Monday, 2 September 2019

PORNO - FRIGHTFEST review

One of the late night screenings at Frightfest, Porno was appropriately shown in the downstairs screen at the Prince Charles Cinema, itself reportedly once one of the West End's cinemas that screened *ahem* adult erotica.

One night in 1993 when both A League of Their Own and Encino Man (AKA California Man for UK residents) were screening in a small town American cinema, the manager, Mr Pike (Bill Phillips) is leaving the cinema in the hands of his newly promoted assistant manager Chaz (Jillian Mueller). Ushers Abe, Todd & Ricky have an uneventful shift with the promise that they can watch the film of their choice once the cinema is closed. That is until a crazed old man invades the cinema, leading the ushers through a secret doorway and into a hidden auditorium none of them knew about. As they try to find the old man they uncover a secret storage room, with a mysteriously labelled film inside. Deciding to watch whatever is on the film, they accidentally release Lilith (Katelyn Pearce), the evil and naked demon contained within.

In the world of trashy independent film, the title of Porno is bound to raise a few eyebrows, and if nothing else, raise expectations. I suppose it's necessary to get it out of the way at this point, but if you're going into this film expecting a high level of nudity, you're probably going to be severely disappointed by the body parts presented to you. The 'Porno' of the title is more accurately described as an Argento-esque European art film, with a giallo hued setting and a beautiful naked woman (with a 70s merkin) as its lead. Oh, and she's demonic and wants to escape the film and devour as many of the ushers as she can.

Porno has a lot going for it in the initial set up; a cool setting, a fun & lively cast, even nostalgia for a forgotten golden age of slightly crappy films (I'm looking at you, Pauly Shore), but despite some fun moments and the most hilariously graphic scene of testicular torture you (n)ever wanted to see, the film isn't able to deliver the thrills and spills you might be looking for. The frustrating thing is that there's clearly potential for greatness within, with born again Christian/projectionist Heavy Metal Jeff standing out as a great character, and an interesting new spin on the group of horny teens/demon fodder. But given too many scenes where nothing happens and opportunities to question the logic of the film (like how could a gigantic 300 seater auditorium be hidden all this time?), there's a strong chance you'll be popping out to the concessions stand, just to have something to do.

Sharing some DNA with trashy classics like Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama (hapless teens unwittingly unleash a demonic entity that plays deadly tricks on them) & Intruder (minimum wage workers confront a killer at their workplace), despite one fantastically gory money shot that will have you squirming in your seats, Porno doesn't deliver enough of the genre goods but will undoubtedly garner some notoriety and an inquisitive audience thanks to its title. 

Verdict
2/5

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