Scorpion Releasing // 1994 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // July 26th, 2013
Creating an erotic masterpiece can be murder.
Sometime in the early 1990s, cable television revamped their late night erotic programming from Italian and French imports to domestic cheapies. It lost all its heart in the process, switching from kinky craziness to bump-and-grind bores that nobody enjoyed. That stuff even bled into semi-mainstream cinema, leading audiences to garbage like Dark Side of Genius, a non-thrilling thriller with all the sleaze of one of those cable gems that delivers nothing but tease.
Eight years after killing his girlfriend, painter Julian Jons (Brent David Fraser, Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue) is released from the mental asylum. He has resumed his career and a journalist, Jennifer Cole (Finola Hughes, Staying Alive), has taken an interest in him, worming her way into a story assignment on him. He's resistant to talk at first, but they quickly strike up a relationship. As it heats up, her best friend (Moon Unit Zappa, Little Sister) gets worried that he's reverting, while his main artistic rival starts trying to get a piece of the action.
I'm all for a good erotic thriller, but Dark Side of Genius has to be one of the lamest examples I've ever seen. For all its sexy promise, there's but a single love scene that takes place in silhouette and lasts all of twenty seconds. Now, it's not like that's the first thing I look for or need in a movie, but viewers are waiting on something that never comes. The other thing that never arrives is the suspense, which is the bigger offender. Again, it appears that there will be some thrills, but any twists that come are senseless, more of a question of bad writing than good action.
There may be a small reason to watch the movie, and that's for supporting roles for Seymour Cassel (Convoy) and Glenn Shadix (Heathers), whose name might not be that well-known, but whose face and voice most definitely is. It's not as though they're particularly good performances from either actor, but at least it's something small to hang a hat on. Other than that tiny thing, though, Dark Side of Genius is pretty much entirely worthless.
Dark Side of Genius comes to DVD from Scorpion Releasing as another entry in the Katarina's Nightmare Theater series. We received a screener for review and, as usual, the performance seems close to the release version, though here that isn't saying much. The 1.85:1 anamorphic looks pretty rough; though there's no real damage, it does have a fuzzy sheen throughout the film. Colors are mostly accurate, but black levels are pretty murky. The sound is a little better, with decent sounding dialog and music, which means you have clarity for all those terrible '90s songs. The extras consist of a pair of interviews, the first with Fraser, which lasts an hour and is pretty exhaustive, and the second with Hughes, which is much shorter and less in depth.
There's no reason to watch Dark Side of Genius on any level. With neither the eroticism nor the suspense it promises, viewers are left with little more than a pointless story and second-rate acting. I love Katarina's Nightmare Theater as a series, but this is one entry I absolutely cannot recommend.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scorpion Releasing
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated R