Dangerous Attraction

In which an innocent audience's hopes are roused and then dashed by this caddish movie.

"Damn! I come to this club topless, collared and leashed and I STILL can't get a guy to dance with me!"

There's a dramatic principle so old that it predates movies and television, if such a thing is imaginable. It goes like this: If you show the audience a pistol in the first act, the pistol must be fired by the third act. If the audience's expectations are aroused, they must be dealt with in some way -- not necessarily in the most obvious or predictable way, but somehow they must be dealt with.

Here our protagonists meet in a leather bar, wearing sexy leather outfits. Not nearly as sexy as the leather outfits everyone else is wearing, but we "get the idea" wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Dangerous Attraction is a movie that just violates the living hell out of this principle. The movie centers around Allison Davis, played by Andrea Roth, an edgy gal who meets up with a leather guy, Neil and/or Dan Patterson, played by Linden Ashby, at a leather bar called "Pork."

We wouldn't call it a raunchy leather bar if we didn't have good reason to do so, now would we? Here's what the habitués wear. And y'know it's a pretty gutsy move to call ANYTHING in a B-movie pork that isn't actually pork, and that's all we're gonna say about THAT.

Anyway, Allison and Neil/Dan meet in a bar where they wear leather and show a lot of skin. (I use the term Neil/Dan because they are twins, and Neil is evil and Dan is good. So there's only a few places for the story to go plotwise, you know what I mean?) You gotta figure Allison and Neil/Dan are pretty wild people, meeting under such circumstances. And they are.

Left: "You call THIS foreplay?" Neil takes Allison down. Right: "OK, it's not foreplay, but I LIKE it!" Allison responds, uh, positively, to being taken down.

Their trysts are so rough that when a detective trails Neil (the bad twin) to Allison's apartment where they have rough but consensual sex, he thinks Dan is raping her. Their second tryst involved Allison hanging most of her upper torso over the edge of a balcony several stories above the street while her lover hangs on to her hips and bangs away at her.

Here's Allison, hanging her ass and most of the rest of her body over the edge of a balcony during sex. Of course, if she fell, you know what she'd grab on to, so both partners are taking risks here.

I was pretty darned pleased and intrigued at the way the movie was going at the halfway point, with lots of kinky, edgy sex. Repeated visits to the leather club with plenty of shots of half-naked women dressed in leathery kink suits shaking their booty with wild abandon. Edgy, rough sex.

But more than that, there were interesting things going on with the characters, subtle things that made the characters a little deeper than cardboard. For example, there's the relationship Allison has with her boss Ann (played by Rae Dawn Chong). Allison and Ann constitute a two-woman penis posse, going out to the clubs together to meet men, but they also may be closer than that. There are strong hints that they have a lesbian relationship, but the hints are never resolved one way or the other. In one scene, Ann comes over to comfort Allison when a psychotic murderer starts killing people left and right. They're in bed together and Ann makes a move on Allison, and Allison rebuffs her, saying, "What I need right now is a friend."

There's no sense of outrage or surprise in Allison's voice, though ... she doesn't sound like a straight woman fending off an unexpected lesbian seduction, she sounds more like a bisexual who just doesn't feel like doing it at the moment. But we're not SURE that's the case, and the ambiguousness of Ann and Allison's relationship is a very nice touch, far from the usual "lay it all out in black and white" that you generally get in erotic thrillers. (Though frankly, I wouldn't have MINDED seeing Chong and Roth's body double getting it on.)

Andrea Roth had a very obvious body double -- her tits never appear in the same frame with her face -- but that's OK because the double had a great body with fabulous tits. Her tits are so good I think she should have gotten name billing -- I know I'd look for 'em in other movies.

In addition to being bisexual, Allison apparently has a problem with orgasms. After the first spectacular rape/seduction with Neil, Ann asks her if "it" happened. Ann says "I came THIS close." It's not referred to again, but it adds a little depth to Ann's character.

There's another nice bit. Two minor characters are good buddies. They're male co-workers of Allison's whose primary job is to add to the body count. They're in a bar, getting really sloshed and yakking, commiserating about how they can't get a date with hot, blonde Allison. The dumb one says, "Yeah, women oughtta be like us." The half-smart one, a little alarmed at the direction things are going, says, "Whaddya mean, they oughtta look like us?"

"No, they oughtta be buddies like us," says the dumb one quickly, which the other one still found kinda alarming. And they quickly move on to other things. But this bit adds to the general depth of the characterization found in the movie, so that when they're corpsed, they aren't just cardboard cutouts but someone whom we feel shouldn't have died, flawed maybe but human.

So we've got all this nice characterization going, the wild and kinky club and the wild and kinky people therein, edgy possibly bisexual Allison searching desperately for the Big O and an evil/good twins. You have to figure there's gonna be some great bondage sooner or later. The gun has been pulled out repeatedly, waved about onstage, and pointed at about everyone.

The only real question is, what sort of bondage will Allison be force to endure? Will she be locked in a head harness with a big honking ball gag in it? Are Allison's arms to be secured behind her back with leather armbinders? Will she be shackled, cuffed, crotch-roped, breastbound, hogtied or otherwise secured in the way in which any wild, kinky evil guy would secure a wild, kinky but basically good gal?

Unfortunately, the consensual bondage never materialized. Sure, we've set the scene for some wild kinky stuff, and delivered on it, if you think purely in terms of sex. But apparently kinky semi-bisexual Allison who goes to leather clubs in sexy outfits in hopes of getting the big O has never thought to try BONDAGE!!!

But toward the end of the movie the evil twin behaves as evil twins are prone to behave, and makes an attempt to kidnap Allison.

All right, time to see the smoking gun fired! No consensual bondage, but maybe a DiD scene using consensual bondage elements. I mean, if the teen guys on an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" can ask, "What kind of self-respecting bachelor doesn't own a set of shackles and manacles?" while searching for something to restrain Buffy with in Giles' apartment -- just imagine what might happen in an erotic thriller with lots of naked people enjoying rough, edgy sex and wearing kink gear in clubs!

What we get is ... duct tape! Fucking duct tape that shows up on every stinking scene on TV and mainstream movies lately! Just a strip of fucking duct tape over her mouth and a bit more securing her hands and ankles.

AAAARGH! Duct tape! FUCKING duct tape! What kind of kinkster uses fucking duct tape?

This is just inexcusable. This is missing the boat big-time. This is not just not firing that gun that they showed us in the first act, it's taking the gun and hiding it in another movie altogether!

But at the very least, the idiot that made the film showed the villain getting his comeuppance for his gross incompetence and lack of imagination. To wit:

We have to admit, though -- a really powerful image from the onscreen gagging and taping. If you're going to use duct tape, THIS is the way to do it.

Having gagged her, he proceeds to bind her at the ankles and wrists with duct tape. She's pretty darned bound and gagged, but he's made the classic ignorant villain mistake -- he bound her hands in front!

"Whaddya mean, I dress in the manner of a male prostitute?" The detective on the case is ... on the case, however, and enters the room, gun at the ready. Much like the detective in "Deadly Vision," they scuffle and the detective loses the gun but gains a knife ... in his chest.

And like the damsel in "Deadly Vision" Allison figures out that she can get free with her hands tied in front. First she goes to work on her ankles.

Then she pulls off her tape gag. Thinking of all the damsels who've been gagged and tied hands in front but who never figured this out, we have to figure that Allison is a damsel genius!

"This duct tape tastes terrible. He's for sure not getting a blowjob now!" But before Allison can free her wrists, Neil has finished stabbing the detective. So Allison makes a break for the door, still bound. Neil catches her before she gets to the door and throws Allison on the floor -- where she proceeds to chew off her wrists bonds.

"Careful, last time I did this I got minced garlic all over my butt and nobody would go near me for a week!" All the stabbing has left Neil feeling frisky, so he puts Allison on top of the kitchen worktable and crawls on top of her.

"I hope this doesn't mean we can't still be friends, Neil." With her hands and legs free, Allison can resist, and resist she does. First, she clobbers him with a kitchen implement, knocking him to the floor. While he's down she gives Neil a couple of whacks with a stainless steel barbell. That's gotta hurt.

"You know what it does to me when you say that "Red Rover" thing, baby!" Apparently a glutton for punishment, Neil recovers and runs at Allison, knocking him and her through the sliding glass doors that lead to her balcony.

"Good thing this steel car roof was here to ... cough, gasp ... break my fall." Finally, Neil realizes what an idiot he's been, tying Allison's hands in front like that. Some Evil Captor, he! Deeply chagrined, he climbs over the edge of the balcony and plunges to his doom.

And that's why Dangerous Attraction's Neil wins a Loosie Award. Way to go, Evil Captor Wannabe. (The film itself makes the foolishness of binding hands in front quite clear, so it does not get an award.)

In fact ...

Dangerous Attraction is a deeply puzzling movie. Lots of erotic thrillers are, but that's because the plots and characters are so ill-conceived that figuring out what the director/writer thought they were doing is the puzzle. Dangerous Attraction, on the other hand, has some really well-fleshed out characters and a plot that is clearly intelligible throughout. But on the other hand, it indulges in some real schlock (I mean, come on GOOD/EVIL TWINS???!!! This plotline is so old, hoary and well-trodden that it's not even worth parodying.)

More troubling is the apparent ability of the writer to develop interesting characters, combined with their apparent inability to understand basic principles of drama like the "fire the gun" theory. Having developed a theme of dominance and submission, edge play (i.e., risky sex like hanging from the balcony) and rough sex, the script never develops the theme. Some questions that would have been worth answering:

That last question is the key to understanding the story's failure. There are two kinds of movement in any story: plot development and character development. Generally both must occur if the story is to be successful, though there are exceptions, as in, say, a short story where a single theme dominates all else.

In Dangerous Attraction, there's plot development, but no character development in our protagonist. Our understanding of the villain changes by the end of the movie, as is typically the case with Good/Evil twin themes. But the protagonist, and our understanding of the protagonist, never deepens.

Take the whole dominance/submission/rough sex thing for example. Allison clearly finds Neil the most exciting sex partner she has ever had, and tends to melt into a submissive puddle whenever he dominates her. There's also her relationship with her boss. If they're not sex partners, they're close to it, and Ann is clearly the dominant one in the relationship, calling Allison to hector into going out to clubs with her, then forcing to wear a sexy, revealing outfit to the club.

It's a textbook dominance/submission relationship, and there's more evidence as well. Allison also has a former lover whom she has spurned who calls her up and leaves messages on her machine demanding that she see him, and also whining that he now "understands where they went wrong." Allison's attitude toward the former lover is one of contempt mixed with a certain amount of fear that he may be getting stalker-ish. Just what you might expect of a submissive who's dropped a dominant sort of guy who no longer intrigues her, but who might be dangerous.

Allison seems to be a submissive who is not "out" with herself about her submission. She needs to be dominated by her lover but doesn't understand that consciously. Her bisexuality might be the result of inability to have an orgasm iwth men. And her inability to have an orgasm with men or women is because she doesn't understand that the key to sexual satisfaction is submission. That's why she finds Neil so exciting -- his semi-rapes of her forces her to provide the submission that she needs to provide, which is why he's the only one who can even bring her close to orgasm.

It all hangs together pretty nicely now, doesn't it? Or at least, makes some semblance of sense. You can see where the plot needs to go -- establish Allison's initial problems and tendencies, show her inability to admit cope with her submissive tendencies, then show how it leads to her relationship with a dangerous, violent fellow. You could even kill off the hackneyed Good/Evil Twin plot, thus improving the film considerably. The plot could resolve when Allison escapes the clutches of her dangerous, violent lover and learns that she can enjoy sex by submitting to someone she can trust.

You could even come up with a new twist on the Good/Evil Twins by having them be Dominant/Submissive Twins. If you were at all interested in originality.

See how everything goes easier when you know what you're doing? Problem is, the person who created Allison never put things together this way, or any way. The Evil Twin with the plans to kidnap is a forced and unnatural element in the story, placed there just to give it a plot because there was no plot that sprang naturally from the characters. That's why the elements of the story never fall together -- they have no center to fall into.

Still, this much has to be said for Dangerous Attraction -- it had enough of a plot, and complex enough characters, to be worth thinking about. And it had those nice touches with some of the minor characters. All of the minor characters, even the detective's girlfriend who isn't even killed or raped, have something going for them.

Actually Marya Delver, who plays the detective's girlfriend, is quite a honey -- looks a lot like Jane Kazmarak in "Ally McBeal," and has that same quality of sweetness to her.

Dangerous Attraction is flawed, as many similar B-movies are flawed, because it fails to develop the characters and themes it's dealing with properly. Like "Erotic Boundaries" it uses hokey plot devices to move the story along, instead of letting the intriguing characters and relationships it has half-developed fully mature, driving the story with their development. You find yourself wishing the script writer had thought a lot harder about who his characters were and how the plot might have been affected by who they were.

Ah, well, when you watch a film where the characters like to hang out in a club called "Pork" you can't complain if the meat of your story consists of many substandard, unidentified cuts of meat, all mashed together.

This image of a woman wearing an intriguing-looking gag/mask/collar combination is a fraction-of-a-second blinkie (i.e., a scene you'll miss if you blink during it) in the background. Such sexy gear would have made the point of the club's kinkiness very clearly if it had been featured more powerfully, but since a tit or an ass wasn't involved, the filmmakers missed the point entirely.

The end.

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