Phantom Love

This 2000 film from Twilight Entertainment was written by Louise Monclair and directed by Madison Monroe, and it starts Michelle Von Flotow as Ellen Turner, a successful romance novel. As the film opens, she’s just completed her 4th book and turned it in to her editor, Feany (Kurt Sinclair). Feany likes the book but says he thinks she’s hit a writing wall, and that her books are getting repetitive in terms of plots. He doesn’t want any more books about “pirates, cowboys, or damsels in distress.” He suggests that she take a vacation to Florence, Italy, which he calls the birthplace of romance, to relax and get some new ideas.

In Florence, Ellen checks into a mansion that is operating as a Bread and Breakfast. The innkeeper tells her the story behind the mansion, it belonged to the family of an Italian Countess for centuries, and she married an English Count and they had a daughter, Judith. But the mother died in childbirth. The Count never remarried and raised the daughter on his own along with his sister and her two daughters. That night the innkeeper gives Judith’s old journal to Ellen, which Ellen begins reading, and that’s the premise of the rest of the film, us seeing Judith’s story in flashbacks, with occasional cuts back to the present to see Judith’s reactions to what she’s reading.

Griffen Drew plays Judith. It’s 1898. Judith had been sent to attend school in America and had just returned to the manor upon the death of her father. Angel Sparks plays Judith’s Aunt Agatha, while Shannon Malone and Leslie Taylor play her daughters Lucille and Mina. Judith immediately clashes with her Aunt and cousins, as her time in America has made her more liberal and independent, while her aunt expects her to be conservative and traditionally “ladylike”, as she’s raised her daughters to be. Things don’t get better when Agatha tries to push Judith into pursuing a relationship with a rich Count, which Judith balks at. She just wants to return to her free life in America but for the time being she’s stuck in Italy.

David Christensen plays Count Renault, and although he’s handsome and charming, Judith still isn’t interested in marrying him. She even begins an affair with Chauncie (Jesse Johnson…no not THAT Jesse Johnson), who is the local groundskeeper, while continuing to allow herself to be courted by the Count. Thanks to their maid Marie (Sandy Wasko), whom she also has a fling with, she eventually learns that her two cousins are not as innocent as their mother thinks they are, as Mina is having an affair with the local doctor (Koury Brown) who makes weekly housecalls, and Lucille is having an affair with her art teacher (Christian Boeving).

The Count does end up proposing to Judith, but at this point, she’s falling in love with Chauncie, and he is with her, so she doesn’t want to. But that’s when her aunt informs her that Judith’s father squandered his fortune and so the estate is broke, and the only way to save it is for Judith to marry a rich man, or they’ll all be out on the street. What does Judith do?!? What the film to find out!

Okay, I won’t spoil the exact ending, other than say that there is a happy ending for everyone that’s both unexpected and logical. And that’s something I really liked about this film, how well the story was written. Griffen Drew is one of my favorite softcore actresses of her era and gives her usual great performance. Michelle von Flotow is another favorite who gives a great performance here in her significant but smaller role. I’ll also credit whomever the production designer is, because the sets and costumes look lovely. This is when softcore features had decent budgets, and it shows.

We get seven sex scenes. Griffen Drew is in four, the aforementioned g/g scene with Sandy Wasko, a scene with David Christensen, and two with Jesse Johnson. Michelle von Flotow has one scene with Jesse Johnson (it’s a fantasy sequence where they’re playing characters from her latest novel). The other two scenes are Shannon Malone with Christian Boeving and Leslie Taylor with Koury Brown.

Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS

Jason Majercik is selling the UNRATED DVD for $19.99. Email him at for his softcore inventory list.

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