A sequel to 1986's video splatter movie TRUTH OR DARE (no relation to the Madonna documentary), WICKED GAMES is cheaply produced, ineffective horror.
Gary (Kevin Scott Crawford), a private detective, catches his wife Traci (Patricia Paul) in bed with another man, Dean (R.M. Hoopes), and threatens them with a gun. He then moves in with his detective friend Dan (Joel D. Wynkoop). Recently dumped by his own married girlfriend, Talia (Lori Zippo),
Dan has been seeing a local S&M devotee named Ginger (Paul), who is also involved with Dan's friend, psychiatrist Dr. Siedow (Kermit Christman). A man wearing a copper mask murders a couple in a park, and Dan tells Dr. Siedow that Gary is the cousin of Mike Strauber, who had committed a string of
killings years before wearing a similar mask.
The murderer continues to strike, adding Ginger, Talia, local prostitute Caroline (Halina Anderson), and her fellow hookers to the body count. One of the victims leaves behind a clue suggesting Gary is the killer; while searching for him, Dan witnesses the murders of Traci and Dean. Pursuing the
killer, Dan discovers that it is indeed Gary--but then Dan confesses to committing several of the recent murders himself to get back at women who wronged him. Dr. Siedow arrives and reveals that he's responsible for some of the killings as well--and then the whole story proves to have been a
delusion that the institutionalized Strauber has been having about his doctors.
In its box copy, WICKED GAMES comes on like it's an exploration of the darker side of S&M, but the kinkiness is actually limited to the fact that some of the female victims are subjected to pain and humiliation (voluntary or otherwise) before their deaths. This is more unpleasant than
frightening, and the general theme of vengeance against unfaithful women carries a creepy undercurrent of misogyny. There's a germ of an interesting idea in the early scenes of Gary sorting out his conflicting feelings about his divorce, but the movie soon devolves into sophomoric dramatics
punctuated by not-terribly-convincing murder set-pieces.
Writer-director Tim Ritter wrings a serviceable amount of mystery out of the early sections, but it's easy for the viewer to eliminate suspects just by observing the murderer's tell-tale hairstyle, which is visible even when his face is hidden. In any case, the lengthy expository climax is
ludicrous (just how did all three killers come into possession of identical copper masks, anyway?), as is the CALIGARI-style cop-out ending. The shot-on-video visuals aren't as distracting as they might be, but occasional directorial indulgences, like a frame-skipping effect in one murder scene,
are annoying. (Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: A sequel to 1986's video splatter movie TRUTH OR DARE (no relation to the Madonna documentary), WICKED GAMES is cheaply produced, ineffective horror. Gary (Kevin Scott Crawford), a private detective, catches his wife Traci (Patricia Paul) in bed with ano… (more)