Ladies, if you ever wanted to know what Dave from Killer Klowns From Outer Space's penis looked like underwater, have I got a film he co-wrote for you.
Quick Plot: Detective Melanie Hudson (the gorgeous Joan Severance) is trying to reconcile her inner darkness with her job hunting down a serial killer. Melanie's nighttime activities generally revolve around her driving her car, sexily glancing at the rearview mirror, and huskily narrating her inner conflicts in a style that somehow reminds me of Christian Bale’s Batman.
According to all the men she works with, Melanie just doesn't know herself very well.
Gents, allow me to give you some absolutely free advice when it comes to women: do not ever believe, and certainly do not ever state, that you know a dame better than she knows herself. Trust me: you don't. And if by some chance you do (which you actually don’t), she still doesn't want to hear it.
Nevertheless, it's a phrase repeated constantly to Melanie, who brushes off the advances of her partner and shifts her steely sapphire eyes to the prime suspect in her murder investigation. His name is Connor Ashcroft, and he’s the handsome and promiscuous son of a U.S. Senator. Connor had previously dated several of the slain women, but Melanie believes the real killer may be his thwarted welding artist ex, played by Total Recall’s Rachel Ticotin.
Once Connor is cleared, Melanie gives in to his advances and engages in some Showgirls-ish pool sex and elevator groping (the latter witness by extra Danny Trejo). Melanie’s fellow detectives are none too pleased, one going so far as to threaten Connor with, I kid you not, “You’ve got the lifespan of sperm.” Points to our boys in blue!
Let’s talk about the policemen in Criminal Passion. They are a delight. At least from a fashion point of view.
IMDB tells us that this film was released in 1994. I don’t quite know that I believe that, since Melanie rocks Annie Hall menswear and the men sport mullets and a tie collection manufactured from leftover patterns of ‘80s era suburban furniture. It’s a glorious thing to behold, especially when said policemen speak with cop accents so thick that subtitles become a necessity. Trust me, you need to hear the drunken spurned detective tease the wealthy Connor about his fancy glass vases before smashing them with glee if you ever hope to experience true joy.
Criminal Passion was directed by Donna Deitch, a woman who seems to work primarily in television (including no less than three episodes of Law & Order: SVU). The female perspective is an interesting one on a film like this, which has a surprisingly modern sex-positive heroin in Melanie. While most of the men constantly judge her activities, Melanie is content to live how she wants...until, well, the plot sort of tells her she shouldn’t.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t quite go so far as to call Criminal Passion a sex-positive, go girl power flick, but Melanie is a fully formed women and the film isn’t afraid to let her live how she wants (to a point). More importantly, unlike some of my other recent ‘90s forays, Criminal Passion is a movie that understands how to revel in its sleaziness. That my friends, is a thing of beauty.
She’s not going to win an Oscar anytime soon, but Joan Severance is incredibly watchable as Melanie. Aside from being a beautiful woman, she manages to project that sort of smokey sexiness that keeps the whole tone of the film in line
The mystery itself of who’s killing these women is never really as pressing as one would think it should be
Men will believe anything if you say it with a smile
Always keep the first chamber empty
“Hey Cheekbones, wanna party?” is not a recommended pickup line, even if your target is the very high cheekboned Joan Severance
Criminal Passion is suitably sleazy for those in the mood for the kind of film that makes heavy use of saxophone solos or electronic smooth jazz. It’s your typical Skinemax fare with a little elevation from Severance’s performance. Cue it up on the old Amazon Prime when you feel the need for nudity and bad ties.