My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.
This week focuses on three erotic thrillers, all released during 1994.
COLOR OF NIGHT (1994)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
Good god, this film is so over-the-top at times it makes De Palma look like Robert Bresson. I have been curious about COLOR OF NIGHT for many years and since it is currently programmed by the Criterion Channel as part of their “Erotic Thrillers” collection, I couldn’t resist the urge to finally see what it’s all about.
It’s a bad movie but also an incredibly entertaining train wreck. I found myself unable to shut it off, perplexed at its quirkiness and tabloid plot. It really feels like the 80s comedy THE DREAM TEAM had a baby with BASIC INSTINCT. The film is surprisingly funny at moments. It’s erotic too but not in the much talked about sex scenes, rather when its characters reveal their kinky desires. Some of the scenes have to be seen to be believed, from the rattlesnake in the mailbox to the BATMAN-like set piece at the end.
Bruce Willis is great in certain kinds of pictures but not here. He’s not believable as a psychiatrist nor as a detective-type. His primitive intellectualism was best displayed in the DIE HARD series but doesn’t translate to the steamy, neo-noir thrillers of the 90s.
I’m glad I finally saw it and I certainly won’t forget it.
Watched on Criterion Channel.
CRIMINAL PASSION (1994)
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
I have a newfound appreciation for (and probably crush on) Joan Severance. She was the reason I queued up this erotic thriller after having seen her earlier this year in the surprisingly great LAKE CONSEQUENCE.
It’s an enjoyable variation on the sex thrillers that were so popular at the time, providing not much originality but at least some decent craft at work. You can tell that director Donna Deitch wants to push the film in a more cerebral direction, revealed by the TAXI DRIVER-like nocturnal narration scenes and the ending which is straight out of a French film, but she’s hampered by a conventional screenplay that only plays more by the numbers as it proceeds.
There are some legitimately erotic moments, mostly becomes of Severance who remains the film’s highlight from beginning to end.
Watched on rarefilmm.com
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Described as Lynchian by the Criterion Channel (it’s not), FLESHTONE is one of more creative takes on the steamy suspense films of the 80s and 90s.
Its concept of a painter who gets obsessed with phone sex and drawn into a bizarre, mysterious plot is a fresh spin on a subgenre that was already tired in 1994. Speaking of that year, apparently it was the peak of erotic thrillers! Just the next year, they went out of style with the coming of William Friedkin’s JADE. Back to FLESHTONE, I have a lot of appreciation for this picture but it loses its weirdness and intimacy in the second half, turning into a routine conspiracy flick. The first half is genuinely kinky and brushes up against moments of brilliance.
An added delight to this watching experience is Tim Thomerson as the sidekick. He brings his usual gruff demeanor and adds some humor to the mix.
Watched on Criterion Channel.