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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If this is what passes for great adult entertainment these days, then
I'm probably just a cantankerous old fart for begging to differ. Sure,
Rod Hopkins (a/k/a "Brad Armstrong") is a technically proficient
filmmaker who invariably assures that his movies look and sound like
their mainstream equivalent but he lacks both imagination and
inspiration when it comes down to the one aspect that differentiates
the admirable from the merely adequate, i.e. hot sex. Proving that
every dog will have its day, he has come up with the occasional near
masterpiece like EUPHORIA or, to a slightly lesser extent, EXILE but
most of his flicks primarily pander to easily impressed production
value junkies who value surface gloss over actual heat. Unfortenately,
his heavily hyped CURSE ETERNAL falls squarely into that already
overstuffed latter category with only a few fiery flickers alleviating
the thudding repetitiveness of the proceedings.
Ace archaeologist Samantha Stewart (Jessica Drake) is called to Egypt to investigate the ruins of the tomb of Princess Neferkala (Kaylani Lei), the same site where her father (Randy Spears) lost his life nearly two decades prior. The opening flashback has already alerted the audience that there's truth to the rumored curse of the adulterous princess who was sentenced to death after killing the Pharao who had executed her lover Nomron (Eric Masterson). The removal of the ankh on the mummy's withered chest awakens Neferkala from her slumber as she both thanks (by offering her luscious body) and punishes (by sucking the life force out of him) the perpetrator for doing so. Hence we get various disappointingly similar scenes of lovely Lei, a former Michael Raven muse in features such as ANGEL X and DELILAH (the latter a product of his short-lived stint for Private), working her way through a number of male and female obstacles before latching onto bespectacled Samantha (an obvious graduate of the "why, Miss Jones, you're beautiful" school of scientists) whose parentage keeps her from suffering the fate of her predecessors. Turns out that Neferkala can only find eternal rest if she's reunited with the reincarnation of her former paramour. Rather inconveniently, this turns out to be Sam's live-in boyfriend Adam, also played by Masterson. Before we get to the film's excellently handled finale with Lei and Drake mauling Masterson in two different time frames, easily the flick's carnal highlight, we still have to suffer through a seemingly endless night club group sequence which also zaps back and forth to ancient times. Narratively, this is explained as filling Samantha in on her past life. Visually however, this scene is seriously marred by the shirtless presence of director Hopkins who's gone really saggy as of late ! Now, I have no problem with physically imperfect performers in porn (hey, you're talking to a lifelong Robert Bolla fan, after all) but in a cast otherwise filled with hard-bodied gym bunnies he does tend to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Hopkins takes an inordinate amount of time (this baby lasts over two and a half hours, people !) to reach the conclusion of his slender tale, pausing every so often for an elaborate grope that substitutes professional athleticism for passionate pleasure. Star power's also a bit low on this occasion with neither the exotic Lei nor the admittedly lovely leggy Drake (so well used in Mike Raven's superlative BEAST) making much impact. The film's most impressive quality remains its luminous cinematography by François Clousot, a director of some merit who started out shooting some of Private's better pictures like STUDY IN SEX and SUMMER WIND. Notwithstanding first rate production design that clearly ate up much of this flick's undoubtedly substantial budget, it's yawn city all the way.
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