by Curtis Isom – Editor-In-Chief
During the 2014 AVN, I had the opportunity to see a soft-core version of Wicked Pictures latest feature, “Underworld”.
And no, this wasn’t a parody. Thank You Wicked Pictures!
I was pleased to see they were showing a 90-min, soft core version because I was curious to see if they could make an adult movie with a simple story that made sense. Story telling in an adult movie doesn’t have to be brilliant, just make sense and stay on track.
“Underworld”, for the most part, meets these expectations even with dialogue that sometimes sounded like Dr. Seuss. But I enjoyed the movie. Yes, there were a few glitches which I’ll address later. With sex, the movie runs almost 2 1/2 hours according to Director Brad Armstrong.
Basically, “Underworld” is about Tonya (Jessica Drake), who after a lovemaking session with her lover Brian, gets shot in a parking garage mugging. Tonya is then rushed to the hospital and directly into the operating room where doctors fight to save her. While on the table, Tonya’s soul travels to Underworld, a Purgatory of sorts, and meets a wide range of characters representing the various parts of the operation in progress to save her life. From Slice (scalpels) to Scarlet (blood) to Stitch & Sutures each new character brings a new sexual situation. These encounters and the doctor’s fight to save her life are nicely intertwined. Finally, with Tonya saved and put in ICU, her soul’s journey brings her to Death and one final sexual encounter. But does she die? I’m not going to answer that one because I hate to spoil it for you.
Even without the sex scenes, “Underworld” is a visual treat for the eyes. The actors, in and out of costume, present their characters very well and the what sex was able to be shown had more sensuality than I expected. Scenic wise, the movie draws on sources like Steampunk, Science Fiction, as well as a wide range of locations including a desert and a location used in many mainstream commercials. I applaud Director Brad Armstrong for bringing it all together very nicely.
In a Q & A that followed the screening, I asked Brad what her would change about the movie. His response was, “The Budget!” “Underworld” was done for around $120,000 which Brad tried to stretch as far as possible and did a lot of the costuming and pre-production work himself. As one with theatrical Producing/Directing experience, I can truly appreciate the effort. When someone else asked where Brad got his inspirations, his stated, “They usually come while either on the shitter or in the shower”.
Isn’t that where most of us get inspired as well?
In telling the story, Brad Armstrong stated, “the sex is what drives the story”. While talking about the story, he states there was some important dialogue missing because it was during the sex scenes and they couldn’t show those in their entirety.
So my question now is, “Is it the sex or the dialogue that drives the story?” If you rely on the sex, then it’s just another mindless, low quality, “gonzo porn” which doesn’t require dialogue at all. In my opinion, a quality adult film has good dialogue that moves the story along with sex added.
I find “Underworld” a quality adult film that I would rate 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend seeing “Underworld” because it was refreshing to see an adult movie that had imagination and style.
But like I stated earlier, the story telling had glitches, primarily sex wise, that left it out-of-balance in my opinion. If I could make changes, they would be:
1) Right after Tonya gets shot and before she gets to the hospital, remove the doctor/nurse relationship with issues trying to be resolved with a quickie. When this duo was introduced, I was expecting the movie to become a another bad version of the classic “Candy Strippers”. Eliminating this duo keeps the focus on Tracy who after being shot, is immediately seen brought into the hospital, some simple dialogue, and rush her directly into the OR. Oh, and eliminated the bra sooner Tracy was wearing on the operating table. Modesty in an adult movie? Got a good chuckle out of that.
2) The sex scenes in the movie are in this order: Boy/Girl, Boy/Girl, Boy/Girl, 2Boy/2Girl, 1Boy/2Girl, Girl/Girl, 1Boy/2Girl, Boy/Girl. A bit heavy on the boy side when it’s a movie about a woman. After change 1, I would have replaced the first 2Boy/2Girl (the encounter w/Scarlet) with a all girl four-way especially after Scarlet states, “I will replenish you” because women are the givers of life. Think about it.
3) Eliminate the desert scene with the “guardian” Conan character and his two additional female warriors. This is the first 1Boy/2Girl scene and based on the dialogue, what were they protecting her from? If you’re drawing inspiration from Science Fiction, a couple of female Morlocks thrown in would have been more interesting and made more sense.
Again, I still recommend seeing “Underworld. I’m not knocking what director Brad Armstrong did or have a problem with any of the actors. These suggested changes are about telling the story and my opinions based on my theatrical Producing/Directing experience and one who has written a few stories/articles. If Brad Armstrong, or anyone else from Wicked, reads this, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts/comments.
“Underworld” received the following awards at the 2014 AVN Awards Show: Best Drama, Best Director – Feature, Brad Armstrong, Best Cinematography – Francois Clousot, Best Screenplay – Brad Armstrong, Best Supporting Actor – Xander Corvus, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Packaging, Movie of the Year.
Congratulations to everyone! Well deserved!
“Underworld” features: Jessica Drake, Tommy Gunn, Presley Hart, Adrianna Luna, Xander Corvus, Asphyxia Noir, Capri Cavanni, Asa Akira, Toni Ribas, T.J. Cummings, Eric Masterson, Julia Ann, Steven St. Croix, Brad Armstrong, Derrick Pierce, Cameron Dee.