8 August 2016 | lor_
Terrific performances in a gripping supernatural thriller
Jim DiGiorgio's "Succubus" is a terrific turn of this century video, which current pornographers might want to watch to see how it's done. Nearly all current Adult features with story lines fail to convince while this horror opus holds one's attention and has characters to root for.
Odd coincidence has VCA contract girl Julie Meadows starring in this film as well as a terrible rival production "Succubus" shot two years earlier. Previous video starred Jill Kelly and was pretentious junk.
But this time Julie plays a sympathetic heroine married to Herschel Savage, their lives turned upside down one night driving home from a party when they think their car (Herschel at the wheel) has run down a woman in the street. Exiting the vehicle to investigate they can't find her, but moments later the ethereal beauty Ava Vincent appears in front of them and just wants a ride home.
Thus begins a familiar saga, in mainstream films ranging from Pasolini's classic "Teorema" to Katt Shea's influential but underrated "Poison Ivy", in which a sexy individual enters a household and ends up seducing everyone. That's a natural porn structure, but the added supernatural element really makes it soar. Most recently the internet team of Bree Mills & Stills by Alan used it (with Jessa Rhodes as bad guy) for "Good Little Girl" and bungled the concept.
Ava as Biblical demon Lilith is literally mesmerizing in her role, using an oversize ring on her finger to hypnotize her sexual victims. One trick in DiGiorgio's screenplay that was especially successful is that at first (given her star billing vs, Savage's "and Herschel Savage" guest star type of credit) Julie is the damsel in distress but as events progress Herschel takes center stage and becomes the primary character fighting to survive and more importantly retain his sanity.
For the majority of 21st Century fans and critics who have become convinced (via propaganda?) that Adult Cinema should stick to "sexy scenes with chemistry" (to paraphrase the usual rant) this 15-year-old relatively obscure XXX video proves them wrong. The acting, roles and plot development is far superior to most mainstream horror efforts and does not rely on the "shock" tactics those films have devolved into but rather emphasizes psychologically threatening situations. It can be done, without leaving out the hardcore content, and here's the evidence on screen.
Acting by all three leads is exemplary, and the supporting cast is quite functional, most notably Brooke Hunter as Herschel's Amazonian blonde secretary who steals the show for her sequence in the middle of the film without ruining the flow-through plot line.
Finale, an orgy set in Hell, is very well-done and gives rise to a homework assignment. Nikita Denise is credited at opening and closing crawls, but not in the menu for this orgy scene, and the unidentified actress in it (brunette vs. blonde Bridgette Kerkove opposite) does not look like her. IMDb lists (not in the credits) Wanda Curtis who only bears a vague resemblance. I watched several times and further scanned a coming attraction for a Kerkove-directed feature titled "Dirrty" which has Judy Star prominently displayed, and she looked like the missing link in "Succubus". Nikita is credited with the scene for an Industry group award, and even takes credit for the win on her website, but it's worth re- examining to make a positive ID of possible substitute Judy Star or Wanda.
One unexpected thrill is in the BTS short subject on the DVD. After some funny ribbing between Savage, his director and another buddy, we see special effects makeup being painstakingly applied to Ava. The credit of makeup artist is for "Marianne", who IMDb taught me long ago is a pseudonym for porn icon and all-time great Kelly Nichols. I had taken this odd career transition on faith, but there's Kelly, unsung and unmentioned, putting on Ava's weird new face. Like her frequent co-star Veroncia Hart, she landed on her feet after her acting career ended.