Judge William Lee studied the wrong classics at college.
Two literary icons inspire two classic skin flicks.
Private Screening Collection pairs up two of their catalogue titles in Skin Classics Volume 1: Black Venus / The Erotic Adventures of the Three Musketeers. These are the same DVD releases, from 2006 and 2007 respectively, enclosed in a paper band. If you picked these titles up the first time, there's no reason to purchase them again. If you missed them then, you might want to miss them again.
This double-bill of soft-core porn features does give us the opportunity to compare a European effort of the 1980s against an American production of the 1990s. Whether or not either one deserves the "classic" label might be a matter of personal taste.
In some ways, Black Venus comes off as the classier example of the genre. With similar ambitions as the Emmanuelle films of the 1970s, Black Venus strives to be an artsy skin flick. Impressive production value is evidenced in the large cast of characters, detailed costumes, art direction and location shooting. Based on a story by Honoré de Balzac, a lot of attention is devoted to the story but that attempt for respectability is also a hindrance to enjoying the movie's erotic delights. Dialogue-heavy scenes bog down the movie between its many sex scenes. Josephine Jacqueline Jones (Love Circles) has the radiant screen presence necessary to carry the movie. She seems to take the script less seriously than her fellow cast members and that's fine.
Considering the all-star cast, it is a surprise that The Erotic Adventures of the Three Musketeers is the lesser offering of this pair of adult entertainers. Judge Brett Cullum wrote in his review of the single movie release, "without the money shots I felt cheated," and that's the unavoidable elephant in the room when watching this soft-core version of a movie featuring the stars of 1990s porn. Venus belongs in a subgenre of erotic films that have a definite limit to the sexual explicitness that will be shown. Its makers work with atmosphere and suggestion as well as strategically lit nudity. Musketeers, on the other hand, is a standard porno but with the action excised. A bigger production budget gives it some expanded sets and plenty of costumes but both look inauthentic. The script takes its lead from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. The court intrigue and swashbuckling is reduced to scenes that resemble period versions of the pizza delivery guy scenario but there are some nice comic touches. The level of acting is what you'd expect from this caliber of performers and everyone seems to be having fun with the material. The campiness might get you through it if you can accept that the action will never deliver the promised goods.
Black Venus was shot on film and this DVD transfer looks only marginally better than a late-night television broadcast. The low-contrast picture is grainy and deliberately soft at times. Dialogue is dubbed in English and given an adequate mono presentation. There are no extras.
The Erotic Adventures of the Three Musketeers originated on video and the transfer to DVD leaves much to be desired in the image department. The mono sound is poor. No extras on this disc either.
For their higher production values and pretensions of highbrow titillation, I have a soft spot for '80s era soft-core flicks. I'll accept Black Venus as a classic example of the genre even though its erotic power is substantially diminished by today's standard. Musketeers, however, is an unsuccessful tease.
The co-defendants are guilty.
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Scales of Justice, Black Venus
Perp Profile, Black Venus
Studio: Private Screening Collection
Distinguishing Marks, Black Venus
Scales of Justice, The Erotic Adventures Of The Three Musketeers
Perp Profile, The Erotic Adventures Of The Three Musketeers
Studio: Private Screening Collection
Distinguishing Marks, The Erotic Adventures Of The Three Musketeers
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