SOFTCORE FILMS

THE LOVE MACHINE

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Alright, following MODEL FOR MURDER and DEADLY PICKUP, here is Retromedia’s latest attempt at producing an “erotic thriller,” from the mind of writer/director Dean McKendrick. And, look, I’m just going to blunt, right up front. I don’t think that erotic thrillers are McKendricks’ speciality. At least not as a screenwriter. As a director he’s fine. He always does a good job, but when it comes to writing this stuff, I think he may need to stick to the sci-fi features and comedies. There’s more to making a good erotic thriller than just having people get killed in between the sex scenes. There was a good effort with Model for Murder, presenting an actual mystery. But with Deadly Pickup and now this one, the basic plot is just here’s a woman who’s going around killing people, let’s see how long it takes her to get caught.

I’m not going to worry too much about spoilers, in fact I’ll just give you the DVD blurb, since that already gives plenty of spoilers:

When couples seek therapy from a relationship counselor, Dr. Bradshaw, they are subjected to a strange experiment beyond all imagination. Victims of Dr. Bradshaw’s insane revenge, the women are programed, via the Love Machine, to brutally kill their mates when a hypnotic response triggers their homicidal rage.

So, first, I’ll state that despite her picture being on the front of the cover, Christiana Cinn, does not appear in this film at all. And although Erika Jordan appears prominently in the advertising for this film, her name is listed above the summary on the back of the DVD and her picture is actually on the disc itself, she only has one small scene in this film. She plays a stripper, and during the opening credits we see her in a bar on a stage performing a strip tease, starting in a dress, stripping down to bra and panties and then ending it topless. It’s a sexy routine (she is a natural dancer), about 3 minutes long, but then that’s it, we never see her in the film again. Regular readers of this blog, specifically of my softcore film reviews, know what a huge fan of Erika’s I am, so needless to say, I found that to be disappointing as I expected more of her when I bought this.

Anyway, Jennifer Korbin plays the aforementioned doctor, Stephanie Bradshaw. Eventually we learn her history, which is that 6 years ago her former husband drunkenly raped her and then beat their daughter so bad that the daughter was left in a coma, which she is still in. Bradshaw stabbed and nearly killed her husband, but it was considered self-defense so no charges were filed. Nevertheless, Bradshaw had her license to practice revoked in the state of Colorado, where she lived. But apparently she had no trouble getting a license and setting up practice in another state, where she is now (it’s never said exactly where this takes place, just some small town apparently in California). And this information about Bradshaw is easily available via a search on the internet, but this strangely hasn’t affected her practice. Her speciality appears to be treating couples where the wife has lost interest in sex. Via 3 appointments with the wives, she manages to fully hypnotize them (with the use of some special machine that she’s invented)  enough so that whenever they hear Bradshaw’s voice say “It’s time,”,  they will now be compelled to kill their husbands. But they also have their rekindled interest in sex, so they do that first before killing them. It’s as if Bradshaw wants to make sure that the couple is happy again just before before she entices the wives to kill their husbands.

Alice Haig and Justin Berti played Jane and Don, she’s a legal secretary and he’s an auto-mechanic who have been married for 4 years. But for the past 6 months their sex life has gone down, as Jane has been losing interest in sex and any other type of intimacy. At the suggestion of  Don’s coworker John (Michael Hopkins), who swears that Bradshaw has helped repair his marriage to his wife Angie (Pepper XO), Don and Jane go to see Dr. Bradshaw, and Jane has the first of what is to be three sessions being hypnotized by Dr. Bradshaw with her machine.

But then Angie kills John and is caught. And  when another of Dr. Bradshaw’s patients, a woman named Blair (played by Carter Cruise), kills her husband Jeff (Alan Long), Don thinks that this is too much of a coincidence. That’s what leads him to look up Dr. Bradshaw’s history on the internet. Fearing that Jane is being programed to kill him, Don races to Dr. Bradshaw’s office, where Jane is attending for her 3rd and final visit. Will he make it there in time to save Jane’s brain and his own life? Watch the movie to find out! (no more spoilers).

The premise had some potential, but the execution is a little weak. Although we do get solid motivation regarding Dr. Bradshaw, there’s no mystery or build-up to any of the kills, except for the very last one. And once again I must stress that this is not the fault of the cast, who all do the best they can with the material that there were given. Jennifer Korbin was very impressive as Dr. Bradshaw, and I think the film could have utilized her better, perhaps showing some of her background, or more of her sort of split personality, where she seems very nice and professional in the office, but can snap and turn into a vengeful man-hater in private. I was even more impressed with Alice Haig as Jane, whom we see go from staid and uptight to happy and loving through the arc of the film. She is a great leading woman.  Justin Berti also does a great job as Don, and so does the rest of the cast although most aren’t given that much screen-time. I’ll note that Mike Gaglio has a small part in this film as Don and John’s boss.

Now, let’s get the sex scenes. There are 6 in this scene, 5 of which are new. Let me explain:

There’s a scene between Alice and Robbie Carroll, in what is a fantasy/dream sequence where Jane is laying out in a bikini by a pool and seduces her poolboy, and they have sex in the water.  Michael Hopkins and Pepper XO have sex on a bed in their home, in a scene where they’re celebrating the rekindling of their marriage. Alice and Jennifer have a lesbian scene, although Alice isn’t really active in it. This is a scene in the Dr.’s office, where Jane has been hypnotized and while she’s under Bradshaw opens her shirt and fondles and kisses her breasts before taking off her own clothes. So it’s mostly Jennifer feeling up Alice while Alice doesn’t move. Carter Cruise and Alan Long have sex in the back of a minivan at night. Their characters were also out celebrating their marriage, which Dr. Bradshaw supposedly helped. And Alice and Justin also have a sex scene together. And that one is the hottest one in the film, in my opinion.

The 6th scene in this film is Beverly Lynne and Randy Spears. But it’s taken from an episode of the TANYA X series (in the credits, Lynne is listed as “Tanya” and Spears as “Tanya’s Husband”) and inserted into this film, in order to make it look like they are also former patients of Dr. Bradshaw’s. Although it’s a good scene, it’s still re-used footage.

And that’s not the only one. There are also two solo shower scenes. One of Alice Haig and one of Christine Nguyen. The Nguyen scene is taken from the movie SEXUAL WITCHCRAFT and inserted here in what is supposed to be a fantasy/dream that Jane has (Nguyen is credted as “Fantasy Girl”). Again, a hot scene, but I can’t help but a feel a little cheated by this.

Oh yeah, one other little thing I noticed. As I said, Carter Cruise’ character is named Blair. After she kills her husband (spoiler alert) she disappears. In Deadly Pickup we learn that her character Breezy was really named Blair. In that film we never get a motivation as to why Breezy/Blair is going around killing men after sex. It could argued that this film is a prequel to that one, and that explains her motives. After Dr. Bradshaw’s brainwashing, Blair is compelled to go out and find men, seduce them and kill them (of course, she also seduces and kills a woman in that film, but nevermind). I don’t know if any connection was intended by McKendrick when he wrote these films, but it’s a nice extra little touch if you think about it like that.

So, good premise, good cast, and the original sex scenes are hot, but this film really could have been much better with a little more effort. The best rating I can give this film is 3 STARS

 

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

8 replies »

  1. The film looks good, I look forward to watching only for Alice Haig.
    She has many sex scenes? you could describe them?

    Forgive my English, I am Brazilian and have not yet mastered the language.
    Thank you!

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      • Chase, I appreciate your reviews, even when you don’t like my films. A lot of the problems you discussed are all budget and schedule related, both of which are always severely lacking when we make these films. When I did those three thrillers, I wish I had more time to focus on the writing, but it had to be done quick. Model for Murder was my favorite (and yours as well, it seems) and I think it shows. For Love Machine in particular, there were some severe production related problems that led to many of the things you didn’t like (the use of stock footage, for example). I won’t get into the details, but suffice to say this isn’t my favorite either. I just wrapped production on four thrillers and two erotic fairytales. I only wrote one of the thrillers (although based on an outline by another writer) and one of the erotic fairytales, so perhaps you’ll enjoy the scripts more. I do think they are more of the typical “erotic thriller” than I provided last time. I look forward to you reviewing them, even if the review is negative! (I have a very thick skin and frankly, usually agree with your assessments!)

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      • Holy Moley! If this is, indeed, THE Dean McKendrick, I just have to say THANK YOU for reading and responding! I’m very honored at that. And yes if you’ve read for awhile, the you know that in general I am a huge fan of your work. I’ve loved most of your films, and even in the mediocre ones, you’re always at least great at directing the sex scenes. That may be why I was so hard on these last two, I just knew you could do better. I look forward to your future work!

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  2. Yes, this is THE Dean McKendrick (not sure anyone would claim to be me otherwise!). I found your site through a link from the Sreviews site (which has sadly just been shut down). And please continue with your honest appraisal of my work. Frankly, these things are shot so fast that any good that comes out of them is usually more chance than anything else. Having said that, my frank opinion of the three thrillers I directed earlier this year are: Model for Murder I think is some of my best directing work. I really liked the script (although some found the “solution” too simple. Mea culpa). Deadly PIckUp I also enjoyed and thought both it and Model had great production value (shooting at the beach, lots of car driving stuff, things we never do because there’s no time or money). Love Machine, frankly, is a piece of shit, saved only by the really wonderful performance by Justin Berti playing the lead. I never liked the script (when the title “Love Machine” was approved, I was going to write a script about a nympho, but was forced to add a “sci fi” element by certain people who wanted that. And the design of the “Love Machine” cost about ten bucks and showed it). I just finished production on six more films and am in post on them now. Too early to say, obviously, but I think there’s some really nice work here by a bunch of great actors, and some good scripts this time (I hope. I’m sure you’ll let me know!)

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    • Yes, your appraisal of those three thrillers matches mine, in that Model For Murder was the best one, Deadly Pickup was a decent attempt but could have been much better, and Love Machine just didn’t work at all. And hearing your frank critiques makes me more hopeful for any future erotic thrillers you do. So I’m definitely glad to hear that you’ve got 6 more movies coming next year (so far).

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