62 user 42 critic

Bad Influence (1990)

2:01 | Trailer
A soft and hesitant young man is in danger when tries to break toxic relationships with a mysterious stranger claiming to be his friend.


Curtis Hanson


David Koepp
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Rob Lowe ... Alex
James Spader ... Michael Boll
Lisa Zane ... Claire
Marcia Cross ... Ruth Fielding
Rosalyn Landor ... Britt
Tony Maggio Tony Maggio ... Patterson
Palmer Lee Todd Palmer Lee Todd ... Naked Woman
Kathleen Wilhoite ... Leslie
Sunny Smith Sunny Smith ... Waitress
Susan Lee Hoffman ... Karen, Woman in Bar
Jeff Kaake ... Willie, Man in Bar
Christian Clemenson ... Pismo Boll
Charisse Glenn Charisse Glenn ... Stylish Eurasian Woman
Jay Della Jay Della ... Chez Jay Bartender
Inger Lorre Inger Lorre ... Band Member


Michael, a wimpy young executive, is about to get pulverized by a jealous boyfriend in a bar when a handsome, mysterious stranger steps in--and then disappears. Later that night, while jogging, Michael runs into the stranger on a pier. He introduces himself as Alex, and the two go out to an under- ground club. Within a matter of days, Alex wheedles his way into Michael's life and turns it upside down, and Michael doesn't realize that Alex is a dangerous sociopath until it's too late. Written by Denise P. Meyer <dpm1@cornell.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


David Koepp wrote the screenplay on spec at a time when he didn't even have an agent. See more »


Lowe wore a glove on one hand to smear blood on the wall of Michael's apartment. In the following scene, the glove switched hands. See more »


[Patterson realizes his section report is missing]
Patterson: Will you gentlemen excuse me for one moment? Right back.
[Leaves meeting and walks up to Michael]
Patterson: What have you done?
Michael: What do you mean?
Patterson: Oh, you know damn well what I mean. There are batting averages in my section report.
Michael: Batting averages? That seems strange. Are you sure they're not batting champions?
Patterson: I'm in a meeting, you swine, with Howard and two penchant funders. Where's my section report?
Michael: Where's my schedule 47?
Howard: [walking up from behind] Patterson, ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

UK version is cut by 28 sec. to remove "dangerous imitable technique" during the scene where Alex attempts to kill Michael by connecting the car lights to the petrol tank. See more »


Written by Inger Lorre and Jet Freedom
Performed by The Nymphs
Produced by Earl Mankey
Courtesy of David Geffen Company
See more »

User Reviews

"You're gonna die with your mouth shut."
26 June 2016 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

James Spader is typically engaging in the role of Michael, a wimpy yuppie who tends to not stand up for himself. He is about to get obliterated by a jealous boyfriend in a bar, when a stranger (Rob Lowe) steps in to save his ass. He ends up running into Lowe again, and thanks him, and a curious relationship develops. "Alex" (Lowe) introduces the element of risk into Michaels' life, and helps him "grow a pair", so to speak. But Michael soon learns that only dark things will come out of this supposed "friendship", and he realizes that he must eliminate Alex from his life.

"Bad Influence" is a decent thriller set in hip, "modern era" California, with various clubs and parties used as backdrops. Well shot by Robert Elswit, it boasts a screenplay by then relatively fresh screenwriter David Koepp. It may not be on the level of "Strangers on a Train", but it entertains in compelling enough fashion. The give and take between our hero and his nemesis creates sufficient tension, as Alex sets about trying to prove that he was merely exposing the hidden ugly side that Michael wasn't showing the world. As this plays out, you can't help but sympathize with Michael to some degree, as the story turns into this kind of nightmare that seems to have no end in sight. There are some sexy ladies in the cast, and a little dose of gore, so this thriller does deliver in terms of some sex and violence. Director Curtis Hanson, who at this time hadn't yet achieved mainstream recognition, guides it all in style.

Lowe is decent as the shady antagonist with the undetermined motives. He seems to be just plain evil. Spader outshines him, of course, and receives strong support from a cast including Lisa Zane, Kathleen Wilhoite, Marcia Cross, Tony Maggio, Grand L. Bush, and John de Lancie. Keep your eyes peeled for David Duchovny, who appears fleetingly in a club scene. Christian Clemenson delivers a standout performance as Michaels' slightly pathetic brother who tries to redeem himself in his siblings' eyes.

Solid entertainment that picks up considerably in its second half.

Seven out of 10.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

9 March 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bad Influence See more »


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,822,019, 11 March 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo


Color (DeLuxe)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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