Saturday, July 26, 2008

Movie Review: Upstairs Downstairs

(Picture courtesy of Calstar Spanking, where you can download the movie)

Calstar (released in 2001)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Parallel punishments on two floors of wealthy London household

Victim Appeal:
Many Calstar DVD's feature two separate movies, and basically, so does this one. In the case of "Upstairs Downstairs", though, the segments are supposedly taking place at the same location, the Bellamy residence. So we get one story, at least in name. One half is about a maid who is spanked by the butler for stealing money from the sideboard. The other half involves the daughter of Mrs. Bellamy. After her mother's sudden death, her aunt is taking control of the household. When young Miss Bellamy is late for the funeral and shows up in inappropriate attire, the new lady of the manor teaches her a lesson she won't soon forget.

The French maid is played by a blonde girl with a very convincing accent, so she might actually be the real thing, une fille francaise. While her pronunciation is cute, her acting sucks and there is little chemistry with the butler. His acting sucks, too, so that whole scenario is pretty forgettable. The other one, starring Miss Bellamy and her strict aunt, is much better. The victim is a long-legged spunky English lass. She and the domme play nicely off each other. Not award-winning material, but they start things off with a lively furious argument and are infinitely more watchable than the other two performers.

Gratuitous Sadism:
After two brief opening scenes with the usual "This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated here!" lectures from the butler and the aunt, respectively, the rest of the 52-minute video is all action. Actually, before he begins to spank her, the butler searches the maid. Just to make sure that she didn't steal anything else, you see. I wonder why he keeps fondling her breasts for ages. Does he suspect a hidden compartment in there? Anyway, a pervy touch from the old geezer, enjoyable if you are into that sort of thing, but I found it dull.

Both girls get the formulaic Calstar treatment: progression of OTK hand spanking on the panties, hand spanking on the bare, two different leather paddles, and finally a caning. The action cuts back and forth between what is happening "upstairs" and "downstairs". As usual, the victims are gradually stripped, losing one item of clothing after another as things move along. Interestingly, young Miss Bellamy is allowed to keep her slutty leather boots on. Huh? I thought the punishment was about indecent clothing? That said, she looks quite sexy, being caned in those boots, so I won't complain too much.

The severity is moderate for the most part, the hand spankings and paddlings are long rather than outrageously hard. The maid receives 9 strokes with a junior cane, which cause vocal reactions and some light marks, but nothing serious. The Bellamy girl gets a pretty good thrashing to top things off. Ten strokes (repeated from several camera angles) with a thick senior cane, fairly vicious, leave her with vivid dark welts. It speaks volumes for the incompetence of the editors that they chose to end the movie with the maid's caning, rather than this much more satisfying one.

Best Reactions:
The model playing Miss Bellamy, because she is the more determined of the two. She tries harder to restrain her reactions, which makes each buckling of the knees and each little gasp she is forced to let out all the more fun.

There is a delightful out of character moment after cane stroke number six, when she looks at the camera, shakes her head, waves her hand and lets out a garbled protest sound that was probably intended as a word and ends up as a groan. What she means is, cut, wait a minute, this is way too hard! But she then soldiers on, because four more strokes follow, and they aren't getting any lighter.

Best Line:
There really isn't any memorable dialogue here. Not even an absurd, unintentionally funny bit I can recall. But I liked it when the Bellamy girl said, after the final caning: "Can I go now please, auntie?" Her tone of voice, a mixture of pleading, anticipation of relief, contrition and tenderness, just made that line stand out somehow. Especially the way she says "auntie".

Nice Psychological Touch:
The story with the butler and the maid, which is otherwise utterly unremarkable, had an element of blackmail. Not only did he catch her stealing money, he also knows that she entered the country with a forged passport. "And so, you're in a funny situation, aren't you? You either please me or the police get involved, and you are getting lots of trouble." Hardly novel, but kind of cool.

Plus, it leads to one seriously weird and gratuitous scene. In the middle of their punishment session, right between the OTK spanking and the leather paddle, the butler orders his victim to do some physical exercise. The girl is already stark naked by that point, save the shoes and socks. He makes her jump up and down, touch her toes, jog around a bit... For no reason whatsover, mind you, he's just toying with her. The bemused look on the maid's face is priceless. It's all rather silly, but certainly out of left field, that scene.

How Good Is It Really?
Standard Calstar fare: amateurish in technical terms, but it has this "homemade" feel I like to watch every once in a while. Nothing fancy, just a paddling and caning shot in someone's living room. Which is interesting if the performers are interesting. In "Upstairs Downstairs", we get two movies, one boring, the other one with decent chemistry and a solid caning.

What You Learned:
The parallel stories concept has potential. Of course, it is just a gimmick here. If it weren't for the text on the back of the DVD cover, you wouldn't even know that all this is supposed to take place at the same house.

But it got me thinking, what about a spanking film along the lines of Robert Altman's Short Cuts? Where the stories are actually interwoven, where the characters meet and interact at certain points, tying together the otherwise separate plot strands. It's a fun idea, and probably the main reason why I reviewed this average CP video in the first place. Someone has to write a script. Any takers? Ah well, I'll just write it myself then...

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