By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Voyuers will like it.
A young woman named April (Sherilynn Fenn) who is from a well-to-do Southern family and engaged to be married meets a rugged hunk named Perry (Richard Tyson) who works as a laborer at a travelling carnival and the two immediately share a strong sexual attraction. She considers getting out of her engagement, but her controlling grandmother Belle (Louise Fletcher) puts the crooked town sheriff (Burl Ives) on Perry’s tale in order to ‘rid them of the problem’.
Normally ‘hot and steamy’ love triangles that take place in the south seem over-done, redundant, and cliché filled, but for some reason this one works to an extent. For one thing the sex scenes, especially the one at the end that takes place at the Two Moon Junction locale, is quite explicit with an abundance of nudity by actress Fenn who is pleasing in the buff. And for the lady viewers there is even a scene featuring naked male bodies, both front and back, near the beginning of the film. If that isn’t enough there is also actor Tyson who is seen ninety-eight percent of the time without his shirt.
For sex it fares pretty well and rises just enough above the tired 80’s clichés to make it seem fresh. However, the story is rather placid and fails to dig deeper than its basic storyline. The stylish atmosphere is nice, but there needed to be more tension and action. I wanted the Fletcher and Ives characters to be meaner. Adding some tongue and cheek humor to a genre that even back then was becoming tired would have really helped. There are times when it seems to want to go there but then it pulls back. Having veteran character actors like Fletcher, Ives, Herve Villechaize, and Dabbs Greer was a real nice touch, but they needed to be given more to do. In Ives case, whose last film this was, I felt he was wasted and in that regard I came away from this thing disappointed.
Tyson works surprisingly well in the male lead. He resembles a Fabio wannabe and I would normally have found him annoying, but he displays just the right level of cockiness to stay interesting. The fact that he also shows some negative traits helps keep the character real. However, the part where he breaks into April’s parent’s large estate and then promptly starts to take a shower seemed absurd and ridiculous. And just where did he find that bathrobe that fit him so well? Or did he bring one along with him? I suppose the plumbing might not be so good at the ragtag traveling carnival he worked at, but still.
Fenn is surprisingly strong as the female lead. This was definitely a three-dimensional character and the internal struggle that she had at being attracted to a man that she knew she shouldn’t be was nicely realized. The parts where she would breakdown into bouts of sobbing after her sexual liaisons with Perry were effective and heartfelt.
Kristy McNichol was a nice sight as a bi-sexual cowgirl named Patti Jean and she looked even better when she went topless. The fact that she revealed some latent lesbian tendencies towards April seemed to me to create interesting dramatic variables, but the film fails to go with it and the character disappears, which was another disappointment. However, Patti and April’s dance together on the barroom dance floor created some nice provocative imagery.
It also during the opening of this barroom scene that you can spot the movie’s most revealing mistake; as the camera pans across the floor you can clearly see the shadow of the camera as well as the cameraman reflecting along the shiny wooden floorboards. It is always surprising to me the fact that if I the viewer can see a mistake like that right away how come an entire production crew misses it? Or do they see it, but are too lazy to reshoot, so they hope that it will just ‘pass-by’ the viewer? Either way it is the sign of sloppy filmmaking.
This also marks the acting debut of Milla Jovovich who plays April’s younger sister Samantha. She was only thirteen at the time, but she already had a stunning face and it is easy to see why she caught the attention of producers and photographers as a model. However, her acting ability here seemed limited and her facial expressions where undisciplined. She also shows little awareness of the camera, or how to play to it.
The film is superficial and lacking in many ways and it fails to have the necessary edginess that would have given it cult potential, but I still found it to be passably entertaining. Voyeurs who watch it for the sex may find it a little bit better.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: April 29, 1988
Runtime: 1Hour 44Minutes
Director: Zalman King
Available: VHS, DVD