SOFTCORE FILMS

Carnal Crimes

Here’s a classic softcore film from 1992 that I only just realized that I never reviewed here. This is strange because the film was produced by Axis Films International, which in the early 1990’s produced some of the best softcore of its time, and I’ve reviewed many of their other films. Animal Instincts and its two sequels, Secret Games (oops, I haven’t actually reviewed that one either!) and its two sequels, Mirror Images and its sequel, Pamela Principle and its sequel. Plus the erotic standalone films, Sins of The Night, Body of Influence, Undercover, The Other Woman, and Night Rhythms.

Axis Films International was formed by two former hardcore porn directors, Gregory Dark and Walter Gernet who made high-quality X-rated films under the moniker “The Dark Brothers” during the 1980’s. As the 90’s approached, they decided to branch out into “mainstream” films, in the form of direct-to-video erotic thrillers, with Gregory using the name Alexander Gregory Hippolyte, sometimes dropping the “Gregory” altogether. Axis’ winning formula was good scripts, high production values and, most importantly, great casting. They didn’t just hire actors who looked good naked and were willing to simulate sex onscreen, they made sure their casts had real acting talent. Coupled with getting familiar faces in lead and supporting roles. No, you won’t see any A-listers in their films, but you’d never know when someone like Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon), Maxwell Caulfield (Grease 2), Adrian Zmed (Grease 2/T.J. Hooker), David Carradine (Kung Fu) or even Richard Roundtree (SHAFT!) might show up in one of their films. These appearances helped give the Axis films an air of…legitimacy, for lack of a better word. You might have to wait until late at night to catch their films on cable, but they didn’t feel like typical “skinemax” fare, these were mainstream movies, that just happened to feature explicit sex scenes.

Written by Jon Robert Samsel and directed by Gregory Dark, this was Axis’ first release. It starred Linda Carol (a familiar B-movie face, after starring in Reform School Girls) as Elise Goldenberg. She’s your typical frustrated young housewife, married to her husband Stanley (Rich Crater) a wealthy lawyer in Beverly Hills. Elise is frustrated because despite being young and smoking hot, her husband who is overweight, balding, and probably a good 20 years older than her, pays very little attention to her as he’s more focused on his work. There’s a scene where he’s up late in his home office, and Elise comes in wearing a see-through nightie with nothing on underneath and tries to entice him to join her bed, yet Stanley still blows her off. Although it is made clear early on that Stanley has some kinky desires of his own that he’s hiding from Elise.

Martin Hewitt, who was most famous at that point for co-starring in the movie Endless Love with Brooke Shields where he played an obsessed lover (soon you’ll learn this may be why he was chosen for this role), stars as Renny, a professional photographer that Stanely and Elise meet at an art gallery. Elise is immediately infatuated with Renny and seeks him out later and begins having an affair with him. This affair gets very intense very quickly, it starts with the two of them having an impromptu threeway with another woman that Renny was shooting, and from there Renny begins playing mind-games with Elise, including sending her to a donut shop to unknowing proposition the baker, which does and has sex with him. But as his behavior becomes more obsessive (see what I mean about being perfect for the part?) Elise tries to back away from him, especially after she learns from a police detective that Renny has a violent past. But Renny doesn’t take to this rejection and rapes her (thankfully off-camera), which leads to Elise confessing to Stanley, who in a fit of rage vows to confront Renny.

It’s at this point (spoilers, I guess) that we find out that Stanley knew all along and had actually paid Renny to seduce and abuse Elise, and get most of their encounters on video so he could watch because this is all part of Stanley’s kinky fetishes. When Elise finds out about this, she comes up with her own plan to get back at both Stanley and Renny.

Along the way there are some hot sex scenes between Linda Carol and Martin Hewitt, including the threesome with Yvette Nelson, who plays a model named Mia. There’s also one of Linda Carol with James Ryan, who played the baker at the donut shop. Before Linda’s character joined them we got to see Martin Hewitt and Yvette Nelson together, plus Hewitt has a scene with Julie Strain, who plays an unnamed woman. Jasae, an adult film star also known as Desi DeAngelo and Elise di Medici, plays the Goldenberg’s maid, Christa, and has a sex scene with Robert Cali, who plays the poolman.

Watching this again now, in hindsight, I can say it’s not one of Axis’ best productions, but for the first release of a new studio, it was well done. You can see some of the later recognizable tropes of Axis’ output all starting here. The sex-starved housewife who begins having an affair only to have that backfire on her is a storyline that they would return to several times, in improved scripts. Likewise, there being a plot twist at the end is also common in later Axis films. But with the convincing performance of our leading lady Linda, and the chemistry she and Hewitt displayed (I can see why they brought Hewitt back for other films, I would have liked to have seen Linda in more of their films as well), this films remains enjoyable. I’ll give Carnal Crimes a solid Chacebook rating of THREE AND A HALF STARS

*Fun fact, this film also contains a brief appearance from Danny Trejo in one of his earlier roles.

Jason Majercik is selling this UNRATED DVD for $24.99. Email him at quinn_nash@hotmail.com for his softcore inventory list

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