Softcore erotic films are all but dead these days. Oh sure, they’re still being made but their cultural significance is at an all-time low. Before the days of readily available internet porn, late night movies on ‘Skinemax’ were the only option for audiences who were seeking cheap sleazy thrills but too embarrassed or just plain lazy to go out and buy pornography. The 1990’s in particular were host to a string of erotic thrillers – most of which seemed to be about sex therapists for some reason – with titles like Dangerous Indiscretion, Lethal Seduction and Body Chemistry 4: Full Exposure. In honor of Valentine’s Day, New Adventures in Netflix will spend the whole month of February looking at softcore erotica available on Netflix Instant Streaming, starting with the Latin-flavored infidelity psychothriller Depraved. You’re welcome.
Oh yeah, and I know it’s January 31st. Shut up.
Depraved stars professional sexy people Anthony Guzman and Seidy Lopez as Dan and Ophelia. They’re happily engaged until they begin living out their kinkier fantasies in real life. Whereas once they were praved, now they are less so, and fulfilling their sexy desires eventually leads to jealousy, sexual dysfunction and, naturally, murder. Murder most foul! It’s a low budget exploitation film with delusions of psychological grandeur. Every time the film tries to have an honest examination of the young couple’s sex life it’s interrupted with weird, weird weirdness that reminds you that we’re mostly watching the movie to see Seidy Lopez’s perky pillows and Anthony Guzman’s (admittedly dashing) derrière, no matter how ‘deep’ writer/director Rogelio Lobato thinks his movie really is.
One night Dan and Ophelia share a fantasy about sharing their bed with another man, which months later leads them to act on their carnal desires by hiring two guys to break into their house, tie Dan up and have their way with Ophelia in front of him. Dan’s initially aroused but later confused by the experience, leading to sexual difficulties that upset his fiancé over a string of poorly written arguments. My favorite is when Ophelia gets angry at Dan for forgetting the first rule of improv: always agree with whatever your partner gives you. You see, she said she wanted to be his ‘sex cow’ and he didn’t know what the hell she was talking about, breaking the mood. “If I say I want to be your Caesar salad just go with it!” she gripes. Wow. What would that be a metaphor for?
It’s hard not to sympathize with Dan’s predicament. First, yes, the cow thing was a little weird. Second, that whole group sex scenario was probably moving a little fast for him. Seriously, his first group sex experience is a violent home invasion scenario? That’s like teaching a kid to swim by dropping him into the Marianas Trench… from a helicopter. He probably shouldn’t have ignored the warning signs: later in the film he’s talking to his sexy and very physically available sex therapist (see, told you) played by Silk Stockings’ Barbara Niven and confesses that Ophelia told him – on their first date – that she lost her virginity when she was kidnapped by aliens. Hmm… That’s one red-looking flag…
Saved By The Bell’s Mario Lopez co-stars as Dan’s brother Jesse, who is hopelessly devoted to his brother in the kind of way that only exists in movies. When Ophelia’s dead body turns up in the hot tub after a disastrous Valentine’s Day (that is to say, it was disastrous before the murder), Jesse’s first reaction is to get rid of the body. Actually, his first reaction is to utter the film’s most memorable line, “You put the O.J. on her, man!” But immediately afterwards, yeah, he proves that he’s never seen movie before in his life. I mean, seriously, if you ever found a dead body wouldn’t you at least think to yourself, “Man, maybe I shouldn’t do what they did in Very Bad Things?” At the very least Lopez looks absolutely hilarious dragging Ophelia’s corpse around in a plastic garbage can, but that’s probably not what Rogelio Lobato was going for.
Depraved peaks early on and has serious trouble getting up again as the film limps towards its ‘thrilling’ ‘climax,’ but there are moments when it actually feels kind of relatable. I particularly like the bit where Ophelia and Dan are making love and he asks who she’d like to have a threeway with. Her response: “Andy Garcia.” His response: “Who’s Andy Garcia?” (It’s nice to see a film with a timeless quality.) You can tell I didn’t write the screenplay though, because I kept running the scene over and over in my head as if I had:
“Who’s Andy Garcia?”
“You know, the actor.”
“Not ringing any bells.”
“Well, okay, he was in The Godfather Part III.”
“Pfft! I didn’t see The Godfather Part III…!”
“He had that neck thing in Dead Again… Okay, you know what? I think we’re getting a little off-topic.”
“Oh man, I loved Dead Again…”
“I know, right?”
"We should watch that right now."
"Let's do it!"
Depraved is very poorly shot, choppily edited and patently ridiculous. If it wasn’t so slowly paced it would be perfect. Softcore nudity abounds and the saxophone-laden score reminds you that it’s supposed to be tawdry. Not highly recommended, but given the dearth of erotic thrillers from Shannon Tweed, Joan Severance and Julie Strain on Netflix Instant Streaming you could do a lot worse this Valentine’s Month. We’ll be back next week with more softcore erotic action – of a sort – on New Adventures in Netflix.