HBO // 2005 // 510 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // December 5th, 2008
Having this much fun just can't be legal! And it certainly isn't cheap!
Cathouse: The Series is a continuation of two HBO documentaries looking at the "behind the scenes" of a legal brothel in Nevada called the Moonlight Bunnyranch. The establishment is run by a larger than life character named Dennis Hof and his handy manager, Madam Suzette. Cathouse focuses on their operation and many of the girls who work for them. Prices are pretty outrageous, usually running upwards of a thousand dollars a visit to do what comes naturally, and also customers run the risk of being recorded for an HBO documentary like this (not really -- they sign consent forms to be filmed). The footage is racy, but we never see penetration or anything up close. Cathouse is coy enough to avoid going too far over the line into actual pornography, but the limit is always just avoided barely. The series shows an endless parade of happy hookers and their Johns all waxing poetically about the joys of sex and prostitution. You won't find any judgment here, or any searing look at the downsides of working at a whorehouse. Everybody seems to love their job, and none of the customers ever complains or demands a refund. What's most fascinating are the discussions of the business side of things believe it or not. You'll learn a lot about how to run a brothel, and what you should and should not do if you are a hooker or want to become one.
Cathouse has an aura of slick fantasy when it comes to the sex business, and it almost glamorizes the profession. The show is directed by Patti Kaplan, who has done a lot of the Real Sex series for HBO. Her style is to mix quick edits and music in with the interviews, and keep everything moving as if time were money. Cathouse: The Series subscribes to the law of diminishing returns when it comes to quality of content. The first season is better than the second in that it has better interviews and more engaging characters. The musical episode shows some surprising talent with a cabaret style revue with the girls, but for the most part it's just silly and slightly painful.
Seventeen half hour episodes and the musical are contained on four discs held inside a standard DVD case with double trays. The video quality is what you'd expect from a documentary using cameras planted around a whorehouse. The images are soft at times, and colors vary depending on lighting conditions. What's strange is the aspect ratio shifts a little to letter boxed with the musical special, and the image looks better with this staged episode. A 2.0 stereo mix delivers the dialogue and other assorted moans just fine, and it serves its purpose for the show.
Cathouse: The Series is an interesting look at the employees of the
Moonlight Bunnyranch, and it's certainly worth a look if you're curious about
what legal prostitution would look like. The girls are what you'd suspect, sweet
but more than a little stripperish in their style. The customers are
surprisingly normal for the most part, and at turns shockingly strange just when
you least expect it. All in all life at a hooker ranch is exactly how I would
picture it, and the show confirms all your suspicions in great detail. The
documentary reality series is a hell of a lot cheaper than a visit to the real
Moonlight Bunnyranch, and you get to see plenty of naked women. It's a lot of
bang for the buck!
Review content copyright © 2008 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 510 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Cathouse: The Musical Episode
* How to Find the Ranch
* Further Questions Answered
* This is True Blog on the Ranch