about whores and harlots, with Randy using his skills with the pipe to lure them away into a decadent sex scene. The end result was an orgy where the ladies used Randy and each other to please themselves, a lot of lesbian licking replacing the meat driving due to the outnumbered guy finding too much going on to handle. The tattoos, implants, condoms, and modern day music added to the metal vibrators but this was a case of too much going on to capture without more staff. It was also a very short scene; ending after minimal sex and Randy busting a wad of population pudding out for the gals to share orally.
Scene Three: Little Red Riding Hood: Chelsie Rae, a sexy little blond strolling through the forest at night, ended up with a heavily made up Tyler Knight outside of a medieval cottage. He pawed her in his werewolf costume, the gal responding as though finding it appealing as he went down on her. She blew him, they fucked vaginally pretty hard, and then moved to anal as she bounced on his lap aggressively. The giveaways to the time period aside, including the ATM, it was another heated pairing inhibited by the technical values more than anything; the load rubbed out to her face really soon.
Scene Four: Rapunzel: Mikayla, a curvy brunette with a nicely trimmed pubic region, was up next as she lowered her extensive hair to allow suitor Tommy Gunn to scale the sheer wall of the tower she was trapped inside of. The legend of old was less “adapted” this time as they reunited and started the typical porn sex. I liked and appreciated their enthusiasm; both of them proving to be sexual athletes well worth watching, but the mechanical energy did not translate into chemistry so perhaps the setting got in the way. The editing left something to be desired here too (as the opening before the credits was off somehow) but the generic sexuality displayed was strokable for a time or two. As with most of the other scenes, they sucked, diddled, and vaginally fucked with some taste testing too. The mouth pop closed it out and I suspect everyone involved with the scene probably re-thought the concept once they were on set.
Scene Five: Princess and the Frog: Jessica Drake, playing a princess or forest nymph traveling down a winding path; surrounded by nature’s creatures (per the narration). She stumbled across a talking frog, well he talked to her at least since all the audience heard was some fake frog noises, and after kissing him, he turned into Chris Cannon; complete in costumed attire. He asked her how he could pay her back and she whispered in his ear; presumably saying something about doing it froggy style as they were all over each other after that. He went down on her and she blew him to completion for a facial, the scene ending too quickly. That would have been it except that she continued on her way, finding a series of other cursed frogs asking for a kiss; the lady refusing to turn them down as she blew Joey Ray next. This was a really quick scene (a few minutes and he was popping a nut) and she was approached by one last frog to kiss; the magic not working as Marcus London walked up on the crazy women to inquire what her problem was. They kissed, she blew him to a facial after a couple of minutes, and she walked away with the guy to a slightly ominous ending in cliffhanger fashion.
Bonus Scene 1: Fuck: Jessica Drake, Katsumi, Felecia, and Clara G., were up next in fancy Victorian garb as the quartet played a group of dolls whose sole function was to pleasure one another. The wigs, heavy outfits, and elaborate make up were just some of the details used to flesh out this lesbian tryst with Katsumi getting into the role the most with her robotic styled movements in the early stages of the scene. Once they started going at one another, there was no clear winner as to who was the best partner but they shared a goodly amount of chemistry together as they licked, fingered, and felt each other up. I think I would have preferred the vocals to be elevated here and the toys left to the wayside but I never doubted that all four of them were getting off on one another.
Bonus Scene 2: Eternity: Jessica Drake, a major contract gal at Wicked Pictures, was up in a bedroom scene with Chris Cannon. She's the gal featured on the dead center of the front DVD cover and someone who virtually always generates more heat than the typical contract gal with strawberry blonde hair and a nice set of curves. He went down on her first and took her doggy style before she did some PTM (pussy to mouth). The scene sure didn't last long before he rubbed out a load to her mouth yet I thought she was well suited for the role.
Summary: The Craving by director Brad Armstrong for Wicked Pictures had some appeal to me that would have been a lot easier to embrace had the picture looked a lot better. It was especially tough having seen the BTS look so sharp and clear by comparison, the use of film a problem for years in porn due to the lower budgets and general expertise of the production staff. The ladies were attractive enough and there was some strokable sex, gals like Jessica Drake looking transformed, and a solid package of extras but even watching the movie on my computer screen, it looked really rough (my high definition big screen TV made it look incredibly poor) so I rated it as a Rent It. I’ve seen the comedic “fractured fairytales” approach a number of times in the past so the dramatic leaning of this one had a different kind of appeal but ultimately, The Craving did not live up to the potential of the excellent art direction and ideas as presented by Brad Armstrong.
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