By John Delia
Jan 30, 2013 10:54 AM EST

Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season DVD Review

While not all of the episodes are major motion picture class, Femme Fatales as a whole is enjoyable.
Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season DVD Review
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When you first start watching the just released DVD of Femme Fatales Season 1 the first thing probably crossing your mind would be "just another skin flick".  But, after getting into the stories I found more like a Twilight Zone with stylish nudity and sex.  Packed with some very intriguing stories in 13 twisty and twisted episodes are an adult treat. Well directed, acted and filmed, it's a chance to see what walks on the wild side.
The complete season created by Mark A. Altman (Producer: D.O.A: Dead or Alive) and Steven Kriozere (Producer: Necessary Roughness, Castle, NCIS) has introductions by the lovely Tanit Phoenix (Death Race 2&3) who gives her best deadpan face much like Rod Serling of television's Twilight Zone. The weekly series that aired on Cinemax's After Dark has a lot of punch when it comes to presentation and storyline.  The female actors are all cookie cutter gorgeous and the males are mostly girl magnets. 
Each of the thirteen episodes has a creative story that ties in with the program's meaning of Femme Fatales: "An irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into difficult, dangerous, or disastrous situations; Siren". The scripts get played out in mansions, hospitals, a prison, hotel rooms, a sorority house and other fine places to get a guy in precarious positions and end up dead. The weekly shows each have a snippet beginning and an introduction by Tanit Phoenix leading to surprising finales.
The scripts are not connected and all have an ending and finale. After one episode I was hooked on the series completing all three discs the first three days following my receiving them.  Totally engrossed in each of the storylines, I realized how professional they are made for those that watch the out of the ordinary like Twilight Zone, Grindhouse, Planet Terror, From Dusk Till Dawn and other off-beat films culled from a writer with a wicked imagination.   
While I do like the whole series as it's like a good box of assorted chocolates with each piece a unique way of presenting the enjoyment, here are the descriptions of a few standouts:
Behind Locked Doors Part 1 and 2
In this combo episode the central character reminded me of a cross between Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton.  The movie centers on TV star Lacy Rivers who gets sentenced to a year in jail for running down four pedestrians with her car.  Getting escorted to her cell on her first day, hardened cons watch her cross the break area and then start pounding on their tables as an unwelcome introduction to hell.  After being accosted by the head guard she's thrown into a cell where her cellmate Camille avoids her.  Her first shower gets Lacy an introduction to the prison bad girl Big Aggie and from there it's all a wicked nightmare of trying to act her way out of some very precarious situations.  I like director Paul Mazursky (Down and Out in Beverly Hills) in the role of the warden and actors Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) and Richard Kind (Argo) who give opinions in the TV report of Lacy's auto antics.
Something Like Murder
This little ditty starts out in the bedroom of a beautiful mansion with Charles and his wife Darla being awakened by a noise in the front yard of their estate.  Charles goes down to check it out and finds a gorgeous woman digging a grave.  When he gets hit from behind, a sordid tale of love and lust begins with a twist ending.  It's a film noir piece much like some of the Hitchcock films with good misdirection that makes for some nice intrigue.
Till Death Do Us Part
A young woman named Rachel wakes up following her bachelorette party to find a male stripper dead in a bed next to her.  Panicking she searches for her bridesmaids Kim, Sharon and Daphane who had set up the party.  They are completely puzzled and want to call the police, but Kim, who's the bridegroom's sister, wants to talk it over with her first.  When she comes up with a telephone video of Rachel having sex with the guy the girls start coming up with some wild ideas.  So starts a ‘who done it' with accusations flying all around.  When groom Cam gets word of the problem he rushes over to the house and brings up a fly in the ointment.  I liked this one because it keeps you busy wondering about who killed the stripper and yet when you have a good idea, the story takes another turn.
Girls Gone Dead
An internet producer Jay and his cameraman Kip film Crazy Chixx a sort of Girls Gone Wild show.  On this occasion they pay a sorority in need of money $10,000 for a nude fest on film. After getting a lot of shots of some very lascivious scenes, the guys find that the girls are more amorous than they expected. When they introduce Jay to their basement paradise, the twist gets unveiled. If I had to choose the best of all the episodes, this would be the one.  It totally had me fooled right up to its unpredictable ending.
The other eight episodes have the following titles:
"The White Flower" about bank robbers who order some hookers to celebrate their heist.
"Speed Date" a game designer tries online dating and ends up getting a female assassin.
"Bad Medicine" a nurse ends up as a hostage in her hospital.
"Help Me, Rhonda" in an isolated mountain cottage Camille Gardner gets a visit from a mobster looking for her husband.
"The Clinic" a man goes to Mexico for some experimental treatment to save his life.
"Haunted" a group called the Fright Finders end up in a haunted house with the ultimate Femme Fatale.
"Angel & Demons" a serial killer known as the Grim Reaper becomes the case for two police detectives.
"Visions 1 & 2" blackmail and a con job cross paths in this two part tale surrounding a phony mentalist.
BONUS FEATURES: (Please do not watch the special features until you have seen all the episodes as there are a LOT of spoilers.)
Audio Commentary Tracks for every episode with the stars and creators. Turn this feature on and replay each episode for some very cool facts.
"Never-Before-Seen Deleted and Alternate Scenes" In my humble opinion there are some scenes that should have been kept in the film including the extended scene with the masseuse in ‘Something Like Murder' and one I am happy they left out of ‘Visions'.
"Creating Femme Fatales"- this making of shows how Mark A. Altman purchased the rights to the Femme Fatales magazine and then brought the idea of a show to Cinemax and more.
"Shooting Femme Fatales: The Making of Season One"- This is one of the better behind the scenes features I have seen on Home Video.  It covers all the bases and gets into the basics of filmmaking. It includes nearly the whole cast and crew with their take on their roles in making the movie.
"Making Love: Anatomy of a Sex Scene"- This special bonus is just that, very special.  It goes into how the actors felt in making the sex and nude scenes.  Some of the comments included awkward, it's acting with a little less clothes, uncomfortable at first, I was so focused on the character I forgot I was nude, and many more interesting observations. Almost every actor was asked to be nude and snippets of their nude scenes are shown while they chat about it.
"San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Panel"- This is where Mark Altman promoted the first season and talked about his upcoming season 2. It includes a panel Q&A.
"The White Flower B&W Director's Cut"- It's a longer version of the first episode on the disc that looks more film noir in Black and White.
"Blooper Reel"- a fun reel with some wild mistakes, but nothing really earth shaking.
"Isolated Music Tracks"- this is kind of weird where you are treated to a morbid background musical track from one of the episodes.  It made me very uneasy and anxious.
Photo Gallery & More...This is like a slide show with professional shots taken from every episode.
The video quality of the DVD is very good considering all the dark shots and inside filming for the series.  I found some grain and minor focus problems but nothing to distract.  The show has some very creative lighting and the 16:9 1.78:1 aspect ratio fills my whole TV screen.  It's not High Definition but it still shows bright and crisp on my HD Television played through my Blu-ray player.
The sound quality using the Dolby 5.1 through my home entertainment speaker system using gives clear audio of the dialog.  Except in a few cases where I did rewind because I missed some of the action due to special effects noise, there was no distraction, crackling or distortion throughout. 
The series has not been rated by the TV or MPAA services but contains nudity, sex, language, violence and drug use. While the series certainly isn't a fashion show or ‘pornfest', it does have a high degree of nudity and sex and should only be viewed by mature adults. 
FINAL ANALYSIS: While not all of the episodes are major motion picture class, the complete season as a whole is enjoyable to watch. (B)

Watch Femme Fatales Comic Con Interview Montage.
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About John Delia

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John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business over his lifetime from writing for newspapers to film making. He has been a film critic for many years and earned his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Florida. John is also a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) which is comprised of more than 40 journalists working in the print, radio and online media. Read more reviews and content by .

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