Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll
Triple Feature
U.S.A. | 2009
Directed by Brion Rockwell
Maria Palentini
Angelina Dekker
Peter Pistol
| 76 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD (R0 - NTSC | 2-disc set)
Retro-Seduction Cinema
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Review by
B. Lindsey
Movie Rating  
  DVD Rating   8   10 = Highest Rating  
Part of the Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll Triple Feature
DVD Rating is for entire set
Whoa... Just who IS this chick?
I speak of Maria Palentini (apparently not her real name), co-star of the 2009 'reimagining' of Fire in Her Bed, one of the films in Retro-Seduction's Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll Triple Feature collection. As of this writing, she doesn't have an IMDb page (nor does the movie) and Googling her comes up with nothing. She's an enigma. A complete mystery.
    And hella sexy.
    Very loosely inspired by the 1972 Nick Philips film of the same name (it has virtually nothing in common with that pic), Fire in Her Bed is the story of two young women and their kinky lesbian relationship of dominance and submission, mistress and slave. Palentini plays Ivy, a vivacious young college art student with a steady boyfriend (Peter Pistol) she has been dating since high school. Her life radically changes when she meets the assertive and aggressively self-confident Vera (Angelina Dekker). A sensualist, Vera lives according to a Sadean philosophy. To her, romantic love is illusory and inevitably disappointing only the unapologetic pursuit of physical pleasure, the kinkier the better, reveals the true beauty within people. She sees Ivy as unformed clay to be sculpted into just such a decadent beauty, but only if the girl totally surrenders her body and will. Vera seems to instinctively know Ivy's every weakness, her darkest, repressed desires; that her protestations ("I'm not like that... I was experimenting!") do not reflect her innermost feelings. Ivy is surprised to experience fulfillment as Vera's obedient sex slave. Even when her mistress is emotionally and physically abusive, deliberately humiliating her, Ivy's role as a complete submissive turns her on like nothing ever has. The longtime boyfriend, whom Ivy once dreamed of marrying, can have no place in this new paradigm the women create.
    A stimulating slice of minimalist erotic cinema, Fire in Her Bed was shot almost four years ago (in and around Seattle, over a span of six days) but not released until now. Writer-director Brion Rockwell hews to the Joe Sarno school of softcore, which posits that intense eroticism is to be found as much in the faces and expressions of lovers caught in the throes of passion as it is in writhing, naked naughty parts. (Don't worry, there are still plenty of those on display.) For a microbudget production it's nicely lensed and edited, marred only be some occasionally bumpy sound recording. Since there isn't much plot or dialog to get in the way the majority of the film is concerned with Vera and Ivy's lengthy sex sessions, in which the former establishes the rules and boundaries of their kinky relationship while the latter discovers things about her carnal persona she never dared imagine.
    According to the liner notes booklet that comes with this set, Palentini and Dekker were cast when they answered an ad on Craig's List. Neither had any professional acting experience, certainly never appearing in a sex film before, and are supposedly straight. If this is indeed the case then I'm compelled to give these ladies some serious props. They're both quite good; aside from some awkward voice-over narration by Palentini the performances are very naturalistic and uninhibited. These women ignite some genuine erotic heat, sharing a palpable physical chemistry... Softcore sex films rarely succeed as wood inducers (or, if you prefer, stroke fodder) without some kind of 'it' factor, a special quality that draws the viewer in, and in this case it's our lead actresses playing off and with one another. Dekker, a pale, willowy blonde, radiates a maturity and sophistication well beyond her 19 years, making the seduction and domination of the Ivy character believable. (Had the roles been reversed the film wouldn't have worked.) As for Maria Palentini, she's a pert, nubile combination of a barely legal Ashley Judd and Sarah McLachan. Even her shoulder tats and demure little nose stud are cute. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Scrumptious.

As mentioned, the two-disc set contains three films: both versions of Fire in Her Bed (Disc 1) and Where the Air is Cool and Dark (1997), also written and directed by Brion Rockwell (Disc 2). All three are presented in their original fullframe AR; the '72 Fire and Where the Air is Cool and Dark were shot on film whereas the 2009 Fire is digital video. Given the extremely low budget nature of these movies I don't have any serious issues with their respective A/V quality. (The Philips film actually looks considerably better than his other surviving works from that period.) The set's title is kind of misleading, though, in that there's really not much "Rock 'n' Roll" involved... but thanks to Ms. Palentini and Ms. Dekker, at least there's plenty of sex. (Where the Air provides the drugs.)
Some brief notes about the co-features: The short 1972 Nick Philips film of the same name is much like his porno features of the period (Les Chic, Dr. Christina of Sweden), except that the sex is purely softcore. Essentially it's an hour-long montage of jumbled images, trippy music, bullshit stream-of-consciousness narration and generally unattractive hippies toking, drinking and shagging on some particularly hideous-looking furniture. The film is completely skippable unless you're even more of a masochist than Ivy is. Where the Air is Cool and Dark (88 min.) is a character drama about drug use and rehab set in the Twin Peaks logging country of Washington state, a fairly accomplished piece for a first-time director working with little money and many amateur actors. It's earnest if a bit dull.
    Extras: Of most interest on Disc 1 is a selection of seven scenes deleted from the final cut of Fire in Her Bed '09. Among these is a languid tryst
in a sauna and one of a nude Palentini getting dressed in stockings, panties and garter belt. The first disc also contains a massive 20 skin-filled trailers, divided into Joe Sarno and Retro-Seduction categories. Disc 2 offers a further 15 trailers, rather incongruously from the horror-themed Shock-O-Rama vault. The aforementioned liner notes discuss all three films. 5/20/09