Pleasure Shop on the Avenue (1979)

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Pleasure Shop on the Avenue (1979) Poster

Two amateur armed robbers steal $5,000 from NY's red light district, only to discover it was an intended protection payment to the mob. With Mafia hit men after them they seek shelter in a sleazy sex shop.

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24 November 2009 | lazarillo
"Porn Shop on 7th Avenue"
In New York City two small-time crooks rob a business, not realizing that it's protected by a powerful mobster. Although it hardly seems like it would improve the situation, they then decide to go to a nearby porn shop (despite the title only a few scenes actually take place here) and kidnap the girlfriend (Anna-Maria Clementi)of the mobster, who is working there. They then decide to flee for Canada bringing along the girlfriend and a black associate (for no good reason other than it will allow for titillating interracial sex scenes later in the movie). Of course, they don't make it to Canada, but instead hole up in an isolated upstate villa where a trio of sex-crazed college students (a virgin, a slut, and a guy) also happen to be staying for some reason. Naturally, this being a Joe D'Amato movie, the whole thing is a set-up for a lot of sleazy sex.

Technically, this is a "terror film"--a small cycle of Italian films, inspired by "Last House on the Left" and the more homegrown Italian sleaze classic "Late Night Trains", where a group of lower-class cretins or petty criminals terrorize and humiliate (usually sexually) a group of hedonistic bourgeois. A lot of people don't consider this a very effective "terror" film because there's just too much sex. Actually though, the cut I saw actually had less sex than some other sex-soaked sleaze-fest "terror" films like "Terror Express" or "Escape from a Woman's Prison" and really no more sex than the most effective (or at least the most harrowing) Italian "terror" film, Ruggiero Deodato's "House by the Edge of the Park". This isn't effective,not because of the sex,but because the acting is extremely weak, the motivations of the characters are unbelievably preposterous,and the three villains are completely un-intimidating (David Hess, the American star of "Last House on the Left" and a couple Italian "terror" entries like "Hitchike" and "House by the Edge of the Park" would have made mince-meat out of all three of these idiots without even working up a sweat).

Of course, there IS plenty of sleazy sex. And it's usually pretty gratuitous, such as when one of the creeps stops to watch a very graphic lesbian porn loop in the sex shop, or when the virgin (Bridget Petronnio) watches her friend having sex with her boyfriend and starts masturbating (cue the extreme, loving close-up "insert" footage of what is obviously a very hirsute and skanky body double for the waif-like Petronio). I actually would have liked to see MORE graphic sex scenes though involving the very sexy Anna-Maria Clementi. And while what Petronio really did best as an actress was play an endangered virgin, her horny, self-gratifying character here is totally unbelievable as a "virgin", and she comes nowhere NEAR being as endangered here as she was in "House by the Edge of the Park" in the scene where David Hess runs a straight razor over her naked body. One thing I HAVE always appreciated about D'Amato, unlike most softcore porn (and pretty much all hardcore porn) directors, is that he doesn't let the sex scenes, however ridiculously gratuitous they may be, go on so long that they bring the whole pace of the movie to a grinding halt. The problem here though is there just really isn't much of movie to bring to a grinding halt.

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