I remember when Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) came out and the outcry on Twitter. Even a woman I respect was ranting about it. It seemed ridiculous to me, but I hadn’t seen it yet so I reserved judgement. I saw it on June 23rd. It’s the kind of movie I would have watched during an elementary school sleepover thinking I was seeing something naughty when I actually had seen next to nothing. I distinctly remember watching Sirens (1993) with Hugh Grant one time. I also remember a guy at school thinking he was cool because he had seen Sleeping With The Enemy (1991).
By the time I got to middle school I had a TV in my room with cable. That meant I was introduced to the wonderful world of late night cable. Sometimes this meant cheesy sex comedies from the 80’s. Other times bad monster movies. I even managed to get in on the first episode of Sex And The City by accident and other shows like Perversions of Science. It also meant the occasional film that gave Cinemax it’s nickname Skinemax. Honestly, I never watched many of them. I only remember one called The Naked Detective (1996). However, I have fond memories of them being quite funny. The sex wasn’t interesting, but I would get laughs out of the material around the sex.
I also remember in the early 2000’s when Roger Ebert introduced a movie he and Richard Roeper were going to review. It was Secret Things (2002). A decent piece of French erotica. He said that most critics ignore movies like that and don’t like to admit to being aroused. He basically was saying that is a bunch of nonsense which was why they were going to talk about the film despite the content.
I recently started using the HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax apps. They stock a few of their late night movies in them. I thought I would take another look at them being 10-15 years older than when I was just a kid. I think Ebert is right. In fact, on a side note, they have the movie he wrote the screenplay for in the Cinemax After Dark section. That being Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970). Proof that being a great film critic, doesn’t necessarily mean you should be making them. I thought I would talk briefly about a couple of them that I watched recently.
There seem to be two main directors whose films populate these three apps. Dean McKendrick and Stormy Daniels. I am going to talk about three of McKendrick’s films and one of Daniels’ films.
Sexy Warriors (2014) – This is quintessential Dean McKendrick. A B-Movie plot with loads of corny dialogue. These are the kind of late night movies I remember watching and laughing along with. This is similar, as with many of these films, to mainstream movies like Time Barbarians (1990) and Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991). Except instead of burly warriors from the past, we have Amazon women who happen to come from the “isle of Lesbos”. Of course they do. It begins with two of them trying to get to the Orb of Azoff. One of them knocks out the other and gets to the orb first. The orb sends her away to Los Angeles. Of course! But not just anywhere in Los Angeles. This time portal of sorts has it’s other end in the worst gym I have ever seen in a movie. You can see it in the picture above. That’s it. You think that’s just the locker room, but no. That’s the entire gym. The fact that they have actual conversations about the gym including that one of them doesn’t have the money to buy it is hilarious. Soon the other lady comes through the portal as well. There’s some sex. It’s the kind geared toward straight guys while trying to pick up lesbians as well with girl on girl. One thing I thought was interesting is that there is a guy in the movie played by an actor named Ted Newsom. It’s always interesting to look at the other credits for people in movies and late night cable movies are no exception. This guy acts in these types of films, but actually makes lots of documentaries about Old Hollywood. In particular, the history of horror films. Well, the two reconcile their differences and go home happy. This is a standard McKendrick film.
Lust In Space (2015) AKA Naked In Space – This is an example of where McKendrick loses his way. The plot has something to do with people training to go and supply a space station, but there’s spies involved trying to do something nefarious. It just doesn’t work. McKendrick needs simple, and this ain’t it. Also, it’s all very recycled from his other films. In fact, there’s a shot of the moon in the credits that is exactly the same as he used in Lolita From Interstellar Space. Identical. There’s also a set that is reused from that movie. The sex is the same as usual. Like one of the porn stars in the documentary Aroused (2013) said, they’re not trying to catch smooth transitions. It’s from position A to B to C. The only thing that keeps this movie from being the worst McKendrick movie I’ve seen is that unlike Lolita From Interstellar Space, it does not have Anna Morna in it. I don’t expect great performances by any of the actors in these movies, but her’s was unbelievably awful. Her absence is a blessing, but you can still skip this one.
Invisible Centerfolds (2015) – Ever thought The Invisible Man (1933) with Claude Rains or the many other invisible people movies needed girl on girl, then this is for you. Once again it has the familiar signature of Dean McKendrick, but this one is a wee bit zanier. Sure the invisible part means the standard humor that you would expect in comedy that has someone made invisible, but there’s more. The professor who creates the invisibility potion looks and is dressed like Bill Nye, The Science Guy. No joke. It took me a bit to realize it, but once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Also, at one point one of the girls drinks what she thinks is the invisibility potion, but it isn’t. It’s the turn a person into a gorilla potion. Why? Why not! Suddenly she’s a gorilla. Yep, that happens. Also, this movie kind of makes fun of it’s own genre by making the excuses to have sex so ludicrous that I think McKendrick was deliberately parodying himself. That isn’t beyond the scope these movies. The best one of these kind of movies I have seen called Emmanuelle Through Time: Emmanuelle’s Skin City (2011) is one long parody of it’s own genre and all the movies with Emmanuelle in the title. As for this movie, all I can say is, this one’s okay.
Immortal Love (2012) AKA Sex With A Vampire – This is a Stormy Daniels film. Her movies are a different beast than a Dean McKendrick movie in almost every way. Both her and McKendrick borrow a familiar mainstream genre or plot, but that’s where the similarities end. First off, being a woman, these movies are clearly targeted for straight girls and straight girls only. No girl and girl whatsoever. As the title suggests, it’s Twilight. Of course it is. A girl is in danger, a vampire saves her, and the two form a kinship. Except instead of a bunch of annoying staring that Screen Junkies was able to piece together to make a nearly 30 minute video, these two actually do something about it. The sex is similar to McKendrick, but made less fun and more romantic. Neither comes across as particularly natural however. I have only encountered that in one of these movies that I have watched and I think my heart skipped a beat because I was so shocked to see sex with purpose and passion. Daniels also makes greater use of story than McKendrick. If you don’t just want a comedic clothesline on which sex scenes are hung, then Daniels is for you. She also does more interesting things cinematographically including the use of black and white in this one. I have only seen two of her movies, but this is the one to go with.