Veteran B-moviemaker Nico Mastorakis is a superb technician with a keen grasp of the language of cinema. He has a sinuous style, and his longtime cinematographer Andreas Bellis shoots glamorous, strikingly lit images. But Mastorakis consistently lacks decent scripts, and the glossy IN
THE COLD OF THE NIGHT is no exception.
Handsome photographer Scott Bruin (Jeff Lester) seems to have an ideal life. He's in great demand by clients for his work in the studio, and by models for his work in the sack. But lately Scott's been plagued by visions in which he brutally murders a beautiful woman again and again in different
settings. When the studly shutterbug spots the lovely and mysterious Kimberly Shawn (Adrianne Sachs) he realizes she's the girl of his ominous dreams. They become lovers, their marathon sex marred by Scott's unease that he's destined to kill her. Then Scott finds, hidden among Kim's videotape
collection, a cassette recording of his dreaded delusions. It turns out that heavily moussed scientist Ken Strom (Marc Singer) has implanted an electronic receiver in Scott's tooth and transmitted the phony snuff scenes as an experiment in behavior control. The remainder of the tale is frittered
away with a truncated chase in which the naive hero finally finds out whose side Kimberly is on.
What tension the plot generates can be credited to better-than-expected performances from Lester and Sachs, who have to carry the bulk of the will-he-or-won't-he narrative themselves until it conks out with a weak sci-fi explanation. Mastorakis corrals familiar Hollywood faces for inconsequential
cameos, and adds inside jokes (Kim's movie library consists of nothing but previous Mastorakis efforts like GLITCH and THE WIND) to little advantage. The explicit lovemaking scenes can't exactly be called gratuitous, since the running time would be halved without them (not a bad idea, really), but
they indicate the base level on which the film operates.
This trivial, direct-to-video erotica merits a footnote in the recent controversy over film censorship. In July 1990, the Motion Picture Association of America slapped the pre-release version of IN THE COLD OF THE NIGHT with an X rating, a judgment vigorously appealed by producer-director
Mastorakis. He eventually cut half a minute out of the picture to secure an R rating, but the delay cancelled a planned September 1990 theatrical release. At one point Mastorakis publicly threatened to establish a "critics' rating board" to compete directly with the embattled MPAA's Classification
and Rating Administration. A few months later the MPAA gave in to artistic pressure and adopted the NC-17 adults-only category to replace the dreaded X; perhaps it should have been called the NM-17 in compensation. (Violence, substance abuse, profanity, sexual situations, adult situations,nudity.)
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