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Sex with a Stranger (1986): A Poster Child for Bad Porn

photo credit: Oregon State University

Sex with a Stranger (Chris Monte, 1986)

[note: review originally published 29May2011]

photo credit: yours truly

Obviously, much of the budget for this picture went into title design.

The mid-eighties were the time when everything went to hell in the porn industry. There were still a few lame attempts to put out plot-based porn, and a few of them are halfway worth watching (e.g. Star Angel, with Taija Rae), but it seems that by ’86, directors had seen which way the wind was blowing and were sacrificing more and more plot for outrageously extended sex scenes. I’ve never seen a film quite as missing-link in this regard as Sex with a Stranger; one might even be inclined to call it the Piltdown Man of porn. Not only because it’s a kind of link between what we shall call “the time when porn was actually good” and “the time when porn was absolute shit”, but because in many ways, this movie is about as authentic as your great great grandmother’s teeth.

photo credit: me

“But if both of your hands are on the table, what’s that up my skirt?”

Sex with a Stranger does distinguish itself by being one of the most recent porn films I’ve ever seen that tries to make a stab at being plot-based with a straight face that isn’t based straight off one single film; I grant you it’s still painfully derivative (when there’s any plot to be had), but at least it’s derivative of multiple films. The most obvious antecedent is And Then There Were None, but one can catch The Wrong Box, April Fool’s Day, Clue, and a handful of other flicks in there as well. Basic plot: a bunch of strangers get mysterious invitations, each of which involves half a thousand-dollar bill and half of some item the owner would like all of (a script in the case of an actor, a Vogue contract for a fashion model, etc.), to a mansion. Well, I’m getting ahead of myself; first, there’s a quick (for this movie, anyway) scene-setter with Sheena Horne (the most beautiful actress in the bunch, and ironically the only one of them not to have been a household name in porn-fan households at some time in the past twenty-five years), who’s already at the mansion, and whose proclivities give them movie its title. In any case, when Horne drops in on the parlor, she finds the rest of the crowd has gathered. (I’m sure they all had names in the film, but I didn’t notice.) There’s the aforementioned fashion model, played by Nina Hartley, who’s since become a behind-the-cameras mover and shaker in the porn world; a doctor, played by Keisha; a professional girlfriend, played by Ebony Ayes; a salesman, played by Randy West; an actor and a clothing inspector, played by Greg Derek and Scott Irish, and with IMDB not giving me headshots I can’t tell you which is which. In any case, Horne reveals the reason they were all summoned (I’m not going to tell you), and then, in between sex scenes ranging from the relatively steamy to the outright “what on earth were you thinking filming this?”, members of the, ah, party start being killed off one by one.

photo credit: me

Is it still voyeurism if they’re dead?

Don’t get me wrong, this COULD have been done very well. But when you’ve got Keisha and Horne messing around on a bed where two dead bodies are sprawled on the other half, at the very least you’ve got to question the taste of the scriptwriters, if not their outright sanity. If you’re looking for thoughtful (though one would hesitate to cross the line into “intelligent” in most cases) porn, you’re going to need to go farther back in time than this. As a curiosity, it may have some archival value in that it’s about as tasteless as mainstream porn gets in places. One way or the other, know what you’re getting into before popping this one into the player. * ½ 

No clip. Instead: Admiral Angry!

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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