Cast: Gwen Summers, Ava Vincent, Mia Smiles, Nicole Sheridan, Tina Tyler, Zana, Heather Lyn, Voodoo, Dale DaBone, Nick Manning, Chris Cannon, Jason McCain, John Decker, Alec Metro, Max Steele, John West, Joey Ray and Herschel Savage.
Director: Nick Orleans
Production date: 2/10/01 (box); 2/8/01 (feature)
Length: 130 min.
Extras: Full motion chapter indexing with cast lists, multiple angles, hot shot button, 18-min. behind-the-scenes featurette, 17-min. bonus scene from Forbidden Lust, 15 previews, 11 biographies (6 female / 5 male) and photo gallery with 69 images.
Audio/visual quality: The reflections, shadows and body parts of the crew are visible entirely too often (it must have been casual day at the office, since they're wearing baseball hats and no shoes). In one sex scene, a crew member gets caught in the picture and beats a hasty retreat. Lens specks appear in a couple of places, but only in the non-sex footage. Dubbing and a limited amount of repeat footage are present. In one of the optional angle scenes, the audio lags the video by one second; the other two optional angle scenes appear to be completely dubbed. The music stomps on the dialog more than once. The music starts with a bluesy/jazzy theme, but soon lapses into more typical electronic fare. The final scene includes artistic effects in the form of video projection on a darkened wall.
The frequent movement and unintentional focus shifts of the handheld cameras make me queasy. In some scenes, the cameras actually rotate and pan like slow pendulums. While reviewing this DVD, I had to pause the picture eight times and leave the room twice to cope with nausea. Nothing is less erotic than the urge to throw up; therefore, I've deducted one full star from the total rating. If you know that motion sickness is not an issue for you, please adjust the rating accordingly.
Disc problems: A highly distracting hot shot icon continues to appear intermittently on my screen, despite my repeated efforts to turn it off in the setup menu. This problem occurs on an Apple DVD Player (version 2.1.1); with other players, it may or may not be an issue.
First impression: The premise is cute, but the technical flaws severely hamper this production.
Scene highlights: Gwen Summers is researching exhibitionism for her photojournalism class. Nudity makes her nervous, but she finds the courage to ask a friend to get naked. Nicole Sheridan cheerfully strips for Gwen, who's too shy to watch. Nicole flops down on the chaise to masturbate, and her mate, Voodoo, walks through the door. Naturally, he's highly amused by the situation. "Outrageous!" he grins. "Hey, I'm just a fly on the wall." It's too much for poor Gwen, who runs off to "reload" her camera. Eventually, Nicole starts to miss Gwen and finds her whacking off in the bathroom. A very embarrassed Gwen follows Nicole back to the living room, where the happy couple almost ignite the chaise. Voodoo starts with oral, rimming and a fingerfuck for Nicole, who declares, "I wanna suck your cock so bad!" They go to missionary instead, followed by anal in reverse cowgirl and also in a sidelying T. It almost looks like Voodoo climaxes internally, but then Nicole jerks him off onto her chest. I love this scene, because Nicole and Voodoo are living proof that sexual heat doesn't have to die after marriage. There's plenty of eye contact here and lots of noisy verbal encouragement.
Gwen's classmate Tina Tyler is hard at play on the same assignment. Putting her charm and intelligence to good use, Tina convinces her two roommates (John West and Max Steele) that the house should be clothing optional for the day. (Advice to reader: Do not debate with Tina. You will not win.) The naked guys sit awkwardly at opposite ends of the couch and watch an exercise show. Tina makes her entrance, wriggles out of her tight clothes, and settles comfortably between the two men. She starts with a cock in each hand, followed by alternating blow jobs and tit fucks. One man handles himself and Tina jerks the other, until they both soak her breasts. Not everyone will agree, but I feel this scene is a fabulous example of "less is more." Consider these two options: (a) a standard rotation of six positions in ten minutes or (b) a suck/rub fest with attitude, as in "I know you like it so much you can hardly stand it, and I ain't gonna quit until you come!" Choice (b) is plenty hot in the right hands, and I like it here.
In the third scene, Gwen fantasizes about becoming an "exhibitionist." She models five different lingerie outfits for her assistant, Nick Manning. This leads to oral for her, a blow job, missionary and doggie. As in the previous two scenes, her hand job suffices, which is a great theme. Still, something is missing here--maybe it's the audience? Normally fashion shows take place in front of crowds. Modeling for a partner really isn't much of an exhibition. Also, I realize everyone's sexual style is different, but I keep worrying about Gwen's tendency to hyperventilate. I turn down the volume whenever she gets excited, because her squeals physically hurt my ears.
Scene four is where I really start to have problems with the camera motion. It takes place at the Freedom Institute, where good people go to cure their repressions. Mia Smiles and Chris Cannon are well on their way to health; she's giving him a blow job on a sofa that's out in the open. Ava Vincent stops by to check on them, and Herschel Savage joins in later. Both women look extremely luscious. Mia/Chris: oral, fingerfuck, missionary, reverse cowgirl, doggie. Ava/Herschel: blow job only.
Gwen has arrived at the Freedom Institute. Her job is to help a couple who are even more inhibited than herself. My question: where are the therapists at this place? How does a college student walk in and suddenly take charge of a session? Never mind. Gwen is quite adequate to the task, and soon Alec Metro is cutting open Heather Lyn's pantyhose with a pair of sharp embroidery scissors. (Yikes, that looks dangerous! I'm still cringing...) Heather/Alec: blow job, oral, cowgirl, pile driver, doggie, facial. Gwen: masturbation.
Zana is also searching for freedom of sexual expression, and she starts by giving Dale DaBone and Joey Ray an assignment. "Pull your cocks out, and start jacking off," she orders in a wooden tone (sorry about the pun). They get a double blow job; she gets oral/vaginal in missionary and doggie, oral/anal in cowgirl, and a facial. It finally occurs to me that the set designer has a davenport fetish; we're now six for six on sofa scenes.
But, wait! Scene seven eliminates the couch and offers throw pillows, end tables and an ottoman instead. Beyond the fact that Gwen is obviously liberated, the story line has long since vanished. Gwen walks into a room where Ava Vincent and John Decker are already busy in missionary. Jason McCain walks in, too, and smiles at Gwen. Ava/John: missionary, blow job, DP with fingers, doggie, anal. Gwen/Jason: blow job, masturbation, anal fingerfuck with oral, missionary, doggie. Some action is visible directly, and we see the rest on the wall via video projection. After watching this scene, I will never buy a body stocking. They're not at all durable.
The bonus scene (directed by Luc Wylder) takes place at a spiritual retreat, complete with Japanese garden and koi pond. As Alexandra Silk says, "It's Sandalwood, where fantasies come true!" She guides a loving couple (played by Lola and Mickey G.) during their first exploration with strap-on sex. The trio warm up with oral sex and a picnic basket of toys. A vibrator and anal beads help prepare Mickey for the next step, and Lola takes him there with her sexy pink strap-on. He strokes himself and quickly comes on his own belly. I adore adventurous men, but sadly this scene also suffers from a few technical issues. The focus is mushy in places, the music's too somber and too loud (we can barely hear Alexandra counting the beads during entry), and in one place, a crew member's hand tugs on Lola's arm.
Thumbs up: In my review of Search for the Snow Leopard, I complained about a group scene in which footage of two couples appears to have been taken separately and later intercut in the editing room. Hotspot does much better job with its mini-orgies; it's quite plain in both instances that all four performers are in the same room at the same time.
The extras are generally very well done. Stills have never turned me on, but I do like the thumbnail format of Hotspot's photo gallery menu. The viewer can see 20 small photos at a time and then click on the most interesting ones to enlarge. The pop-up captions in the behind-the-scenes featurette are quite clever; they make me smile. It's nice to see gender equity in the bios, most of which are fun and interesting.
Thumbs down: Picky, picky. I know I'm a hard reviewer, and so far I've only collected high end stuff. But in terms of production quality, this is easily the worst DVD on my shelf. Even Adam and Eve's Hard Bound, which is not part of their premium collection, looks better on the whole. 'Nuff said.
Condom use appears to have been mandatory (and pink seems to be the preferred color). Even Voodoo wears one for Nicole. Personally, this doesn't bother me in the slightest, but I know a lot of people feel otherwise.
Juice-o-meter: Low. I watched the movie twice, felt sick both times and generally couldn't maintain much interest after the first two scenes.
Final analysis: Nick Orleans has been making films a lot longer than I've been a reviewer. I understand that he took some artistic risks here, and I'm also aware that reviewing is largely a subjective process. Unfortunately, I can't escape the fact that Hotspot has been a below average experience for me. I don't normally suffer motion sickness while watching movies or television; something must be off here. For a completely different perspective, please read Astroknight's review; he gave Hotspot a much higher 3.5 star rating.
Note to Adam and Eve: The multiple angles aren't mentioned as an extra on the box, so I'm a little hesitant to critique a freebie. For future releases, however, you may wish to consider redesigning the multiple angle icon. The red and white colors are glary, and the aliasing on the font makes it look shoddy. Also, if you could resolve the synching issue, the second angle would be much more enjoyable to watch. Thanks.
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