Delta of Venus (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes in white:

Are you going to like this movie?

Consider these facts:

1. It is based on some stories and diaries of Anais Nin, who is most famous as one of the rare females who have made major contributions to written erotica. (Here's John Pearson's photograph of the real Anais Nin, just to show you how looks can deceive.) She once engaged in a steamy affair with her father, but it's not what you are thinking. It was initiated by her when she was 31 years old! That gives you some insight into what she was like. Her work is sexually charged, to be sure, but is also literary and ... well ... pretentious.

2. It was directed by Zalman King, whose penis belies the fact that he's essentially the Anais Nin of filmed erotica. He makes the kind of sexy films that appeal greatly to women - swirling colors, sensuous music, elaborate courtships, stolen glances, smoldering looks exchanged across crowded rooms, romantic liaisons in the fog on ancient bridges, etc.

Even if you are still interested in the film after having read to this point, you have much better choices. This isn't the best screen adaptation of Nin's work. That would be Henry and June, directed by the very talented Phil Kaufman. Neither is this the best Zalman King contribution to couples-oriented erotica. That would be 9 1/2 Weeks, which was produced and written by ZK, but was directed by the very talented Adrian Lyne. I recommend that you watch one of those two movies. See Henry and June if you want to focus on the aesthetic aspects of lust, see 9 1/2 Weeks if you want to skip the art and focus on more straightforward erotica that turns women on.

Except for a few good moments of eroticism, Delta of Venus is just plain boring, and the performers are weak.



Tuna's notes in yellow:

Delta of Venus is a Zalman King adaptation of erotica by the same name, penned by Anais Nin, and published posthumously.

Audie Englund plays Elena, an American writer living in Paris on the eve of WWII. In that era, manuscripts weren't selling well in general, and hers were not even very good, so she was struggling to establish her career.

In her typical routine, she writes all night, then goes to the Seine to watch a man (Costas Mandylor) rowing his scull. This has been a daily ritual with her until one night when she attends a party and runs smack dab into her oarsman. She finds that he is also a writer, but is to leave soon for America. She wastes no time at all becoming intimate with him.

After he leaves, she is just as broke as before, so she starts doing some nude figure modeling for rent money, until her publisher makes her an intriguing offer. If she will write erotica for an anonymous client, she will be paid 200 Francs per page. She must, of course, experience eroticism to write about it, which locks in the premise for Zalman King to present whatever sort of sexual cinema he is in the mood for. Elena watches as a hooker is ravished by a huge black man; she attends an opium den where several women, including her, get naked; she sees an exhibitionist have sex with a blindfolded man. From these experiences, she creates fantasies for her mysterious client.

I will leave it to you to guess the identity of her anonymous benefactor, and you will probably be correct.

This new DVD includes the full uncut version, and I have no idea why it was assigned an NC-17 rating. Yes, Audie Englund and Eva Duchkova show everything, Markéta Hrubesová shows breasts, and several unknowns show a variety of body parts, but the film simply is not explicit or shocking enough for an NC-17 rating. Zalman was quoted as saying that this was the sexiest film he ever had the license to make, but IMDB readers were not impressed, the minor critics were not impressed, and neither was I. The US gross was $62.9 K.


Female: See Tuna's commentary to the left.

Male: Buns from Adewale, Costas Mandylor, and an unidentified male model

The Critics Vote

DVD info from Amazon

R-rated and NC-17 rated versions (the difference being only a minute of footage)

The People Vote ...

  • This film was not made to go straight to cable or video, which is good in one sense: it was shot in on 35mm film in a widescreen aspect ratio, so we can view the result. The idea that this film would make money in theaters was not an especially realistic one. It grossed $62 thousand. Tuna says, "Even shooting in Prague, I doubt that it turned a profit from that gross".


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Writing for both reviewers, Tuna says, "This is a very low C- at best. It is passably filmed, unevenly acted, and weakly scripted, but does give us flesh and sexual situations. "

Return to the Movie House home page