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This film was directed by Gary Graver (under his pseudonym Robert McCallum). Although I've only seen his works from the 70s and early 80s, all of which ranged from good to masterpiece, I'd never seen his 90s films. So when I happened upon a copy of this I immediately set about to watch it.
The Film A/V Quality Sex, etc. Extras Cuts Warning Overall
Exstasy could be looked at as a sequel of sorts to Graver's second hardcore film, V, The Hot One, itself a remake of Bu˝uel's classic Belle De Jour, but more on that latter.
In Exstasy we find Marissa (Sandra Margot), a retired hooker who has just wedded Wyatt (Steve Drake), a wealthy lawyer. Wyatt is not aware of his wife's former prostitution activities. We learn that they have made a vow to leave the past for remembering and live their lives as if they had begun with their marriage.
Marissa however seems unable to separate her past life from her present one and, after being almost literally forced into having sex with another man by a former co-worker, Erica (Sarah Jane Hamilton), begins working at an elusive nightclub called eXstasy.
When Wyatt's right hand man (Frank Powers) meets the seductive Marrisa, he immediately decides to bed her, but Marissa won't have it. Learning of her hooking activities, he decides that if he can't have her himself he will at least destroy her marriage by revealing her secret.
As I said earlier
Exstasy could be viewed as a sequel of sorts to
Director Graver pays frequent homage to his original classic. Frank Power's character serves the same purpose as that of Paul Thomas's in V, and Marissa's husband here is simply a softer and gentler version of John Leslie.
As he did so wonderfully in V, Graver attempts to show the desperation and addictive nature of prostitution. However his treatment of the subject here in not nearly as introspective as it was some twenty years earlier. Here the characters seem only to be tools through which he can move from one sex scene to the next. Furthermore, Marissa's re-introduction to the world of prostitution is a bit unrealistic and while her character does go through a couple minor emotionally vexing moments, she remains extremely underdeveloped.
That said, there are a number of extremely strong moments in this film, most impressively it's opening ten minutes in which Marissa attempts to steal a necklace from a jewelry shop and when questioned about her act denies any wrongdoing. It is the only place in the film where Marissa is really personified. Unfortunately, these bright spots are few and far in between and the first 40 minutes of this film are almost made up entirely of one lusty boff after another.
So why the high rating you might ask? The answer is simply. This is one of the best shot, lit, and edited hardcore films I've seen in quite some time. Production values are also top notch. Graver liberally uses moving dolly shots and compositions half masked by cloth or other objects as a device to remind the audience of the constant divide between themselves and what is being seen on the screen.
The orgy sequence in the nightclub, which acts as the film's first sex scene, is brilliantly composed and photographed, making its background detail just as mesmerizing as its foreground. In fact, besides his great 3 A.M., this might be Graver's best photographed picture.
While Exstasy will never join the ranks of Gravers earlier works like the aforementioned 3 A.M. and V, it is surely one of the best shot and most professionally produced hardcore features to emerge after the death of theatrically shown X Rated films.
Extasy is presented in it's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not enhanced for widescreen TVs. That said, the transfer from 35mm film to DVD is extremely well done and the image looks sharper than 90% of 35mm hardcore releases even released today. The sound is reasonably well mixed although here is an occasional light hiss. Colors seem accurate, but as this is a film which relies so much on its vivid color and rich photography, the occasional over saturated shot seems intentional.
As I said earlier, this film is loaded with sex.
None, although I'm really not sure what if any could have been included as there was presumably no theatrical trailer or behind the scenes type footage shot.
None that I know of.
An inferior Graver film gets a rather beautiful DVD treatment. If only his better and earlier films looked this good on DVD; fat chance.