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Saturday, 21 October 2017

Retro Review: Mortal Passions (1989)

Mortal Passions
Cast: Zach Galligan, Michael Bowen, Krista Errickson, Luca Bercovici, David Warner, Shelia Kelly
Genre: Erotic Thriller

Plot: An unscrupulous woman deceives her boring, insecure husband after getting exasperated with his inactivity

'Surprisingly Engrossing Little Thriller'

A little known erotic thriller that is a little different and tries to stand out amongst the other generic films of this type, Mortal Passions is one of those erotic thriller type films which I went into thinking it would be like every other movie of this type: lots of sex, little tension and nothing else to it, when in fact, thanks to the engrossing story, evitable plot twists and interesting characters involved this had me glued to the screen, throughout. Heck, I'd even prefer this to Basic Instinct

A calculating and double-crossing woman in Emily intends to kill her husband so she can get her hands on the insurance money. Even going as far as seducing other men - including the hubby's brother, Burke and using them for her own evil intentions. I know she is fed up of being married to Todd and she tried to divorce him, but you wonder why couldn't she just walk away and move on from Todd? & then you realise she is a golddigger-type and only wants his money. 

Yes, it can get a little silly perhaps, but it never strays too far to becoming a farce and thus, it remains entertaining with plenty to offer, as well as being earnest. The predictability level is kept to a low and the director Andrew Lane manages to keep the audience guessing on what will happen next. I always wonder what the characters will say and do, after each revelation and bombshell that Lane unravels and it is all very enticing. 

This film came out way before Basic Instinct, which was lauded as the trifecta of erotic thrillers in 1992 and released after the success of Fatal Attraction. It does some things really well and intelligently also, insofar as the script-wise goes. The acting performances, thanks to the script, is way above anything that is delivered in most softcore erotic films and they are convincing to boot. Although Zach Galligan, who was in Gremlins 1 and 2 gives the weakest performance out of the main 3 actors; that and I wasn't fond of his character. It seems like some scope was given to the characters and through that, we see that disintegration of Todd and Emily's marriage, right before our very eyes.  

I went into this film like I mentioned, not expecting very much that was good and given my fair share of erotic thriller films I have sat through, I have not been impressed by many of them. Yet Mortal Passions makes genuine and bold attempts in the story and plot and by sufficiently building up and developing the characters and giving each one of them some depth. Additionally, the film doesn't waste time in throwing in a few twists and making it edgy and intense. 

This is far from the trashy erotic thriller one is inundated with, but rather this is a neat little gem in the making.

Final Verdict:

A cut above 90-95% of erotic thrillers, which is saying something as most movies of this type are generally awful. Mortal Passions was a huge surprise and one that not only took me by surprise as to how good it was, all the way through, it is a thriller that keeps the audience guessing and it really made me invest in the story and wondering what will happen next. 

Despite the lack of A-listers carrying this film, this film demonstrates that enticing sex scenes, some good performances, intriguing twists and a well-written script all make for a highly engrossing and effective erotic thriller. 


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