Overflowing with the kind of raw material that screenwriters sacrifice sleep over, DeSade (the novel) is simply a "natural" for the XXX biz – but DeSade the video blows most of its potential by the very first scene.
Rife with a confusing narrative and by-the-numbers sex, this version never dares beyond "tame." Buck Adams keeps splitting his directorial personalities between compelling, sexually charged films and meretricious video disappointments (Given his propensity for downgrading such literary Cadillacs as Frankenstein, Tarzan [ie. Savage], and now DeSade into Hyundai-sized features, it wouldn't be surprising if Buck's next project is Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.)
Melissa Hill and Holly Body, two of the most somnambulistic female performers in recent memory, as guesting at the hotel DeSade, run by Slex Sanders – who may be a descendent of the infamous Marquis (but the barely audible soundtrack provides little clues). In a tiny dungeon set, Body (trussed up in light bondage gear) is forced to witness Chuck Martino bang a masked Brittany O'Connell. Intended to arouse, the scene leans more towards torture – by way of boredom.
Mumbling about "evil things," Sanders unleashes her right in time for the lamest girl/girl act since Shari Lewis and Lambchop. Body plays "pillow queen" in a passive bedroom fling with Melissa Hill; and then, quite redundantly, another lesbian grope (with Misty Rain and Rebecca Lords) is next on tap. Tony Tedeschi hangs around to voyeuristically conduct the session, which includes a digit-al invasion of Misty's butthole; one of the fea highlights worthy of the "brand" name DeSade.
Ushered forth by ludicrous special FX, the father of sadism himself (Jon Dough) snatches Hill back to his dungeon, where they engage in a fuck far too long and without much passion. Dough gets whipped (mostly off-camera) but by the time one wishes the writer had received a lash or two himself. The moody set is captured effectively, and Sanders' final encounter with Body generates modest heat, but DeSade will sell mainly on the strength of its box cover.