Detective Catherine Palmer investigates a series of sexually gruesome serial murders and becomes embroiled in a world of lesbianism and bondage after she becomes obsessed with one of the victims' paramours.
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Homicide detective Catherine Palmer investigates a series of serial killings of women who have been tortured to death by S&M, all of whom have had their eyelids cut off. The investigation takes Catherine into a group wealthy upper class women, where she is drawn to the chief suspect, Vickie Kittrie, who has a penchant for S&M and women, as well as to Dr. Broussard, the victims' shady therapist with some dark secrets of his own. Written by
When it comes to sex, normative behavior depends on the circles in which one travels. This film traverses a very sordid perimeter, and jolts us with images ranging from mild deviance to utter depravity. The themes include a women's club where affluent married women come to cheat on their husbands with other women, as well as transvestitism, sadomasochism, dominance and bondage, lesbian seduction and incest. Oh, and lest I forget the main storyline, we have serial killings where the mutilated female victims are always found in the nude.
Ellen Barkin plays a homicide detective investigating the killings. In the course of the investigation, she becomes obsessed with Vicki, who is a suspect due to her connection with two of the victims. Vicki introduces her to a world where pain, pleasure and sex collide.
This is a bold venture into sex noir that is sometimes provocative and at others disturbing, raw and distasteful. The plot was good and the ending original as mass murder stories go. Unfortunately, the presentation was very disjointed and often hard to follow. That is probably because the investigation took a back seat to the sexual odyssey, which meandered self-indulgently from hedonism to perversion. This film contained a good deal of nudity, some of which was appropriate to the story and much of which was gratuitous.
The direction by Damian Harris was good with a lot of interesting perspective shots and tight close-ups that enhanced both the suspense and the lustful aspects. However, the cinematography lost a great deal because the color quality was poor.
Ellen Barkin was a good choice for the lead in this film. Barkin has a natural toughness combined with a scorching sexuality, which was the precise combination her character needed. Peta Wilson played the sexually gifted Vicki and was seductive, sultry and lascivious.
Overall, this was a good, well-acted thriller with bizarre sexual preoccupations. I rated it 7/10, but I can understand why so many people hated it. It is definitely not for everyone. Many viewers will find the deviant sexual themes repugnant and offensive. If you are averse to lesbianism, sexual perversion or graphic gore you will want to go out of your way to miss this film.
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