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I do love grindhouse, so when a new double feature came across my desk I was more than willing to give it my full frontal attention. Mere seconds in I realized this would not be like any grindhouse film I’d ever seen. There was a little bit more hugging then I remember from other films of the sub-genre, for starters. This was because the disc I slipped in was adult distributor Adam & Eve’s GRINDHOUSE XXX, an action packed double feature starring Teagan Presley and Alexis Ford.
Adam & Eve’s salute to Grindhouse features two segments, "Student Assasin," and "Massacre at Pine Lake," following the Tarantino/ Rodriguez GRINDHOUSE style, and not the true 42nd Street grindhouse approach of yore. A little disappointing considering the porno industry actually gave birth to grindhouse years ago. Try as they might, in GRINDHOUSE XXX the result is two genre films trying to return to their roots and just not getting there.
The first film in the series was Teagan Presley’s "Student Assasin." The plot was simple yet its handling made thingsconfusing. Teagan’s partner, played by Nina Mercedez, is a police officer kidnapped while trying to bust a drug dealer. Teagan, a local community college student, learns about what happened and arms herself to do battle. After an over-long "arming" sequence, Teagan rushes the bad guy's complex and saves her girl. Ok, so where does the whole student assassin thing fit in? It really doesn’t. It’s more of a revenge film with an “oh by the way she happens to be an assassin at night in order to raise money for her community college tuition” element thrown in.
Overall the first half of this double feature was very disappointing, but thankfully short. The only elements of what we recognize as in the grindhouse tradition were some flashes of grain between scenes and an orange tint that made everyone look like they had a bad spray tan.
"Massacre at Pine Lake," on the other hand, was definitely the stronger of the two films. It’s the day before the start of camp and the counselors are preparing for the impending arrival of young campers. Meanwhile, a nearby prisoner transfer goes horribly wrong, setting a crazed homicidal madman free. In typical slasher fashion, it becomes open season on camp counselors as they are all picked off one by one by said escaped madman.
Director Andre Madness stayed true to his genre of the campground slasher films of the 80’s. The plot follows the tried and tested concept of “have sex then die” that everyone has come to expect from less creative slashers, yet there actually weren’t that many sex scenes, which I was fine with considering I wanted to see where the plot was going. Unfortunately, hampering my enthusiasm for the largely sex-less tale, some technical issues kept cropping up that I couldn't over look. The use of a digital vignette, a standard Final Cut Pro filter, was painfully obvious, and audio issues that required actors to break character in order to move to microphone hotspots so they could be heard, detracted from the overall production value of the film. Despite the shortcomings, director Madness did make an effort with other elements, employing some very nice crane shots, and giving the audience an opening that was beautiful, if slightly over indulgent.
Some other highlights of GRINDHOUSE XXX include a trailer for "Easter," a mock of Eli Roth’s GRINDHOUSE trailer for "Thanksgiving," which I thought was just as humorous as its inspiration. There is also a reel of the always uncomfortable porno bloopers, as well as behind the scene featurettes and interviews for both films.
Although this double feature does have a weak start, it does end strong. Just don’t go into this film thinking you are going to be transported back to the 42nd Street days of yesteryear. Although "Massacre at Pine Lake" tries to take us there, it falls short only in it’s shooting style while "Student Assassin" misses the mark entirely. I still would recommend giving this double feature half a shot.
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