It’s a Trap! – The Superhero Parodies of B. Skow
Let us here at PoP! guide you through a minefield of books and properties that seem full of win from the word go, but which once you crack them open have you shouting… It’s a Trap!
It’s no secret that we’re fans of Axel Braun’s parodies from Vivid’s XXXSuperhero imprint. Our Batman XXX viewing at PoP! Goes the 4th 2010 is still one of the funniest things we’ve ever done at a PoP! event. The esteemed Mr. Braun isn’t the only one playing in the superhero sandbox, however (but his Spider-Man XXX is totally out now. Check it out). Veteran director B. Skow has recently entered the comic-inspired arena with The Incredible Hulk XXX and an original character with what is possibly the greatest superhero name in the history of anything: Spread Eagle. Granted, the bar was set pretty high, but unfortunately, neither of these captures the fun and charm of Braun’s movies and they both look less polished than their predecessors.
The Incredible Hulk XXX boasted a “2-disc Collector’s Edition.” So the first thing I did was pop in disc 2, wondering what sort of bonus features they could put on a porn flick that would merit a second disc. As disc 2 fired up, I soon realized this was the second half of the movie. That’s right, folks. The Incredible Hulk XXX clocks in at approximately 4 hours long. That is Hulk-size, if ever there was such a thing. Needless to say, there was a lot of skipping and fast-forwarding on this one. I for one didn’t have 4-hours to spend on this. And if you thought Ang Lee took his sweet time getting to the green goliath in 2003’s HULK, think again. Old green genes doesn’t show up in this one until over two hours in.
It’s overly long (no pun intended), but what about the rest? Whereas Batman XXX used the ’66 show as its starting point, The Incredible Hulk XXX launches from the classic TV series starring Bill Bixby. Dale Dabone plays Banner (David, not Bruce, of course) and Lee Stone plays a very Ferignesque® Hulk (and yes, he’s ALL green). The movie opens with Banner and his wife (played by Tori Black) having a lovely blissful montage before landing between the sheets. Then she totally dies. The very next scene has them in a car crash and she dies. This sparks Banner’s research into strength and power. He’s overcome with the guilt of not being able to lift the car off of his dying wife since we’ve all heard tales of mothers doing the same for their trapped infants in cases of extreme stress. What that means is that every plot scene with Banner for like two hours is him pining over his dead wife and beating himself up over not being able to save her. Sounds hot, doesn’t it? Seriously, grief is not sexy. Dale Dabone plays the role really well. He’s a legitimately decent actor, but the first disc is a total bummer.
It’s a very weird basis for a movie like this, but even weirder is that the driving plot for the first half surrounds the interviews Banner and his hot assistant (played by Lily Lebeau) are conducting with people who HAVE experienced such bouts of strength. Of course, they all revolve around doing the nasty, so the results are scenes that could go in any porn movie, provided it had a ‘70’s backdrop. There’s not a lot here that’s Hulk-specific until the second half. It’s very long and kind of boring, if you’re expecting something fun like Batman’s journey into debauchery. There are three scenes that could be easily cut because they do nothing to progress the story and they feature characters that NEVER show up again. But even when we finally get to the Hulk, there’s no shine to the movie. His transformation comes as a result of a specific mixture of gamma rays and blue balls, which I’ll admit is pretty awesome, but it comes way too far into the movie. The movie’s length is its biggest drawback. Pretty much all of the stuff you want to see in anything remotely Hulk-related happens on the second disc.
The color is desaturated and the audio is muddled if the actors are anywhere except directly in front of the camera (a boom mic goes a long way). It just looks cheap when compared to Batman XXX. It could be argued that this was intentional and B. Skow is invoking the look of the ‘70’s series, and to be fair, the hair, wardrobe and props are all ‘70’s accurate. But this is 2011, and everyone has an HDTV, so let’s make it look nice. Still, I’ll forgive the color/video issues as style, but the audio is a sore spot. When hot assistant answers her front door, you can’t hear what she’s saying because her back is to the camera. That’s not style. Batman XXX was based on a ‘60’s show and Superman XXX was based on a ‘70’s film. Both of them had plenty of shine. More than anything, it’s clear there was a lot less money spent on Hulk than either of Axel Braun’s films. In an age where the porn industry is looking to give people incentive to pay for it, I don’t think cheap is the way to do it.
But what about Spread Eagle, the most awesomely-named superhero movie ever? It’s really weird. First and foremost, it suffers from some of the same aesthetic issues as Hulk, but way worse. Spotty color and audio and dimly-lit night exteriors plague this movie and it comes off looking way cheaper than The Incredible Hulk XXX. But this is an original character! It’s the first porno superhero ever (not counting Orgasmo, and you should ALWAYS count Orgasmo). It’s definitely got that going for it, but even that is kind of strange. We’re not really properly introduced to our protagonist since the movie just sort of starts with a gonzo-esque scene with Tommy Gunn and Asa Akira and once it’s over, they get mugged and shot and she dies. Fortunately, this movie doesn’t fall into a pit of despair like Hulk and instead, Tommy is revived and gets super powers from an eagle that spits red, white and blue into his bullet wound. No, really. I think there’s some symbolism there, but it could be on any number of levels. Regardless, there’s no explanation given to the source of his powers and his costume isn’t America-themed or anything, so the colors are a puzzler, too.
The eagle sequence is the first of several that uses motion comics. It’s genuinely kind of neat and the movie uses these whenever something that would be otherwise expensive happens. Most of the fights and flying and other super stuff is done with these motion comics. They’re actually pretty cool, especially in the context of the movie. There are also some neat comic-panel-esque edits between scenes and they’re appreciated. They definitely wanted to make this very comic book-y, and those little touches are welcome.
After getting his powers (which include claws, a beak and wings, super senses and speed and an eagle shriek he uses to make a dude’s head explode), our hero stumbles home and pecks up some rice krispees he spills on the counter before finishing his heroic transformation. Spread Eagle basically ends up stumbling onto a prostitution ring completely by happenstance, so he fights a few dudes after their respective sex scenes. All of this culminates in the guy that killed his girlfriend getting away (he was working with the bad guys, coincidentally). He’s a pretty ineffective superhero, really. Basically, this movie is a series of sex scenes strung together by about 15 minutes of plot.
Now, I realize these are porn movies, but both Batman and Superman got movies that were coherent without the nekkidness and Batman, especially, got a great parody first and foremost (thanks to the “non-sex feature” option). Clearly, a lot of time and care went into every aspect of the World’s Finest Porn Parodies (Make that 2-pack happen!) and B. Skow’s… not so much. Hulk defnitely got the better deal in the plot department, but it’s so long that it loses points. In Spread Eagle, most of the characters don’t even have names. But hey, if you’re in the market for a semi-gonzo feature, then Spread Eagle is right up your alley.
There’s definitely something in there for someone to like. If you’re down for four hours of porno and always wondered what it would look like when Hulk got his groove on, you’re in luck. But for me, coming off of the successes of the first two Vivid XXXSuperheroes movies and the genuine fun of them, these fell flat based on what I was hoping to get out of them. There’s nothing here that I imagine was intentionally funny and Hulk is a parody (and yet manages to be MUCH darker than the movie tagged as a “Dark tale of vengeance”), so I expected a chuckle here and there, if not unbridled awesomeness a la Batman XXX. In Spread Eagle’s first fight scene, he flies into the shot, then from off-camera, pecks a guy’s arm with beak ONE time and he runs away. That’d be funny enough on its own, but given the fact that his beak makes a squeaking sound… EVERY time someone touches it, it’s hilarious. With the box’s promise of a “dark tale of vengeance,” I don’t know that funny was the goal.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with either of these movies (okay, Hulk is WAY too long and Spread Eagle is just… weird). They’re just not fun in the way their predecessors were, and that’s what I was expecting. If you’re looking to get your jollies off, I’d say either of these would do the trick. I give both The Incredible Hulk XXX; a Porn Parody and Spread Eagle 3.5 out of 5 wrecked campers. Hulk is better, but the midway disc change reminded me way too much of flipping a laserdisc (ask your parents, kids.). If you think I’m looking too critically at these things, you might be right, but it’s fair to expect more from these types of productions. Besides, I watched these skipping around specifically for the story elements. There’s nothing quite like a scientific porn viewing.