I think it’s time for a new ISCFC rule – the “Genre Director Rule”. Basically, it means when you’re enjoying the genre (horror, sci-fi, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, whatever) work of a particular director, don’t follow them into normal stuff. Applied very specifically to ISCFC flavour of the month Donald Farmer, it means “don’t watch his erotic thrillers”. Saying that, though, he manages to find a new way to make this film suck, so perhaps he ought to be commended.
It’s an unwelcome return for Danny Fendley, “star” of Farmer’s previous effort “Compelling Evidence”. And it’s also an unwelcome return for that movie’s plot! Okay, the whole “I can’t leave my wife because of money” thing is very much the B story here, it’s still I think pretty compelling proof that Farmer was having some trouble with the ladies in the mid 90s. Or really really liked that plot idea, one of the two. Anyway, James (Fendley) is cheating on his wife, and the wife busts in…but it was all a dream! Or was it? Angela, the wronged wife, wakes up and touches the incredibly cheesy portrait of her husband that hangs in her home. That the infidelity was shown by a scene in a hotel room, followed immediately by a different scene in a different hotel room, shows right away that Farmer doesn’t care for your desire to have movies that make sense.
Fendley again! This time he’s got obviously fake long hair and is an artist called Jason, about to have his big opening. His wife’s there, and so is Angela, who sees her dead husband in front of her so…well, immediately decides to get herself involved in his life. This involves buying one of his paintings, getting him to deliver it, drugging and raping him, then trying (quite poorly) to convince him he’s actually James. Lisa, Jason’s wife, is a bit nonplussed by all this erratic behaviour, plus there’s an art critic subplot that I thought might go somewhere, but is really just an excuse for Farmer to insult critics some more (I do hope he agrees to do an interview with me when I’ve watched all his movies!)
Before we go any further – or because I don’t want to go any further and would prefer to talk about something fun – let’s take a wander through technical things. While this movie is shot with a more expensive VHS camcorder than his previous movies, it still has that lovely VHS quality to it; but that’s not the only thing that should worry us. I’m talking acting. Fendley is still operating on his two-level approach – blank or angry – but he’s joined by some real troopers. The art critic could be the worst actress I’ve ever seen (I think it’s Robin Joy Brown, whose career amounts to this and a walkon part on “Just Shoot Me” five years later); indeed the only remotely bright spark is erotic thriller mainstay Monique Parent as Angela. She does what’s needed of her, and while she’s never going to win an Oscar, she’s head and shoulders above the rest of the cast.
Then we come finally to Jason’s wife Lisa. Lisa is played by Margaux Hemingway, another cautionary Hollywood tale to join that of Dana Plato from “Compelling Evidence”. She was the less famous and successful sister of Mariel, and after trips to and from rehab, drank and drugged herself to death the year after this film was released, dying alone and remaining undiscovered for several days. I was going to mock her bizarre speech patterns and complete inability to look like a human being in any scene, but she was firmly in the grip of her addictions when shooting this, so let’s move on.
I checked the time with what I expected to be about 15 minutes to go and discovered I wasn’t even at the halfway point! It’s almost unbearably repetitive, with Angela letting Jason go, then capturing him again, sex scenes used as padding, then trying to convince him he’s someone else, then him escaping…when she hires some drunk guy she finds outside a bar to murder someone and pin it on Jason, I almost cheered because at least it was a different face on screen. So this goes on and on for what feels like three movies, moving from “Fatal Attraction” to “Misery” and back again, before sort of stumbling to a lame conclusion. Once again, a man who’s had a murder pinned on him by a deranged female in a Donald Farmer movie appears to just have everyone believe him, and be fine, at the end. By the way, he’d already beat the crap out of two police officers and escaped arrest, so he’s definitely spending some time in a jail cell. And then there’s a fight with a crazy old man somewhere near the end too. And another propaganda piece about California’s community property and divorce laws is over.
I just don’t understand why this movie exists. It’s not like psycho woman movies were big business in the mid 90s (“Misery”, “Fatal Attraction”, “Single White Female”, etc. all significantly predating this), so the usual excuse of the low-budget people chasing the Hollywood trends doesn’t hold here. If he’d done that, it would’ve been some smart-ass crime thriller. At this very very low budget level, I guess Farmer could pick whatever subject he wanted, and for the second movie in a row he wanted an “erotic” thriller about cheating spouses. He wanted it absolutely chock full of awful sex (at least Fendley took his trousers off in this movie) and a plot that absolutely went nowhere, slowly.
Next up is the first of the “Red Lips” trilogy, and it appears to be sort of about vampires but not really. Anything other than this garbage will be fine.
Rating: thumbs down