IN THE HEAT OF PASSION 2: UNFAITHFUL displays a marked playfulness and sense of humor about itself, which comes as a breath of fresh air in the oppressively steamy realm of erotic thrillers.
Jean (Lesley-Anne Down) is the wheelchair-bound wife of Phil Donovan (Barry Bostwick), a smarmy cad with his eye on her millions. After establishing an alibi at a society mixer, he returns home to his drugged wife, loops a sash around her neck, puts her on her wheelchair lift, and stages a
suicide by hanging her from the banister. As selfless estate executor Howard (Michael Gross) attends to the details of the funeral, Donovan is left to seek solace from his teenaged stepdaughter Casey (Teresa Hill), with whom he begins a passionate affair.
They're sitting on a king's ransom, but they can't spend any of it conspicuously, for fear of arousing suspicion. Casey is soon enough climbing the walls. Before long, she's making the rounds of grunge clubs, making new friends, and buying lots of cocaine. When she brings home a girlfriend,
Catherine (Robin Riker), for a sex party with Dad, he hits the ceiling. Meanwhile, strange occurrences begin accumulating: a teakettle is left boiling, the elevator lift suddenly leaps to life, Donovan starts receiving phone calls from his dead wife, or hears her voice echoing through the house.
Increasingly frantic, he walks in on one of Casey's makeshift parties and goes ballistic, firing a gun to chase the revelers away. He's promptly arrested, and Howard has to come bail him out. Casey, too, is plagued by the paranormal events and succumbs to hysteria, shooting Donovan with his own
gun. After she's led away babbling, Jean--looking robust and quite refreshed--is revealed as the architect of this master plan, which she cooked up with her real lover, Howard.
Old pros Bostwick and Down give the dialogue an acrid spin, while young Teresa Hill is frisky enough to merit attention, accessorizing her world-weary-at-19 delivery with a suitably withering stare and the motto, "Rules are for scaredy-cats." Adequately spry in its plot figure-eights, and
enjoyably nasty in tone, this sequel is much better than it has to be. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse, profanity.)
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