Sadly, Judge Clark Douglas' diary entries feature very little eroticism.
Before there was gray…there was red.
Oddly enough, the steamy Showtime series Red Shoe Diaries shares a structure which is alarmingly similar to Jim Henson's warm n' fuzzy children's show Fraggle Rock. Both feature framing sequences in which a man and his dog hang out, check the mail and read colorful letters, while the rest of the show is filled with scenes of wild fantasy. I prefer Fraggle Rock, but diff'rent strokes and all that. Red Shoe Diaries remains a somewhat intriguing rarity in the world of pay cable softcore programming, as it actually wanted to be regarded as a semi-respectable TV show which just happened to feature some steamy scenes (much like Showtime's wretched horror/softcore hybrid The Hunger, which began airing after Red Shoe Diaries concluded its run).
The series got its start with the made-for-TV drama Red Shoe Diaries: The Movie, which is more of an extended pilot than a proper film. The TV show informed us that David Duchovny's character had solicited steamy letters from women in the hopes of coming to terms with his wife's unusual death. That's a premise which makes no sense whatsoever, but the film does its level best to provide proper motivation for the idea.
Jake (Duchovny) and his fiancee Alex (Brigitte Bake, Strange Days) seem happy together. He's a nice guy, she's a nice girl and everybody thinks they make a nice couple. Alas, "nice" just isn't quite exciting enough for Alex. One day, she meets a hunk of a man named Thomas (Billy Wirth, The Lost Boys), who promises her an adventurous, sexually-charged relationship of the first order. Alex resists at first, but eventually caves after remembering that she is the female lead of Red Shoe Diaries: The Movie. So begins a sequence of vaguely-choreographed love scenes and considerable inner conflict as Alex attempts to choose between a life of comfortable stability and a life of intense sexual satisfaction. Naturally, the conflict proves so difficult that she just commits suicide. No, really.
That isn't a spoiler, by the way. The film opens with a scene informing us of Alex's death, then proceeds to rewind and catch the audience up to speed on this sexy, sexy tragedy. Once we're back to the present, things really go off the rails, as Duchovny and Wirth are required to engage in several scenes of passive-aggressive confrontation. Duchovny has had his share of low points over the course of his career, but I'm not sure it gets much worse than the scene in which he grabs his dead girlfriend's red high heels, flings them at Wirth and barks, "Put 'em on, bitch." Ugh. That one won't be making the Emmy highlight reel.
The film (like many of the individual TV show episodes) was directed by Zalman King, who specialized in thinly-written dramas built around a handful of R-rated love scenes. For me, the high point of his career is his debut Two-Moon Junction, which is terrible but also just bonkers enough to remain pretty entertaining throughout. Red Shoe Diaries: The Movie is terminally dull, save for those few moments which prove unintentionally funny. Even the sex scenes (and there are far fewer than you might think, given King's reputation) are bland, forgettable affairs.
Red Shoe Diaries: The Movie has received a mediocre standard-def transfer. The film is very soft, which is partially due to the lackluster transfer and partially because King shoots everything like it's some sort of low-budget Ridley Scott film. There's some prominent color bleeding on occasion, along with a generally flat picture. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo track is adequate, though the rambunctious George S. Clinton score doesn't really do the film any favors. Supplements include an 11-minute introduction from King and a cheesy photo gallery.
I'm not sure why this flick needed a re-release in 2014, when it's obvious the transfer hasn't been updated. But for those interested in the origins of a mysteriously long-running Showtime series, here you go.
Guilty, but that's by design.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Kino Lorber
Review content copyright © 2014 Clark Douglas; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.