Sunday, 24 December 2017

Soft Porn Sunday Special: ILB's Top 10 Sex Films

Christmas Eve, eh? I've been waiting for this... the inevitable build-up before the inevitable climax, which will probably be bitterly disappointing. This evening I'll be at my family party before walking to Mass with all my drunk cousins. A couple of years ago, my auntie spilled the blood of Christ on the floor. I certainly plan to include it in the Christmas dinner quiz tomorrow.

Something I've been working on over the week building up to Christmas is a sequence of lists I've been using to fill up the notepaper littering my desk. On Thursday evening I wrote out a lost of my "Top Ten" softcore films ever, not to be confused with the Top Ten scenes I did a year ago. I did, of course, think this was an easy task... two hours later, having completed it, I was a broken man. Difficult as it was to whittle it down to ten, putting them in actual order was practically impossible.

Still, it's my list, so I set myself some ground rules to make it even more difficult:

(i) It must be a full-length film. No individual episodes of series are permissible. So no Bedtime Stories, Passion Cove, Compromising Situations, Love Street or Co-Ed Confidential.
(ii) Full-length films (ie. one and a half hours or more) as part of a series of films are permissible, as are sequels, remakes and alternate versions, as long as they fit the time frame.
(iii) No hardcore. I've only ever seen a couple of full hardcore films, anyway - that's mostly scenes - but this lift should be purely softcore. I didn't find this one particularly difficult.
(iv) There must be a variety of producers in the list. They can't all be ASP or Surrender Cinema.
(v) Any genre of erotica is permitted, but you must be able to justify why you have chosen the film if it fits into any other genre (eg. erotic romance, erotic sci-fi, sex comedy, sexploitation).

And this is what my sweat and blood went into...

ILB's Top Ten Sex Films
...so far

10. Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens (1979)
I wasn't sure whether to include this one, as I'm finding Russ Meyer more and more problematic as I get older. However, although it's probably not his most well-known, Beneath the Valley... is RM's last film (Pandora Peaks doesn't count), largely considered to be his funniest and is by far his most explicit. It's also got the most sex in it and, when I was a teenager, I thought it to be the pinnacle of sex films. It's also indirectly responsible for my first orgasm, so there's that.
Once I saw it, I became obsessed with seeing it again - which I did, once - before getting around to buying it once I hit 18. As one might expect, my memories were a little too affectionate; I didn't pick up on the finer points, and I imagined there to be more sex than there actually is. I also didn't expect the violence, but there you have it. RM may be more well-known for flicks like Vixen! and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, but this holds a special place in my heart for being the one I wanted to see by far the most.

09. Dungeon of Desire (1999)
Another case of misremembered brilliance here, as I was convinced that there was a very hot scene between the wicked queen and her henchman in this Surrender B-grade erotic fantasy. There is such a scene, but it's actually pretty boring. Having seen it again a couple of times, however, it does have its merits - particularly one specific bit which must be my favourite lesbian sex scene ever (and I don't usually like lesbian stuff...), so there's that.
This one has a great cast, too - not just the usual suspects like Regina Russell and Amber Newman, but Mia Zottoli, Stella Porter, Susan Featherly and "good ol' Jason Schnuit" (plus Burke Morgan as a metal-loving Merlin) make for a pretty entertaining ride - even if the production value doesn't seem particularly high...

08. Escape from Pleasure Planet (2016)
By far the most recent on my list and one I didn't know existed until recently, and also the only one by Retromedia Entertainment (and probably filmed in a day, too). In fact, like Dungeon of Desire above, this is on my list because of a lesbian scene... but there's more than that. I'm not particularly enamoured with the rest of the scenes (although most of them do have their moments), but I do love the amount of effort that was put into this, the absolute nonsense of the plot, and the mind-meltingly hot actors they managed to hire for it.
Yes, it makes very little sense, and I think they managed to lose their thread about halfway through writing it (there isn't any real ending, either), but it does manage to hold onto its sci-fi roots, and shoehorns in a lot of sex where it can. It's no higher on this list, though, 'cause I think the last ten minutes are a little sexist.

07. Fast Lane to Vegas (2000)
The second in a series that began with Fast Lane to Malibu. It took me a while to getting around to seeing it in full, which I only managed recently, but I've been really enjoying it. It's well-made, brilliantly thought-out, and actually has a relatively complex plot, complete with fourth-wall-breaking soliloquising narration, multiple viewpoints, and a post-climax resolution (if it does resort to a "here we go again!" ending...).
There are some great sex scenes here - the obligatory Zottoli/Schnuit bonk-fest, the scene with Flower Edwards playing a Mexican señorita, the bit with Tera Patrick as a naked alien... but I've decided, following a few re-watches, that the best scene doesn't feature the two leads at all, and is in fact features Renee Rea as tritagonist Monica. It's one of the most lustful scenes recently, and is fast making its way onto my list of go-to scenes for a 'helping hand'.
That's almost second, though, to how much thought went into this, because for all the nudity, haphazard characterisation and loose morals, there's a genuine comedy here, hidden behind the softcore sheen.

06. Emmanuelle: Queen of the Galaxy (1994) - aka First Contact
Film one of seven in the ever-expanding Emmanuelle series and the first to feature both Krista Allen as Emmanuelle and Paul Michael Robinson as Haffron. This is a charming, gentle introduction into the series and a spirited attempt to update Emmanuelle, who at this point had been flagging a little. It's very mid-'90s, and it shows, but it's packed full of sex, even if Emmanuelle herself only seems to do it twice... and it sets up the rest of the series, which isn't something I've ever seen in an Emmanuelle film before.
This perhaps isn't as good as later films in the series (in terms of sex; the plot is unbeatable), and it flags a little in the third act - this could have cut that extra storyline out - but it's certainly very hot, worth a watch, and also just about as explicit as softcore gets, still without showing anything vital. And it also has some of my favourite quotes, as well - "what's money?"

05. Emmanuelle: One Last Fling (1994) - aka One Final Fling
Film six of seven in the... hang on, this seems familiar...
By this point in the series, Emmanuelle and Haffron are head-over-heels for each other and having sex at any given opportunity, and I really don't need to explain any further, do I?

04. Andromina: The Pleasure Planet (1999)
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Escape from Pleasure Planet (it's a different film, and a different company entirely!), this looks - for a bit - like it could have been adapted from a book. It wasn't, but it has different tribes of women on a hypersexual world without any men, an interstellar brothel-type planet, and it's a Surrender title so it's got Shannan Leigh, et al., in it. It has shades of Gor and a touch of Poul Anderson in its origins, and unlike a lot of the other Surrender titles, it doesn't take place inside a plastic castle.
There's very little sci-fi for something which is ostensibly sci-fi - it's closer to sword and planet than any other sub-genre - but there's a lot of sex in this, and it's all hot, from the curious opener with Susan Hale to the vocal fling with Shyra Deland and The Hulk to the reason I like Susan Featherly... but the absolute best, for me, is the stunning (and innocently stereotyped) scene with Shannan Leigh as bad girl Becca, which is worth the price of the DVD alone, in my opinion. And we'll be seeing her again...

03. Friend of the Family (1995) - aka Elke 
This title, which is almost pure drama as much as it is softcore, stars Shauna O'Brien in the title rôle as Elke, but as attractive as she is, the bright shining star of this film by miles (and the reason it's so popular) is Lisa Boyle as Montana Stillman. She is a huge-breasted, naughty revelation as the 19-year-old Montana, and her three sex scenes are masterpieces, from the movements, the intensity and the acting to the way the music synchronises.
These are the scenes that I remember liking the most, the scenes that were always the easiest to download... and the scenes that got me nice and distracted during my History A2 exam. In fact, it's my favourite scene from Elke that's the one I used to test my BlackBerry's ability to run videos (and it's still on the SD card, so if I need it, it's always there for me). I was never that enchanted with New City's other releases, and there is a Friend of the Family II which I'm not really there for, but stuff like this gets me going, and it turned me into a confirmed Lisa Boyle fan.

02. Emmanuelle: Concealed Fantasy (1994) - aka There's More to Love than Sex
Gosh, how predictable am I?
Okay, seriously, this is the last one on the list and it's the best Emmanuelle film ever. Don't believe me? You may well be wrong. This one is pretty much non-stop sex. There's a little of the continuous plot here, contributing to the filmic "serial" element of the Emmanuelle in Space canon, but since this is mostly a bridge between episodes three and six (five is hardly worth a mention), they don't have much to do with the film, so they just insert longer, progressively hotter sex scenes - everywhere. On a bed, on the floor, in the bath (twice), in the shower... everywhere. And, to top it all off, Emmanuelle and Haffron jump between exotic locales, so we get some pretty scenery, even though neither of them seem to see much of it, because they're too busy making love.
This episode - and neither of the ones above - doesn't actually contain my favourite Emmanuelle sex scene featuring Emmanuelle (that's in episode 2, A World of Desire), but there's still a lot to enjoy... and, if I'm being honest - if I really want an orgasm, this is the file I'll open first.

And a couple of honourable mentions, as if this post wasn't long enough already:
- The Exotic Time Machine II (2000) for one particular sex scene with Jason Schnuit, but only one good sex scene really isn't enough to make the list
- The Night That Never Happened (1997) for being an enjoyable heist thriller rather than a straight-up softcore movie, but not being on the list probably because of that
- Emmanuelle Through Time (2011/2012) for being genuinely funny and enjoyable, even if it isn't as sexy a series as the earlier stuff
- The Sex Files: Creating the Perfect Man (2000), which almost made the list because of its hot sex, but didn't make it because I don't like the male lead

And finally...

01. The Virgins of Sherwood Forest (2000)
By far my favourite softcore film of all time and probably one of my favourite films of all time, full stop, Virgins is perhaps not everyone's top choice for a film, having a cheesy set-up (the whole thing is a dream... or is it?!), questionable acting (although Dave Roth is a joy as the self-obsessed Robin, and Micah Bradshaw makes for an attractively wide-eyed Alan) and dodgy scripting, but that just makes it funnier.
Virgins is probably a misnomer, however, seeing as how there aren't any virgins in the film... but the sex is scorching hot: not just my favourite scene ever with Shannon Leigh and David Usher, but all eight sex scenes featuring a combination of Leigh, Usher, Bradshaw, Roth, Susan Hale, Amber Newman, Jason Schnuit, and (as main character Roberta) Gabriella Hall are decent, either contributing to the plot or just there for fun... because soft porn is fun! The music is good, the setting is good, the actors all seem to be enjoying themselves... and it's all knowingly tongue-in-cheek. It may be difficult to sit through, but it's a bundle of sexy, horny fun. Love it.

And that's my top ten. Phew. Right, I'm off to eat myself into oblivion and question my life choices. Merry Christmas!

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