Taboo American Style 1: The Ruthless Beginning (1985)

Inspired by the extraordinary success of Kirdy Stevens’ hit theatrical film series “Taboo”, this shot on film so-called “mini-series” from Henri Pachard is an excellent example of the craftsmanship of Old School porn. I saw them on VHS back in the day, and the movies hold up quite well re-viewed some 30-plus years after.

That is, unless you are among the majority of current porn fans, who eschew such niceties as story and characterization. Pachard keeps his sex scenes extremely brief, packing heat but over in just a few minutes (about the length of a simlated softcore porn scene on Pay-Cable) rather than half hours.

Excellent casting and actual acting performances typify the high level of content here, with unsung creator honors belonging to screenwriter Rick Marx, who receives no screen credit for his work.

It’s a dysfunctional family soap opera, playing like a real (mainstream) movie but with uncensored XXX content during the sex scenes. Raven is aptly cast (she closely resembles in looks her mother in the film, Gloria Leonard) as the Bad Seed, a teenage daughter who is so selfish and willful that she is willing to destroy the lives (via sex) of all around her simply to satisfy her own desires.

The format Rick devised resembles the surefire genre of an outsider invading a household and seducing (usually literally) every member of the family by film’s end. My favorite movie of this type is Hal Prince’s classic (but rarely seen or mentioned) “Something for Everyone” in which Michael York plowed through Angela Lansbury’s home, as well as Drew Barrymore in Katt Shea’s simiarly underrated “Poison Ivy” or Terence Stamp in Pasolini’s “Teorema”.

But here the danger comes from inside the family, and by the time the curtain falls on the trim first volume (running about an hour in length), Raven has incestuously seduced her weak-willed daddy played by Paul Thomas.

Gloria Leonard gives the best performance, a haughty, patrician matriarch worthy of the Glenda Jackson role currently on Broadway in Albee’s “Three Tall Women”, who disintegrates before our eyes over the course of the 4-parter. In Part 1 there are ample sex scenes, with Taija Rae a standout as the daughter of the family’s handyman R. Bolla, she bedding down with Raven’s brother Tom Byron; Raven humping Taija’s brother, the muscular no-name actor Frank Serrone; and Gloria having sex not only with her husband PT but fatefully with Bolla as well.

The psychology here is exciting, and the reactions to both incest and other “caught in the act” sex marvelously dramatic. Best of all, while 21st Century fans are treated to literally thousands of trendy crypto-incest features by the likes of Jacky St. James and Bree Mills (plus innumerable copycats), Marx and Pachard present stories involving actual incest, fictional of course but carrying the weight of real characters rather than the so-called “family role playing” genre that gets modern pornographers off the hook, from a censorship point-of-view.
  • Scene 1. Gloria Leonard, R. Bolla
  • Scene 2. Taija Rae, Tom Byron
  • Scene 3. Gloria Leonard, Paul Thomas
  • Scene 4. Raven, Taija Rae
  • Scene 5. Raven, Frank Serrone
  • Scene 6. Gloria Leonard, R. Bolla
  • Scene 7. Raven, Paul Thomas
  • Scene 8. Raven, Paul Thomas