I Like to Watch (1982)

Paul Vatelli passed away from an AIDS-related illness in 1986, aged just 33, with his wife joining him in death from comparable causes eight years after, sadly leaving their teenaged son and daughter to be raised through social services even though during his brief lifespan their dad had made a considerable bundle for some of the adult industry’s leading companies who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty !  Routinely judged a superior cinematographer – a function he would frequently fulfill on personal projects after an auspicious start on Michael Zen’s wonderfully witty The Filthy Rich – if only a run of the mill filmmaker, he possessed at least one enviable forte setting him apart from much of the creative competition. Laying to rest his undeserved reputation as a hamfisted hack, he had the knack to create a pervasively sensuous mood through combination of soft lighting and fluid camera work with more than average attention paid to editing and music, giving unceremonious for still unacknowledged birth to some of the more successful couples films of the time. He always made sure female performers looked their absolute best by putting them in frilly Frederick’s of Hollywood type lingerie with tastefully subtle hair and make up to match. Along with the surprisingly gritty Bodies in Heat and the sidesplitting Stiff CompetitionI Like to Watch makes for a tantalizing triumvirate of his very best work.

Beautiful yet painfully shy Laura (one of beautiful Bridgette Monet’s most accomplished performances) diligently works for her fashion designer aunt (fiery fortyish Pat Manning, a commanding thespian in the Georgina Spelvin league, already having toiled in the trenches as long as the Grande Dame herself), leading an otherwise sheltered existence devoid of sexual attention, even from her divorced wishy-washy older boyfriend (a convincingly spineless turn by dependable Mike Horner, still billed as “Don Hart” back then) who refuses to put the moves on her out of what he considers respect. Profoundly frustrated, the girl turns to spying on Manning making out with hunk for all seasons Herschel Savage in a sweltering scenario that proves yet again beyond all doubt that older women can still teach the younger generation a thing or two about lascivious lovemaking.

Auntie’s assistant Kim (the incredible not to mention aptly named Little Oral Annie, anything but a stranger to the Video-X-Pix back catalogue) has her wicked way with the well-endowed meter man (the late Kevin James, pumping away for posterity) and German ladies maid Gretchen (awesome Anna Pierce who would make an abrupt career switch to fetish fare) as pleasurable punishment for peeping through the keyhole. Horner finally gets over his hangups with able assistance from complimentary lingerie models Honey (one shot wonder Eleyna DeSantis) and Cinnamon (popular busty beauty Linda Shaw, best known to the real world as the girl on late night cable in Brian De Palma’s Body Double) while Laura locates liberation in the arms and between the legs of her aunt’s “special customer” Lisa DeLeeuw, doing the first of what was to become a long line of girl on girl numbers with Monet.  They are eventually joined by Lisa’s younger lover Montag (also known as “Mr. Monet“, Dave Cannon, and was Vatelli perhaps a closet fan of Herschel Gordon Lewis for naming this character after The Wizard of Gore ?) as the deadline for this year’s collection draws near. The fashion show director sporting sunglasses is actually Vatelli making a fleeting cameo appearance.

There’s some silly T&A comedy involving a couple of horny janitors and a gaggle of topless runway models who don’t appear in any of the explicit scenes, making one wonder whether Vatelli perhaps entertained plans of padding out the inevitable cable-ready softcore cut into an alternative R-rated Porky’s style farce at some stage of production. A valid suspicion since we never get to see the show in question, which seems a mighty strange oversight, but immediately cut to Horner turning up and somewhat forcefully engaging in sexual intercourse with his neglected lady love.  For the record, this is the only film apart from her debut in Tim McDonald’s Talk Dirty to Me 2 where Monet has sex with another guy than her husband, probably the main reason why critics and fans soured on her so quickly which resulted in much unwarranted Bridgette bashing. In her defense, she usually had decent sex with Dave over the years, unfortunately barring Ron Sullivan’s otherwise commendable Babylon Blue, and I felt her tremendous beauty mostly made up for the lack of variation in sexual screen partners. Another stumbling block was her high-pitched, squeaky voice which fans now got to hear for the first time as she had been dubbed by a professional actress for the part of the radio sex show therapist in Talk Dirty 2 ! Other than that, she’s really not too pathetic a performer and her genuinely funny turn as Texas blow job royalty Linda Lonestar in Vatelli’s Stiff Competition proved she was game as well as capable to learn and grow in that capacity.

Directed, written, produced & photographed by Paul G. Vatelli. Edited by Michael Zen & Dick Harde. Starring Bridgette Monet (Laura), Lisa DeLeeuw (Linda), Little Oral Annie (Kim), Pat Manning (Leticia), Mike Horner (as Don Hart) (Michael), Anna Pierce (Gretchen), Kevin James (Mark), Herschel Savage (Philip), David Cannon (as David Smith) (Montag), Linda Shaw (Cinnamon), Eleyna DeSantis (Honey), John Ogden (Fred), Lou Vincent (Harry), Mike Hunt (T.D.), Mary Evans (Gloria), Beatrice Bowan (Norma), Paul G. Vatelli (Fashion Show Director) & Dirty Ed Lachmann (Janitor). Running time : 77 minutes.

About to make good on her reputation : the astonishing (not to mention well-named) Little Oral Annie

By Dries Vermeulen

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