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Blue Desert Reviews

BLUE DESERT is a well-produced suspense yarn which effectively illustrates that a small town can sometimes be as dangerous as the big city. In the opening, comic book artist Lisa Roberts (Courteney Cox) is raped on the streets of New York City. After receiving little sympathy or help from the police, she moves to the wide open spaces and seemingly serene environment of a small desert town in Arizona. A few days after her arrival, Lisa meets a friendly but rather unsavory character named Randall Atkins (Craig Sheffer). Randall finally manages to charm Lisa and they go out on a date. After she invites Randall into her trailer, he starts to make sexual advances. Lisa reacts strongly against this and demands that he leave. Randall takes exception and a fight ensues. She knocks him out with a frying pan and calls the police. Enter cop Steve Smith (D.B. Sweeney), a clean-cut officer of the law--or so it seems. Steve tells her that Randall is an ex-con and a convicted sex offender. But not wanting to go through the trauma of reporting a sexual assault, Lisa decides not to press charges. The next day, Randall appears again and attempts to warn her about Steve, but because of his odd manner and explosive behavior, Lisa calls Steve and has Randall arrested on an assault charge. During this traumatic period, Steve and Lisa become involved. A few days later, Randall calls Lisa claiming that Steve has tried to kill him. After calling the police department and discovering that Steve never brought Randall in, Lisa rushes out to pick up Randall. She finds him lying in the middle of the desert. He's obviously been badly beaten up. After taking Randall to the hospital, Lisa returns home to find one of her birds has been killed. She immediately packs and drives out of town. Steve, who's been following her, runs Lisa's car off the road and forces her into his patrol car. He explains that he took Randall to the county sheriff's office, not the local jail. Not knowing which to believe, Lisa picks her car up from the local mechanic who tells her to leave town. Meanwhile, Randall, armed with a gun, escapes from the hospital and returns to Lisa's home in yet another attempt to warn her about Steve. When Steve arrives later, it is revealed that Randall has been telling the truth. The three then get into a fight. Lisa manages to knock Steve out temporarily and drives into town. In the climactic showdown, Steve eventually catches up with her. While the townspeople hold their collective breath, Lisa ends up shooting Steve. During the final scene, Randall and Lisa part friends as she boards a bus for the city. BLUE DESERT, directed by newcomer Bradley Battersby from a screenplay by Battersby and Arthur Collis, is an interesting film which effectively dramatizes the adage that "looks can be deceiving." For example, the seemingly peaceful desert town doesn't appear threatening. And secondly, doubt is successfully placed in the mind of the viewer. Who can you trust--Randall, the strange acting drifter, or Steve, the clean-cut officer of the law? The cast, in particular Cox and Sheffer, deliver good, believable performances. Cox (COCOON: THE RETURN and TV's "Family Ties") is very effective at portraying a troubled woman who feels trapped and confused. And Sheffer (SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, NIGHTBREED) manages to make his character seem dangerous yet sympathetic at the same time. Also, this movie was filmed in a very creative way. The most interesting technique is the use of close-ups and extreme close-ups of Lisa's art work, demonstrating how her comic book characters tie into her life. The way the camera floats freely over the illustrations puts the viewer right in the middle of the art work. But the most refreshing thing about BLUE DESERT is the character of Lisa. She is an intelligent and self-sufficient person. What's more, she can handle a crisis and defend herself--no damsel in distress here. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations, adult situations, nudity.)