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Throat: A Cautionary Tale (Blu-Ray)

Studio: Vivid » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 6/9/09

XCritic's Advice: Watch It Online

All screen shots from a graciously donated SD version (click for trailer)

Throat: A Cautionary Tale

Vivid Entertainment

Genre: Feature

Director: Paul Thomas

Cast: Sasha Grey, Aline Love, Trent Tesoro, Penny Flame, Kelly "Fuckin" Wells, Beverly Hills, Ricki Raxxx, Brynn Tyler, Carmen McCarthy, Emilianna, Megan Monroe, Robyn Truelove, Allie Foster, Voodoo, Marco Banderas, Tom Byron, Rocco Reed, Jerry, Evan Stone, Lee Stone

Aline Love and Sasha Grey

Length: 123:58 minutes

Date of Production: 6/17/2008

Extras: Once again, Vivid truncated the extras from the far less expensive SD version of the movie in order to put the extras in high definition so there were only two bonus scenes, both described below with links to the original reviews ("The Nikki Jayne Experiment" and "20 Questions"). There was also a fun 20:58 minute long Behind the Scenes feature by lovable Jimmy D, a photogallery, and some trailers.

Sasha Grey and Trent Tesoro

Condoms: Two

Audio/Video Quality: Throat: A Cautionary Tale was presented in a 1.78:1 ratio widescreen as shot by director Paul Thomas for Vivid Entertainment using the VC-1 codec to provide a 720p resolution (it was shot in 720p at 24 fps). I have not seen the SD version of the movie but there was a lot of grain in the darker moments of the movie, some video noise, and other issues that centered on the way the camera moved so fluidly. The video bitrate was low but decent enough, often hovering around the 13.2 Mbps mark when I spot checked it, the issues due to lighting more than anything else. The trouble with making a "dark" porno with many night scenes is that few companies are willing to pay for the equipment to handle it right, the inevitable grain a result that low end consumers might not care about but those of us suitably equipped find troublesome given the added expense (and loss of extras) such Blu-ray titles provide. There were a variety of special effects and artistic gestures that stood out too, though they did so at the expense of the movie so I cannot say that they were overly welcome. The audio was presented in a 2.0 Dolby Digital English with a 192 Kbps bitrate and 48 kHz sampling rate, a direct import from the SD version from what I understand. The music was a mixed bag with some of it sounding wildly out of place while the vocals appeared to be dubbed in several cases, the problem being how do you balance the need for realism versus the need for the vocals to be heard as if you were in a quiet room? I attribute most of that problem to the way Thomas kind of makes stuff up as he goes along in his productions but given how he was under the gun on a timeline, I fully appreciate why so many of the aspects of the technical part of the movie ended up this way. There was not a lot of separation on the audio track outside of the music and the dynamic range was generic but I'm sure it suited those playing the movie through their television's speakers just fine.

The Orgy

Body of Review: Despite all those press releases to the contrary, few adult movies ever achieve icon status these days. I suspect this is because the genre has become so culturally polarized, the highest accolades you hear from the vast majority of people amounting to "it was pretty good for a porno." Let's face it, most of the shock value is gone thanks to 35+ years of ever increasing volumes of movies being released, far too many critics feeling the need to jump on the porn PR wagon and encourage companies to routinely tell us how groundbreakingly great their latest release is (at least until the next week). The good news is that after a lengthy period of time when circus act sex was glorified ("see performer X do a triple anal, suck the semen off the floor with a straw, and then piss all over the room" kind of stuff), a growing number of consumers are fed up, essentially walking away from paying for more of the same. Yeah, they can also get their smut online but I'm talking about a lot of people that are fed up with diminished expectations and are finding other adult activities to occupy their time. This economic cleansing will help distinguish the industry players into two groups; those that will still make a living and those that move on since the glorious days when anyone could make a living will be over. Websites like Xcritic that refuse to sell out to advertisers will still be around to help advise consumers what might work for them will still be in great demand too. That said, we found a movie that has been praised all over the place and needed a closer look, a title called Throat: A Cautionary Tale (Blu-ray).

Penny Flame was the best thing about the movie

-- sponsored by --

First off, my first introduction with the movie was via a cable series called "Deeper Throat" in which porn legend (and owner of Vivid Entertainment) set out to acquire the rights to make a proper sequel to the well known "Deep Throat." For those that don't remember the movie, it was one of the very first pornos with a storyline and was released in adult theaters back when most major cities actually had such places for horny perverts to go to. The advent of the home video tape player helped broaden the market for such movies and city ordinances combined to finish off most of them but there was a time when people would get in lines to watch a porno; "Deep Throat" being the most memorable. In any case, Mr. Hirsch wanted to convince the current copyright holder that he was going to make a huge sequel and the series detailed just what a bad idea that turned out to be. It wasn't just because there have been scores of such sequels released over the years or that none of them lived up to the original, but he wanted it to serve as a tribute to a movie that arguably started the modern porn phenomenon. Needless to say, "reality TV" made most of the participants look like idiots and when all was said and done, the remake became an albatross for director Paul Thomas, the man having to write and rewrite the script under great pressure. My own experience with such a task has shown that the faster a story is written, the more of myself ends up in the final product, and this was no exception. Paul ended up writing a dark murder mystery instead of the light breezy comedy, the only similarity being that the lead performer had her clitoris in her throat. I strongly suggest fans avoid the Showtime series lest it impact your taste for the movie as it seems to have done for me.

Sasha Grey and Trent Tesoro

Without spoiling the story too much, Sasha Grey plays the lead as Julie Garrett, a cash-strapped young lady that gets into live sex shows as a means of supporting herself. Emotionally distant as ever, Sasha learns to look at the patrons as "dollar bills" and the flashback style of the flick is due to her demise shown at the beginning of the movie. We get to see Penny Flame and Tom Byron play the detectives assigned to solving her murder, Trent Tesoro as her greedy boyfriend that learns her attitude that "people=money", and an assortment of other porners in supporting roles with far less to do. Julie's discovery that she can only get off by deep throating toys or men provides the gimmick driving the show, the conflict between her and those who would exploit her the reason for watching the movie at all. Sadly, her character is written as so cold and dispassionate that I really didn't care much for her in terms of the movie dialogue, merely as another disposable babe in a sea full of them.

Sasha Grey blowing a line of men, one at a time

The back cover describes the movie like this: "A beautiful young woman is found dead in a field amidst shards of broken glass. Who was she? Why did she die? Who killed her? We move back in time to her life as a young student, waiting tables, unable to make ends meet. She takes a job in a peep show where she learns, to her great amazement, that the seat of her sexuality is in her throat. Suddenly her sex life, always a pretense of pleasure, changes dramatically. But where she sees pleasure, her boyfriend sees profit...and pushes ''The Girl With The Golden Throat'' up the ladder of success, from peep show to private clients to featuring in a major club called The Zone. Tired of being used, she snaps...and attempts to bite off the cock of the biggest porn star in history...leading to her own tragic demise. And of course, during the autopsy, the coroner and his assistant find something in her throat they've never seen in any throat before: a clitoris...a tiny bit of flesh that made and unmade the life of a lovely young girl." Rather than give a mechanical breakdown of the scenes by cast and sex act, I'm going to provide you with a few brief impressions I had when watching the movie's sexual parts, the story line very much worth watching once, maybe twice, but not enough on its own to merit purchasing the show in Blu-ray.

Sasha Grey looking at the mighty Evan Stone's wand

Sasha Grey and Aline Love broke the sex cherry of the movie by masturbating in front of a small audience. The gals were paid to perform sex shows and Aline was shown to be far more experienced as part of the plot. Sasha's cold character displays no natural abilities to excite men outside of her looks, and they didn't go too far if you catch my drift. They had slightly better success when Aline was "teaching" Sasha how to deep throat, Sasha's over reacting making me wince at the suggested orgasm.

Sasha Grey then had mechanical sex with her "boyfriend", played by Trent Tesoro. The living room was standard enough and her cool nature towards him suggested more than just a rift having developed between them, it suggested they were hanging on to one another for reasons far outside what most consider social acceptable (no love, no like, just economic benefit). She blew him like it was her job and the levels of dynamic tension were miniscule, my mind admittedly wandering to thoughts of things like questioning the physical ailment she had (a clitoris in the throat requiring her to deep throat to orgasm). Why wouldn't she weigh four hundred pounds due to the way food would stimulate her clitoris? How could a guy as modestly endowed as Trent trigger anything at all given how there was no way his cock reached the back of her throat?

Penny Flame and Tom Byron; chemistry incarnate

The next scene up of a sexual nature was the orgy at the club with most of the cast given snippets of screen time as Penny and Tom walked the dark, dingy warehouse of sin. I found it hard to be tough on the director here since orgies are among the most difficult things to capture properly on camera, this one no different thanks in large part to the weak lighting, the almost episodic manner in which the editing was handled, and the mechanical nature of the sex acts being performed. Sexually speaking, it left me and others I've spoken to cold with the transition between scenes to get to this point lacking on a whole different level. Yeah, there was some penetration and a lot of oral, various performers trying to get one another off, and all the trappings of a modern "feature porno" but it wasn't strokable and the editing seemed to be extra choppy, as though it were rushed more than the script had been.

An offshoot of the orgy was Penny Flame getting down and dirty as the hordes of onlookers pawed the young lady. This was the first sense of passion I saw in the movie that actually worked, though the reasoning behind it was a bit forced (to say the least). Penny started to masturbate and was joined by others for a full blown scene that had Voodoo pounding her pussy like he owned it. The level of intensity here proved that with the right situation, this kind of moody feature could work, it generally just depends on the performers and director allowing it to happen. The gal working with them looked nasty enough that I'd turn her down even if just in port from a tour of duty overseas, her crotch rash enough to remind me of several kinds of venereal disease I hope to avoid if possible.

Sasha Grey and Herschel Savage

Okay, then came Sasha blowing a series of men (listed in order above), to help her boyfriend make enough money for his dream motorcycle. While none of the hummers were very interesting, I wondered if the idea could have been pulled off better, perhaps even showing how Sasha was getting off to the acts of depravity rather than remaining an emotional neuter. I know that is her porn persona in general but it certainly limited any sympathy for the character and as such, it lowered the replay value of the story as well as the sex.

Then came the challenge of pairing Sasha Grey with the mighty Evan Stone, one of the buffest guys in the jizz biz at this writing. I'm not into guys in the slightest but I prefer having the best talent act as my sexual surrogate in terms of onscreen sex so you really can't do any better than him in a feature. This was perhaps the sole moment where Sasha shined and I'm guessing it had to do with the amount of enthusiasm displayed thanks to Evan being her partner. In terms of chemistry, it was not as developed as in the following scene or in the Penny does Voodoo bout of boning but as the two bumped uglies and went down on one another, resulting in anal sex as well as his wad of genetic juice landing on her ass before the post coital knob slobbing she gave him.

Sasha Grey about to pair with Lee Stone

Penny Flame then seduced Tom Byron in the alleyway, slowly removing her clothing to reveal her lustful nature on the otherwise stoic character he portrayed. Thematically, it was a "miss" in terms of the ongoing, incredibly tacked on, subplot but both of them were in fine form. I've seen them before and each brings something different to the engagement, Penny shining again while Tom showed he was more than just a pretty face from Houston, Texas to be gawked at. The lighting was much better (as it was outside during the day time) and their long time chemistry certainly improved the action, both of them active partners in what stood out for me as the most sexual scene of the movie (though Penny's erotic solo-turned-menage a trios was the best in terms of erotic titillation).

The rest of the sex in the movie was strictly fast forward fodder for repeated viewings, Sasha blowing Herschel Savage (in costume as an orthodox Jew) and Sasha taking on Lee Stone in front of a bunch of club members. Maybe it was the tragic ending (his, not her own) that bugged me most but it did not work on any level for me, another couple of scenes that looked designed by committee, or at very least rushed to the point of experimentation. Ultimately, the story was bouncing all over the place and it failed on its own merits (despite what some reviewers/critics have said) but I'd be lying if I said this train wreck of a feature was not worthy of checking out for the gleaming gems abandoned in the oasis of despair. I like feature porn, having championed titles like the Pirate series, Fallen, and a lengthy list of others over the last 25+ years but it struck me that while the downbeat ending didn't help, it was more about the way the feature elements seemed stapled onto the sex and vice versa. Vivid has actually made some very strokable flicks in recent years, some of them helmed by PT too, but "Throat" seemed to be an attempt to make an entertaining movie with sex in it but neither is enough to elevate the bar. By repeatedly truncating the sex (which PT admits is never his focal point) in favor of the story, you better darned well be sure to make a good story and this time, it just didn't happen.

Bonus Scene: 20 Questions: After their living room romp Meggan finds herself back in her room where Derrick follows and the couple sit on the bed and begin to passionately kiss. Miss Mallone is a sure fire knockout and Watching her as Derrick lays her on her back to eat her pussy is amazing. The girl looks great while being played with and even better as she gets fucked. The couple fuck in some great looking positions including missionary that really blew me away the way it was captured. Eventually Derrick unloads a nice sized load of cum on the teen beauty and she looked like perfection with jizz all over her cute little face. Derrick drives Meggan back to the restaurant where her Ex Ramon was earlier and she finds him sitting going over some business with an associate. Before Meggan gets out the car Derrick tries to ask her one more question but Meggan refutes with Sorry that would be #21 and all he was allowed was 20 questions. (review by The Horny Housewife)

Bonus Scene Two: The Nikki Jayne Experiment: Nikki Jayne, once again showing why all the scenes without her presence were a waste of time, began her next tease session in heated fashion, the canned music complementing her doe eyed look and winning smile as she ever so slowly removed her skimpy underwear to masturbate. A hard edit then resulted in both Ben English and Mick Blue joining her on the mattress, the men feeling her up as she stroked their cocks rapidly. She went back and forth between them when it came to kissing but also when the inevitable sword swallowing took place, the dynamic soon showing her do the same with vaginally riding the peckers plunging deep inside of her from various angles. At some point, they oiled up her ass too, this leading to Nikki doing a double penetration (DP) as Mick tore into her ass while Ben pummeled her pussy. Nikki held on for dear life as the men drilled her so rapidly and the rest of the scene showed them all swapping roles with one guy in her pussy, ass, or mouth, while the other took a different hole. Nikki loved sucking them clean too, savoring her own juices off their meat sticks until the men unleashed their seed upon her face at the very end of the action. Whew!

Summary: Throat: A Cautionary Tale by director Paul Thomas for Vivid Entertainment was not the kind of movie I would rate as "5 star", "fully erect", or whatever other euphemism you care to embrace as the be all-end all of modern porn but despite some serious flaws, the high definition version did merit watching a time or two as an "event" movie more than anything so I rated it as a Rent It. As a feature detailing a murder mystery via flashback, the plot holes were vast and frequent and as a stroke flick the sex was often lacking due to brevity, lack of chemistry, or simply the need to focus on the stated gimmick so much. I give some credit to the director for attempting to make a movie like this knowing full well that its dark nature will be a huge turnoff to some, the short sex scenes too limited for others, and the lack of balance between the two weakening it for guys like me but ultimately, the choices made here were such that the personal vision displayed greatly impacted the replayability and strokability more than usual. In short, Throat: A Cautionary Tale seemed almost as if it was made by committee with bits and pieces of material that don't work together tossed in to satisfy all those behind it rather than make a great (or even "good") movie. Sasha Grey is a beautiful young lady that appears destined to play the role of ice princess as well as anyone else in the industry but her range to date (including her recent mainstream role in "The Girlfriend Experience") has done nothing to convince me she can elicit an emotional response needed for such a flick. I know she is a world class cock sucker of distinction when it comes to her oral skills but frankly, I expected more from her here given the hype. The Blu-ray version of the movie does help clean up some of the technical issues a little but the drop in extras and higher price make it a time when I'd suggest you check out the movie before buying it.

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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