The most famous of the handful of porno features made by the late
Roger Watkins, and fairly impressive in its way, but be forewarned: it’s
a profoundly dark film in every sense of the word.
Following the dissolution of his mainstream filmmaking
career, which saw his low budget opus THE CUCKOO CLOCKS OF HELL released
in severely truncated form as
LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET (which
remains the only way to see it) and entailed a severely unpleasant
experience making the slasher flick
SHADOWS OF THE MIND, Roger Watkins
turned to the porn world of the 1980s. 1983’s MIDNIGHT HEAT, starring
porn mainstay (and Watkins regular) Jamie Gillis, was the most
successful of Watkins’ porno flicks.
A skuzzy NYC hitman guns down a businessman in an
office building, and then unwisely beds down with the wife of a local
mob boss. Inevitably the latter walks in on them, and is none-too-happy
with what he sees. The hitman is forced to sequester himself in a grungy
hotel room, during which he flashes back on his debauched life. One of
his first flashbacks is of a tryst he had with a powerful man’s
twentyish daughter, after which he called up the man and gleefully
reported on what he was up to--an exercise, he claimed, in “the nature
Growing bored, the hitman calls an escort service. They
send over two whores who the guy orders to have sex with each other
while he watches. When they’re done he asks one of the gals to stay with
him--specifically to sleep beside him in his bed, and not have
Another flashback shows the hitman banging his wife,
from whom he’s grown estranged. Later the two confront their
deteriorating relationship, spurred by his growing isolation from her
and the world in general.
Back in the hotel room the man espouses his bleak views
to his call girl companion. Eventually the two have sex, and it seems
the man might actually be coming (pun intended) out of his
depression. But that’s far from a certainty, as the sound of a police
siren over the final scenes signifies.
This film’s subversiveness is evident early on: it’s a
porno movie, yet there’s no sex until five minutes in, with the early
scenes serving primarily to evoke a suitably grungy big city atmosphere.
That gritty aura saturates the remainder of the film, which radiates a
powerful sense of bleakness and despair despite all the sex scenes; the
sound of rumbling thunder is a constant, as is mournful violin music.
Jamie Gillis is surprisingly strong in the lead role.
Clearly he related to the character, a severely depressed man at the end
of his tether. The fact that this tormented character registers as a
reasonably complex individual further removes this film from the porno
norm, as do the frequent Biblical quotations, lengthy philosophical
discussions and lines like “Only someone in a state of constant
annihilation can experience life the way it should be experienced.”
That’s not to say the film is without its share of
annoying eighties porn conventions. Note the distracting up-tempo music
played during many of the sex scenes, and the gratuitous cut-away to a
fellow hit man getting banged in an adjacent room (thus allowing Watkins
to cram in an extra fuck scene). The low budget is evident throughout,
particularly in the verite shots of downtown NYC, which are repeated
over and over, and also the crummy single source lighting, which renders
many of the fuck scenes difficult to make out. The film works, but it’s
far from imperfect.
Ace Booking Service
Director/Screenwriter/Editor: “Richard Mahler” (Roger
Watkins)Producer: Robert Michaels
Cinematography: Larry Revene
Cast: Jamie Gillis, Howard Feline, D.D. Burke, Fred Rein, Tish Ambrose,
Joey Carson, Champagne, Sharon Mitchell, Michael Bruce, Susie Nero