Jan 292020
 

Aired December 4, 1990 IMDB

Another episode bucks the cliche by not opening with the discovery of a dead sex worker. This time it’s a controversial artist named Victor Moore (loosely modeled on Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989), found strangled to death with a noose around his neck, inside his workspace/dungeon. The investigation delves into the sexual fringe and its intersection with the city’s elite. 

Law & Order is usually more thoughtful and less sensational than other procedural shows, and this story does engage with the issues of sadomasochism. 

Greevey, one of the two detectives on the case, is the most prejudiced against Moore and his art. “Some work. If I did stuff like this, I wouldn’t advertise either.”

The detectives question a man who knew the victim casually, but wouldn’t date him. 

Logan: “Let me get this straight. You’re asked out on a date by a guy who published pictures of people hanging upside down in chains. And you’re tempted, but there’s something about him you don’t trust?”

While it’s entirely possible that Moore was coming on creepy to the guy, the Implication is that a person who makes sexually violent art must be dangerous. 

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Dec 312019
 

IMDB First aired 18 November 1998

DaVinci’s Inquest was a Canadian crime drama that aired from 1998 to 2005. The lead character of coroner Dominic DaVinci is based on real-life Vancouver coroner and later mayor Larry Campbell. 

As is typical for this sub-genre, episode S01E07, “The Stranger Within”, begins with the discovery of a dead sex worker. In this case, she’s dumped in a parking lot. 

The medical examiner reveals, first, that the victim, Allison Cody, had signs of multiple beatings, which leads DaVinci to suspect sadomasochism. One of the major threads of this episode is the indeterminate cause of her death, which appears to be a pulmonary embolism that might be caused by the bruises from her beatings.

Mistress Harriet (Lisa Howard) is on guard against Dominic Da Vinci (Nicholas Campbell)
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Dec 262019
 

Silk Stalkings (IMDB) is a much weirder show than I remember. It was supposed to revive the “MTV cops” style that made Miami Vice such a hit in the 80s. It has bizarre interior design, and one of the detectives has flashbacks to her childhood in a communion dress. There are attempts at noir/hardboiled narration and dialog but it’s just gibberish. For example

“If Jerome Eagleton was playing golf with Harlan Cameron and his pretty young wife, it was undoubtedly a best-ball threesome. They were playing on a jagged course with too many physical hazards. These golfers dressed for pain, and most of the balls probably ended up in the rough.”

Episode S01E02, “Going to Babylon”, begins with a dumped old dead guy with bondage marks and a dead pro dominatrix in a car. Murdered sex workers are a staple of this genre, though this episode bucks the trend by not finding the female victim in the teaser. The dominatrix was previously charged with “sexual sadism”, which makes no sense as a charge; she would probably be arrested for solicitation or bawdy-house violations instead.

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Oct 082019
 

Zipperface is a 1992 erotic thriller/slasher film, directed by Mansour Pourmand, who also wrote the original story. It also includes some Italian giallo influences. 

Someone in a full leather outfit and hood is killing sex workers in an unspecified city. As the city’s female mayor is up for re-election, she wants action on this. The case falls to newly promoted female police detective, Lisa Rider. 

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Aug 192019
 
Poster

Written, produced and directed by Victor Nieuwenhuijs. Starring Anne van de Ven as Wanda, and André Arend van de Noord as Severin. IMDB

(Unless otherwise stated, all quotes are from English dub, not the English subtitles.)

Unlike the 1967 Venus in Furs or the 1969 Jesus Franco Venus in Furs, this is pretty close to the original story, though set in the present day. Severin, a young man, falls for a young woman named Wanda. They sign a contract to formalize their dominant-submissive relationship.

Severin/Gregor (van de Noord), Wanda (van de Ven) and “The Greek” (???) at the zoo.
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Jun 052019
 

The People Under The Stairs (1991) is a horror film written and directed by Wes Craven

Though categorized as horror, People is better understood as a contemporary Gothic fable. A young African-American man, known by his nickname “Fool”, is desperate to help his poor family in the ghetto. He breaks into the sprawling home of a wealthy couple who are the neighborhood landlords. The couple, who call each other “Daddy” and “Mama”, look and act like they stepped out of the 1950s, but they and their house is not what they seem. (They’re a bit like Paul and Mary from Eating Raoul, just taken a few steps further.)

“Fool” (Brandon Quinton Adams) confronts “Daddy” (Everett McGill)
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Apr 162019
 

Hellraiser Bloodline (1996) is the fourth film in the Hellraiser franchise. It was also the last to be released in theatres and the last to have Clive Barker as a writer, director or producer. Directed by “Alan Smithee”, actually Keven Yagher, who is primarily a makeup artist, and written by Peter Atkins, who also wrote the second and third films.

Hellraiser: Bloodline starts off promising, but dissolves into a mess. Lots of plot threads dangle, lots of things happen for no reason. Apparently, this was a troubled production, which would explain why the director took his name off the picture, replaced by the “Alan Smithee” credit.

Philippe Lemerchand (Bruce Ramsay) and his creation.
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Apr 152019
 

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992) is the third entry in the Hellraiser franchise, and it benefits from a more conventional story structure. The new protagonist, Joey Summerskill, is introduced early to replace Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence has a cameo on video recording).

Another victim of the Cenobite puzzle box
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Mar 052019
 

8MM (1999) (IMDB) is a mystery/thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker (who also wrote the vastly superior Se7en (1995)).

Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) is a private investigator for upper crust clients. An elderly widow, Mrs. Christian, says she found a roll of 8mm film in her late husband’s safe, which appears to document the murder of a young white woman. Wells is skeptical, saying it’s probably fake, but the widow hires him to find the girl.

Welles (Cage) watches the film apparently showing the murder of an unknown girl (Jenny Powell).
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Feb 072019
 

Payback (IMDB) is a 1999 neo-noir crime thriller, starring Mel Gibson.

In The Celluloid Closet, Vito Russo talked about the phase of American movies in which queer film characters existed mainly as dramatic or comedic foils to the straight characters. Whether they were swishy nellies or twisted sadists, they were a simple object lesson in proper and improper gender roles. That extends to the present day, though perhaps a little less overt: heroes are associated with heterosexuality, monogamy, vanilla sex, and other normative sexualities, while villains tend towards bisexuality, non-monogamy, and fetishes and kinks.

Pearl (Lucy Liu) stomps on Val, while Porter (Mel Gibson) watches
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