Cast: Sasha Vinni, Grace Harlow, Lene Hefner, Devin Wolf, Brooke Lane, Anna Romeo, Helena, Antonio Valentino, Kevin James, Gina LaMarca, Jon Severini, Nikki St. Gilles, Drew Reese
Length: 125:53 minutes
Date of Production: 1996
Extras: The extras included three bonus scenes, some trailers, and a photogallery, with a preview for the long awaited sequel on the second disc. Frankly, I would have preferred a decent remastering for the movie to be the best "extra" the high definition version could have provided, the movie's age greatly limiting what could be done to make it work in a field where two years in considered a scientific "half life".
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Audio/Video Quality: Zazel: The Scent of Love was presented in the same 1.85:1 ratio widescreen color it was shot in by director Philip Mond for Metro Interactive/Cal Vista, this version being the high definition Blu-ray volume released in 1080i resolution using the MPEG-2 codec usually reserved for standard definition titles. For those unaware of the movie's history, suffice it to say that it redefined porn as art for a great many people, the flashy artistry deployed winning many awards back in 1997 and the director hailed as visionary. Needless to say, porn often has a shelf life of a few years and what wowed us all a decade ago is now not only tame but hardly artistic either in many ways. The other problem with the release is that Metro decided to use a low end codec to remaster it in high definition, reducing most of the benefit of the upgrade to the interlaced resolution and limited method it was presented in here, the print itself looking almost the same as it did when the DVD format was brand spanking new. The copious amounts of grain, video noise, and soft focus/lens effects aside, the movie still had some nostalgic appeal to it for me, the inclusion of Sasha Vinni and Anna Romero enough to warm my cold heart all over again. The lighting was okay but the print used looks to be worn and not cleaned up for the release, current economic conditions making such a move prohibitively expensive. The airbrushed bodies looked attractive enough, more recently surpassed by the director's Insexts, and the video bitrate often in the 23.4+ Mbps area that could have really looked sweet had the proper codec been used. The audio was presented in the same 2.0 Dolby Digital English with a 48 kHz sampling rate and 192 Kbps audio bitrate, the aural qualities resigned to music here in a manner that reminds me of the adage of how "a little bit goes a long way". One of my toy testers watched this with me and started yawning, finding the sonic qualities "low end" even as she enjoyed the visuals more than I did. There was no separation or headspace here, the vocals tossed in favor of making a statement, though I doubt most viewers could name what Mond was looking to provide if you handed them the script and director notes.
Body of Review: Philip Mond and Metro Interactive/Cal Vista were once partnered up in making a movie that set out to be revolutionary and visionary at the same time; a movie designed to appeal to women as well as it did to men, something that would sweep awards just before the dawn of the DVD format was popularized. The name of the movie's latest incarnation is Zazel: The Scent of Love: 2 Disc Collector's Set (Blu-ray), a series of artistic scenes short in length but high in erotic appeal. The back cover said it like this: "A breakthrough film in several ways, Zazel focuses almost as much on sensual imagery as it does on sexual heat. The film is ostensibly about the search for the perfect perfume; Zazel (Vinni) a world-famous artist is assigned to create the most arousing scent ever. Her creative mind enters its deepest and most erotic fantasies, participating in encounters ranging from angelic to the demonic in settings whose beauty rivals that of the performers, including several Penthouse Pets. No feeling too deep. No scent too strong. No limit to any experience will keep Zazel from victory in her creative quest for the perfection of her design... The Scent of Love." I remember this being one of my first porn titles on DVD when it came out, impressing my friends with something the likes they had never seen before but the question now is what does the high definition upgrade look & sound like? Unfortunately, it was not given the kind of royal treatment it would have needed to remain viable in the current market, though some may have fond memories of the show well worth picking up a copy, the second disc of extras a nice touch too. Rather than go into a detailed breakdown of the scenes included in the movie, suffice it to say that most of the sex consisted of either a gal masturbating (primarily Sasha Vinni) though the quotient of lesbian sex was off the scale here, and some oral with vaginal penetration in limited positions. The ending scene included anal and a double penetration (DP) but it was weak to say the least and even Penthouse Pets could not make this one work on me now.
The gimmick here was primarily related to the slow motion artistry, most of the ladies wearing some airbrushed body paint as they seduced each other in jungles or wild settings, the grain of the film making me believe the scenes were shot in 16 mm film (or Super 8 then upconverted). The look of the ladies aside, for they looked totally fuckable in their scenes, the manner in which they engaged each other sexually left me cold this weekend when I was watching it for the first time in a long time, forgetting how desolate the industry was when this came out as they looked for the next "big thing" (Zazel spawning dozens of arty farty copy cats without the vision of Mond, nor his casting prowess).
On some levels, the movie still worked for me though, as much for my fond memories of the original release as the quality of this latest upgrade, my desire to watch airbrushed women lurk around wordlessly decreased in recent years having had my fill of older Celeste-directed movies. There was no doubting that Anna and Sasha looked fit and hot, just as the other ladies invoked some stirring in my loins unrelated to the current version's specific appeal. I just couldn't bring myself to write a few sentences about each without turning my comments too negative, resulting in this truncated but descriptive review. The bonus disc helped make it worthy of a Rent It status but three bonus scenes, some trailers, and a photogallery are bare bones extras at this writing, the preview for the long awaited sequel hardly worth commenting on.
Summary: Zazel: The Scent of Love by director Philip Mond for Metro Interactive/Cal Vista was not the worst title in high definition I have received to look at but a few of them simply did not play (mastering defects) and the others were far less ambitious to start out with. The ladies were hot, the editing very well done, and the amount of fuck for the buck was pretty light so I felt the Rent It designation should stand, true believers in the director, the sub-genre, or the movie itself needing to upgrade their expectations for something like Insexts or the sequel rather than revisit titles lost in the mind's eye from what I could tell. In short, check out Zazel: The Scent of Love: 2 Disc Collector's Set (Blu-ray) if you are feeling nostalgic for the good old days but do not expect much since Metro did not revamp the show to the degree I wanted.
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