Sony // 2001 // 88 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Harold Gervais (Retired) // February 21st, 2002
The hunt for pleasure is the most basic instinct of all.
I will be the first to admit that I intended to hate this movie when I popped it into my player. There is, after all, no denying that Sexual Predator is trash. It is poorly directed, poorly written, and only competently acted. The release is strictly a bare bones, full frame affair with little to recommend it. Still, when everything is said, done, and taken on its own terms, Sexual Predator is a fairly mindless way to waste 90 minutes.
J. C. Gale (Richard Grieco, A Night at the Roxbury) is famous photographer, an avowed sexual hedonist and now a convicted killer. Given 5 years probation for his plea bargain he is now the charge of Beth Spinella (Angie Everhart, former Playboy Playmate, former main squeeze of Sylvester Stallone, and star of Judge Patrick Naugle's all-time favorite movie, Bordello of Blood), a probation officer who just happens to be the best friend of the woman Gale killed.
Slowly Spinella finds herself being pulled into Gale's world, a development that does little to please Spinella's hot tempered boyfriend Joe (Kevin Fry). It is an arrangement that begins to spiral out of control as the bodies begin to pile up and clothes are shed with alarming frequency. Tempers flare, mysteries abound, and the question must be asked: Who is the hunted and who is the prey?
Let me just say it up front: Angie Everhart is a babe and she gets pretty darn naked several times during Sexual Predator's brisk 88 minute running time. Her work in this movie follows a time honored tradition of beautiful and busty female stars who made a career of working in B grade movies. Names like Shannon Tweed, Julie Strain, and Sybil Danning all spring to mind. Still, we live in a different age of movie making where stars have a great deal more control in the projects with which they appear. So I was confused at first to see that both Angie Everhart and Richard "Andy Warhol called and he wants his 15 minutes back" Grieco served as co-executive producers on Sexual Predator. After all, if you were putting your name in front of and behind the camera, wouldn't you want a quality product on display? Then I thought of Miss Everhart's nude scenes and I realized a quality product was on amble display.
Seriously though, it is quite evident that the two stars knew exactly what they were making and shot no higher than that. It is this honesty of intent that I respect, but unfortunately, it never creeps into the actual production of the movie. Yes, Miss Everhart is beautiful and has an outstanding body. Yes, there is a straight guy kind of thrill to see her making out with another woman. There are enough plot twists to keep Sexual Predator mildly interesting until Angie Everhart decides to disrobe again. The problem with her nudity is that there is nothing generated by it. Unlike the paint that was peeling off the walls when Kathleen Turner and William Hurt went at it in Body Heat, here the simulated sex might as well have been conducted in an operating room. There is no chemistry, no passion, and no heat between the two leads. The acting is perfunctory at best. Judging by what I have seen of her in past movies I would imagine Miss Everhart would probably be very good in a comedy, and while she handles her flirtatious scenes with enough ease, her more dramatic moments just come off a forced. I don't know what has been written before about the acting chops of Richard Grieco, so all I'm going to say is his skills appear to have serious limits. His line readings sound like just that -- line readings. This does not even mention his wardrobe. You would think if you were one of the executive producers you would at least want to look good. Speaking of not looking good. While I don't know if it was the makeup or he has some sort of serious heroin addiction but Richard Grieco just looks like death warmed over. The vampires on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" have better tans. He is so pale that the tone of his skin put me in the mind of Brandon Lee in The Crow. I mean that is PALE! There is no intelligence to his performance and it just kind of lays there. So maybe the makeup was in keeping with his "acting process."
Just as there is no creativity to the acting, there is no originality to the direction of Robert Angelo (Forbidden Sins) and there is not a word of Ed Silverstein's screenplay that sounds like the words of actual human beings. The movie simply exists to get to the next sex scene while working its way to its final and somewhat surprising revelation. Which, as I keep coming back to, is the entire point of this production. Sexual Predator is exploitative garbage, but that is all its creators ever intended for it to be. To that end, there is a certain craft to what is onscreen. It is the kind of ability that is shown by a draftsman who traces over a better movie. It looks good but has no depth and is forgotten shortly after being viewed.
I would not say I enjoyed Sexual Predator but I didn't feel offended by it either. I did not want my time back like I did when I reviewed Lured Innocence or when I stormed out of the movie theater after seeing Flatliners. So, in spite of all of the bashing I just don't think it's fair to judge Sexual Predator against something like, oh say...a good movie. It is what it is. With that realization, I find there is a simplicity that I almost find endearing.
This is the first disc that I have seen from Columbia in a while and it's the first full frame disc I have from viewed from them. Now, I have no idea how this thing was shot or what the history of it is. If it were ever shown in a theater, it would probably be matted pretty comfortably at 1.78:1 or 1.85:1. There seems to be no loss of visual information and it looks like it will be quite at home late nights on Skinamax. The transfer does show some traces of edge enhancement but that is balanced by fairly solid black levels that show a decent level of detail. Colors are generally pretty solid but there is quite a bit of grain evident during the running time. It's definitely a mixed bag.
Sound is a clear sounding Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. The mix is free of background distortions and all of Richard Grieco's mumbling is pretty easily heard.
If you are searching for extras, I would suggest you look elsewhere. It's funny, but I was kind of hoping for a commentary track along the lines of what is heard on Final Voyage. No such luck.
I pretty much laid out the good, the bad, and the ugly in the previous section. I suppose it should be noted that Sexual Predator is unrated. It's the kind of thing that used to pass for soft porn back in the early "Playboy Channel" days. These days I suppose it is still considered soft porn, but I tend to think that bar has been raised (or lowered, depending on your point of view) substantially in recent years. If you are among the easily offended I would put this disc down and move on to something a little more respectable.
Before I forget, one thing I should give Sexual Predator credit for is the lack of onscreen violence. Make no mistake, there is a little, but overall it lies pretty low on the bloodletting scale. I realize that is not much, but it is worth something.
There is not much good to write about in regard to Sexual Predator. Still, I'm straddling the fence on a judgment. It is trash, but for me therein lies a certain charm. At 88 minutes, the movie is quick tease while Angie Everhart is on copious display and maybe in the end that is enough. This disc is hardly worth buying, unless of course you like to freeze frame a lot. Know what it is going in and maybe it's worth an evening's rental. Otherwise, stick around long enough and I'm sure you will find it late, late one night on cable.
Everyone involved is sentenced to moderate time in prison. The director will be forced to watch good movies, while the writer will be compelled to listen to the way people really speak. Actor Richard Grieco is required to hire a new acting coach and also get a little sun because it just does not look like that third Anne Rice adaptation is going to happen. Angie Everhart behind bars. Now there is a thought.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated