Proceeding from the assertion that NAKED OBSESSION is unabashedly exploitive swill, one must admit that it's ambitious swill. There seems to be more going on in the wild minds behind this noirish skinflick than can be found in a dozen "respectable" Hollywood films.
Franklyn Carlyle (William Katt) is an upright city councilman running for mayor on a law-and-order ticket, though he's clearly uncomfortable over slippery election-year pandering to "family values." Franklyn's campaign states that he'll tear down Dante's Square, the poetically dubbed red-light
district, and one night Franklyn feels impelled to drive through the shabby 'hood he's pledged to demolish. There an unseen assailant knocks him on the head and takes his car and wallet. After an unconscious vision of a wickedly grinning Christ, Franklyn wakes to find himself in the company of
shaggy, robed vagabond Sam Silver (Rick Dean), a dead ringer for that sleazy Jesus. Tootling on a panpipe and swigging blood-red wine, Sam calls himself a "missionary of enlightenment" as he ushers Franklyn into the Ying Yang Club, an area nudie bar.
Once inside, Franklyn is smitten with dancer Lynne Hauser (Maria Ford), a sweet-faced stripper who eventually entices the politician into a one-night stand. The angelic Lynne turns out to harbor a devilish hunger for sexual bondage, and a day later she's found dead in bed, Franklyn's discarded tie
tight around her throat. Uninterested police rule the case an accidental suicide via autoeroticism, but soon Franklyn gets an anonymous blackmail note. Someone set him up, but who and why? Franklyn seeks the mysterious Sam for help, and a ridiculous climax takes place back at the Ying Yang Club,
with Franklyn a captive audience for the masked murderess, whose facial covering is the last thing she removes while performing the ultimate striptease dance routine.
Trying to look surprised at the phantom's identity taxes William Katt's acting abilities to the utmost; viewers will have guessed the fatal femme long before she drops her, uh, pretenses, as Franklyn's obsessive secretary Becky (Elena Sahagun). Her guilt and garb are transparent because of a lack
of remaining suspects, and because her early persona as an office busybody can't efface a busty body that, in this schlock milieu, demands unveiling. Franklyn's savior Sam has the last word before vanishing into thin air at the conclusion.
It's got no class, fizzles as a whodunit, and gets off on a meatmarket view of women that calls for all the female players to disrobe at one point or another--even if it takes a dream sequence to do it. But NAKED OBSESSION offers discriminating trash-hounds a fetid feast of religious and literary
allusions, plus a sincerely proffered gutter-Taoist philosophy of life, the universe and all things sexy. "Cities are like people," states slum messiah Sam. "They got a light side and a dark side. It can't just be one or the other. You got to have that essential balance or things get all fucked
Franklyn at first seems the ultimate victim of the Dante's Square inferno (we never do find out who mugged him, and Sam remains suspect), but later he uncovers plots against him by his own bourgeois wife and best friend, and the maniacal murderer comes straight from his own careerist work
environment. Katt is never more than functional as the bewildered hero; this picture belongs to Rick Dean's smugly dissolute urban mystic Sam Silver, a great character who lends more than a touch of the supernatural--he's the movie's pagan-funky attitude and fresh point of view. NFL running back
Roger Craig has a guest role as a violent policeman who cuffs Sam to a drainpipe, crucifixion-style. Unlike his Nazarene forebear, Sam doesn't forgive this new centurion and stops the cop's heart with a glare.
Another cameo goes to notorious cheapie filmmaker Fred Olen Ray, making his acting debut as emcee at the Ying Yang Club. Debuting director Dan Golden was Ray's unit photographer who had Greatness Thrust Upon Him when he was pressed into service as a screenwriter to complete Fred's WIZARDS OF THE
DEMON SWORD. Helming here for Roger Corman, Golden may be a helmer to watch, though the NAKED OBSESSION screenplay is mainly credited to Roger Dodson. Either way, the film lives up and down to its enthusiastic endorsement by drive-in movie maven Joe Bob Briggs: "The greatest topless bar flick ever
made." Briggs granted Maria Ford his patented Hubbie Award--a hubcap--in the "Breast Actress" category.
For cult-movie connossieurs, NAKED OBSESSION stands comparison with Andy and Katt Shea Ruben's mid-1980s fleshpot terror trilogy, STRIPPED TO KILL, STRIPPED TO KILL II and DANCE OF THE DAMNED. (Violence, substance abuse, profanity, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: Proceeding from the assertion that NAKED OBSESSION is unabashedly exploitive swill, one must admit that it's ambitious swill. There seems to be more going on in the wild minds behind this noirish skinflick than can be found in a dozen "respectable" Hollywo… (more)