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Lustful Addiction   B-

Seduction Cinema

Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Misty Mundae
Writer: Misty Mundae
Cast: Ruby LaRocca, Misty Mundae, Darian Caine.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Lustful Addiction is the third Retro-Seduction Cinema DVD release to feature a grindhouse classic by sleaze auteur Nick Phillips along with a modern remake. I haven't seen Roxanna or Pleasures of a Woman yet, but if Lustful Addiction is any indication, the Retro-Seduction line is far more interesting and worthwhile than Seduction's typically goofy output like The Lord of the G-Strings and Play-Mate of the Apes. This one has been released as a two-disc limited edition featuring both the Phillips original and a remake helmed by Seduction Cinema poster girl Misty Mundae on one disc and the full-length remake soundtrack on the other.

The original Lustful Addiction, a 1969 sexploitation flick struggling to be a profound morality tale, centers on a young woman whose heroin addiction leads to tragedy. Instead of audible dialogue, the film has a third-person narrator spouting pseudo-poetic nonsense ("Twisted, strange, a perversion hard to understand -- a beautiful girl paying for a pinch of Satan's powder!") over a psychedelic soundtrack. There's also plenty of ham-fisted symbolism by way of insert shots of monkeys in cages. Shot in black and white with handheld cameras and jump cuts, the rough, stripped-down visuals occasionally evoke early Godard -- particularly the extended shot of a hooker walking down the street -- but the film only has the audacity to wish it were as powerful a portrait of an ill-fated lost soul as something like Vivre Sa Vie (My Life to Live). It's bleak for sure, but its schlocky campiness gives it an oddball charm. Naturally, Mundae's remake doesn't take itself as seriously.

While the original has its share of nudity and sexual couplings (a couple of hetero scenes, a lesbian encounter, and a ridiculously long -- and just plain ridiculous -- full frontal striptease), Mundae's Lustful Addiction kicks the sex up a few notches. This time around Ruby LaRocca is the doomed addict who's not above fucking her dealer to score a discount. When Ruby takes an ecstasy-fueled mid-day walk in the park, she meets up with the free-spirited Opal (Mundae) and the two girls go back to Ruby's place to get high (well, even more so than they already are), make out, and explore each other's bodies. The entire drugged-out lesbian sequence with LaRocca and Mundae is Lustful Addiction's centerpiece, comprising 40 minutes of the film's 73-minute running time. And, yes, it's a doozy. The sequence, set to neo-psychedelic guitar rock by Tim Tomorrows, is filled with trippy dissolves and a floating, roaming camera that watches Mundae and LaRocca as they kiss and fondle on the couch, sniff cocaine, and strip away what little clothing they have on. It's mind-numbingly slow, erotically charged, and completely mesmerizing.

As with the original, there is no audible dialogue. Instead of having a third-person narrator, though, it's narrated by LaRocca's character, who comes off as a selfish, paranoid junkie so far beyond hope it's sad. While the narration often veers a bit over the top (keeping in tune with the original), there are times when her thoughts really strike a nerve with their honesty, hinting at the very real, very dark places Mundae might have taken Lustful Addiction if she'd wanted. One instance, which I think best sums up what Mundae's film is getting at, is when Ruby talks about why junkies like to hang out with other junkies: "When you're in way too deep, there's something down there with you... to assure you you're not drowning."

While the performances from Mundae and LaRocca often achieve a natural realism, they sometimes cross over into half-baked camp. It's a bit disconcerting to find yourself giggling when the subject matter is so grim and much of it hits far too close to reality for comfort. I didn't know quite how to react to the morbid climax, as it staddles the line between over-the-top camp and intense seriousness. Lustful Addiction's polarizing tone is intriguing, but I wonder what might have been achieved if Mundae had taken the material in a more serious direction and had cast a more sympathetic eye upon her characters while watching them drown.

Review published 05.12.2003.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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