14 July 2008 | Nodriesrespect
Hell to Pay
The so-called "Golden Age" of American porn drew to a close by the mid-'80s. Once video took over and budgets as well as production schedules were mercilessly slashed, even the genre's acknowledged film-making greats were reduced to churning out quota quickies. Though still shot on 35mm film, these movies were only granted a token theatrical release in the country's dwindling number of porno palaces unlike Europe, where they had a considerably longer shelf life, this particular title playing the still standing in the face of awesome adversity ABC cinema in Brussels as I write this before recouping their cost on tape. Playing like a demented send-up of his gloomy classic DEVIL IN MISS JONES with a sex change to boot, FLESH AND FANTASY therefore can't hold a candle to its creator Gerard Damiano's masterpieces from the previous decade. In addition, and while he intermittently returned to the form, farce was never his forte, with perhaps only NEVER SO DEEP holding up in its entirety. Still, that's not to say this movie is wholly without merit. It has an immensely likable central performance by the indomitable Ron Jeremy, also the sole male performing stud duties. There's the characteristically capable camera work by Larry Revene, setting the screen ablaze with punched up candy colors. Most importantly, the majority of sex scenes shows the Old Master still hadn't lost his titillating touch.
Lonely farm boy John Powell Jones (Jeremy) has been sexually dysfunctional of late, costing him the affection of his lusty lady love Lorraine (Taija Rae in her pleasingly pudgy early stages), and he's just about to hang himself when Adam (an engaging turn by David Scott, who made a convincing spoiled brat in Ron Sullivan's VANESSA, MAID IN MANHATTAN) yep, the original first man on earth appears in his barn. Working for the "Lower Order" as the Big Guy apparently has held a grudge ever since that whole Garden of Eden fiasco, he offers our hapless hero a deal : unlimited lead in his pencil with access to every girl he desires. There's just one catch. Should he ever tire of this endless supply of pulchritude, his eternal soul will be condemned to Hell. Just as in the Dudley Moore/Peter Cook comedy classic BEDAZZLED, there's an unexpected downside to every wish the Horned One grants, making John grow dissatisfied with his current conquests in record time. The late Linda Lovelace, an actress who found instant infamy through Damiano's doing, is mentioned in dialog as Ronnie would love to meet a maiden who could perform such an amazing sexual feat. Enter Scarlett Scharleau (a/k/a Scarlett Fever) as outwardly prim 'n' proper Auntie Em. A very minor adult performer who co-starred in the same director's far superior CRAVINGS, she was slated to star in Larry Revene's DEEP THROAT II, a casting choice based upon her ability to make large endowments disappear down her gullet. Fortunately for us, she proved a flake and the fabulous Krista Lane stepped in to save the day.
Backdoor prowess is graphically demonstrated by cute brunette Sarah Bernard, best remembered for playing director Joey Silvera's spouse in Sullivan's TABOO US STYLE. His charge's escalating erotic appetites force Adam to direct him towards Madame Barbie's Doll House, a cut-rate version of the type of fantasy bordello Damiano pioneered in his superlative ODYSSEY. Very hands on as brothel-keepers go, the always welcome Sharon Kane guides him towards "virgin bride" Marita Ekberg, the adorable buck-toothed blonde who appeared in several of Candida Royalle's early Femme offerings such as URBAN HEAT and CHRISTINE'S SECRET. A vision of loveliness in her abbreviated marital frock, she turns in the movie's standout sex scene, punctuated by flawless extreme close-ups. Rather than settling down with this sweet siren however, Ronnie pursues his trajectory all the way down to Purgatory with a little help from black starlet Satin Summer (in a rare foray outside of niche-marketed interracial fare such as the David Christopher twosome HOT FUDGE and BLACK GIRLS IN HEAT) who insists he videotape their action and expects his directorial guidance throughout ! The bizarre baby doll in the crib (think a sexier version of PINK FLAMINGOS' Edith Massey !) is surprisingly well-played by the always arresting Big Apple alumnus Tasha Voux, the naughty girl scout from Jay Paul's TICKLED PINK, until the predictable conclusion kicks in and Ronnie can literally go to Hell.