When I saw the great artwork on the front of this box and saw that Naked Illusions was directed by Randy Spears, written by Cash Markman, and starred Carmen Hart, Katie Morgan, and Eric Masterson, I was sure this was going to be a great movie. Well, I was half right!
Brad Armstrong plays a magician who has written a bestseller exposing the secrets of magic. He is performing at a club with his assistants Devon Michaels and Carmen Hart. Eric Masterson is his agent and is having an affair with Brad's wife, Katie Morgan. While Brad is performing his act on stage, Katie and Eric have sex backstage and I have to say that this was the most uninspired sex scene I have ever seen Katie perform. During part of his disappearing act on stage, Brad sneaks backstage and kills Katie while Eric is in the shower. Although, I'm somewhat a fan of Katie's, I wasn't disappointed to find she wouldn't be in the rest of the movie, since not only her sex scene was bad but her acting was also leaving something to be desired. Brad thinks he has an ironclad alibi and he plans to pin the murder on Eric.
Devon Michaels, Brad's number one assistant, has been having an affair with Brad and once the duo arrive back at Brad's, they of course celebrate by having sex. Brad next goes to see Eric's wife, August Night, and hypnotizes her by having her look in a glass of wine. If that sounds stupid, then watch the movie, because it is STUPID. While he has her under his spell he convinces her that her husband, Eric, really did kill Katie. Brad decides to have sex with August and has her imagine someone from her past that she has always been hot for. We then get a sex scene between August and Seth Dickens.
Up to this point in Naked Illusions I was pretty disappointed in the movie. The plot was just so-so and Brad Armstrong, never the best actor in XXX to begin with, was really weak in his role. I think Brad was trying to appear super egotistical, which would have fit with his character; instead he came off as just overacting. Whatever the problem, he was really pulling the movie down. I kept thinking, why didn't Randy cast himself in this role, he would have been perfect for it.
I was determined to continue watching what I was starting to consider a really poor choice in my rental selection, when the movie turned itself around. What caused this sudden switch, I can only think it was the result of one person - Carmen Hart.
Brad sends his assistant Carmen off with Van Damage as some extra compensation for Van Damage signing Brad to a Vegas contract. Van Damage remarks that he doesn't know how this happened and thinks Brad may have hypnotized him. Since Carmen tells Van Damage that Brad always gets what he wants, we have to assume he's been hypnotizing lots of people. This probably also includes us viewers, since the magic tricks Brad performs are juvenile level tricks that really aren't very convincing for the great magician he's supposed to be. Carmen brings some heat to her sex scene, which is good, since all the previous ones in Naked Illusions had just been your standard "by the numbers" scenes.
Carmen's up again in the next scene as she confronts Brad and tells him that she knows how he killed his wife. We then see a flashback explaining how he did it. She promises not to turn him in IF she can go back to being his number one assistant, get a raise, and they can be "bad" together. HEY! It looks like she's pretty easy to please! So Brad goes along with her. This results in another sex scene which is almost, but not quite as good as Carmen's other scene.
Brad decides to double cross Carmen and he's going to kill her onstage during a "sword through the box trick", but the detective who has been on the case from the start and has always doubted Brad, catches on in the nick of time and arrests him. In a funny moment (probably the only "intentionally" humorous moment in the film), Carmen is inside the box yelling "I'll tell everything" and "let me out". No one lets her out and the last we see of her are her eyes peeking out a slit in the box and she's still yelling over and over for somebody to please get her out.
Brad is in jail, but the very end of the movie leaves some doubt in the viewers mind that he may escape the clutches of the law, OR they were setting up for a sequel, which thank goodness never occurred.
Carmen Hart brought a "double whammy" of being a good actress in her role and a good performer in her sex scenes, both together really helped save this movie from turning into a real clunker. I have yet to see any movie where she has not been excellent in both her acting and performing, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that that trend continues.
Naked Illusions was touted as being Randy Spears first direction job for Wicked and was made a year before his excellent Off The Air. I will give Randy credit for having huge chunks of plot between the sex scenes, a nice touch. Plus, the sex scenes while long, for the most part, weren't mind numbingly long, another nice touch. In my opinion, this was the worst scripted Cash Markman movie I've ever seen. The main reason for this, I believe, is that Cash is better at writing comedy than he is at writing drama. As they say in The Big Lebowski (the real one, not that travesty of a porn parody) - " You're Out of Your Element, Donnie (Cash)"
Rating: first half: D ..... Second half: B ..... Average: C
Naked Illusions starring Van Damage, Devon Michaels, Carmen Hart, Katie Morgan, Seth Dickens, August Night, Eric Masterson, Brad Armstrong and directed by Randy Spears