Q: What is Twilight Entertainment?
A: Surrender Cinema.
Q: What is Surrender Cinema?
A: Full Moon Features.
Q: What is Full Moon Features?
A: Charles Band’s company.
Q: Knowing this, is Charles Band then indirectly responsible for many of your orgasms?
A: I feel so dirty!
Appearance: Phantom Love (2000)
Characters: Judith & Chauncie*
[*Pronounced “Chancey” /tʃɑ:nsi:/. I originally had this in my head as “Chauncey”; if you’ve played the first Luigi’s Mansion you may understand why.]
To start with, Phantom Love is a little misleading insofar as there aren’t any phantoms. It’s one of Surrender’s later offerings (earlier ones are labelled “Torchlight Entertainment” with a logo that looks like the Pixar lamp moonlighting), and although it has some familiar faces, I can’t in all honesty say I’m overly familiar with too many of them.
I know a couple. The frame narrative of this is fairly simple: Marie (Sandy Wasko, who I mainly know from Emmanuelle 2000 and Passion Cove, although apparently she’s also in Beverley Hills 90210…) is a struggling romance writer trying to think of a new angle. On the advice of her agent (David Christensen, who I do know… he’s the dean in Co-Ed Confidential!), she does the sensible thing of going all the way to Italy, checking into a hotel she arrives at by accident, and accepting a centuries-old journal from the creepy woman in charge, which she then reads and orgasms to.
The actual story is in the journal. Judith (Griffin Drew, who’s in Elke and Andromina: The Pleasure Planet but also appears in Baywatch!) is the last surviving heir of a rich Italian family, but she’s been studying in America for a while. (Quite why she’s doing a British accent isn’t really explained. It’s also not really explained why this isn’t in Italian.) Her
wicked stepmother nasty aunt archetype wants her to marry the local vapid Baron, but Judith is a free spirit and prefers to go her own way.
Do I need to tell you that she then has sex with a number of different men, including the Baron, before inexplicably hitting on a plan to save the whole estate? Or had you worked that bit out? Yeah, you worked it out. I see you, gentle reader.
Judith is a British-sounding Italian lady raised in the good ol’ US of A, which didn’t actually exist in the early 18th century so I have all sorts of questions. She’s been told to save the estate, so obviously isn’t going to do that.
Chauncie (Jesse Johnson) is a gardener. He’s working-class, and isn’t even able to afford a comedy accent, but presumably he has a big cock. In any case, Judith has sex with him basically because she can. I mean, there’s the rest of the movie too, but most of the budget presumably went on this.
Sex? What Sex?
What I didn’t realise, when I started watching Phantom Love, is that (like Femalien: Cosmic Crush, which was admittedly a decade later!) there’s very little sex in this sex film. There are sex scenes – of course there are, this is Surrender – but they’re not the longest or the most arousing. In 2000 Surrender was making things like Lolida 2000, Pleasurecraft and Virgins of Sherwood Forest, so maybe this was made on an off-day or something.
The reason I chose this scene with Judith and Chauncie was that it was basically a surprise. I was so used to the frame narrative that I wasn’t entirely sure if Griffin Drew was going to get her kit off at all. There’s a lesbian sex scene featuring her before this, but this is her first straight sex scene. It doesn’t have much preamble, either. He’s there, she kisses him, then they shag.
The first thing you notice is the music, which I suppose is going for the ‘aristocrat has sex’ thing, but is actually code for ‘keyboard player found the harpsichord voice’. There’s a repeated line (possibly a loop?) underlying an increasing number of string parts (maybe it’s a real string quartet. Nope, that would be a bit too BBC.) and the occasional roll on a ride cymbal. Drums playing a breakbeat come in halfway through and basically made me feel like I should be fighting a video game boss to this. It’s all very odd, and very loud, but I can’t deny that it is unique.
There may be limited amounts of sex, but there’s certainly a lot of kissing. For the first 70 seconds of this, Judith and Chauncie do very little but snog. Every now and again you will get a shot of his hands undoing her corset from the back, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. In real life, of course, I’m perfectly happy to kiss for more than a minute, but this is softcore – so get on with it!
Anyway, after a minute and a bit, we are rewarded with Griffin Drew’s boobs, which Jesse goes on to kiss a few times, her legs which he also kisses, and his penis.
That is to say that you can see Jesse’s penis if you slow down the playback and hit the pause button at exactly the right time. I’m not exactly emasculated by this, but it took me a while, so here’s the screenshot.
We get a standard softcore cunnilingus scene with Chauncie consisting mostly of hair and Judith making a face (which actually goes on for a while; Judith appears to have an orgasm at one point!), until eventually, at 02:04 into the scene, we mix to what is unmistakably, genuinely sex.
Huzzah, actual simulated sex!
Something else I need to point out is that most of the sex in Phantom Love happens in the astride position, and this is no exception. We get Judith demurely riding Chauncie, although it’s mostly just her hair and back at first; there are also some nice shots of her face, boobs and even her bum at points.
That’s it, then it’s all over. It all finishes relatively quickly, and even then, most of it is filmed in close-up so all we really get is their faces. Judith finishes with
I’m going to see about getting you a raise!judith
which is… I don’t know? Is that funny? Is it meant to be? Polite blinking from me there.
Conclusion & Evaluation
Phantom Love is a strange beast. It promises at points to be something that it isn’t, and in any case there aren’t any phantoms so it’s very much a misnomer. I wasn’t even aware of its existence until last week, and the main plot did keep me interested (to an extent), so I enjoyed it for what it is.
But then the sex scenes are all like this. Sex happens but it’s over very quickly, characters do get naked but that takes a while, and it does feel like more effort went into the music than the cinematography. There are several, all on a similar theme, and one does have to wonder why. Surrender sex scenes are longer than this. They’re better than this.
My guess – and it has to be a guess at this point – is that the studio suddenly realised that they had a fairly competent story in there somewhere. The frame narrative doesn’t do anything, but it bulks up the time a bit, and the main bit with Judith in her family’s estate actually had me hooked. I was wondering how it was going to end at some points, and considering how some Surrender films don’t have an ending, the fact that they got one in there was impressive in itself.
So watch this one if you want. But don’t expect too much from the sex. And beware! Beware the phaaaaantoms!
Wherever they’re meant to be,