Let's have the good news first. Just when you thought you had director Nic Andrews pegged as the umpteenth Andrew Blake wannabe (an assumption largely based on his entirely decorative if beautifully realized WHISPERS and INTIMATE EXPRESSIONS), favoring style over substance, he pulls something as densely plotted as DARK ANGELS out of his magician's hat. Not wholly without defense, the result swept the industry awards ceremonies of the budding new millennium.
If my opening statement suggested there would also be a downside to such an ambitious undertaking, then it's also rather disheartening to see that it consists of the very same problems that have been plaguing big budget fornication feasts over the past quarter of a century or so. Equipped with budgetary means that far surpass those of your garden variety grope flick, a dirty movie director will invariably be tempted to direct his attention to aspects of production that should rightfully never rise above the station of window-dressing at the expense of the genre's bread and butter, i.e. terrifically hot sex. Sadly, Andrews proves no exception to this rule. Hence, DARK ANGELS is gorgeously lit and shot courtesy of AVN award-winning DoP Jake Jacobs and the director, scored with a sumptuous wall of sound by Derik Andrews and Inversion 89, cue another prize and edited with utmost precision by Andrews who, yep, you have guessed correctly, bagged another trophy for his troubles.
The story by George Kaplan (who plays a character part as chief of police) and, again, the director (I bet he even made sandwiches on set !) shows a keen understanding of vampire lore few longstanding horror aficionados myself included could possibly find fault with. Sydnee Steele proves perfectly cast as the impressive Queen of the Night who's ringleader to a group of Gothic bloodsuckers, wearing the coolest vamp outfit this side of Lina Romay's cape, boots 'n' belt number from Jess Franco's FEMALE VAMPIRE. All her minions have jet-black hair and wear sunglasses which is bound to confuse fans and really cause distress those with a taste for blondes, few and far between on this occasion. Chastising her acolyte Ginger Paige for making a mess out of scrumptious Voodoo (porn starlet Nicole Sheridan's better half, billed here as "Voodoo Child") in a nightclub toilet stall, following what may be the movie's scalding sexual highlight, the queen decides to chow down in turn with ageless veteran performer Mike Horner the unlucky (lucky ? you decide !) recipient of her feeding frenzy. Unfortunately, innocent Jewel De Nyle's car just happens to break down in the proximity, making her an unwilling witness to Steele's gross not to mention gory eating habits. The police doesn't believe her, of course, but still put hunky cop Dillion Day (who once again proves solid leading man material, as in Michael Raven's Orpheus update UNDERWORLD) on the case for her protection. Just to show how ineffectual he is at this job, Jewel is bitten, killed and resurrected as one of the undead by Sydnee who can enter people's dreams (bedrooms, orifices, etc.) at will, all on his watch ! Mickey G., who entered the business riding the coat tails of his hot starlet wife Missy (they made a startling double act in Jonathan Morgan's superb TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT) and evolved into a strong, nasty Jamie Gillis type when left to his own devices, is in charge of Jewel's autopsy which gets him a lot more than he bargained for. Telepathically drawn to Steele, her latest victim makes her way to the queen's lair where her drooling male underlings (Erik Everhard and Evan Stone, the latter in a non-sex capacity for some unfathomable reason) are busy preparing a pair of (hurrah !) blonde virgins, April and McKayla. Arriving too late on the scene (naturally), Dillion has to make do with booby prize Felecia Ryder as another vampire chick in a reasonably animated sex scene that almost seems thrown in as an afterthought.
There's an unexpectedly poignant final twist I won't divulge here, except to say that it includes some fine f/x work by moonlighting mainstream professionals in this field instead of sex, rather detrimental to a genre founded on it, the expected De Nyle/Day encounter failing to materialize. Save for the scenes mentioned, the (award-winning, natch) sensuously choreographed Sapphic bit between Steele and De Nyle should get their fans properly steamed up, but the pornographic pickings remain on the slim side when compared to other lavish sex 'n' story combos in recent memory such as Paul Thomas' FADE TO BLACK or Michael Raven's BEAST, both of which cutting this one down to its proper size as a mere contender rather than an all-out winner.
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