GREGORY DARK WEEK: Secret Games (1992)

The Dark Brothers were proud to say that porn was dead and they were here to change it.

They were purveyors of fine filth, as they also claimed.

And they made — well, Gregory Dark — made movies that are fascinatingly unerotic, movies that the mainstream adult industry didn’t understand, that predate the gonzo and internet era, that had the kind of fashion and art direction that wasn’t dated or a soap opera or a parody of a known movie.

And as for Gregory Dark, his life was one of constant reinvention, from earning his MFA from Stanford University, then doing graduate studies in film at New York University, then making a documentary on the adult industry that led to him immersing himself in it, while finding that he could reinvent himself into a whole new person, half of the Dark Brothers, a somehow even darker form of the already shady world of pornography.

Then he realized that there was a market for erotic thrillers that could be sold to video and cable, made for a more female audience, one that nearly always features strong women and feels like giallo, but instead of murder being the driving force, it’s always lovemaking, but incredibly unrealistic, fog-ridden, neon-drenched, sax-blaring sex that challenges the Jacuzzi in Showgirls for gymnastic horizontal dancing. Everyone has a perfect body and a perfect life, but everyone is miserable. Indeed, Dark told The Rialto Report that no one had a happy ending in these movies.

Dark was also counseled by a father figure who was a psyops psychological warfare expert and had a teacher who gave him a voice in his head so critical that he fought himself with every project. So when his adult films were so different that they changed the industry like soap bubbles inside a syringe full of heroin — seriously, listen to that interview The Rialto Report did — slowly but surely making the look, the feel and the madness of his scenes commonplace.

So where would Gregory Dark take mainstream?

Ironically, his films seem to feel like Michael Ninn, who would seem to be the exact opposite of his adult films. He mentioned that he’d consider how Ninn would compose shots and shoot the female form and that comes through in his softcore work.

The story is one as old as Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Emmanuelle. A housewife is bored and strays, but then learns that once she’s become an escort, her fantasy life doesn’t live up to what she’d hoped it would be. That’s simple. What isn’t is the style Dark shows in each scene and yeah, there’s little to no plot, but everyone looks fabulous, like the kind of drawings of humans we’d send to space so aliens would know just how proud we are of our bodies. Between Dalia Sheppard, Michele Brin, Vidal’s daughter Catya Sassoon, Monique Parent, Kelly Royce and Alison Armitage, this movie feels like a Patrick Nagel portrait come to life.

If Andy Sidaris presented us with the light side of free-spirited and innocent sex appeal, of course Gregory Dark must be his reverse. As women sit on lounges combing their hair and relaxing before another love scene, everyone looks absolutely stunning, so ideal that they even wear their high heels to bed but never sleep.

Bonus points for the non-stop voyeur aspect, including a nun that is watching the watching in a continuing motif, and for using Billy Drago as a non-villain character.

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