Erotic Survivor

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I hate reality television. Let's face it, this so-called movement of television does not reflect reality in any way you and I are familiar with, unless of course our Horror Express readers are island savages, vapid pop star wannabes or millionaire bachelorettes willing to marry a perfect stranger. If the latter is true however, feel free to e-mail me for some heated negotiations.

So many reality television shows have popped up in the states that I cannot remember where it all began. Our readers in Europe have had to deal with the whole thing even longer. It is where WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE, SURVIVOR and worst of all, BIG BROTHER were spawned, let's not forget. So, on both continents, SURVIVOR has hung like a ball and chain around the neck of televised entertainment for the past few years.

What incarnation of SURVIVOR are we on now? At last count, we had an island, the outback, the Amazon and I think another island. Is that all? Is there more? Do I care?

I know the answer to that last one and from my tone, so do you. I am not an expert on the genre by any means. I saw half of one episode and I sat in on the first season finale. There was a news director in my old office who quickly became obsessed with all things SURVIVOR. Any night the show came on, it would pop up in our office. In between reporting on dubious election returns, much of the staff stared at SURVIVOR. Ordinarily, I was spared this spectacle, but this particular night, I was filling in for someone and bore witness to the first season finale.

So, it's all a bunch of bitching, isn't it?

I mean, they add the exotic locales and dangle money in front of the contestants like it was a carrot for a starving horse. But in the end, it's all about the bitching. Here's where the only reality comes in. People fight, backstab one another and the most unlikable person of the bunch is bound to win. That's the kind of reality I get enough of in... well, reality. The rest is all humiliation and I could think of many better ways to spend my time.

If anyone can make SURVIVOR seem interesting (to a hetero male audience anyway), it's Seduction Cinema. This is a team that has one incredible racket going. I first became acquainted with their work on the release of their BLAIR WITCH spoof, THE EROTIC WITCH PROJECT. Like EROTIC SURVIVOR, it had the formula down pat.

What Seduction Cinema usually does is get a group of beautiful women together, film a spoof on something from popular culture, splice in some surprisingly graphic lesbian sex and then release it with a name that stretches the word EROTIC to it's phonetic limits. That's right. The guys never get naked (a blessing given Seduction's male roster) but the women are all over each other. Some behind the scenes featurettes have shown that the scenes are largely simulated. This came as a huge surprise to me. The action looks as though it is a couple of close-ups away from hardcore. And yet the videos are on the new release shelf of the local video store. The things practically sell out at Best Buy. When you see the videos, it's obvious that both the cast and crew are having a ball (no pun intended), playing everything for laughs. The company probably makes a bundle off these titles. Like I said, one helluva racket.

EROTIC SURVIVOR opens with a group of people venturing to some island. Actually, it could be two acres on a wilderness trail. It doesn?t matter.

Director John Bacchus hosts the proceedings. The group is told the rules, which are very similar to SURVIVOR?S and they are told the prize? twenty bucks. The contestants are split into two groups.

The Pu-nanni tribe is made of entirely of women, and hence they have all the juiciest scenes. They are made up of Seduction contract players Darian Caine, Misty Mundae, Esmerelda DelaRoca and Jade DuBoir. All use their own names and don't have much in the way of characterization. The portrayals seem pretty close the image they have made of themselves, right down to Caine's mimicking of Richard Hatch's stunt of going completely nude for a day.

The Hey-huanni tribe is made up of more carefully etched characters. Well, maybe not "carefully etched," but they've scribbled something in. Christian Wright (Justin Wingenfeld) is actually a member of the Christian right. Ward Lucas (Bill Hellfire - who directs many softcore SOV features) is a guy who always carries around his whiskey but to me, looks like one of the kids from the old WHIZ KIDS TV show. Bernie (Joey Smack) is an even more disgusting member of the team, who always seems to be high. But the greatest member of the group... Debbie Rochon! Rochon plays Mary Whitehead, a spin on the name Mary Whitehouse, and yes she is a professional censor.

John Bacchus always manages to make his films oddly entertaining in between the juicy bits. Let's face it, these films can be damn funny and EROTIC SURVIVOR is certainly one of these. Sometimes this comes in trying to infuse sex in the most mundane situations, like when Darian Caine tries hacking through the forest using a dildo as a machete. Sometimes it comes as simple parody, as evidenced in Christian and Mary's characters. And sometimes it comes in the simple appearance of an overused gorilla suit.

Of the contract players, it's easy to see why Darian Caine and Misty Mundae have the most loyal following. Caine plays the bad girl image for laughs. Mundae, who is much naughtier than she looks, is a natural born comedian. Both actresses shine in the best Seduction title to date, PLAYMATE OF THE APES.

The best person of the bunch is Debbie Rochon, despite the fact that she doesn't take part in any of the more explicit scenes. She plays the hypocrisy shown on reality programs, and in censors, for all it's worth. She disses her team one moment then praises them when their fortunes turn around. I am not sure whether Rochon herself knows the charismatic appeal she brings to the part. In one simple establishing shot of the Hey-huanni tribe, her head pops up at the far side of the screen to make up for her short stature, in comparison with her teammates. This was enough to send a wave of laughter through me. Maybe I'm just a sucker for Debbie Rochon, but I'm proud of it.

Like many Seduction titles, EROTIC SURVIVOR has its strengths and weaknesses. It contains some long dull spots. Even some of the sex scenes go on a bit too long, especially amongst the more surgically enhanced cast.

Smack and Hellfire are probably the biggest problem with the film. Every second they were on screen was grating to me. Wingenfeld was the one male character of the cast (save for Bacchus who is just a moderator) who was able to be funny and not make a complete ass of himself.

EROTIC SURVIVOR has two things that are sorely missing from reality television. It has genuine sex appeal, as opposed to the cruel and pathetic belittling associated with sex appeal on the other shows.

But most of all it has a sense of humor. The Seduction crew has a great time and hence, delivers another entertaining piece to the viewer. They seem to know that it is impossible to take all this seriously. Yet reality television wears a stone face and sometimes even tries to place some social import on what they are doing. In other words, while Seduction laughs with us, the mainstream laughs at us. Try finding humor in that.

Reviewed by Scott W. Davis