It may have been 22 years since we last saw him but Joe Sarno is back doing what he does best, filming adult sex pictures with his trademark artistic vision of erotic flair. From his very first feature in 1961 (Nude in Charcoal, now considered lost) to his latest masterpiece filmed in 2004, Joe Sarno has been at the very top of both the softcore porn genre and the hardcore porn genre. With his last feature being the hardcore porn film Little Oral Annie takes Manhattan in 1984, Joe Sarno hasn't lost any of his unique ability in filming emotive sex scenes that skilfully expresses the sexual desires of the female sex, whereas other hardcore and softcore film directors fail miserably in attempting to do the same, ending up with a film that is barely noteworthy with the exception of the "money-shot" alienating female viewers. Joe Sarno's films are immersed with strong women indulging in rivers of raw passion and sinful desires, and Sarno himself isn't afraid to confront what many people would regard as taboo or debauched.

Sarno's last softcore masterpiece was Misty (1976), a virtual remake of one of his previous films, The Young Erotic Fanny Hill (1970). While most other softcore or exploitation film directors return with only shady echoes of their former selves, Joe Sarno returns as the sex film prodigy he was well renowned for by still possessing the abilities of filming contemporary softcore erotic masterpieces and writing delicious scripts for the sex scenes to occur. His unique capacity of infiltrating the psyche of human sexuality smears his pictures with an emotional involvement not found in many other sex films - a capacity shared only with Radley Metzger. Just about every Joe Sarno picture elicits a hefty portion of sweltering melodrama and heated goings-on behind closed doors - Suburban Secrets being no exception. Suburban Secrets, his latest tour de force, emphasises his exceptional talent in shooting sexual behaviour and raw emotions with passionate purpose. Joe Sarno may be a man of 85 years old (as of 2006), but his carnal imagination shows no sign of impotence. This is a man still at the top of his game, and if Suburban Secrets is anything to go by he'll remain at the top for a good while yet.


The story of Suburban Secrets and its eventual conclusion revolves around the main character, Laura (Isadora Edison); a voluptuous, redheaded siren living life and working in New York City as a successful pin-up model. One day, not long after a photo shoot, Laura receives a phone call from her sister, Winnifred, who proceeds to drop her some appalling news. Laura is broken-hearted to discover that her ex-lover, Nelson, is having a sordid affair with her aunt Cynthia (real-life porn performer Tina Tyler). Laura is then left in saddening disarray as she begins to contemplate on what she shall do. Eventually she begins to treat this disheartening situation as the perfect incentive for her to return to the suburban streets where she grew up and whisk up all kinds of sinful dilemmas by being a wandering nuisance.

Before long there is a quadrangle of desirous and incestuous lust between Laura, Nelson, her aunt Cynthia, and Nelson's sister, Judith. Judith is a mature, high-powered lawyer who refuses to allow Nelson to have a sexual relationship with any woman other than herself. Nelson does all he can in evading the seductive prowess of his sister, but when Laura makes an appearance before the growing magma of sexual debauchery, Nelson simply cannot reduce himself to Cynthia alone. With his incestuous love for his sister, and unbridled lust for both Laura and her aunt, Nelson tumbles into an unfathomable sex scandal that threatens to detail the sordid goings-on behind the closed doors of a typically moral American town. But this risk of social disgrace seems to invigorate Louise (A.J. Khan), a sultry black novelist with an inquisitive mentally, in wanting to divulge the passionate depravities secreted within suburbia in her first novel that promises to ignite shock and astonishment in what regularly happens behind closed doors. Louise, the ostensibly trusted friend of Winnifred, secretes her devious intentions behind a resilient poker face of innocuous features.

Suburban Secrets is an entire catalogue of perversion, lust, betrayal, incest, hot-blooded sex, and scandal; and that's only the "Hot TV version." The Director's Cut, on the other hand, is an elongated catalogue of the themes I have mentioned with little or no respite. Disc 1 features the Director's Cut (152 minutes) and disc 2 features the Hot TV Cut (83 minutes). Even though the longer Director's Cut contains extended scenes of more explicit depictions of sexuality, the film itself never transcends into hardcore territory, although there are some sweaty and authentic-looking pelvic thrusting towards the end of the film. It is the softcore aspect of these sex scenes, however, that lend emotional involvement to what is proceeding between sometimes two or three people. The softcore facet of these thirst-quenching scenes of raw sex go a long way in per forcing your imagination into becoming somewhat involved with the sex acts by conjuring explicit penetration and oral contact inside your own head. Suburban Secrets is no hardcore adult film, but it does provide an abundance of sexual stimulation for a respectable two and a half hours.

Isadora Edison, who plays Laura, is a superb actress who has so far only participated in handful of films. Although her voluptuous and curvaceous figure is a sight to behold, the award for the most sultry and fiery sex siren in Suburban Secrets must go to real-life porn performer Tina Tyler. Her experience in the adult film industry is evidently exposed for all to see, and her mature stature provides a different level of erotica that cannot found in any other Seduction Cinema release. I have always found it rather refreshing to witness an older woman expressing her sexuality and carnal desires in a sex film because the younger female prototype in the majority of contemporary sex films has become an all too common occurrence. The script for Suburban Secrets was actually tailored to feature the regular Seduction Cinema vixens Misty Mundae and Julian Wells. But after both Mundae and Wells dropped out of the project, executive producer Michael Raso was left with a dilemma and asked Isadora Edison to participate instead. Joe Sarno then handpicked Tina Tyler for the stifling role of aunt Cynthia, and these two inclusions seems to have benefited the film more than would have the regular appearances of Mundae and Wells.

There's little to complain about regarding the picture quality of both the Director's Cut and Hot TV Cut. Seduction Cinema presents each version of the film in widescreen 1.78:1 anamorphic (enhanced for 16x9 televisions) and both are bright and crisp throughout. The pictorial texture brings out all the orgasmic expressions of the characters with exuberant defining colour.

The English language Dolby Digital Stereo track contains crystal-clear dialogue and is free of any hiss and distortion with much emphasise on the female orgasm.


Seduction Cinema has provided us with some tremendous extras that bestow an in-depth history of Joe Sarno's career and the making of Suburban Secrets. First up on disc 1 we have a mini-documentary called "Inside Suburban Secrets". This feature runs for an approx 11 minutes and delves into the making of the film and all the logistics behind it. Michael Raso, the producer of Suburban Secrets, describes how he met and developed a friendship with Joe Sarno and how Seduction Cinema was highly influenced by his films. Joe Sarno himself provides an interview and he comes across as a very knowledgeable man with a calming personality.

The second disc not only contains the shorter version of Suburban Secrets but also a mini-documentary called "The Lake Placid Film Fest." The Lake Placid Film Fest provides a revealing interview with film historian Michael Bowen, who proceeds to delve into both the history of Joe Sarno and his inimitable sex films. This really is an impressive inclusion given that a whole variety of film critics and historians discuss how and where exploitation/sexploitation cinema fits into the whole spectrum of cinema itself. Accompanying the divulging interviews is substantial footage of naked flesh from the filmic vaults of Joe Sarno. The Lake Placid Film Fest runs for an approx 12 minutes.

The second disc also contains 13 minutes worth of behind-the-scenes footage, which include revealing interviews with the actors and actresses, especially Isadora Edison in which she talks about her character's motivations and personal experience working with Joe Sarno. Tina Tyler also provides an interview and expresses her admiration for Joe Sarno and his work in shooting films with strong female characters expressing their sexual desires. Indeed, Suburban Secrets could be regarded as an ode to the female orgasm, and when the women cum in this film they cum LOUD!!!

Rounding off the extras we have 13 trailers for other Seduction Cinema and Retro-Seduction releases and a nice booklet containing liner notes written by Ed Grant, a film historian who gives some background information about the film and delves into a number of reasons why Joe Sarno is substantially different from other directors of the same genre.

Joe Sarno is man of impeccable taste and a man who has proven once again that you don't necessarily have to film actual penetration to visually supply sexual stimulation. Suburban Secrets, being no exception, is a film about genuine people and how they handle their emotions in sexual calamity. Joe Sarno is the master of producing features expressing not only the sexual desires of the female sex but also the psychology behind those sexual desires. Suburban Secrets is very much a dialogue-driven picture that is exceptionally captivating and credibly delivered by a uniformly excellent cast. It is also an enchanting picture given the accumulation of sexual tension and the fear of what might transpire if any of the forbidding sexual affairs were exhumed for the public to chew on. However, it is this unique ability of filming perversion-deserving-social-condemnation as an erotic indulgence that has perhaps erected Joe Sarno the position of America's greatest sex film director. After having directed some of the most succulent sex cinema ever to grace the cinematic screen, Joe Sarno is a legend in his own right. You won't find many directors possessing this rare ability of putting a tingle in your wingle, and if Suburban Secrets is anything to go by let's hope for more delicious tingles in the future. 10/10!!

Reviewed by Pryce

Released by Seduction Cinema
Region All - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review