Movies like this will bring about the ultimate downfall of Judge Daryl Loomis.
Depraved, deranged, with an appetite for sin!
Peter (Tyrone L. Roosevelt) is a fetish photographer with a nasty coke habit so, you know, a real cool guy. He uses his power behind the camera to seduce hard-luck women and send them on their way. His work is starting to suffer, though; his publisher has become bored with Peter's pictures and weary of paying out advances to support his addiction. If Peter can't get himself together, he will lose everything.
The only person on Earth who could possibly care about the plight of this guy is the person who created him: writer/director John Niflheim (Diary of a Sex Offender). The Sex Merchants is a genuinely awful film. Cheap and ugly, I can't tell whether it was intended as comedy, in which case it's not funny in the least, or a really poorly put together drama. Either way, this is garbage of the first order. The plotting is nearly non-existent and nearly every scene is exactly the same. Peter does some coke, a model shows up, he takes some pictures, gets excited, has sex with her, does more coke, and kicks her out before the publisher comes over to see the proofs, and does more coke. Repeat this sequence four times and you're almost at a feature length. Add in a few filler scenes (here, some bits with his dealer) and you're right there, but that doesn't make it a movie. Fairly, I can classify the final few minutes as plot, as it turns out he has some heretofore untold mommy issues, but it's totally preposterous and barely counts. At its very best, because of his mother's accent, I deduced that Peter is Puerto Rican, so there you go: characterization.
As modern sexploitation goes, The Sex Merchants delivers the goods, insofar as there's a lot of sex, but it's far closer to the bump-and-grind world of modern Cinemax that the soft-focus weirdness of old. This is precisely the problem with the new generation of sex films: without the grotesque storylines and no-holds-barred sexuality of the Black Emanuelle movies or the artistic pretension of Just Jaeckin (The Story of O), the movies are little more than faux porn. Like Tofurkey or Not-Dogs, it's not in the least bit satisfying and leaves you with an awful taste in your mouth. Nilfeim appears content with his formula; more power to him, I suppose, but The Sex Merchants is both laughably stupid and totally boring. That's not easy to accomplish. Pass on this and pick up something made before 1986; you'll likely still waste your time, but you'll have more fun in the process.
The Sex Merchants comes to us in a thankfully bare bones package from Independent Entertainment, although that second word doesn't really apply. The image transfer is flat, looking like it was filmed on digital video on the cheap, with plenty of digital artifacting to distract you from the film. The stereo sound is about equal, with a tinny, underwhelming mix. Luckily, the only extra is a trailer bank, so I didn't have to spend any more time watching this than necessary.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Alternative Cinema
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