Saturday, February 1, 2014

Exit to Eden

Based on a book by Anne Rice 

Directed by: Garry Marshall 

Starring: Dana Delany,
Paul Mercurio,
Rosie O'Donnell,
Dan Aykroyd,
Hector Elizondo,
Stuart Wilson 

Released: 1995

Running time: 113 minutes


In 1985, Anne Rice took a break from writing her Vampire Chronicles series to pen “Exit To Eden” under the pen name Anne Rampling. The novel explores the subject of BDSM in romance novel form. 
The novel features two main characters, Mistress Lisa Kelly and Elliot Slater. Kelly manages an isolated BDSM resort called Eden that offers its high-end clients an exclusive setting in which they can experience the life of a Master or Mistress. Prospective sex slaves are presented at slave auctions by the most respected Trainers from across the world. Slater is a new slave at Eden and Kelly is the Head Female Trainer, and partial founder. Kelly gets first pick of the new slaves, and chooses Slater. Their chemistry is undeniable from the start and intensifies throughout their time together.  
The best scene in the novel, in my opinion, is when Mistress Lisa trains Slater by taking him to her bedroom and teaching him to bathe her, brush her hair and to be her personal slave. She binds Slater, blindfolds him and administers a whipping to him. Then she takes him with a strap-on prior to him orally servicing her. As the story unfolds, they fall in love with each other and must come to terms with the power dynamics of how Mistress and slave can become mutual lovers.  
In 1994, following the success of Anne Rice’s “Interview of the Vampire”, Hollywood decided to bring “Exit to Eden” to the big screen. However, most of the major studios were worried about the sadomasochism content (even though the material was more sensual and erotic than hardcore). Savory Pictures took on the project and hired Deborah Amelon to write the screenplay and Garry Marshall to direct it. They decided to lighten up the material by making “Exit to Eden” into a comedy. 
Marshall authored a new comedic detective story line by creating several new characters, including Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O'Donnell as police officers pursuing diamond thieves to the Eden resort (It was released in Europe with the title “Under Cover Cops”).
The result was a mix bag, mostly negative. The film was savaged by critics and even with the comedy element, the movie was banned in some places, like parts of Canada, due to the film’s sadomasochism themes.  
My take on the film is that while it is not a good movie, and in fact there are parts that are just plain horrible, there is enough in this film that it could be a vehicle for a man to introduce the concept of Femdom to his wife or girlfriend. A movie like this can open the door for a couple to have an honest discussion about their sexual fantasies, and that is always a good thing. 
The Dan Aykroyd character is a prude, a man who does not like sex and claims he hasn’t liked sex since he was a teenager. He finds sex to be embarrassing and dirty. The Rosie O’Donnell character is constantly teasing him and pushing his buttons by describing her female cycles in graphic detail, which causes him to recoil in disgust. 
O’Donnell is single, a little overweight (she looks good in this movie) and she obviously lacks romance in her life. Both Aykroyd and O’Donnell are married to their jobs as detectives. Their pursuit of evidence in a diamond smuggling ring takes them to Eden where Aykroyd works undercover as a maintenance man and O’Donnell pretends to be a wealthy guest who is seeking to dominate the male slaves at the resort.  
The other plot line in the movie tries to follow Rice’s novel. It is all about a submissive male named Elliot Slater who goes to Eden at the advice of his Psychologist so he can better understand his sexuality. The movie opens with a scene showing Slater as a little boy who knocks over a bowl in the kitchen and is spanked by his attractive housekeeper. From his facial expression, it is obvious that the boy likes it and perhaps he knocked the bowl over on purpose just so he could be punished by the housekeeper. The movie jumps ahead twenty years where Slater is a successful photographer who still has the desire to be spanked and dominated by women. 
There is a scene in an airport where Slater bumps into the diamond thieves, one of them played by the attractive model, Iman, and he takes their picture thus possessing valuable evidence and providing the gateway for Marshall to interweave his new plot line with Rice’s material. Aykroyd and O’Donnell will have to go to Eden to find Slater and take possession of his film before the diamond thieves can get to him first. 
Slater goes to the island aboard a ship dedicated to the slaves of Eden. These are people who pay money to be treated as slaves for anywhere from a month to a year. Eden is a tropical island off the coast of Mexico, privately owned by Slater’s Psychologist. Eden was his vision to provide a place where people can explore their sexual fantasies in a safe and sane environment. Eden is a much watered down version of the now defunct Other World Kingdom, kind of a merger of the OWK and Kink on the Caribbean.
There are slave games, slave auctions, slave competitions where the guards are beautiful women on horseback with very soft looking floggers. The whips look as if they would be more practical to dust your living room than inflict discipline on a slave. Any paying Mistress or Master can request any slave to play with. O’Donnell and Iman are constantly requesting Slater, O’Donnell so she can question him about his film and Iman so she can kill him. Iman wears a very sexy red and black PVC outfit, complete with mask. O’Donnell wears a one-piece leather outfit with sexy stockings and garters.  
The problem for them is that Slater has become the personal slave of Mistress Lisa, the Head Mistress of Eden. When Slater interacts with Mistress Lisa, the script follows Rice’s novel. Unfortunately that only takes place in a couple of scenes. They do try to recreate the bedroom scene where Lisa trains Slater to bathe her, brush her hair, and she binds him and spanks him. Dana Delany is good in this scene as she tries to get Slater to admit that he likes to be spanked. He refuses but she finally breaks him down. This is Femdom-light, a sensual, soft spanking instead of the more intense session that occurred in Rice’s novel.
Many critics complained that Delany was horribly cast as Mistress Lisa. One reviewer said that they should have cast Iman as Mistress Lisa because she has that dominant, aggressive aura about her. To me, it didn’t really matter who played Mistress Lisa. The material is what hurt this film, not the acting. Had they done Rice’s book instead of trying to make it into a comedy, I believe Delany would have risen to the role.
O’Donnell is funny in this movie. She has some wonderful lines that made me smile but the problem is that I didn’t want to laugh at this movie. I wanted to see Rice’s novel on the screen. I wanted to feel the sexual tension between Mistress Lisa and the handsome Slater. Every time they began to establish some chemistry, the mood was broken by the comedy.  
The movie is predictable, the cops capture the bad guys, Mistress Lisa runs off with Slater and everyone lives happily after. I did like how the Aykroyd character was changed by witnessing the sexual activities on the island. He goes home and reconciles with his ex-wife, he is once again interested in sex, now armed with some new ideas to spice up the bedroom. And the O’Donnell character admits that she is horny as she walks around the island. She is constantly defending the D&S practices they are witnessing by telling Aykroyd that these people are simply being true to themselves. In the end, O’Donnell falls for the handsome slave who is her personal servant on the island. She sees him boarding the plane to return home and she finds out he is a successful CEO who comes to Eden to express his submissive sexuality. They exchange phone numbers. 
“Exit to Eden” is not a good movie and I wouldn’t recommend watching it alone for entertainment value or even femdom value. However, it has just enough of Rice’s original vision that if you watch it with your partner, it could serve as a way to open the door for a conversation about D&S and Female Domination. You want to experience femdom with your partner? Offer to give her a bubble bath after you watch this film. It's worth a try.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars


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