Movies Galore takes a look at Director Mike Tristano’s “The Flesh Merchant” from 1993″

Written by David Strege

The Flesh Merchant

Brought To Us by Merchant Productions along with David Sterling Productions is a feature that came out in 1993 in and around the same time that David Sterling produced is  anthology called Things from the same year With a director by the name of Mike Tristano. Now I’m pretty sure that it’s quite possible that this film ended up on Vista Street Entertainment but I’m not entirely sure about that, that being said it also eventually ended up under the label Sub Rosa Cinema which I am not entirely sure that Ron Bonk was running Sub Rosa Cinema at this point in time but that is his label now.   privately David Sterling began to farm out many of the shot on video films that he produced in several different packs and many of his films ended up on Pendulum Pictures 50 packs but enough of Sterling I shall try to describe the movie the best that I can. Evidently Joe Haggerty had a hand in producing behind this phone as well.


So the film begins with a couple of ladies waking up in a campsite and they decide to go take a dip in the river nearby. While the women were skinny dipping topless a couple of guys we’re being peeping Toms and when the ladies got back to their campsite they realize that their stuff has been gone through that’s when one of the men and stepped out and said he was there to claim his merchandise…  after being told that they were the merchandise the other man grabbed the other lady while the one with the mouth escaped and ran through the woods what was chased down and brought back tied and gagged as they were carried off to a white van.


Fast forward to a restaurant looking like dive call Bourbon Square it looks like it could be a jazz speakeasy the sleazy kind a young woman Darleen Paxton (Romero) is talking to her sister Jennifer who happens to be a waitress but place while they’re African-American cop friend Mac Williamson (Tucker) goes outside the two talk about how jennifer had been talking to a producer who wanted to make her a star and her sister was working her about believing too much of what people were offering.  While the cop was outside he noticed a white van pulling up and speaking into what looks like the owner of the joint.


It is about this point that the two guys who had kidnapped the two females in the beginning had drag their merchandise into a holding room in the parking garage of one Mr. Jack Valentino who seems to be running this sex trade operation Until we realize that he answers to someone else by the name of Delombre (Stroud) where he is on a tight schedule to come up with 16 women for a buyer called the Sheik on the market.

The two Goons who had kidnapped the women in the beginning have already scoped out two more women being Jennifer and her roommate.


Coming back from playing in the anthology Things Neil Delama certainly does play the sleaze well as a man who runs a white slave trade operation as Valentino. You know I am also digging Joe Estevez ‘s character as Captain Jameson As the two detectives Darleen and Mac uncover that her sister and her sister’s roommate were kidnapped by two men with a laundry cart,  and when the bodies of the two young girls who had been violently killed which there was a little bit of a violent scene when you saw the two of them get killed, but according to the doctor who is on the scene the two incidents are connected so each time they go back to their captain and because it’s police procedure when anyone who has anything to do personally with a crime you put someone else on the detail it seems that they are Getting the cold shoulder about getting Justice for her sister. Meanwhile inside the room where Jennifer and Karen her roommate were being held they are branded,  fed and kept listening to Valentino’s voice over and over to obey after having witnessed the previous females getting killed and put on display they are shuffled off to be taught how to pleasure others and themselves by a Miss Kitty Genoveve (Bauer) who walks them down the hallway of rooms that are within the hotel in which there are females and embracing and making love to each other, in another room holds a female being whipped on her stomach being taught and trained to be the perfect love slave.


Having found out that the Bourbon Square is the place where all of these pick up and disappearances have happened Jennifer’s sister Darleen  and detective Mac Williamson Steak-Out the place and fairly soon the slick portly looking man that Karen felt was creepy came along and picked up Darleen.  now Detective Williamson could not help Darleen being taken inside the same White van that he had seen once before but thankfully Darleen attached a tracking device to the van.  Will Detective Williamson be able to get there in time to save his partner. Will Darlene be able to save her sister from being sold even further into the slave market?


I could tell that this film was fairly independent but that being said I don’t think that this was a bad film at all to watch. the acting was fairly decent and there was definitely an erotic  sexploitation aspect to the film. It really didn’t drag like some of these shot on video films 10 to do from time to time. I think it helped to have some seasoned actors involved in being the captors.   now I don’t know whether this film played at any drive-in atmosphere but for being in the 90s I think this was a decent send up to the 70s since there were a lot of films that were similar and from what I understand there are still situations exactly like this that are still going on in the world today.  Human trafficking is a real thing so I think if you wanted a good film to look into to check out that shows a kind of brutality but all you really need is some key players to stronghold a situation like this. I thought that this was a solid film with solid acting. if this film sounds like something that you would definitely watch then I suggest that you seek the film out and watch it for yourself.   I was entertained and I’m glad that some of these shot on video films from the 90s that look like they could have been from the 70s are starting to see the light of day on formats such as Blu-ray + or dvd.


Starring Neil Delama as Jack Valentino, Joe Estevez as Captain Jameson, Don Stroud as
Delambre, James Tucker as Mac Williamson (as Adam Tucker), Margo Romero as Darleen Paxton (as Margaret Romero), C. Courtney Joyner as Chick, Owen Rutledge as Slim (as Trey Garris), Michelle Bauer as Kitty Genovese, Elizabeth Chambers as Jennifer Paxton, Twila Wolfe as Karen, Sean Morrow as
Wayne (as Sean Terrance Morrow), Cathleen Hoadley as Shari, Gigi Doray as
Shannon, Joseph Haggerty as Dr. Gregson, Mark Williams as Pimp, Jay Woelfel as Carl the Bartender, Nance Little as Cheryl, Leslie Ann Tristano as Valentino’s Secretary, Maura Collins as Julie, Carol Zarlengo as Veronica, Rene Creamer as
Sandra, Mickey Harrison as Old Lady, Anthony Picciotto as Patron, Adam Rifkin as Man In Bondage Room, Nina Pedregon as Girl In Bondage Room, Rick Masters as
Porn Director, Pady Basch as Girl In Porn Room, Dave Parker as Cameraman (as David Parker), Eric Struble as Crime Scene Photographer, Myles O’Reilly as Delambre’s Driver, Craig Muckler as Cop #1, Johnnie J. Young as Cop #2 (as Johnnie Young), Todd Fellows as Forensics Cop, Linda Roberts.

One Comment

  1. Hi, David. This is Light And Shadow Cinematic Musings. I just wanted to say I enjoyed your write up onthis film. Flesh Merchants is a good one. As you know, I am a big fan of Sterling Entertainment, and I would like to make films for them someday. It is interesting to see an early picture from Sterling & co. Thanks again.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s