The overly ambitious SEXUAL RESPONSE yearns to be an erotic psycho-thriller rife with meaningful commentary about romantic attraction as well as media ethics. Although the thrills are impacted negatively by the sex scenes, and although deeper thematics fade from view, this movie does get
the down-and-dirty sexuality right.
Radio talk show hostess Eve (Shannon Tweed) handles her call-in guests' questions about relationships with tact and patience, but her own seemingly perfect marriage leaves her curiously unfulfilled. Since dominating husband Philip (Vernon Wells) treats her more as property than as a valued
domestic partner, the pampered wife is ripe for the barstool blandishments of Edge (Emile Levisetti). Trotting after him to his cool artist pad, she quickly becomes an adultery statistic. Although Eve literally goes over the Edge, she's confused when he deposits a life-sized nude sculpture of her
on her front lawn. As the requisite saxophone blares on the soundtrack, passion flares until Edge steals her husband's gun.
Fearing discovery by Philip, Eve involves her friends Kate (Catherine Oxenberg) and Peter (David Kriegel) in rifling through Edge's studio while she keeps him busy elsewhere. But why does Philip drug Eve? Could he be hiding a history he shares with Edge? As the body count of innocent bystanders
mounts (Kate and Peter find out too much about Philip's former life), Eve, Edge and Philip engage in mortal combat. Conveniently clearing the way for the lovers, Philip gets impaled on one of Edge's more phallic sculptures. Since Philip was a fugitive from justice for many years after killing
Edge's mother, Eve can consider herself lucky as she contemplates a full sex life with her late husband's son from a previous marriage.
When Tweed and Levisetti tear off their clothes, you can almost hear the buttons pop. On that count alone SEXUAL RESPONSE merits applause. The film also offers sterling support from Oxenberg as the true blue pal who goes where angels fear to tread and gets murdered. Unfortunately, the film isn't
entirely successful at mating its erotic content with its unusual thriller subplot.
Had the filmmakers stuck to the basic FATAL ATTRACTION scenario, it would have made for a more ordinary film with the compensation of compact suspense. In throwing in that plot thread cribbed from THE STEPFATHER, it becomes diffuse and less effective. Although the near-misses and murders are
suprising, the plentiful sex scenes detract from the primary driving force of the revenge plot involving Edge versus Phillip. Somehow, the sexual core of the film never seems integrated with the submerged storyline concerning Edge's family feud; the pseudo-Oedipal revelations hit viewers too late
for maximum shock value.
Still, SEXUAL RESPONSE generates some spontaneous combustion between its central characters. And, in what marks a rarity for puritanical American cinema, it can claim the distinction of giving its adulterers a happy ending. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: The overly ambitious SEXUAL RESPONSE yearns to be an erotic psycho-thriller rife with meaningful commentary about romantic attraction as well as media ethics. Although the thrills are impacted negatively by the sex scenes, and although deeper thematics fad… (more)