Just prior to his relatively big budget period with the likes of BEAUTY, HOT DREAMS and HEAVEN’S TOUCH, Shaun Costello (a/k/a “Warren Evans”) helmed this spectacularly underrated gem of a movie. With a clever, bittersweet script and a superstar cast, AFTERNOON DELIGHTS offers as much food for thought as for your libido.
A patently awful if ludicrously catchy title tune gets the credits out of the way. Five divorced men (all but one, the ever dependable Eric Edwards, middle-aged) gather for their weekly poker game. Only this time Edwards, who gained industry immortality by playing the “Harry Crocker” character in Ron Sullivan’s SEXCAPADES and its follow-up GREAT SEXPECTATIONS, has a few surprises in store, the first being the presence of a fully-kitted French maid (bug-eyed beauty Christie Ford from Cecil Howard’s PLATINUM PARADISE). The other surprise is his plan to forfeit their weekly game for a round of soul searching that will have every one of them anonymously committing their former wives’ sexual transgressions to paper to have them read out loud by one of the other participants.
This apparently hackneyed set-up leads into the film’s superbly crafted sex scenes. Cute as a button Merle Michaels, a charming light comedienne in frothy fare like Ron Sullivan’s A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND, is awakened from her slumber by the noise of a construction crew across the street. Following an intense shower masturbation number, she allows a couple of the guys (George Payne and Dave Ruby) to come over and play in a gorgeously shot and lit sequence set to the strains of Bernard Herrmann’s hauntingly beautiful VERTIGO theme. Though tiny, Michaels proves an even match for both enviably endowed males who memorably approach her with near-ceremonial reverence at scene’s start. Industry institution Veronica Hart (a/k/a Jane Hamilton, now a director/producer for VCA) gets duly mauled by dentist Bobby Astyr, unforgettable in Costello’s superlative Dracula EXOTICA, and his gorgeous female assistant Diane May (the hatcheck girl at the Hellfire Club from PANDORA’S MIRROR) whilst zonked out on laughing gas in a scene played rather appropriately for laughs.
Latin firecracker Vanessa Del Rio, who would prove herself to be an unexpectedly sensitive actress in Sam Weston’s THE DANCERS, burns up the screen entering a porn cinema – playing Costello’s DIRTY SUSAN – in male drag, taking on all comers in the one scene everyone seems to remember from this otherwise unjustly overlooked film. Wannabe filmmakers would do well to study Costello’s use of subtle visual motifs (like the on-screen action reflected in Vanessa’s sunglasses) and how they enhance the already hot sex taking place. A mistress/slave routine with Samantha Fox, the late Chuck Vincent’s preferred leading lady, and Alan “Spike” (nickname referring to you-know-what) Adrian remains hot despite comedic overtones but it’s Serena’s adult movie audition that results in her double penetration courtesy of Ron Hudd and Ashley Moore that’ll leave audiences with big happy smiles on their satiated faces.
The connecting story provides a kicker that actually tugs at this old dawg’s heartstrings whenever I see it. I’ll do you all a favor and allow you to find out for yourselves. If you’re really into classic porn and have never even heard of this unheralded jewel, go check it out pronto. It’s got all the plot, fine acting and topnotch production you could wish for, with simmering to scalding sex to boot.