Okay, a little later than I’d hoped, here is a review for a movie that I have been looking forward to ever since I first heard about it back in February. After stepping back to let Sal V. Miers direct the last few films, Retromedia has brought back Dean McKendrick to write and direct this feature. Model For Murder: The Centerfold Killer is a dramatic murder mystery, in an attempt to harken back to the classic erotic thrillers of the 90’s.
August Ames, a hardcore actress making her softcore debut, stars as Audrey, a fashion/bikini model. The film opens with her posing in bra and panties, and then eventually topless, in a film studio as photographer Phillip (Jon Fleming) takes pictures. Also on hand is Phillip’s assistant, Amy, played by Sarah Hunter. During a break between photoshoots, Audrey mentions how she’s hoping to get on the cover of a popular sports magazine and attempts to encourage Phillip to help her. Although Phillip points out that he doesn’t choose which picture gets on the cover, Audrey says he can help her by making sure that her pictures are better than the other models. And she’s willing to do anything to get Phillip on her side (if ya catch my drift).
Christiana Cinn stars as Jocelyn, another model, and part-time stripper, who is Audrey’s biggest rival for the cover. The next day Phillip and Amy are at the beach, where Phillip is due to take pictures of both women in bikinis. As Phillips takes photos of Jocelyn first, Audrey jealously watches from the sidelines, while arguing with her manager David (Justin Berti) about how she deserves the cover more and insinuates that if she doesn’t get it, it will be David’s fault, and questions whether or not he’s doing a good enough job managing her career. When Phillip is done with Jocelyn, he calls over Audrey and begins to take pictures, but then says that the change in position of the sun as ruined the background. Phillip tells Audrey to meet him in an hour in another spot on the beach, where the sun will be better, so they can finish her shoot. Audrey agrees and goes walking along the beach by herself. We then see from her point of view as someone, we can’t see who but it’s someone Audrey clearly recognizes), picks up a large rock and smacks Audrey in the head with it, killing her.
Later, police homicide detectives Parker and O’Neill (Erika Jordan and Billy Snow) arrive on the scene of the dead body and begin to investigate. Jocelyn had left earlier, so the detectives talk to Phillip, Amy, and David, where it is revealed that August had been making loosely-veiled threats towards David about firing him and finding herself a better manager. We also learn (and see in a flashback) that David discovered Audrey a couple of years earlier and the two of them had a brief sexual relationship which she ended. Despite all this, David loudly proclaims his innocence. After meeting with the doctor (played by Sal V. Miers himself) who performed the autopsy on Audrey, who reveals that it could have been a man or a woman who was able to hit Audrey with the rock with enough force to kill her, Parker wants to find and question Jocelyn.
So at that moment, David and Jocelyn are the detectives primary suspects in this case. Jocelyn doesn’t help herself by going out of the way to avoid talking to the detectives, such as sneaking out of Phillip’s house right after they arrive there. The detectives finally catch up to and question Jocelyn (at the strip club she works at) and question her about her rivalry with Audrey. And although Jocelyn admits to their tense relationship, she also proclaims her innocence. Finally the detectives catch a break, and prepare to make an arrest. But have they caught the right person? WATCH THE FILM TO FIND OUT (no spoiler).
Story-wise, the film is pretty good, even if it’s not exactly the most original premise in the world. As I said, it aims to be a modern take on old school erotic thrillers, and it largely succeeds. Nevertheless it features several tropes that longtime erotica fans such as myself should recognize. When someone is arrested (on rather circumstantial evidence), that person is so obviously the killer, that you know he or she must not be the killer (it’s never the most obvious person in these films). In fact, I will admit that I correctly guessed whom the killer would be rather early. And when Parker and O’Neill are introduced, you pretty much know that those two are going to hook up, especially when O’Neill mentions having recently gotten a divorce from a bad marriage, and Parker states her lack of success in relationships. Likewise, while Phillip and Amy are initially shown to just be platonic co-workers, it’s pretty clear early on that Amy wishes she and Phillip would go further (a fact of which he is blissfully unaware of). So it’s not without it’s flaws, but it is still enjoyable. I guess my biggest complaint would be that about an hour and seventeen minutes, the film feels a little rushed. Even just another 10-15 minutes could have fleshed out this story more, ramping up the suspense, or at least giving us more sex scenes.
Speaking of which, I know that’s what you people really watch these films for, so let’s break that down.
There are only 5 sex scenes, rather than the usual 7. Each sex scene is B/G. August Ames appears in two, one with Fleming, as Audrey seduces Phillip in his film studio, and one with Berti, in a flashback showing David and Audrey having sex in a pool at his house right after he first signed her. The other three ladies, also each have one scene. Christiana Cinn and Sarah Hunter each have sex scenes with Fleming, both at Phillip’s place, and then Erika Jordan and Billy Snow have a sex scene, as Parker helps O’Neill get home after meeting up with him at a bar where he’s had a little too much to drink.These scenes are balanced out with two “solo” scenes, we get Christiana performing a strip tease on stage at a bar, starting off in lingerie and then ending while topless, and Sarah Hunter takes a shower, where McKendrick expertly directs the camera up and down her voluptuous naked body as she first washes herself and then masturbates to a rather realistic looking orgasm.
All of the scenes that we do get are very hot. The standouts are August Ames’ two scenes, especially her opener with Fleming, in which she rides him cowgirl and then he does her doggystyle as she moans very loudly (and convincingly) while her big boobs bounce. Erika Jordan’s scene is, of course, very hot, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that she only had one in this film (I have not hidden the fact that she is my favorite softcore actress, so I know I’m biased). Again, this is where the extra time would have helped. They could have thrown in at least one G/G scene (there is a brief moment where I thought it might lead to an August/Sarah scene, but it didn’t) or maybe a B/G/G threesome, just to switch things up a bit.
Acting-wise, most of the cast does a good job. The standouts are Erika Jordan and Justin Berti, who both play their roles as a no-nonsense detective and a sleazy manager very well. Sarah Hunter is also good, as usual, although she isn’t given as much to work with as she could have. And for a debut I was quite impressed with August Ames. She has a some room to improve, and of course she’s only in about half the film before she’s knocked off, but she handled her part well and shows much potential. Christiana Cinn was decent in her role, but I don’t know if she was given enough time for me to really judge her acting abilities (she does give an excellent pole-dance, though). The same with Billy Scott. He was just sort of there to play-off Erika Jordan’s character. And, I hate to say it, but I think the weakest link would be Jon Fleming. He does a great job in all of his sex scenes, but I don’t know if he ever seemed that convincing in the scenes where he keeps his clothes on. Like there are scenes where he supposed to be angry or sad over Audrey’s death, but I just didn’t feel it.
Still, overall, this film was a nice change of pace from the usual Retromedia softcore fair, and it gave Dean McKendrick a chance to show that he’s more than a one-trick pony. Model For Murder: The Centerfold Killers is solid enough to get a Chacebook rating of 4 STARS
Categories: SOFTCORE FILMS