Sleeping Beauties (2017)


USA. 2017.


Director – Dean McKendrick, Screenplay – Suzanne Cabot, Producer – Sal V. Miers, Photography – Terrance Ryker, Animation Supervisor – Walt Pal, Art Direction – Pedro McDougal. Production Company – Retromedia Entertainment


Sarah Hardy (Beauty), William F. Bryant (Harry), Andy Long (Richard), Jane Doux (Peggy/Margaret), Aria Alexander (Chelsea), Ted Newsom (Mr Logan)


Beauty is preparing to marry Prince William of Saxony when Margaret informs her that his arrival has been delayed. Margaret gives Beauty a rose, which causes her to prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep. She then places Beauty’s sleeping body in a vault so that she can marry William instead. 400 years later in the present day, the American architect Harry is conducting renovations on the castle when he uncovers the vault. He finds Beauty’s sleeping body and, in giving her a kiss, brings her back to life. In gratitude, Beauty has sex with him. Harry brings Beauty back to the USA to advise on the rebuild of the castle. Harry’s girlfriend Peggy, a double for Margaret, is initially not too happy but soon all three are enjoying each other. Meanwhile, Harry’s friend Richard, who desires to break out on his own, becomes obsessed with stealing the plans for the rebuild and claiming them as his own.

Retromedia Entertainment is a company that was set up in 2001 by prolific low-budget director Fred Olen Ray. Besides distributing Olen Ray’s films, Retromedia has produced a healthy output of softcore erotica from other directors. A sampling of titles include the likes of The Big Bust Theory (2013), Intergalactic Swingers (2013), Strippers from Another World (2013), Atomic Hotel Erotica (2014), Stacked Racks from Mars (2014), Bikini Avengers (2015), Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills (2015), Invisible Centerfolds (2015), Lust in Space (2015), Bad Girls Behind Bars (2016), Cosmic Calendar Girls (2016), Escape from Pleasure Planet (2016), Paranormal Sexperiments (2016) and a further fairytale for adults with Cinderella’s Hot Night (2017).

Not to be confused with Sleeping Beauties (2017), the Stephen King novel that came out the same year, this is a variant on the oft-filmed fairytale Sleeping Beauty (1697). The film doesn’t concern itself too much with adherence to the fairytale – there is no evil fairy godmother, for instance. At most we get Beauty’s rival (sister?) Margaret who produces a needle that pricks Beauty and puts her into suspended animation so that she can go off and marry the prince instead. After being locked in a crypt, Beauty is discovered two scenes later in the present by William F. Bryant who awakens her with a kiss. That is the total of the fairytale over and done with in the first eight minutes. The rest has Beauty as an innocent awake in modern society, although even then her origins have little real relevance to what is going on, most of which is concerned with Andy Long’s attempts to steal the architectural plans for the remodel and even more so with the various unclothed tumblings between the two men and the three women in differing combinations. For some reason, the film is called Sleeping Beauties, although there is only one Beauty who awakes from suspended animation – to justify it, there is a final scene where Bryant looks in on the three women of the show all curled up together after an all-girl threeway and calls them “sleeping beauties.”

This is a film that has been largely created around the erotic sequences. In a world where you can access places like Redtube and Pornhub and find fairly much anything according to your taste with no anatomical detail spared, there does seem something oddly outdated about a film still offering up softcore erotica 90s style where we see no genitals – maybe about a three second flash of pubic bush – just bare boobs and actors pretending to hump, all to the accompaniment of banal elevator muzak.

The plot rather laughably tries to give some rationale to the erotic encounters but in ways that actually kill the drama off. In any other film, Andy Long would be the villain (he sort of is here). We get scenes like where he sends girlfriend Aria Alexander into the bedroom during a party to steal the plans only for her to be discovered by William F. Bryant – rather than Bryant confronting her about what she is doing there, the two of them have a sexual tumble (while their other partners are occupied). Her being party to her boyfriend’s deceptions is thereafter ignored and she returns to the house to engage in sessions with the other women. Another weird unexplored thing is how Jane Doux plays both the scheming Margaret who pricked Sarah Hardy’s finger and William F. Bryant’s girlfriend in the present. There is no explanation ever offered for this – none of the usual reincarnations or ancestors. At the very least, you expect her to have some jealous reaction to Sarah Hardy’s presence, which is sort of suggested in the first scene where we meet Peggy but then only a few scenes later she has settled down and is having a girl-on-girl tryst with Sarah Hardy.

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