Let me be the one, Justine
Let me be the first, Justine
To have you, and hold you…
It’s been a while – in fact, it’s been so much of a while that I can’t put a number of years to it – since I first watched the Adventures of Justine series. It was shown all of twice on L!VE TV in the late-’90s, and I once accidentally got sent a copy of a Justine flick when I’d actually ordered Emmanuelle. (I watched the sex scenes and then sent it back.) The fact that I’ve been re-watching it recently has me thinking… was I assuming it was anything other than what it actually is?
Time for AN INVESTIGATION!
For those of you who aren’t aware what Justine is – and relax, it’s in no way based on the book by de Sade; I had to look that up too – it’s another series of seven erotic adventure(ish) films made by the same people (almost exactly the same people) who made Emmanuelle in Space. By which I mean, without hyperbole, it’s got the same directorial team, same crew, same sets, same cast (with the only variation being the principals, and even then there are some returning actors), and even some of the same music, which I hadn’t noticed until rewatching the second in the series the other day.
Justine follows the traditional ASP line of having seven volumes with pretentious names, some of which being known by alternate titles because actually I have no idea why. According to the DVD cover, they are:
Volume 1: In The Heat of Passion
Volume 2: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (presumably with apologies to Bill)
Volume 3: Object of Desire, also known as Wild Nights
Volume 4: Exotic Liaisons, also known as Exotic Liaison
Volume 5: Crazy Love
Volume 6: A Private Affair (written by Brian Clemens OBE, although how he got involved…!)
Volume 7: Seduction of Innocence
while Wikipedia lists them as:
Volume 1: Exotic Liaisons
Volume 2: A Private Affair
Volume 3: Wild Nights
Volume 4: Crazy Love
Volume 5: Seduction of Innocence
Volume 6: In The Heat of Passion
Volume 7: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
and there’s even some ambiguity as to when these films are dated – some are 1995, some ’96 and even some as ’97. I’m going to guess that ’95 is the closest bet, as Emmanuelle in Space is from ’94 and it’s quite clear there was very little break between filming both series.
I’m not entirely sure what Justine is meant to be – perhaps an erotic spoof of Indiana Jones, perhaps a college girl tale with fantastical elements, or probably just “a way to use up ASP’s budget” – but the resulting product is incredibly episodic, so it doesn’t seem to matter what order you watch these films in (I’m going by the order on the DVD cover). Internally the films are also a series of individual adventurey vignettes, so one could achieve the same effect by broadcasting the Justine series as half-hour episodes. Only nobody would watch that.
So, yes. Justine Wikenson (Daneen Boone, who also appeared as “Girlfriend” in Emmanuelle) is a smart and precocious, yet incredibly innocent, college girl at an academy for gifted students (Topacre). Her best friend Ursula (Kimberly Rowe, Angie in Emmanuelle) is smart and sassy, but also incredibly sexually active – the only one to have scenes like this – while Madame Souvray (Jennifer Behr, Ursula [confusingly] in Emmanuelle) is a female teacher… possibly the head of the academy, who cares?
The male lead – Professor Paul Robson (occasionally pronounced “Paul Robeson”, amusingly – is played by Timothy DiPri, who also played Theo in Emm… you get the idea. Robson is meant to be a bespectacled, yet handsome archaeology lecturer who just can’t resist getting his hands on some random historical McGuffin, throwing him into a world of intrigue. Justine interferes and gets captured (yes, in every single film! This girl gets captured seemingly as a hobby!); Robson manages to rescue her and…
…okay, here’s the other series trope. It was all a dream.
I’m not making this up. Justine’s adventures are mostly dreams she’s having either in the middle of Robson’s lectures or while writhing on her bed in sheer négligée. They genuinely don’t need to write endings to these storylines because they’re all actually dreams!
So what’s Justine studying, then, sleep? I’ve never seen her do any actual work or take an exam or anything… not like she pays attention in class, either, as she suddenly slips into an archaeological adventure seemingly completely at random!
Originally I intended for this to be a standard SPS review, where I took a scene and analysed it in-depth. I can’t bring you one, however, because the other thing I’ve managed to discover is that there’s very little sex in this sex series.
Justine is a virgin and manages to remain so throughout the entire thing (fetishisation much?), while all the kinky sex with random guys is the remit of Ursula (slut-shaming much?). While there’s meant to be a little “will-they-won’t-they?” between Justine and Robson, this never actually happens, so there’s no pay-off. There’s plenty of inoffensive nudity from Justine, as she’s particularly keen on changing into nightwear at the drop of a hat… but there isn’t an awful lot of sex.
And when there is sex, it’s often brief, poorly lit, and cuts off before any actual penetrative sex is meant to be happening! It’s very frustrating!
I suppose one positive thing about this (apart from Paul Michael Robinson, formerly Haffron, who plays a villain in this with the most lacklustre German accent I’ve ever heard – always a gem!) is that, in what was clearly quite a short space of time, ASP managed to wring seven adventure films out on what was also probably quite a limited budget. Daneen Boone tries her best, but she doesn’t have the inherent sexiness of Krista Allen as Emmanuelle, and frankly she’s such a drip that it renders her character quite unlikeable.
But the adventure aspect is good. I’m sure I’d appreciate this more were it not for the “it’s all a dream!” epilogue, but at least they’re trying something different with it. I’m not sure it works, coherently, as a whole – they get lost a few times with what they are trying to do – but at least it has the bare bones of a series all in place.
I just wish there were a little more sex, that’s all!