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Ingenuity on a Shoestring Budget

8/10
Author: Dries Vermeulen (Nodriesrespect) from Brugge, Belgium
22 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Second perhaps only to the likes of Shaun Costello when it came to making the most out of a modest budget, Carter Stevens had been tirelessly toiling in the trenches since adult's earliest days before hitting the comparative big time by decade's end, leaving a string of somewhat lavishly produced porno programmers for his legacy. He enjoyed an estimable degree of formal training as a director, having studied photographic science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, serving him well in stretching each dollar he managed to wrangle out of frugal funders' tight pockets. In order to retain a degree of creative self-sufficiency that's the trademark of a true 'auteur', he would supplement his income by regularly performing (usually as "Steven Mitchell") for other people, most memorably portraying the pivotal rapist in Roberta Findlay's thoroughly plotted TIFFANY MINX.

Very much from Carter's salad days, HONEYMOON HAVEN takes a premise that SEEMS formulaic and embellishes it with surprisingly elaborate scenarios and period detail that raise this little number from the ranks. He had the good sense to hire the services of Radley Metzger's unsung music editor George Craig whose encyclopedic knowledge of public domain library tracks effortlessly guides an episodic narrative from the late '40s to the present day, well the '70s anyway. Sandwiched between Mendelssohn's Wedding March and Here Comes the Bride, this pleasingly paced porno charts the fate of the many newlyweds passing through the titular abode (just South of Intercourse, PA) ever since it set up shop in 1949 as loyal receptionist Bob Bolla reminisces to blue balls husband Wade Nichols whose virgin bride Erica Havens has nervously locked herself inside the bathroom.

Even longtime fans might need some help in identifying the furtive starlets, Marlene Willoughby being the only one to approach porn prominence. Essaying an over the top Southern drawl, she's well-matched with fellow ham Roger Caine for a very funny skit that has her waxing lyrically post coitus, comparing her orgasm to an elevator going up "and up...and up..." Sporting an appropriate hairstyle, Lisa Marks (star of Roger Colmont's curiosity looking for a cult WHITE FIRE) is the motel's first customer, her husband scurrying out the door prior to consummation (his presumed dead first wife having just been located on a desert isle in the Pacific !), leaving her to the tender loving care of best man Leo Lovemore. Kudos for the tastefully applied trickle of blood accompanying Lisa's alleged loss of cherry ! One day wonder VENTURE INTO THE BIZARRE's Marcia Minor's the '50s hausfrau cheating on commuter husband Michael Gaunt.

The sex heats up considerably with single shot starlet Karol Kaye doing a beatnik DP with Herschel Savage and Pepe Valentine. Gloria Todd, the East Coast's answer to Desiree West, shines as the sweetie from housekeeping comforting malfunctioning and therefore deserted groom David Williams who's on the verge of cutting off his useless member. The following foursome involves '60s spouse-swapping and highlights the easygoing comedic capabilities of Bobby Astyr and Paula Morton (the future Mrs. Gerard Damiano) who carry along the clueless combo of Susaye London and Peter Andrews. Toothsome London graduated from "roughies" to upmarket fare with Chuck Vincent's haunting VISIONS and Antonio Shepherd's highkickin' hardcore musical CHORUS CALL. Erica finally gets over her wedding night jitters, dropping to her knees to eagerly inhale Wade's engorged manhood when...Carter cuts aways to a group grope already underway between a bunch of the Honeymoon Haven Reunion Club members, watching their potential latest additions making up by makin' whoopee on closed circuit TV.

The adult talent pool already being a small pond to start with, Stevens liked to surround himself with familiar faces on both sides of the camera, none more so than his faithful DoP Bruce G. Sparks a/k/a "Prudence Prevails" who passed away a couple of years ago. Cutting his teeth on Joe Sarno's moody soft-core classics from the '60s including the classic INGA, he was to become the director's perpetual partner in slime throughout his '70s heyday, his unerring eye for detail and composition contributing extensively to the effectiveness of scenes both sexual and expository, imbuing the latter with a noirish lighting scheme to compensate for occasionally dire dramatic content. In keeping with the flick's lighthearted demeanor, he keeps the colors bright and blazing for the occasion, punching up the patterns of the motel's tawdry furnishings and garish bedspreads in contrast with the blinding white wedding gowns and delicate lacy finery adorning actresses generically displayed in other dirty movies but elevated to princess perfection here.

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