Color of Night
Reviewed by Gena Radcliffe
Rating: 8 Beans
y, but 'Basic Instinct' inspired a lot of bad sex thrillers, didn't it? Even Bruce 'Die Hard' Willis jumped on the bandwagon, adding this blood-soaked, incoherent murder mystery to his long, ever-growing list of bombs, right alongside 'Hudson Hawk', 'The Last Boy Scout', 'Striking Distance', 'North', and, more recently, 'Last Man Standing', 'The Jackal', and 'Mercury Rising'.
Willis is Dr. Bill Capa, a New York based psychologist who watches one of his patients splatter herself all over a sidewalk from his office window. Witnessing his patient's suicide and seeing all the corn syrup drain out of his body causes Dr. Bill to immediately lose the ability to see the color red. This is unfortunate, because it also renders him unable to see any of the thirty-eight or so red herrings that pop up in the course of the mystery he unwittingly embarks upon.
Understandably needing a vacation, Dr. Bill goes out to Los Angeles to visit old college pal and fellow psychologist Bob Moore (Scott Bakula), who lives in a fabulous mansion fit for a movie star, though his only source of income seems to come from a Monday night group therapy session containing every last textbook stereotype of a mentally disturbed individual. There's nymphomaniac Sondra (Lesley Ann Warren, the eternal middle-aged bimbo), obsessive-compulsive Clark (all purpose nutter Brad Dourif), angry ex-cop Buck (Lance Henriksen), repressed artist Casey (Kevin J. O'Connor), and Richie, a youngster with some gender identity difficulties. I won't say who plays Richie, lest I give away the BIG PLOT TWIST.
Shortly after Dr. Bill arrives in L.A., Bob tells him he's been receiving death threats. The very next day, Bob is stabbed about sixty or so times. Before the body is on the slab, the detective in charge of the murder, Martinez (Ruben Blades, playing the blustery Hispanic archetype to the hilt), suggests that Dr. Bill just move right on in to Bob's sumptious home, drive his car around, and take over his group therapy session. Good thing Bob didn't have any family or friends to claim his belongings his death.
A day or so later, Dr. Bill is driving the late Bob's hot car around town when he's rear-ended by the mysterious Rose (Jane March, who spends most of the film in precisely two modes--nearly naked and completely naked). Rose, like her predecessor Catherine Tramell in 'Basic Instinct', says little about her past and foregoes underwear. But naturally, Dr. Bill, despite claiming to have a "radar" for spotting emotionally disturbed individuals, is enticed by the alluring, disturbingly young looking (March was twenty at the time) sex bomb.
Once you meet Rose, it's safe to say that you've figured out the mystery. This is usually the case when, in murder mysteries, a beautiful, sexually voracious woman just appears out of nowhere to entrap the hero in a tangled web of passion and lies. But the movie tries its' darndest to make you think it may be someone else, tying all of the patients in Bob's group therapy together in an impossible series of coincidences, including, but not limited to, lesbian relationships, copycat murders, and red Camaros with black tinted windows. Try to stick around (if you can make it past the atrocious acting) for the laugh out loud climactic plot twist. Let me put it to you this way--remember Richie, the lad with the gender identification problem? Well, if you think he doesn't make a very convincing man, that's because.......aw heck, you can figure it out. That way, I've given you, Dear Reader, credit for being able to decipher this poor excuse for a trashy sex scene, and I've spared you from having to sit through it as well!
Once you've figured out the plot twist, you can turn off the movie before its' gory final fight scene, which involves hero, villain, and a rather large nail gun. But not before you've already fast forwarded through the sex scenes involving Willis and March. Besting 'Basic Instinct' in, if nothing else, sheer length of time (you can get up, make a grilled cheese sandwich, go to the bathroom, pay your bills, call your mom just to stay hi, and still come back into the living room to see another fifteen minutes or so of Willis' sweaty, buff bod and March's sweaty, skeletal bod rolling around), it has all the elements of a typical "erotic mystery" sex scene--cheesy melodramatic music, incredible gymnastics from the female partner, and two people who look like they couldn't care less about each other.
If Willis' character couldn't see red, then Willis himself could certainly see green, as cashing in on the 'Basic Instinct' craze is the only possible reason this film got made. But like its' fellow rip-offs 'Body of Evidence' and 'Jade', 'Color of Night' disappeared into obscurity shortly after release, making a feeble attempt at raking in the dough once again a few months later with a "director's cut" for video. The "director's cut" has seventeen extra minutes of footage added in, with full frontal Bruce and a rather tame lesbian scene. The European version gifts us with a closer shot of what was previously only known to Demi Moore and other lesser known actresses.
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Hit-n-Run Productions, © 1997-2006,
a subsidiary of Syphon Interactive, LLC.
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