Released: Oct 01st, 2002
Running Time: 93
Director: Michael Raven
Company: Sin City Films
Cast: April (I), Steven St. Croix, Phoenix Ray, George Kaplan, Tanya Danielle, Monica Mayhem, Kristal Summers, Sondra Hall, Leif Rock, Michael Raven, Cheyne Collins, Olivia Del Rio, Mr. Marcus, Wendy Divine, Leanna Kova, Julia Ann, Eric Masterson, Others
Critical Rating: AAAAA
Michael Raven is nothing if not ambitious. He\'s made XXX versions of just about every classic myth and fable, and now he\'s tackling John Milton and his epic poem, Paradise Lost. As befits an epic literary work, he\'s mounted an epic production, complete with extravagant special effects, an all-star cast, and every film technician in Hollywood who isn\'t commited to Steven Spielberg. six days and $125,000 later, this could be the one to take best picture award next year at the AVN Awards. But that\'s all in the future. Paradise Lost is the greatest work of one of the most acclaimed poets in English literature. The story begins just after the revolt of Satan against God. It then follows Satan\'s actions against Adam and Eve, leading to the Fall. It has had a profound influence on Western culture, and has attracted a vast amount of critical commentary of every sort. Sin City now tells this timeless story in a brand new and wonderfully sexy way. Set in modern day, this is a story of a married couple (Adam and Eve) experiencing the \"seven year itch\". Both Adam and Eve (played by Steven St. Croix and Julia Ann) have needs that aren?t currently being met in their relationship. Ours is a tale of disappointment, lust, betrayal and ultimately reconciliation. Our couple is drawn into a profound revelation of their true selves as they are taken on this psychological exploration by a common figment of their imaginations, Faust (played by Mr. Marcus). Faust reveals their desires and motivations through a visually stunning display of cinematic sexuality. AVN hails Michael Raven?s Paradise Lost as a masterpiece of erotic cinema. \"Porn is rarely ever this good.\" \"What makes the auteurs in adult stand out from the (few) other decent directors is how well, within their established styles, they can surprise their audiences ? and simply put, Michael Raven has done it again, tackling what must be the most difficult challenge possible in adult\" \"Truth is, there\'s much more symbolism and depth to this one adult film than just about all of Hollywood\'s output of the past year; so much so that it almost overwhelms the seven excellent sex scenes.\"Mark Kernes ? AVN Magazine AVN has pre-nominated PARADISE LOST for a number of awards including, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Music, Best Couples Sex Scene, Best Girl/Girl Sex Scene, Best Group Sex Scene, Best Director and Best Film of 2002.
Setting John Milton's poem of the fall against a contemporary setting, Michael Raven uses the tale as a metaphor using Steven St. Croix and Julia Ann as his Adam and Eve in a stagnant marriage. Faust, played by Mr. Marcus, gives the devil his due, tempting the couple in their imaginations.
The transfer for this film is nothing short of beautiful. Raven's direction of shooting the scenes of Marcus's temptation as moody and atmospheric are not lost, or the surrealism of the opening orgy. Fans of the film will also be treated to features, such as an audio commentary by Raven, alternate endings, bloopers, biographies, interviews, and a well-edited making-of featurette. Pre-nom for Best DVD.
What makes the auteurs in adult stand out is how well within their established styles they can surprise their audiences. Simply put, Michael Raven has done it again, tackling a difficult challenge in adult: Making a religious porn movie.
Now, before potential viewers start fleeing retailers' Sin City section in droves, we hasten to note that the religious theme is strictly a metaphor, as is most of the action in this modern classic.
The film opens with the modern equivalent of a medieval orgy, with Wendy Divine, covered in sushi, as the centerpiece. In between title cards of the seven deadly sins, Divine and Monica Mayhem seduce customers Cheyne Collins and Eric Masterson orally, with Wendy taking a few good licks of Mr. Marcus' banana - no, not his cock; a real banana - before pleasuring Masterson. The highlight of the scene is Mayhem's excellent hip action atop Collins in reverse cowgirl. It's then that we find out that the whole scene has been St. Croix's nightly vision of what goes on at the Paradise Club, where Julia Ann's employed as a stripper.
But Julia has dreams as well, and hers involve "stone" statues of Kristal Summers and Alex Sanders coming to life with doggie, cowgirl and mish to a background soundtrack of crunching rock. The more turned-on the participants become, the more color their images gain.
Then it's back to the very imaginative St. Croix, who envisions Julia being pawed by Mr. Marcus, and then armored god Lee Stone being seduced by waif Phoenix Ray with b.j., doggie and horsie fucking in a Vulcan-like (the original, not the Star Trek variety) foundry. Perhaps it's noteworthy that, as Julia's dream lovers lose their "stoniness" as they make love, here Stone loses his "armor" - in both senses of the word.
Truth is, there's much more symbolism and depth here than just about all of Hollywood's output of the past year; so much so that it almost overwhelms the seven excellent sex scenes. Viewers can only hope that Raven will add a commentary track to the DVD so his audience can better understand the piece - because while there's plenty of exposition, particularly between Julia and Mr. Marcus, it's less than clear who (if anyone) has the most valid take on the situation.
Julia Ann seems cast as the villain of the piece - note the "VANITY" written in lipstick on her forehead at one point - and Mr. Marcus, whose character would seem to fulfill the role of "devil" in the biblical sense, here is more of a devil's advocate, attempting to force Julia into making a choice between her marriage and her lost dreams. Still, St. Croix is an out-of-work lay-about, and even Julia's final dialogue with him leads to no real détente; their climactic coupling is more of an anti-climax than a solution.
But that finale is a beautiful scene, occurring on the floor in front of a fireplace, with St. Croix kissing Julia, licking her tits and presenting his cock for her mouth. There's almost a hesitancy in the way she accepts it - but no hesitancy in how St. Croix returns the thought with almost urgent pussy-licking. Julia Ann straddles him for a cowgirl, then allows him to reassert his manhood in mish, with a white climax on her stomach.
Despite the fact that this is excellent adult fare, in some ways it's wasted on the typical adult audience (and forget about the solo strokers!). What it needs is about another half-hour of character development to lessen the shock of transition between Ann's and St. Croix's final verbal confrontation and their sex scene. It could also use a mainstream audience to see it in a theater, which is where this "more than porn" film belongs.
Oh, well - bearing in mind the limitations of the adult genre, score pre-noms in the film categories for St. Croix (Best Actor), Julia Ann (Best Actress), Mr. Marcus (Best Supporting Actor), Art Direction (Raven), Cinematography (Jack Vincennes, Jake Jacobs, Raven), Music (The High Priestess), Editing (Raoul Duke), Special Effects (Raven), Director (Raven) and, of course, Best Film.