The last really good adult film, unfortunately followed by the insipid HEAVEN’S TOUCH, made by longtime ruler of the roost Shaun Costello who had made a seamless transition from ’70s “Russ Carlson” rough stuff – FORCED ENTRY and WATERPOWER being the most notorious examples thereof – to ’80s “Warren Evans” gloss. A splendid showcase for too frequently taken for granted AIM (that’s Adult Industry Medical Healthcare to you, bro’) founder and guiding light Sharon Mitchell, it’s an unusually thinly plotted feature for the director of BEAUTY and PANDORA’S MIRROR with emphasis squarely on superior sexual content, not necessarily a bad thing considering the genre. As a matter of fact, the eroticism Costello conjures up on this occasion proves some of the most scorching on an already impressive track record, enhanced no end by sparkling Ron Dorfman (a/k/a “Art Ben”) cinematography.
The magnificent Mitch stars as hot shot photographer Lisa whose ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality is seriously slipping. An opening bathroom sequence with Lisa imagining husband Michael Bruce (Sharon Kane’s then boyfriend who passed away from AIDS, nurtured and nursed by the actress) forcing himself on her in the shower, even as she’s watching him shave, is the filmmaker’s knowledgeable nod towards Angie Dickinson’s “rape” fantasy from Brian De Palma’s DRESSED TO KILL. Little subtleties like these really set Costello’s creative endeavors apart from the competition. A tux ‘n’ tie formal dinner turns into an impromptu orgy with Mitch served up as main course for Marlene Willoughby (shining star of Shaun’s unforgettably titled DOMINATRIX WITHOUT MERCY), bad guy par excellence Jamie Gillis and Alan “Spike” Adrian. Pay particular attention to Marlene’s inspired “grape play” ! You’ll know it when you see it.
Group sex is definitely the preferred item on the carnal menu here, Sharon becoming the glowing – or should that be frosted – center of a foursome with hunky male models George Payne, Joey Santini and Dave Ruby. Look for Costello’s regular character actor Gordon Duvall, who made a smashing Renfield in Dracula EXOTICA, as the harried advertising exec who winds up with a ball gag. Relaxing under masseur Kenny Dee’s skilled hands, Lisa drifts off into another fantasy involving fellow sauna patrons Joanna Storm, Ginger Jaye (from Chuck Vincent’s botched LUSCIOUS) and especially awesome Anna Ventura who all but devours Dee. Meanwhile, Mitch’s “best friend” Tiffany Clark (at her all time career best in a part Costello created especially for PANDORA’s fly by night sensation Sandra Hillman though the director has bad-mouthed her contribution ever since) is playing intricate phone seduction games with Lisa’s left to his own devices better half. Hands down best of show is the last sequence, a heated boat ride against the New York skyline (Twin Towers obviously still intact) that has Mitch and Bruce exchanging spouses with Sharon Kane and Ashley Moore with an absolutely haunting soundtrack – actually an extended cut of the same track from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells album Costello used on Hillary Summers’ Broadway audition bit from PANDORA’S MIRROR – for added effect. Any residual marital woes are thus casually swept under the carpet. Those who value plot over pornographic content may not appreciate Costello’s single-minded pursuit of pulchritude at this advanced stage of his career. Given these “limitations” however, it is by far one of his most accomplished works.