Decameron: Tales of Desire (1995)

With excellent production values and an exceptional European cast DECAMERON: TALES OF DESIRE is a superior porn film from Italian master Luca Damiano. Hopefully its sequel will also be imported to the U.S. (I’ve already emailed the local distrib with that request). Only drawback for fair weather fans is that it is untranslated (Italian soundtrack, no subtitles) but the action (and you know what action I mean) is easy to follow.

Some ignorant clown has submitted to IMDb that Joe D’Amato co-directed the film, but there is no evidence of that. In fact, any knowledgeable fan watching it can see Luca’s energy and light touch, compared to the ham-fisted “I’m so bored” mechanical approach that Joe brings to his many XXX assignments.

Pasolini started it all with his hit DECAMERON in 1971, but this film actually reminded me more of the work of his talented protégé Sergio Citti, namely BAWDY TALES which I got to see in London back in 1974 but which unfortunately has never been released in any form here in America.

Format is simple: a large group of folks is celebrating at the dinner table, with each man recounting a peculiar sexual experience he’s had. These are bawdy, rollicking or sometimes just all-sex segments, given a different look by the period costumes, settings and beautiful castle location (same castle used by Luca for his fabulous film X HAMLET).

The disco theme song from X HAMLET: “To Fk or Not to Fk” is reprised here as the opening credits song for DECAMERON, and gets one in the mood of frivolity and high spirits. I’m probably in the minority but I love this stupid tune, as anachronistic as possible.

Although sex is the be-all and end-all of the movie, some of the segments are rather amusing. One clever and goofy one ends with the lover, who’s telling the story, hiding in the closet when the woman’s husband returns home suddenly. His balls literally get caught in the closet door and are hanging out, with the wife making up a cock & bull story about what they are. Hubby keeps slapping the balls, and it is the grotesque humor of which the Italians remain undisputed master. I’d like to see hacks like the Farrelly Brothers attempt this gag.

Final 30 minutes of the film is devoted to an orgy which is perhaps the best directed screen orgy I’ve ever seen. Usually, in an American porn film of the ’70s or say Tinto Brass’s CALIGULA, an orgy is designed as filler -eating up as much screen time as possible with boring action. Often you can’t really see what’s happening, as the frame is just filled with bodies writhing around like a sexual 3-ring circus.

Luca on the other hand keeps the energy level up, the mood of high spirits constant, and always photographs interesting sex action throughout this challenging sequence. Center of attention is Sarah Young, my all-time favorite porn star, taking on all comers, while the rest of the attractive female cast contributes to the arousal value as well. It culminates with a series of four money shots literally bathing Sarah’s face and breasts, after which she smiles and waves goodbye at the camera, joined in by the entire cast in a sort of curtain call. This breaking-the-fourth-wall device was also used by Luca at the finale of X HAMLET, and is tremendously upbeat.

I would recommend to any porn enthusiast the virtually mandatory 12-volume series THE GODDESS OF LOVE which features Sarah in her best porn vignettes, all beautifully photographed by Sascha Alexander. They aren’t movies but do capture her timeless beauty and amazing enthusiasm for sex, a quality that can’t be faked.