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  • Warning: Spoilers
    David Stanley and B. Skow create some of the most interesting "far-out" porn, currently released perhaps unwittingly by the Girlfriends Films label, and "These Things We Do" is perhaps the most abrasive thus far. I had a whole lot of trouble watching it - a result likely pleasing to the auteurs, but that means I have to hand them their lumps here on my IMDb soap box.

    The problem is that gross-out elements in porn are dangerous when inserted in an otherwise serious film. In the mainstream it's tolerated when Eli Roth or his demented mentor Tarantino do it, but XXX is already considered beyond the pale and doesn't really benefit from grotesquerie.

    But I do admire Skow and Dave for not pulling too many punches. They have created a truly hissable figure in Alan Stafford's perverted shrink - a guy who delights in masturbating quite openly while his female patients confess their innermost secrets on the couch, and when they catch him in the act no good comes of it.

    Skow for some reason (probably Stanley scripted it that way) introduces confusing and unnecessary flashbacks, as if under the spell of that promising but alas, overdone TV series "Lost". The jumbled time structure begins with cute but troubled patient Kimber Day (she of the impossibly curly hairdo, Best Curls In Porn award since Audrey Hollander a decade earlier) humping Stafford in his office. The scene is filled with dark elements, including choking and odd foot fetish action, and as with the rest of the feature, the ugly acts we watch are shot in an ugly manner (yucky color grading and unflattering views of the actors/actresses).


    We soon find out that Kimber is dead, and that's it's suicide with perhaps doc Alan having driven her to it. Worse yet, she's his sister-in-law, married to older sis Marie McCray, who would have been perfect casting in Kimber's role had Stanley filmed this script circa 2008 when he was a big- name director for Wicked (sort of a second XXX Golden Age, before the roof caved in).

    DVD's box cover tastefully enshrines the movie's most daring scene, in which Stafford torments wife Marie, the lady lying on their bed in a drunken stupor, with matches lit and passed along the soles of her feet. He also inserts a corkscrew in her vagina and pretend-stabs were feet with it. This scene was more disturbing because I thought it was Kimber's corpse getting the once-over, and I'm still not sure whether it's less disturbing that he was doing it to his wife instead. Anyway, I guess the actress earned some stunt pay or at least had some bragging rights among her peers. Dumb stuff like this is par for the course nowadays in garbage soft-core horror porn like Roth's "Hostel" junkers.

    Believe it or not, Stanley+Skow have an even darker ending in that the duo's psycho-sexual games continue with heavy-duty choking of wife Marie, but both end up enjoying it! Looks like a happy marriage, but hopefully not a sequel.

    Along the way Alan gets tormented pretty good by a deceptively innocent seeming couple of ladies. STOP reading here, as I have to spoil the surprise to complete this review.

    Siri is his #1 patient, and sporting the extreme red-dyed hairdo favored by militant porn BDSM lesbians, Siri reports on her nasty boyfriend Hodgy (yes, that's how they spelled it in the credits, after I duly wrote down "Haji"). He's played nastily by Steven St. Croix, and Alan foolishly has a quiet dinner with the couple at their home. Soon he's in bondage, all trussed up and tortured.

    Alan is brusque with the receptionist at his practice, played mousily by Dana DeArmond. I immediately knew something was up with this trick casting, and sure enough, she turns out to be the BDSM mastermind behind Steven & Siri's menage, resulting in an extremely hokey set-piece of torture and craziness where Dana goes into her over-the-top acting thing and besides lots of slapping we get a power-drill-dildo that proves our tag-team of Skow and Stanley are merely showing off. These extremely grotesque scenes throw the movie out of kilter and anyone other than a completist like myself is likely to turn it off and throw it back on the shelf as anti- entertainment.

    Yet while I was growing up the Theater of Cruelty was in full swing, and especially in avant-garde BDSM cinema circles this sort of content is par for the course (cf., recent work by Daisy Rock, Madison Young, Dana Vespoli and Lily Cade for starters). So Skow joins that club, and it's a sure thing Dana DeArmond and her brand of goofiness will not go out of style soon.