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Pablo Cairo Dark Angel Triple Feature (Alpha Blue Archives) DVD Review

    Ian Jane

  • Pablo Cairo Dark Angel Triple Feature (Alpha Blue Archives) DVD Review

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    Released by: Alpha Blue Archives
    Released on: April 16th, 2024.
    Director: Pablo Cairo
    Cast: Jamie Gillis, Desiree Lane, Nina Hartley, Janey Robbins, Gayle Sterling, Nikki Knight, Mike Horner
    Year: 1983/1985/1986

    Pablo Cairo Dark Angel Triple Feature – Movie Review:

    Alpha Blue Archives offers up all three of the Pablo Cairo movies from the eighties on one triple feature DVD.

    The Dark Angel:

    In our first film, Jamie Gillis plays a man named Leeland, Lee to his friends. He’s a successful businessman who, on the surface, seems to have everything he could want in life. When the movie opens, however, he’s holding onto a red high-heeled shoe muttering to himself. Clearly, something is amiss.

    From here, we cut to the back of Lee’s limousine where he’s being driven around San Francisco and being fellated by two beautiful women (Lynx Canon and Martina). He gets off, sure, but he doesn’t seem especially impressed by any of this. The next day, while being driven around late at night, he spots a beautiful, scantily clad blonde woman (Desiree Lane) wearing a cloak at the side of the road. He stops to look for her, but she’s gone. From here, he becomes instantly obsessed with her. He has lunch with his pals the next day at a Mexican restaurant, but even camaraderie and delicious tacos cannot get his mind off of her. That said, one of his friend’s invites him over for one of his ‘special parties’ that night – apparently this involves group sex and some ridiculous male strippers. Lee accepts the invitation and as an orgy breaks out, he has sex in a hot tub while two women have rad lesbian sex next to him. Life really could be worse, but Lee keeps seeing the mystery woman around town, only to have her disappear when he tries to find her.

    Regardless, Lee just can’t get the kicks he wants from his sex life these days, and he comes to realize that he needs more and more perverse thrills to get him where he wants to be, even telling us in his narration that he’s realized he likes to hurt people. Before long, Lee’s paying off someone at the local asylum to let him in to have group sex with some of the patients, watches as a lady friend of his is raped right in front of him, gets into some rough stuff at a local bar and then eventually connecting with his mystery woman proper, only to learn the hard way the truth about who and what she really is.

    Directed by Peter Vanderbilt and written by Pablo Cairo (both of these names are almost certainly pseudonyms and they could be one and the same), The Dark Angel is a pretty interesting and effective mix of arthouse filmmaking, Eurohorror tropes and typical eighties XXX hardcore sex. The art direction here is really solid, making great use of some interior and exterior locations, highlighted by a beach scene that can’t help but conjure up similar imagery from the films of Jean Rollin. The soundtrack might be a little wonky and the fashions and décor on display absolutely anchor this film as the eighties production that it so obviously is, the movie works as both an artsy mystery and an erotically charged descent into one man’s obsession and madness. Not surprisingly, Gillis, with his intentionally distant narration and cocky swagger proves to be the perfect leading man for the film. He’s just as effective when he’s playing his character as sad and distraught as when he’s going all in on a sex scene, showing the type of dramatic range that made him the best male adult film star of his era.

    Dreams Of Natasha:

    Written and directed by the esteemed Mr. Cairo and released in 1985, Dreams Of Natasha is almost as interesting as the first feature, even if the production values are a noticeable step down from that earlier film.

    The story revolves around Natasha Kelly (Nina Hartley), an eighteen year old woman dubbed patient number forty-three with psychological problems being treated by Dr. Sorensen (Jessie Eastern). As the movie starts, we witness various vignettes revolving around his sessions with her, where he uses a tape recorder to document their conversations. He listens to these recordings often, and it's these recorded sessions playing out to him that basically serve as the backbone for the different sex scenes that occur. Natasha is essentially confessing to Sorensen her various sexual fantasies, and we see these play out on screen with Hartley in four of the six sex scenes in the movie.

    While the plot is about as basic as they come, the different fantasy scenarios are well-shot and creative in their execution, frequently pulling horror movie and fantasy imagery into the couplings. Harley, typically clad in a white negligee, brings an effectively child-like vibe to her performance which gives things an often times unsettling edge, as clearly she's very much a grown up and very capable of exploiting all of her sexual wiles.

    It all ends with Natasha serving as an observer to a group session wherein a woman named Mistress D (Janey Robbins) serving as the ring-mistress and dominatrix of the group controlling the action, but before we get to that, we see Natasha involved in some strange situations, highlighted by a scene in which she has sex with two dolls that have somehow come to life (played by Nikki Knight and Don Fernando).

    Like the first movie, there are some obvious artistic intentions on display here, with the movie making great use of a dream like atmosphere and some moments that border on the surreal, a prime example being a scene where Natasha has sex with a man whose body looks normal and alive but whose head is a skull clad in a top hat and wearing a purple scarf! There’s more to this than just the typical hardcore bumping and grinding, and Hartley takes full advantage of all of the screen time that the movie affords her. She’s an energetic and enthusiastic performer who seems to be truly enjoying herself here, rather than just performing for the camera. The movie works in some De Sade-ian elements into the story in the last fifteen minutes or so, and if the entire thing was clearly shot indoors in only a few different locations, at least the score and camerawork are pretty solid.

    Video Bone:

    Last up, we get 1986’s Video Bone, a genuinely strange movie that starts off with a man, played by Mike Horner, walking into a video editing suite to the sound of some loud feedback. Once he settles, a female voice encourages him to press the on button to enter a world of sex! He obliges, and a woman (Gail Sterling) appears on screen. The man is, understandably, confused by the fact that the woman on the TV is talking to him, but soon enough we cut to a scene where Horner, wearing a strange mask that makes him look like an old man with a moustache, has sex with Debbie Areola on what look like some of those blue mats you used to see in gym class laid over a table in a rundown old industrial warehouse. The soundtrack alternates between strange, avant guard music and the goofy eighties Casio sounds you sometimes associate with porn from this era. When they finish, he takes off the mask and starts talknig to the version of himself that is still in the editing suite, telling him "It will be you!" and then pointing into the camera.

    Back in the editing suite, Mike once again intrigued by the woman talking to him from the TV, talking dirty to him and playing with a toy for his amusement. This leads to a second sex scene where Nikki Knight and Jesse Adams go at it in a sparsely decorated room with brick walls. Those same gym mats are there though, so don't worry. Nikki tells him she likes his hot pink underwear and after they finish, we get more dirty talk from the monitor for Mike's benefit in the editing suite.

    From there, she blows bubbles into the camera and commands him to satisfy her lust! This segques into a scene where Debbie Areola, bound to the ceiling, has a three way with Don Fernando Jesse Adams, still wearing that pink underwear. The gym mats get a work out once they two guys draw on her body with some sort of body paint and wrap her torso in plastic cling wrap to a score that sounds like something out of an eighties video game.

    If you guessed that from here we'd wind up with Mike in the editing suite again, enjoying more dirty talk from the monitor, you'd be right! Then we get to watch as Sultry Serena and Don Fernando do the dirty deed to a wonky disco soundtrack in front of a call covered in clipboards. Once again, keep your eyes open for those gym mats. Mike is getting increasingly agitated watching all of this bumping and grinding, and from here he winds up having sex with the girl on the monitor once he manages to basically hump the monitor, having an effect on her in the screen. From here, he's pulled into the monitor where they go at it on these same gym mats. Once that's all over and done with, he wakes up naked on those mats, thoroughly confused by where he is and how he got there. He calls out to the woman, but she's gone and he's apparently trapped in the monitor, and she's laughing at him from the editing booth he was transported out of.

    A microbudget SOV porn parody of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, played completely straight, Video Bone is…. Dopey. It’s amusing in its dopiness, but it’s very definitely a dopey movie. Horner is amusing to watch here, hamming it up a bit, and Gail Sterling is alluring with her a dirty talk, she looks really good too. The plot is as simple as it gets, and there’s absolutely no character development here whatsoever (the characters aren’t even ever named), but if you need a bad porno version of Videodrome in your life, this’ll scratch that itch. The movie does get moderately kinky in a few spots, the three-way scene being the most obvious example, but never takes things so far as to be off-putting. There isn’t much in the way of acting to talk about, but there’s amusement to be taken from the goofy soundtrack and sparse set decoration.

    Pablo Cairo Dark Angel Triple Feature – DVD Review:

    All three movies on the DVD are presented in their original 1.33.1 aspect ratios and taken from tape sources (which is what they were shot on). The quality mirrors the screen caps below, expect things to look soft and a little wobbly at times. Colors are okay but can get murky, especially in the first feature which is the softest looking of the three movies on the disc (which is unfortunate as it does appear to have been shot on film whereas the other two features look to have been shot in video), and skin tones can sometimes look a little too hot or too pink.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mixes are on par with the video presentation – it won’t blow you away but it’ll do. Some hiss and background noise is omnipresent but that’s to be expected. Most of the time, the truly gripping dialogue is pretty easy to understand and follow and the levels are fine. There aren’t any subtitles included here, but there isn’t much of a plot to any of the three movies so you really won’t need them even if you are hard of hearing.

    There are no extras on the disc, just static menus offering feature and scene selection.

    Pablo Cairo Dark Angel Triple Feature - The Final Word:

    Alpha Blue Archives’ DVD release of the Cult 80’s Director Series: Pablo Cairo Dark Angel Triple Feature offers up three fairly obscure adult features from the mid-eighties in less than amazing transfers and with no extras. That said, the first feature is very definitely worth seeing, the second one is an interesting attempt at mixing art and erotica and third goofy enough to be worth a watch.

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