Eon McKai's work has been getting more and more interesting over the years. Starting with Art School Sluts through to the Kill, Girl, Kill films to his current work for Vivid-Alt, if you look at his work through the years you can see how it's all built up to his latest project, The Doll Underground. Based loosely around the exploits of The Weathermen, the sixties leftist revolutionary group who blew up a few government buildings in the late sixties and early seventies, initially in opposition to the Vietnam War.
McKai's Doll Underground is a small resistance group lead by the mysterious Dorn Adorn (Pixie Pearl) who, through recorded messages and various forms of propaganda, recruits three young women - Lexi Belle, Reagan Maddux, and Presley Maddox. The girls throw off the shackles of mainstream society and eschew their street clothes for black and white Lolita/Goth outfits and set out to basically smash the state. Along the way they use a few lucky men, make out with one another, and masturbate. This is a porno movie after all. So without further ado...
Scene One - Reagan Maddux And Lexi Belle: These two girls sit beside one another on the train and start kissing. No one else is around and so the kissing intensifies and they slowly and awkwardly undress one another. Regan sucks Lexi's tits for a bit and then pulls down her pants so that she can finger her. The girls eventually get completely naked and take turns using their fingers and their tongues on one another as the film playing outside the window gives the intentionally fake illusion of train travel. The get dressed once their done and enjoy the rest of their trip. This scene is pretty short but it's very well shot and if you didn't know it was staged could definitely pass for the real deal.
Scene Two - Presley Maddox And James Deen: When this scene starts, Presley is going down on James like blowjobs are going out of style. For what it's worth, I personally hope that never happens. Regardless, she gives him some quality head in the stairwell of an industrial building. He bends her over and plays with her pussy from behind and then fucks her doggy style and then she blows him some more. She lies back and spreads her legs for some missionary style action, with periodic breaks so that he can eat her out. She rides him reverse cowgirl, blows him, rides him some more then gets more missionary loving before blowing him one last time and taking a wad to her face to finish the scene. This is a solid scene with some genuine heat and solid camera work. It's light just enough that all the detail you'd want is there but it still retains a nice cinematic quality, it doesn't look bleached out or overly lit like so much porn does.
Scene Three - Pixie Pearl: Pixie starts this solo scene full dressed and lying on her bed. She licks her black dildo which makes for a neat contrast against her pale white face and bright red lipstick. Once she's done that she looks shyly into the camera and undresses, putting her hand down her panties and playing with her breasts. She fingers herself quietly and gently keeping regular eye contact with the camera. She brings that dildo back and plays with it for a bit, working her self to what looks to be a very real climax. This is pretty hot stuff. Despite the eye contact, which lets us know she knows we're watching her, Pixie gives the impression she's not doing this for you or me, she's doing it for herself. Yum.
Scene Four - Regan Maddox, Lexi Belle And Daniel: Daniel (wearing a gas mask initially) and his two lovely playmates start the scene off with some foreplay. There's a lot of finger sucking here and the girls obviously enjoy kissing one another. The girls sixty-nine one another and Daniel fingers Lexi from behind while she's down on all fours. He mounts Regan missionary style for a bit and then Lexi rides him reverse cowgirl style so that Regan can play with her breasts. The girls give Daniel head, it's a team effort, and he fingers them. They get a nice three-way going, and once he's ready to go he shoots onto their faces. The girls look fantastic here and the sex feels natural and not forced, which is a nice touch. The gas mask the beginning is a little hokey but it fits the tone of the picture and is in keeping with the film's ideals.
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Scene Five - Pixie Pearl And Herschel Savage: Pixie sits on Herschel's lap and they kiss until she takes his pants down and gives him head. She does this for a good long while until he takes her pants down and eats her from behind before fucking her doggy style. She blows him again, gets reamed doggy style again, and then takes him missionary style and fingers herself while he works her over. He pulls out and jacks off onto her shaved mound and brings yet another very honest feeling and genuinely hot sex scene to a finish.
Scene Six - Lexi Belle And Alex Gonz: These two start the scene with a bit of kissing but Lexi wastes no time getting naked and Alex sucks her tits like his life depends on it. She sucks his dick for a bit then lies back so that he can finger her and eat her out. He fucks her missionary style and then she rolls over and he does her doggy style from behind. She drops to her knees and blows him again, and then she gets on her side and he spoon fucks her. She rolls over for more missionary action then gets down on her knees in front of him so he can blow his load onto her face and her cleavage. The sixth and final sex scene in the feature is of the same caliber as the five that came before it. It's well shot, well performed, and passionate enough that it works.
McKai's picture has been beautifully shot and carefully composed. Splicing in clips from old propaganda movies and using old school effects he's definitely given the film a retro look while maintaining his trademark alt porn aesthetic. That might sound high brow when discussing what is at its core a simple fuck film, but there's more going on here than simple copulation. While in a sense the girls taking facials and getting pounded doggy style while having their asses slapped contradicts their 'rise up and make it stop' manifesto, we never once get the sense that they're not in control of the sex scenes. Calling the film a feminist statement might be a stretch but on the opposite side of that coin, the old argument that porn degrades women doesn't really apply here.
The Doll Underground runs the risk of alienating run of the mill porn viewers. While the sex is beautifully shot and completely hot, some folks might find that there simply isn't enough of it here to spank to often enough. That said, McKai has made a career out of pushing the boundaries of mainstream pornography. Contradictory or not, the film is a veritable collage of political rants, hot sex, art school visuals and dark humor. The fact that films like this are coming out from Vivid is a testament to his success and The Doll Underground is, at the time of this writing at least, his crowning achievement.
This shot on video production looks pretty clean presented here in a reasonably stable 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. There is some mild edge enhancement in a couple of spots and a noticeable bit of mpeg compression evident in some of the darker colors and the blacks but other than that, there's not a lot to complain. Skin tones look nice and natural except for a few scenes where the lighting has been intentionally set to give the girls a 'dollish' look. The compositions are dead on, and aside from the fact that this digital video production suffers from a little bit of occasional softness, everything looks good. The Doll Underground fares very well on DVD.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track is quite sufficient. The dialogue comes through cleanly and clearly as do all of the moans and groans. The soundtrack is mixed in properly at a decent level to make sure that we can hear both the music as well as the performers as the same time. Bass response is nice and lively and overall, for a porno movie, this is a way, way better than average effort and it actually sounds really good.
Aside from some menus, chapter selection and a few trailers, the first disc's only true supplement is a commentary track from director Eon McKai who flies solo on this track after warning us that he's probably going to be really boring. This commentary more or less skips over the sex scenes and covers the more cinematic aspects of the production. He talks about Alaska's design artwork and he explains how he started the Doll Underground website after finding that a lot of his alt porn contemporaries started talking in a less than pleasant manner about McKai. The website got passed around through the web and got to be very popular almost by accident, and how he's wanted to make a Lolita-Goth movie using some Japanese influences but putting his own slant on it. The film was ultimately born out of his frustration with modern day America and how it would be cool to 'have cute girls come in, take away all our debt and blow things up.' From there he talks about the sets, where and how they were built, and about the film's interesting camerawork. McKai notes that this is probably the only anti-sprawl adult film ever made, and he talks about the importance of one character's psychic power! McKai obviously put a lot of thought into pretty much every aspect of the this production, and you get the impression from this track that he worked quite hard on it and that it meant a lot to him. It's an interesting track that's played completely straight, avoiding typical alt porn gossip and focusing on the project at hand. This track, as opposed to a lot of porno commentary tracks, is actually worth listening to.
Disc Two features a few interesting bonus features starting with a featurette entitled Behind The Doll's Uniforms (7:57) that takes a look at the work that went into the wardrobe for the film. Essentially, when the girls in the film join the Doll Underground they have to change from their street clothes to their costumes. McKai narrates footage that shows off the costumes, all of which are black and white and all of which are based around Japanese Lolita/Goth/Cos-Play ideas. All of the costumes for this movie were made specifically for the film, not purchased online.
Behind the Scenes (20:09) is exactly that - a look behind the scenes of the film as it was in production. This isn't particularly well structured and it isn't a traditional behind the scenes featurette, rather it's simply a bunch of random material captured with a handheld camcorder. A few of the girls talk on camera about the film while Octavio Winkytiki grumbles and Pixie Pearl of the actresses plays around on her Myspace page. We see the sets being worked on and some of the footage being shot and we see how a fair bit of improvisation played into the film.
From there, check out the Archival Propaganda Films That Influenced the Movie. There are four films included in this section: In B&W And Color In The Suburbs (19:29, an old Redbook Magazine piece about the lives of young adults in the suburbs),Physical Aspects Of Puberty (17:38, a Canadian educational film from McGraw Hill about the trials and tribulations of becoming an adolescent),Community Growth: Crisis And Challenge (16:01, A National Association Of Home Builders promotional film meant to educate people about land development), and Police Detectives And Their Work (8:12, A very cool animated joint production between the F.B.I. and the U.S. Postal Investigators that shows laymen how the law men of St. Paul Minnesota do their job). These are available to watch individually or through a 'play all' function.
The unusually titled Buff Monster Teaches the Dolls to Screen Print (8:50) featurette is just what the title says - a fly on the wall look at how a screen printer taught the actresses how to work a press just before the feature started shooting. It's pretty dark and unusually lit but considerably more interesting than you'd probably expect it to be.
The Dorn Adorn's Viral Communiqué's section is a collection of the three promotional spots that were used to advertise the film. You can watch these individually or through the 'play all' button. The first, Rise Up, (1:34) features one of Pixie's manifesto's spoken over some tease footage of the girls and snippets of old industrial films. The second, which is untitled (2:06), features more of the great tease footage we saw in the first with a slightly more dangerous slant to it along with more snippets from old industrial films and some more of Pixie's Doll Underground manifesto speeches. The third and final communiqué, The Doll Underground (3:06), is more of the same type of material, cut differently, and with a heavier focus one how times are changing and with a call to action.
Eon's Onset Photos (6:15) is simply a series of McKai's digital photographs taken on set and during the production set to some music from the film's score. Most of these are behind the scenes and/or glamour shots. Perverts and horndogs should be advised that there isn't much in the way of sex here, or in any of the supplements to be honest. That's not a bad thing - the supplements here are honestly interesting which is a rare thing for a porno DVD.
Also included with this release is the soundtrack on CD. Tracks are as follows:
In Love With You by Terminal 11
Toothbrush by Nonplus
Let's Set Up North On Fire by Sailboats Are White
Remix Of Exillon by Terminal 11
Planned Communist Kristall Enacht by Nonplus
Just Don't Know Where I Begin by Terminal 11
Faceless Cowboy by A Trillian Barnacle Lapse
Sea Heroes by Dog
The Doll Underground is one of the best Vivid Alt releases to date. While you might not want your porn to 'say something' this picture actually works as a political statement against the current established government and simultaneously against the porn industry as well that mixes in surprisingly well with six rock hard sex scenes. The audio and video quality is top notch and the extras are genuinely interesting, amusing and plentiful. This one gets the XCritic pick award.