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Taylor St. Clair
Buttman pays the bills with trendy vampire gimmick
John Stagliano is up-front in the lengthy (93-minute) BTS bonus feature on "Voracious" why he made the horror feature-cum-series. Noting that DVD sales have slid disastrously, he took his stars' recommendation that he try his hand at the vampire genre, so popular in recent years that even Adult video fans will go for it. Showing 1981 stills of himself as a vampire character in his strip show act, the Buttman indicates an affinity for the throat-biters, and this is the result.
Unfortunately, when he similarly mocks the script he wrote with the aid of Lea Lexis and Brooklyn Lee (who star) he's too close to the truth. This is a very poor variation on vampire lore, most of its story content merely to set up sex set pieces that the gonzo director does so well, as witness his biggest hit: the "Fashionistas" movies and stage show.
So instead of a gripping feature film or miniseries, we get tons of crazy sex scenes, with plenty of BDSM as that hit the typical viewer's money-bone with "Fashionistas". I will briefly cover the non-sex content, irrelevant as it might be in the current state of "Porn = All-Sex" conventional wisdom. It should be noted that most recently Johnny Stag has returned to this approach (namely following the lead of his main actresses) in "Hard in Love" (I & II) written by and starring Samantha Bentley and Misha Cross as gonzo lesbians.
Manuel Ferrara portrays an anthropologist who falls in love with a beautiful woman (Brooklyn Lee, at her most uninhibited best) when she shows him her house for sale. The visit builds suspense but quickly devolves into an extended threesome with Lee and her lover Lea Lexis (lots of alliteration for this couple), in which Ferrara quickly drops his studious guise and moves completely out of character for the sake of gonzo humping, employing all his familiar mannerisms as a sex performer, not an "actor".
The 10-part First Season series that constitutes this 6-1/2 hour feature film is uneven as to segment lengths, with this first Episode running 65 minutes while the shortest Episode Six is only 10 minutes long. That's because they are geared toward sex, with the intervening plot material important, but only up to a point.
Stagliano structures the saga as Ferrara's quest to find Lee again, pursuing her to Europe with atmospheric sections of the film staged photogenically in Berlin and Budapest. He's become fascinated with vampire lore, assigning his research assistant (played in non-sex fashion by Tricia Devereaux, who is revealed in the BTS to be Stagliano's real-life wife).
The vampire plot theme allows Johnny Stag to get in some jabs against the Catholic Church, represented by big-dicked Steve Holmes as a dirty priest. He's humping women (I guess that's a plus?) all the time and hopes to join the same vampire Clan that Lexis and Lee belong to, headed up by a rather remarkable bald vampire leader Omar Galanti and a sort of vampire hatchet-man played by Stag's favorite actor Rocco Siffredi. Between the two of them, they give Max Hardcore a run for his money in manhandling the various female cast members in novel fashion - red meat for gonzo fans and just a mild gross-out for traditionalists (who prefer eroticism to porn-sweat-equity) like me.
Plenty of blonde Eastern European femme flesh is sacrificed on the altar of gonzo here, while Sandra Romain, long a favorite of mine, has the show's showiest role in which she more or less fills Belladonna's slot (no puns please) in Buttman's universe. Her set piece has clamps stretching her nipples beyond Belladonna elasticity and similarly her labia as she's in fine BDSM form chained to a big X- frame Crucifix contraption. IMDb reports that AVN gave a stupid award to another similar scene where Brooklyn Lee suffers through (gladly, I'm sure) the application of clothespins to her various bodily parts -all in good clean fun for fetishists.
The possibly engrossing vampire content lost me by midway through the over-long story, as Stagliano invents some rather stupid notions just to keep that pot boiling. The quest turns out to be Lee wanting to become human again, tired of immortality as a slave to whoever is running the Clan (Lea Lexis stages a coup to dethrone Galanti that is rather poorly developed). Ferrara is working toward that end, to live happily ever after with her. True to Buttman tradition, our merry auteur can't resist hoking this up past camp into ridiculousness, by staging a ritual of speculum inserted into Lee's ass and then pussy for holy water to be poured in, supposedly reverting her from vampire to friendly neighborhood human. The clash between porn's Prime Directive, namely of explicit sexual representation on screen for the voyeur to watch, vs. any inkling of fantasy or eroticism left to one's imagination is clearly displayed here, not on purpose, but vividly nonetheless.
Now I have to face, on some rainy Saturday as a shut-in, the prospect of watching the Second Season of "Voracious", in which the divine Stoya is playing opposite the project's true progenitor Lea Lexis , but which runs a daunting 11-1/2 hours.
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