Many erotic thrillers these days rely on saxophones on the soundtrack to suggest primal, orgasmic feelings. Too often, the sultry sounds serve up a climax more convincing than the groping and spasmodic breathing of the lovers onscreen. Although tawdry shockers like PLAY MURDER FOR ME may
herald a new sub-genre of "Unsafe Sex" melodramas, what transpires onscreen barely sizzles.
Of all the gin joints in the world, why did Tricia Merritt (Tracy Scoggins) have to walk into the blues bar featuring her down-on-his-luck old flame Paul Slater (Jack Wagner)? Having been burned by the smoldering vixen before, Paul is wary about accepting her husband Fred's (William Burns)
invitation to play at an upcoming soiree. When Fred is paralyzed by gunshots inflicted by a business rival, Tricia soon tires of his self-pity and his sporadically successful attempts to rape her. As she cunningly vamps Paul back into an affair, it becomes apparent that the assault on Tricia's
husband wasn't strictly a result of crime-lord turf wars.
As she models bruises given her by her unhinged mate, Tricia plays on her new lover's sympathies. Although she drives Paul wild enough to murder her spouse, Fred hands Paul the address of her latest love nest before he expires. Wrapped in the embrace of Fred's former business partner Molina
(Gerardo Romano), Tricia is temporarily nonplussed when a hit man, Krieger (Francisco Cocuzza), remains loyal to her husband and kills Molina. While she manages to remove the Krieger obstacle, Tricia has less luck with Paul who's finally seen the light and who knifes Tricia during a final embrace
before she can figure out a way to kill him first.
Ideally, as in the classics of the post-WWII film noir heyday, the melodrama of betrayal offers a complex network of self-destructive characters who succumb to their own delusions. In this lackluster effort, all the crimeworld characters seem to be visiting from another film; characters aren't
satisfactorily intertwined. Fall guy Paul doesn't really connect with Tricia's husband--they don't fence with each other; there's no subtext. All we have is a femme fatale, a chump and an expendable husband stuck in a predictable suspense plot which offers no sharp reflections on human behavior
and no dark sense of cynicism.
As for the actors, Jack Wagner represents a case of sending a boy to do a man's job; he only succeeds in playing one note--the musician's burned out demeanor. While marginally better, Scoggins has the curvature but not the subtle sexuality to dupe a man into risking his life. On the smoulder
scale, the Scoggins-Wagner love scenes barely register. Without the erotic underpinning (despite the efforts of the saxophonist on the soundtrack) and without the sense that the characters can escape neither each other nor their harsh fates, PLAY MURDER FOR ME founders on the rocks of all those
gangland double-crosses from out of left field. (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: Many erotic thrillers these days rely on saxophones on the soundtrack to suggest primal, orgasmic feelings. Too often, the sultry sounds serve up a climax more convincing than the groping and spasmodic breathing of the lovers onscreen. Although tawdry shoc… (more)